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About the Author
Jonathan Sandys is a great-grandson of Britain's wartime Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill and is a public speaker. He has been communicating the morals, values, and leadership skills of his great-grandfather and those of the "Greatest Generation" to both young and old alike. Jonathan lives in Texas.
Ralph Lister is an award-winning stage and film actor whose credits include roles in Oz: The Great and Powerful, Setup, and Alleged. An Audie Award-nominated narrator, Ralph has recorded more than one hundred audiobooks and directed over a dozen others, across all genres, both fiction and nonfiction.
Read an Excerpt
God & Churchill
How the Great Leader's Sense of Divine Destiny Changed his Troubled World and Offers Hope for Ours
By Jonathan Sandys, Wallace Henley
Tyndale House PublishersCopyright © 2015 Jonathan Sandys and Wallace Henley
All rights reserved.
A Vision of Destiny
This country will be subjected somehow, to a tremendous invasion, by what means I do not know, but I tell you I shall be in command of the defences of London, and I shall save London and England from disaster. WINSTON CHURCHILL, AGE 16
On a summer Sunday evening in 1891, with the echoes of chapel evensong still resonating in their minds, sixteen-year-old Winston Churchill and his close friend and fellow Harrow student Murland de Grasse Evans sat talking in what Evans would remember years later as "one of those dreadful basement rooms in the Headmaster's House."
The conversation focused on destiny — more specifically, their own. Churchill thought that Evans might go into the diplomatic service, or perhaps follow his father's footsteps into finance.
Then Evans asked Churchill, "Will you go into the army?" "I don't know," young Winston replied. "It is probable; but I shall have great adventures soon after I leave here."
"Are you going into politics? Following your father?"
"I don't know, but it is more than likely because, you see, I am not afraid to speak in public."
Evans was quizzical as he gazed back at his friend. "You do not seem at all clear about your intentions or desires."
"That may be," Winston shot back, "but I have a wonderful idea of where I shall be eventually. I have dreams about it."
"Where is that?"
"Well, I can see vast changes coming over a now peaceful world; great upheavals, terrible struggles; wars such as one cannot imagine; and I tell you London will be in danger — London will be attacked and I shall be very prominent in the defence of London," Winston said.
"How can you talk like that?" Evans asked. "We are forever safe from invasion, since the days of Napoleon."
"I see further ahead than you do," Winston replied. "I see into the future."
Murland Evans was so "stunned" by the conversation that he "recorded it with utmost clarity," in a letter he sent to Churchill's son, Randolph, who in the 1950s was given the responsibility of writing his father's biography.
Churchill continued, undaunted, as he would many times throughout his career. "This country will be subjected somehow, to a tremendous invasion, by what means I do not know, but I tell you I shall be in command of the defences of London, and I shall save London and England from disaster."
Evans remembered Churchill as "warming to his subject" as he spoke.
"Will you be a general, then, in command of the troops?" Evans asked.
"I don't know," Britain's future leader replied. "Dreams of the future are blurred, but the main objective is clear.... I repeat — London will be in danger and in the high position I shall occupy, it will fall to me to save the Capital and save the Empire."
NEED FOR AFFIRMATION
Were it not for events almost fifty years later, young Winston's prediction might be dismissed as the desperate effort of a lonely adolescent with a need for affirmation to assert his significance. That need would have been understandable, given the relationship between Churchill and his physically and emotionally removed parents. Of his mother, Churchill wrote later in life, "I loved her dearly — but at a distance." And once, after an extended conversation with his own son, Churchill remarked, "We have this evening had a longer period of continuous conversation than the total which I ever had with my father in the whole course of his life."
Today, social conventions are often determined by their political correctness. In Churchill's day, especially for people of his class, it was "Victorian correctness" that set the standard. VC demanded a certain aloofness of parents towards their children. In some households, parents met with their offspring by appointment only (determined by the parent) and in the presence of a servant. If the child became too troublesome, obnoxious, or impolite, the help could quickly take charge.
As a boy, Winston romanticized his parents at times. He saw his father as a champion of "Tory democracy." History focuses on Lord Randolph's personal morality, but Winston saw his father as a good and loyal politician who stood on principle. He noted his father's courageous stands as chancellor of the exchequer — and how, when Lord Randolph's voice was ignored, he offered his resignation. Churchill admired the fact that Lord Randolph was sometimes unpopular and that he placed the nation's needs above those of his own Conservative Party when he perceived a conflict. Winston believed his father to be a "people's politician," not a party hack. He concluded that Lord Randolph sincerely desired to serve the people he represented and was not in politics for himself, for power, or for accolades.
