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America's Prophet by Bruce Feiler

America's Prophet

by Bruce Feiler

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200685,069 (3.71)15



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Moses in US history, Jewish
  keithhamblen | Jul 20, 2018 |
America’s Prophet: Moses and the American Story by Bruce Feiler. Epiphany library section 7 C: The Church in the World: Society/Human Rights/Justice. This book, by the author of Walking the Bible and Abraham: A Journey to the Heart of Three Faiths, traces the influence of Moses in the history of the United States, seen in, among other things, the Puritans, Abraham Lincoln, Sojourner Truth, the Statue of Liberty, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The idea of a leader who frees his/her people and leads them to a promised land is an important part of American history, seen repeatedly in our most influential leaders, events, movements and symbols.
Moses can teach us so much about our own life journey and the American journey because Moses dealt with the daily life of his people, handling their complaints, hunger, and frailty. He faced rebellion yet still persuaded them to follow him to the Promised Land, even though he himself never entered it. Moses can also tell Americans something about personal fulfillment. Like Moses we must endure personal struggle in order to find our own promised land, the meaning of our lives. However, caring for others while we do that is always part of the Mosaic story and therefore must be part of ours, personally and nationally. We cannot make it through this world alone – we can only make it in community. The responsibility for each of us is to finish that life journey; in doing so we have the chance and obligation to repair the world.
I find Feiler’s books very interesting because he interviews people whose expertise illuminates each book’s given topic. In this book, for example, he tells how he went to Independence Hall and, with the head administrator, climbs into the cupola that once housed the Liberty Bell. He also interviewed a pastor who was at the Lorraine Motel with Dr. King when he was assassinated. Feiler gives us a unique, simultaneous view of history and religion which is exciting and satisfying. We have several of Feiler’s books; find them under Feiler in the library’s card catalog, or visit the catalog online at www.librarything.com/catalog/Epiphany-OviedoELCA. Type Bruce Feiler in the search box and click. All his books will pop up in a table format. Scroll to choose any book, and click on the open book icon on the far right to read that book’s review by me and other LibraryThing users. His books are so fascinating! ( )
  Epiphany-OviedoELCA | Dec 26, 2012 |
From my book review blog Rundpinne..."While I found Feiler’s accounts of history to be interesting and his ideas to be intriguing, I must say that is about as far as America’s Prophet moved me."...My full review may be read here: http://www.rundpinne.com/2010/11/book-review-and-tour-americas-prophet-by-bruce-... ( )
  knittingmomof3 | Nov 23, 2010 |
Mr. Feiler develops a Mosaic narrative for America and starts with what he claims is the First Thanksgiving in North America instead of New England. Research has revealed that St. Augustine, the nation's oldest city, was the site of the nation's first Thanksgiving. Be that as it may the author continues his travels to historic sites weaving the importance to the founding and continued transformation of the U.S.A. was influenced by the story of Moses.

As the author tours historic sites he finds relevant ties to support his theory of Moses and how this prophet works into the very fabric of America, our country's history and it's future. As referenced above Mr. Feiler jumps to the Puritans to start his memoir of his travels with Thanksgiving and the Passover and brings us through important turning points in history to the present day.

The writing though a bit verbose is interesting and recounts history from those who live in the area the events took place and the historical records and later in the book the author is able to interview some who were actually in some way involved with the events in history he speaks of like the civil Rights Movements of the 1960's. And he follows a few steps of the underground railroad but gets the reason for the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation wrong but with good intention and probably what he was taught. The Proclamation was a necessary measure designed to deprive the Confederacy of slave labor, bring additional men into the Union Army and mainly to stop England from supporting the Confederacy.

The Emancipation Proclamation actually did not free any slaves for the Southern States did not recognize the authority of President Lincoln to govern their affairs and in the North, it was beyond the powers of the President to actually abolish slavery in any state. But it does help in Mr. Feiler's narrative as President Lincoln as the Moses of the time and takes us another step away from history.

But the author's narrative of the underground railroad is very interesting as is the symbolism he shows attached to the Liberty Bell and the Statue of Liberty and how the American People made these symbols of Liberty that are still strong to this day the world over. The famous and brave people the author picks out to tie their story into his theory are important and interesting. Some include Thomas Paine, George Washington, Harriet Tubman, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Abraham Lincoln, C.B DeMille, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, Ronald Reagan,George W. Bush and others. The analogy of Moses even made it's way into comics such as Superman.

Of course the author relates his own families Passover celebration with us and how he will share the Exodus story with is children when they ask. His answer is a good one and so is the summation of his book. America is the promise land for many but more important is the legacy of hope for a better tomorrow. It is the author belief and hope that Moses will continue to inspire new generations to renew the story of freedom. ( )
  hermit | Jun 20, 2010 |
This book was a struggle to read, but by the last half I was glad I was doing it. Had I given up, I never would have known the connection to Moses in our country, never dreamed that he was such inspiration to our founding fathers as well as to the Statue of Liberty and the civil rights movement, even Cecil B. DeMille! But it fits, Feiler sees 3 themes, 'escaping oppression, seeking the promised land...tension between freedom and law...building a society that welcomes the outsider and uplifts the downtrodden'. It makes one think & rethink our arguments about religion & politics, that's a good book...one that makes me think. ( )
1 vote EllenH | Feb 22, 2010 |
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
For "America's Prophet," [Feiler] sometimes gets a bit kitschy, as when he puts on the late actor Charlton Heston's robe from the movie "The Ten Commandments." Maybe that's so we don't take him too seriously.

But such facile gestures don't detract from Feiler's basic premise.
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For Debbie and Alan Rottenburg - Next year with you
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Thanksgiving is the mandatory holiday in my family.
"I think a lot of laypeople in America today feel that the Enlightenment was somehow antireligious," she continued. "That people like Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin, and others were deists and didn't believe in God. That couldn't be further from the truth. ..."
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An exploration of how the story of Moses has influenced American history traces the biblical figure's role in inspiring change, from the Pilgrims' journey and the visions of the Founding Fathers to the ideologies of the civil rights movement.

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