Summary: A short, but wide ranging book about not only Jimmy Carter’s faith, but his approach to Christianity, culture, how his faith impacts his politics and how his Christianity influences his work and life.
Many people think that Jimmy Carter has had the most influential post Presidency of all of the United States presidents. Just a few days ago, Jimmy Carter became the oldest President in history. Faith is Carter’s 30th book and I think the fourth of his that I have read.
I picked up Faith for two reasons, first I picked up President Carter: The White House Years when it was on sale a few weeks ago and I wanted to read another short book by Carter before I started a fairly long and detailed history of his presidency. I also picked up Faith as an audiobook because he won a Grammy for the book, his third win and fourth nomination.
As much as I like Carter, and appreciate what he was trying to do here, this was not his best book. A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety I think was a much better and more balanced book.
Faith is trying to do too many things, and too often repeats what he already said in previous books. It is not that there are not interesting parts, but Carter spends too much time in areas where I think he is not at his best. I like Cater’s stories and his recounting of what he is passionate about. It is not that he is not passionate about his faith, but his social action, not his theology is where I most want to hear from him.
Faith is a very clear presentation of his understanding of Christianity, not unlike what Francis Spufford was trying to do in Unapologetic. But while I really liked Unappologetic, Faith felt plodding. Faith was only 166 pages, but felt like it was still probably 40-60 pages too long. There was not much that was here that was not previously in Our Endangered Values or A Full Life, both of which spend a lot of time talking about his faith.
I largely agree with Carter’s activism. And while I do not agree with all of his theological positions, I do think he is within the range of Orthodox Christianity and appreciate that he has been vocal about the how and why of his Christianity. But this is a book that did not need to be written. And it certainly did not deserve a Grammy, let alone his third Grammy. I am not terribly disappointed that I listened to it, but I also cannot really recommend it, especially if you have read any of Carter’s previous books. If you have not read Carter previously, this is probably better than I thought it was. I still think I would recommend A Full Life as a better book.