Eleanor: A Spiritual Biography. Harold Ivan Smith. Westminster John Knox Press. ©2017

My review is also on Amazon.com.

This is truly an outstanding look into the spirituality of a remarkable player on the international stage. Eleanor Roosevelt discovered early that her narrow Episcopal faith could not contain her growing acceptance of the many faith traditions that she encountered. She believed that since we were all created by the same God that we should treat each other as brothers and sisters. She believed as did St. Paul, “That we are all one in Christ Jesus.”

The one glaring flaw in her spirituality was perhaps due to her strict Protestant upbringing and the aristocratic family circles in which she moved. She had a strain of anti-Semitic misgivings. She overcame them to a large extent later in life. She always regretted not doing more for the Jews.

Eleanor had a truly miserable childhood. She was forced to become her own person. She had the saying from Saint Francis of Assisi posted above her desk and she carried another copy in her purse, “Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.”  Eleanor’s brand of personal Christianity won her unfaltering condemnation from the religious fundamentalists who were certain that she had not been “born again.”   According to Smith, “Eleanor took the Bible too seriously to take it literally.” Although FDR’s unfaithfulness hurt her deeply, they came to an understanding that allowed them to become the world’s most influential couple ever. Louis Howe is the one who saw Eleanor’s potential and helped her hone her skills as a leader. He was also a major player in FDR’s success.

Eleanor: A Spiritual Biography, may get a little wordy at times; however, it is an outstanding work.

Tags: , , ,