Christopher GehrzAug 25, 2021
Charles Lindbergh: A Religious Biography of America's Most Infamous Pilot
A Religious Biography of America's Most Infamous Pilot
William B. Eerdmans 2021
The narrative surrounding Charles Lindbergh's life has been as varying and complex as the man himself. Once best known as an aviator--the first to complete a solo nonstop transatlantic flight--he has since become increasingly identified with his problematic sympathies for isolationism, eugenics, and the Nazi regime in Germany. Underexplored amid all this is Lindbergh's spiritual life; what beliefs drove the contradictory impulses of this twentieth-century icon? An apostle of technological progress who encountered God in the wildernesses he sought to protect, an anti-Semitic opponent of US intervention in World War II who had a Jewish scripture inscribed on his gravestone, and a critic of Christianity who admired Christ, Lindbergh defies conventional categories. In Charles Lindbergh: A Religious Biography of America's Most Infamous Pilot (William B. Eerdmans, 2021), Christopher Gehrz represents Lindbergh as he was, neither an adherent nor a skeptic, a historical case study of an increasingly familiar contemporary phenomenon: the "spiritual but not religious." For all his earnest curiosity, Lindbergh remained unwilling throughout his life to submit to any spiritual authority beyond himself and ultimately rejected the ordering influence of church, tradition, scripture, or creed. In the end, the man who flew solo across the Atlantic insisted on charting his own spiritual path, drawing on multiple sources in such a way that satisfied his spiritual hunger but left some of his most troubling convictions unchallenged.
Zach McCulley (@zamccull) is a historian of religion and literary cultures in early modern England and PhD candidate in History at Queen's University Belfast.