Churchill's mother, Jennie, was an active socialite, if not a libertine, with many (some would say scandalous) involvements; but her relationship with her young son was not especially close. Still, Churchill remembered her as "a fairy princess: a radiant being possessed of limitless riches and power."
"Emotionally abandoned by both [parents], young Winston blamed himself," writes historian William Manchester. "Needing outlets for his own welling adoration, he created images of them as he wished they were, and the less he saw of them, the easier that transformation became." Aristocratic families sent their boys to private boarding schools — for Winston, it was Harrow — and at a distance, Winston's fantasized image of his parents was quite easy to maintain because he did not see them often or receive communications from them.
At one point, he tried to tell his mother how lonely he was: "It is very unkind of you not to write to me before this, I have only had one letter from you this term." In 1884, four years before he entered Harrow, nine-year-old Winston became sick. His doctor, who had a medical office in Brighton, on the Channel coast, felt it would be good for the boy's health if he lived for a while by the sea. Thus, Churchill started that fall as a student at a school there. But the new location made no difference in his parents' attentiveness. In fact, when he read in the Brighton newspaper that Lord Randolph had recently been in town to make a speech, Winston penned him a note: "I cannot think why you did not come to see me, while you were in Brighton. I was very disappointed, but I suppose you were too busy to come."
Then there were the suffocating strictures of the upper-crust educational institutions. As William Manchester observes, "Youth was an ordeal for most boys of [Churchill's] class. Life in England's so-called public schools — private boarding schools reserved for sons of the elite — was an excruciating rite of passage." Added to that misery was the continuing disregard by his parents. "It is not very kind darling Mummy to forget all about me, not answer my epistles," he wrote in one letter to his mother. On another occasion, Winston asked his father to come to Harrow for Speech Day and told him, "You have never been to see me & so everything will be new to you."
As difficult as his parents' seeming disinterest must have been for Churchill, it may have been a blessing in disguise. By default, his nanny, Elizabeth Everest, played a much bigger role in forming his vital foundational beliefs, and her perspective was decidedly Christian.
Winston Churchill's school experience was pathetic by any measure, but right from the start, even as a seven-year-old, he demonstrated the tenacity and determination that would come to characterize his life. Subjected to institutional acts of brutality that might have destroyed another boy's morale, Churchill remained resolute. Once, after a particularly severe caning at St. George's School in Ascot, he got his revenge by defiantly stomping on the headmaster's prized straw hat.
At the bottom of his class — and also sorted towards the end of the list at roll call because of his name, Spencer-Churchill — Winston wrote pleadingly to his father to allow him to dispense with the Spencer and simply go by Churchill. Lord Randolph ignored the letter, just as he had failed to respond to the hundreds of earlier epistles in which the homesick young Winston begged them to visit for a weekend, Sports Day, Prize Giving, or any occasion.
During those dark eleven years of Churchill's primary schooling, he had only one visitor: his nanny, Mrs. Elizabeth Everest, whom he affectionately called Woomany. She was the one person to whom he "poured out [his] many troubles." Churchill and Mrs. Everest remained friends and confidants until her death in 1895, five months after Lord Randolph's and three months after his grandmother's, Clarissa Jerome. "I shall never know such a friend again," Churchill wrote of Everest in a letter to his mother.
During Churchill's younger years, Mrs. Everest loved him dearly and protected him as best she could. Years later, when he wrote his only novel, Savrola, Churchill no doubt had Mrs. Everest in mind when he described the housekeeper character:
It is a strange thing, the love of these women. Perhaps it is the only disinterested affection in the world. The mother loves her child; that is maternal nature. The youth loves his sweetheart; that too may be explained.... In all there are reasons; but the love of a foster-mother for her charge appears absolutely irrational. It is one of the few proofs, not to be explained even by the association of ideas, that the nature of mankind is superior to mere utilitarianism, and that his destinies are high.
Stephen Mansfield provides further insight into Elizabeth Everest's influence on Churchill. She was a "low church adherent," he notes, who wanted no part of the "popish trappings" in the Anglican Church. "But she was also a passionate woman of prayer, and she taught young Winston well. She helped him memorize his first Scriptures, knelt with him daily as he recited his prayers, and explained the world to him in simple but distinctly Christian terms." Her role in the formation of Churchill's worldview was still evident later in his life when he often paraphrased or quoted Bible passages in his speeches. Even in seasons of doubt, he instinctively saw through eyes formed with a biblical outlook. This is why he could inspire hope, call for strength and faith, and most importantly, grasp the true meaning of Nazism and its threat to civilization.
