I took this book out from a library immediately after finishing Mansfield’s The Faith of the American Soldier. This was back in early 2009, while Barack Obama was just getting to know the lay of the White House and while G.W. was likely chatting with Laura about how to write his memoirs. Back then, I was on a kick of trying to read the memoirs of past Presidents, so it was by mere coincidence that I read The Faith of George W. Bush at the same time that I was picking my way through his father’s memoirs, All The Best. As a result, much of the history in The Faith simply recapped what I’d been reading just days before from the father’s point of view, only now I was getting it from G.W.’s perspective and with a far more spiritual twist. This happenstance, simultaneous reading also gave me a sense of the type of “faith” about which Mansfield was writing, which is where this short review will focus its attention.
I realize that no one expects the Bush family to be explained away by “like father, like son,” but one could argue from their words that both Bush 41 and Bush 43 were men of faith. But what kind of faith do they describe? Bush 41 tended speak of faith in a conceptual way, as a means of explaining his ambiguous religious feelings that really haven’t a whole lot of substance. Bush-43, on the other hand (according to Mansfield here and more pointedly in his own memoires, Decision Points), is a man who doesn’t simply talk about faith in the third-person, but who has actually experienced real change in his heart and life. He is a man who talks about faith in meaningful, concrete terms, and whose life reflects those very things that he describes. The old George W. Bush, that wayward and unemployed booze-hound, and the new man that he became are literally worlds apart. This can be evidenced not just in how or Mansfield’s writings, but in his character as a man. Bush 43’s studies and desires, his love for people and for God are clearly evident in his life and writings, and thus they seem to all ring with a bit more authenticity than the faith that his father described. As Scripture implies, it’s the change in a person’s life (the fruit) that makes the most sense of a person’s faith, and the evidence of such fruit in G.W. Bush’s life is the very reason I call him my favorite President. From a drink-loving, non-book-smart yokel to a Commander-in-Chief who actively craves to study the Word of God with his Christian friends and who was committed to reading that Word every morning during his eight years in office—that’s the evidence of change that proves this man’s conversion experience was genuine, and that is why I respect him so much.
Mansfield does pretty well is relating much of this information to the reader, though he wrote the thing on 2004, only 3 years into the presidency. I’d recommend it for the sake of information, but I think Decision Points is a far better read and contains much of the same information.