It is easy to be skeptical about the faith claims of politicians. It is rare for a politician to claim to be anything other than a Christian and yet so few of them show any real evidence of the faith they profess. Of course there are undoubtedly some who rise to power that truly are genuine Christians. In The Faith of Condoleeza Rice, Leslie Montgomery shows Condoleeza Rice to be one of these.
Though this is a book about a woman who has made her mark as a politician, it is not a book about politics. Rather, it is about the faith the of Condoleeza Rice and the legacy of faith that was passed down to her by her family. Growing up in a family of Presbyterians, many of whom were clergy, Rice seems to have always considered herself a believer. She was born into a remarkable family, the only child of parents who gave everything they had to give her everything she needed to be one of the most influential people in the world. As the book traces Rice’s life, it also traces the history of racial tension and reconciliation in the United States. Rice was born into the geographic and chronological heart of the Civil Rights Movement. While her parents kept her largely sheltered from the strife surrounding them, she certainly did notice the world changing around her.
I was intrigued by the intellectual nature of Rice’s faith. While in many ways she has a simple faith and says she has never doubted the tenets of her faith, at the same time her faith has become remarkably developed in her mind as she has reflected on the Bible. The parts of the book in which the author discusses the particulars of Rice’s faith, and especially those that are drawn directly from interviews with her, make for fascinating reading. While the book attempts to portray Rice as a spiritual hero I am not so sure that the author succeeds at this. She certainly appears to be a Christian, but to consider her some kind of a spiritual giant would seem to be overstating it. After all. Rice’s faith, while certainly driving and motivating her, is not what she is known for. Her faith is an important part of who she is, but it is something she must necessarily keep in the background much of the time.
The book moves quite quickly and, thankfully, unlike many biographies, does not dwell upon things like the books Rice has written. While they are mentioned, the author (rightly, no doubt) assumes that readers will have no interest in knowing just what Rice had to say about Germany Unified and Europe Transformed: A Study in Statecraft. It is well-written, fast-moving, and is certainly an enjoyable read.
So while I would not be likely to read this book as an attempt to peer in the life of a spiritual hero, I would gladly recommend it as an interesting glimpse into the life of a woman who is extraordinarily gifted and who has not risen to a position of great responsibility and great authority despite her faith, but, it would seem, because of her faith.