This is the cover of Bruce Feiler’s new book, coming out in a few days.  I love his writing and he is giving us an excerpt here…check it out…and click on the book to find out more!americasprophet

For two years, I traveled to touchstones in American history and explored the role of the Bible, the Exodus, and Moses in inspiring generation after generation of Americans. I examined how American icons of different eras—from the slave girl Eliza carrying her son to freedom across the Ohio River in Uncle Tom’s Cabin to an orphaned Superman being drawn out of a spaceship from Krypton— were etched in the image of Moses. And I probed the ongoing role of Moses today, from the Ten Commandments in public places to the role of the United States as a beacon for immigrants. Even a cursory review of American history indicates that Moses has emboldened leaders of all stripes—patriot and loyalist, slave and master, Jew and Christian, fat cat and communist. Could the persistence of his story serve as a reminder of our shared national values? Could he serve as a unifying force in a disunifying time? If Moses could split the Red Sea, could he unsplit America?

Just as I was completing my journey, the 2008 presidential election was reaching its historic climax. Once again, Moses played a prominent role. Hillary Clinton compared herself to the Hebrew prophet. With “every bit of progress you try to make,” she said, “there’s always gonna be somebody to say, ‘You know, I think we should go back to Egypt.’” She asked, “Do we really need to move forward on transformative social change?” before answering: “Yes, we do.” Barack Obama also placed himself in the Mosaic tradition, though he claimed the role of Moses’ successor. “We are in the presence of a lot of Moseses,” he said in Selma, Alabama, in 2007. “I thank the Moses generation; but we’ve got to remember that Joshua still had a job to do. As great as Moses was . . . he didn’t cross over the river to see the Promised Land.” He concluded: “Today we’re called to be the Joshuas of our time, to be the generation that finds our way across this river.”

Obama’s use of the Exodus story became so prominent that his rival, John McCain, issued a video in which he mocked Obama for anointing himself “The One.” The video concluded with a clip of Charlton Heston splitting the Red Sea in The Ten Commandments. But the echoes of the Exodus only continued. On the day before the election, the African Methodist Episcopal Church bishop for Ohio stood up before 60,000 people in Columbus and thanked God for “having given us a Moses and a Martin called Barack Obama.” As civil rights pioneer Andrew Young said to me days later, “We are living in biblical time. The amount of time that passed between Martin’s assassination and Obama’s election—forty years—is the same amount of time the Israelites spent in the desert.”

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