Throughout his life, Winston Churchill was a man of principle, even though his understanding and application of those principles were sometimes skewed — as they are in all of us. The academics under whom Britain's future wartime leader studied would have been well acquainted with the writings of Jeremy Bentham, the prominent late-eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century British philosopher who promoted the theory of utilitarianism and the idea that outcomes determined the ethical rightness of actions and philosophies. Churchill was a practical man, but he was not a mere utilitarian. Instead, he combined a mighty visionary perspective, strategic wisdom, and tactical knowledge in ways rarely found in one person.
Early in his political career, Churchill angered his friends and won only meager approval from his former opponents when he changed political parties over policy principles. After the seeming collapse of his leadership reputation during the First World War, Churchill only dug the ditch deeper with his attempts to warn about the intentions of Adolf Hitler during the buildup to the Second World War. To regain his credibility and stature, it would have been much easier to give way to raw pragmatism and mute his message. The more comfortable course would have been to yield to Britain's war-weariness and allow Hitler free rein in Western Europe. After all, key players in the British aristocracy didn't think all that badly of Hitler, though his style was off-putting to some of their sensibilities. But as Winston had told his school chum in 1891, he could see "further ahead." And what Churchill saw was the power of principle over sheer utility. In the absence of parental influence, some credit for this perspective must go to his "foster-mother," Elizabeth Everest, who showed him that human nature is indeed superior to mere utility.
Years later, Churchill indicated a "partiality for Low Church principles" because of the impact of Elizabeth Everest. Though he respected Britain's rich historic traditions, he had no need for pomp. After the Second World War had ended, Churchill's wife, Clementine, asked her husband what memorial he would prefer. "Oh, nothing," he replied. "Perhaps just a park for the children to play in."
In 1945, after Churchill had saved civilization, King George VI wanted to induct him into the Order of the Garter, Britain's oldest, most prestigious, and highest honor for chivalry. Churchill became perhaps the first commoner to decline the high honor. The political editor of the London Daily Mail noted that "Mr. Churchill has always insisted that he does not wish to have a title." Besides, said Churchill (who had just been surprisingly defeated in the first postwar election), he could hardly accept the "garter" from the king when his people had just given him the "order of the boot."
Finally, in 1953, when Churchill was once again voted in as prime minister at the age of seventy-eight, he accepted the Order of the Garter — though still dragging his feet. Young Queen Elizabeth II, with as much fortitude as Churchill had, told him that if the prime minister would not come to her to receive the honor, then Her Royal Majesty would have to come to him, bearing the accoutrements of the Order. Churchill's regard for the monarchy wouldn't permit such a denigrating act by the queen, so he relented and became a member of the Most Noble Order. "I only accepted because I think she is so splendid," Churchill said, in describing his change of mind.
During the Second World War, Churchill gained the respect of the British people and their allies by personifying British pluck. His engagement with the public provided a link between average people and the aristocrats in high positions of power. This was crucial in forming the strong unity that was essential for the people to keep standing during the Battle of Britain and the years of bloody struggle after that.
Despite the void left by his parents, Churchill's visionary outlook was awakened at Harrow. Martin Gilbert notes that Churchill's first essay there dealt with Palestine in the age of John the Baptist. The seed of Churchill's concept of "Christian civilization" was already present when he included in the essay the notion of "the advantages of Christianity."
In 1940, as British cities were languishing under the Blitz, Churchill took his son, Randolph, to Harrow. The student choirs presented songs that Churchill had sung when he was there as a pupil. "Listening to those boys singing all those well-remembered songs I could see myself fifty years before singing those tales of great deeds and of great men and wondering with intensity how I could ever do something glorious for my country."
This, then, was the milieu in which sixteen-year-old Winston Churchill made his remarkable prediction of destiny to Murland Evans. It would be easy to attribute his lofty adolescent prediction to an overwrought quest for the recognition, acceptance, affirmation, and significance that his parents had not provided, except for the fact that what he predicted came curiously and remarkably true.
The path to greatness, however, was torturous and twisted. After Harrow, Churchill had high hopes of following his father into politics, even serving in Parliament at his side. Lord Randolph, however, had other ideas. When at last he visited Harrow, he told the headmaster he wanted Winston to go into the Army Class. At one point, when Winston was a young boy, Lord Randolph had surveyed his son's toy army of fifteen hundred soldiers and asked Winston if he would like to go into the military.
