Cover courtesy of Eerdmans

“Hero worship. Populism. Eugenics. ‘America First’ Nationalism. White Supremacy. Racism. Anti-Semitism. Disenfranchisement of Black Voters. Historian Christopher Gehrz (Bethel University, Minneapolis) touches on these themes and more in ‘Charles Lindbergh: A Religious Biography of America’s Most Infamous Pilot.’

“Most people can readily identify Charles Lindbergh as the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic in May 1927. Others will remember the kidnapping and death of the Lindbergh baby in 1932. Only a few years later, Lindbergh’s staunch opposition to the U.S. entry into World War II and his expressed admiration for Nazi Germany created another scandal. But in the 1960s his reputation was rehabilitated; the ‘Lone Eagle’ was seen as an elder statesman of the ‘Winged Gospel’ of aviation, an advocate of America’s space program, and a champion of environmental conservation.

“A few Mainers know of the connection between Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh to our state. For many years, they found rest and respite from the public eye during summers at the Morrow estate on North Haven Island. Yet, for many the man behind the public persona remains an enigma.

“Gehrz draws from the published and unpublished writings and speeches of Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh, and reflections from their daughter Reeve, to develop a fuller picture of Lindbergh’s philosophical, religious, and spiritual views. Although he was never affiliated with any formal religion, it is significant that he named his airplane The Spirit of St. Louis and wrote of sensing “ghostly presences” on his long transatlantic flight.

“Gehrz takes us from Lindbergh’s boyhood on the Upper Mississippi through the years of public adulation and acclaim and his experiences during World War II to the final stage of his life as an elder statesman of aviation and champion of environmental conservation. As he looks at the people and experiences that influenced Lindbergh, he raises a mirror to popular American culture and spirituality.

“I commend ‘Charles Lindbergh: A Religious Biography of America’s Most Infamous Pilot’ to anyone who is interested in the story of aviation, populism, or American history and culture from 1925 to 1975 — a story that is fully relevant today as well.

“Gehrz writes in an Afterword, ‘This biography was always going to be one Minnesotan’s account of the life of another Minnesotan. But I didn’t realize that its writing would be haunted by the deaths of two other Minnesotans: Philando Castile, who was killed by police in 2016, just before I got the idea to attempt a Lindbergh biography, and George Floyd, who was killed by police in 2020, as I finished my manuscript.’”

— PAUL DAY, Portland – Retired Minister; instructor, Maine School of Ministry; former Director of the Bible Society of Maine; former adjunct faculty, University of New England


Mainers, please email to tell us about the book on your bedside table right now. In a paragraph or two, describe the book and be sure to tell us what drew you to it. As the pandemic lingers, we want to hear what you are reading in these unsettled times and why. Send your selection to [email protected], and we may use it as a future Bedside Table.


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