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Michael Lindsay, Bud McFarlane and Richard Nixon


Last spring, just as OUP was beginning to buzz with excitement for our fall books, D. Michael Lindsay, the author of Faith In The Halls of Power, came and talked to us. For the next couple of weeks I am going to share some of what he said. It the podcast below Lindsay tells the story of what happened when Bud McFarlane woke up from his attempted suicide attempt. The transcript of the audio is after the jump.


I’ll tell you an interesting story, you may remember Bud McFarlane, he was Regan’s national security advisor. He was deeply embroiled in the Iran Contra Scandal, in fact, he was one of the leading architects behind it. There came the day in 1987 when he was called to testify before Congress about his involvement in this. And as he told me (we were sitting down in his office in Washington), he said, “You know, I knew I was way in over my head, and I just couldn’t take the pressure.” So he attempted suicide. He said “I thought that was the worst day of my life, but actually the worst day of my life was when I woke up from a failed suicide attempt.”

He woke up, he was in Walter Reed Hospital, and he said “I had been conscious for about two hours and the telephone rang.” He picked it up and on the other end it was none other than Richard Nixon. Richard Nixon says, “Bud, I hear what you did, and I’m just here to tell you that God can help you make your life all over again. I’m coming down to tell you about it, get ready.” And he hangs up the phone. Well, it’s not every day that Richard Nixon is an evangelical evangelist. But lo and behold, a couple of hours later, President Nixon strolls into Bud McFarlane’s hospital room, and they read a passage of Isaiah and they pray, and Nixon introduces him to a regular fellowship group that Bud McFarlane is still involved with to this day.

This is a different kind of evangelical, it’s one that you don’t hear all that often. The cosmopolitan evangelicals are also across the parties, so it’s not just Democrats, it’s not just Republicans. I mean, one of this interesting things that I found was that there were cosmopolitan evangelicals leading the charge against President Clinton during the impeachment proceedings, and there were, similarly, cosmopolitan evangelicals who were huddling with President Clinton in spiritual solidarity. I mean, some of his closest advisors, one of them is Bill Hybels, the pastor of Willow Creek Community Church in suburban Chicago, one of the most prominent evangelical churches in the country, really sets the agenda. And he and President Clinton are very, very close. There have been lots of meetings held in the oval office where you have prominent evangelicals coming in. And it’s the not the typical evangelical, it’s not the Jerry Falwells that you expect. It’s people like Rick Warren, the pastor of Saddleback Community Church. You might have heard he wrote a book that did somewhat well, The Purpose Driven Life. And these cosmopolitan evangelicals can be found all over the country.

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