Excerpted from God & Churchill by Jonathan Sandys, Wallace Henley. Copyright © 2015 Jonathan Sandys and Wallace Henley. Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Foreword James A. Baker III xi
Preface Cal Thomas xv
Part I The Remarkable Preparation
1 A Vision of Destiny 3
2 Surviving Destiny's Perilous Paths 19
3 From the Admiralty to the Trenches 43
Part II Destiny
4 Hitler's Vision 61
5 Prime Minister at Last 75
Part III Saving "Christian Civilization"
6 Churchill and the Sermon on the Mount 91
7 Preserving "A Certain Way of Life" 115
8 Hitler and "Perverted Science" 133
9 Hider and the Corruption of the Church 153
10 Nazism and the German Disaster 165
11 Churchill's Urgent Concern-and Ours 179
Part IV Hope for Our Time
12 How Churchill Kept Calm and Carried On 191
13 Churchill and the Character of Leadership 211
14 Help and Hope for Our Times 227
About the Authors 267
What People are Saying About This
Winston Churchill was the greatest leader of the 20th century, and yet he never stood alone. Churchill understood what many of his biographers have not—that he was driven by an unshakable confidence in God’s providence in his life and destiny, and in the destiny of the cause he so bravely defended. In this book, Churchill’s great-grandson, Jonathan Sandys, and an experienced student of political leadership, Wallace Henley, clarify what so many other biographers of Churchill have confused. Churchill believed that he was defending nothing less than Christian civilization, and he believed that God was on his side. Readers of this book will wholeheartedly agree.
What a wonderfully enthusiastic book, written with the insights of a great-grandson of Winston Churchill who understands his great ancestor in unique and special ways. Jonathan is a fine Christian who grasps the spiritual dimensions of Churchill’s life and the struggle against the pure evil of Nazi tyranny. How fabulous, too, to see Churchill’s godly Christian nanny, Elizabeth Everest, given her true place in her charge’s life. And there is no doubt: It was Churchill as prime minister in 1940 who not only saved Britain from defeat but saved Christian civilization itself, as Jonathan and Wallace make so very clear. This is a book for Christians as well as for Churchill enthusiasts. Thank God for Jonathan’s ministry and historical perspective.
Having witnessed firsthand how God moves to influence major events in the world for the good of his people, I cannot imagine anyone better suited to tell the story of God’s work in the life and times of Churchill than Churchill’s own flesh and blood. Jonathan Sandys brings an unparalleled vibrancy and perspective on the great man and his times. He and Wallace Henley have artfully woven together the best-known and most obscure pieces of history to present the beautiful and compelling tapestry that is God and Churchill. An absolute must-read.
Winston Churchill was the greatest leader of the 20th century, and yet he never stood alone. Churchill understood what many of his biographers have notthat he was driven by an unshakable confidence in God’s providence in his life and destiny, and in the destiny of the cause he so bravely defended. In this book, Churchill’s great-grandson, Jonathan Sandys, and an experienced student of political leadership, Wallace Henley, clarify what so many other biographers of Churchill have confused. Churchill believed that he was defending nothing less than Christian civilization, and he believed that God was on his side. Readers of this book will wholeheartedly agree.
Great leaders, and the times and circumstances in which they served, have long fascinated me. Winston Churchill has been of special interest to me for many years. I have read books about the British wartime leader, but they always seem to leave out a critical element. But Jonathan Sandys and Wallace Henley have captured it in this book. At last we have a detailed presentation not only of Churchill’s legendary exploits but also of the inner dynamic that compelled him with a vision for “Christian civilization” and an iron will to defend it at all costs. Sandys and Henley, to use a Churchillian idea, have brought the inspiration and lessons of the past into our present for the sake of the future. This is a must-read for our critical times.
A graphic portrayal of the life and legacy of Winston Churchill, with emphasis on his guiding belief in divine providence. Long before “the clash of civilizations” had become a common term, Churchill knew what it meant and spent his life defending the civilization so decisively shaped by the Christian faith. A fascinating study!
I have known four generations of the Churchill family. The noblest remaining of that family is Jonathan Sandys. He has both the vision and the voice to carry forth the legacy of his great-grandfather and is well worthy to offer this account of Churchill’s life and faith. God and Churchill has earned a place next to the greatest of books ever written on the master statesman.
A fascinating and well-argued book that adds a vital, missing component to understanding Churchill. As a lifelong admirer who as a boy met Churchill and who has read widely on his life, I was curious to know what Sandys and Henley would present as evidence. I was not only convinced but delighted at the realism and relevance of their portrayal of Churchill. He emerges as anything but ardently religious, but he was more personally aware of his destiny and more biblically literate and attuned to the Christian worldview and Christian civilization than many Christians today.