I’m currently reading it and have about 60 pages left to read. Here’s a brief summary:
The beginning of the book chronicles how Sharlett got into The Family and what occurred at Ivanwald and The Ceders while he was there. The Family owns property, tax free, in or about Washington D.C. The houses are for young interns or college graduates who want to make Jesus their main focus in life. The utilize the power of Jesus in all decision making and ultimately change the world. It’s mostly a men’s club for religious freaks. Women can be found at The Ceders too, but in the capacity of serving meals while wearing lipstick and skirts (the required dress). All that political talk is for the men.
The middle of the book deals with The Family’s founder, a Norwegian immigrant named Abraham Vereide, or Abram for short. Abram’s history deals with the years of around the turn of the 20th century up to the mid 1960’s. We see how The Family’s meddling in foreign affairs led to a counter revolution against labor laws, environmental laws, and the welcoming of ex-nazi’s who turned their lives and wills over to Jesus. They fought against FDR’s new deal and reshaped the traditional charitable works for the poor form of Christianity into one that props men up for leadership in the world. And what does that leadership entail? Mainly the fight against communism, socialism, economic equality, secularism (that pesky establishment clause gets in their way), and anarchy.
Now I’m reading about today’s politicians that have drafted and legislated policy based on The Family’s values. I’ve read how Sam Brownback drafted a bill that fought against the slave trade that included proselytizing to it’s victims, and defunding medicines for prostitutes (we don’t want to enable promiscuity) and condoms. STD’s have spread considerable since the bill’s passing. He also puts capitalism above everything else, such as when he created the “Silk Road Act” that dropped sanctions against the Muslim dominated country of Azerbaiman. The reason for the sanction in the first place was it’s human rights abuses to neighboring Armenia, predominantly Christian. But that’s OK, because it’s what God wanted. He obeyed god, and that’s what it means to make Jesus the center of your life. You’re not supposed to question his authority.
I wish this was from a fictional novel, but it isn’t.
The book also examines the counter culture of “biblical capitalism” and one of it (former) most powerful proponents Ted Haggard. Biblical capitalism is the philosophy that the word of Jesus can be spread quicker and more viral when it’s mingled with free market economics.
The Family’s current leader is Doug Coe. He believes, and has stated in talks and sermons to his followers, that they need to be obedient like the SS guard was to Hitler, and like the red guard was to Chairman Mao. Total loyalty. And that’s what their motto—-Jesus plus nothing—-means. Forget the beautitudes, the Sermon on the Mount, the burning bush, the loaves and fishes, etc. Make Jesus the primary focus and you can change the world. Sin is not a concept they dwell on, for it only weakens one’s focus on the power of Jesus.