I took a weekend off from sharing my usual That Was The Week That Was collection of links, but I had a good reason: I wrote seventeen pages of my Lindbergh project! That chapter wrapped up this afternoon, so now feels like a good time to share an update on my progress.
If you’re new to the blog or have maybe forgotten what “my Lindbergh project” is, here’s a refresher:
I know that Charles A. Lindbergh is familiar to most of you, but I went on a run earlier this year of getting a “Charles who?” response from every college student to whom I mentioned my research. That’s probably not my target demographic, but just in case you’re sitting there sheepishly asking the same question…
A congressman’s son from Little Falls, Minnesota, Charles Augustus Lindbergh was the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean (May 20-21, 1927). Lindbergh married Anne Morrow in 1929; their first child, Charles, Jr., was kidnapped and murdered in 1932. After spending several years living in Europe, the Lindberghs returned to the United States in 1939, when Charles vocally (and controversially) opposed American entry in World War II. (For balance, I’ve been rewatching the Great Depression and WWII episodes in Ken Burns’ series on The Roosevelts.) After the war, he wrote the Pulitzer-prize winning Spirit of St. Louis (1953) and became a leading figure in the environmental conservation movement. He died in Hawaii in 1974 at the age of 72.
I’m under contract to write about Charles Lindbergh for Eerdmans’ Library of Religious Biography series. While Lindbergh remained suspicious of Christianity and all other religions throughout his life, he was increasingly interested in spiritual and philosophical questions in the second half of his life and found himself particularly drawn to at least some of the teachings of Jesus. I’ve pitched this book as a “spiritual, but not religious” biography, borrowing the term often used for people who don’t identify with a particular religion or denomination, but aren’t atheists or agnostics either.
The manuscript is due at the end of this summer. The book should come out sometime next year.
Me being me, I’ll keep tweaking them until the moment I submit the manuscript, but the introduction and first four chapters are in pretty good shape. Here’s that outline:
Word count: 1,951
Sample line: “Others could ask questions and suggest answers, but the man who flew solo across the Atlantic had to chart his own path to God.”
Word count: 3,949
Time period covered: before Lindbergh’s birth in 1902
Sample line: “Then there was Ola Månsson, who left Sweden for none of those reasons.”
2. A Boyhood on (and beyond) the Upper Mississippi
Word count: 6,942 (part of me wants to split this one in two…)
Time period covered: 1902-1918
Sample line: “Almost from the beginning, Charles Lindbergh’s spiritual journey led him away from religion, whose certainties squelched curiosity, whose community stifled individualism.”
3. The Winged Gospel
Word count: 5,129
Time period covered: 1918-1926
Sample line: “One elderly African American woman asked him how much he’d charge to fly her up to heaven—and leave her there.”
4. The New Christ
Word count: 5,668
Time period covered: 1927
Sample line: “On May 20, 1927, everyone in Yankee Stadium talked to God.“
I’m probably about a third of the way through, which is where I wanted to be by the end of the academic year. So I’m pretty happy being a month ahead of schedule, knowing that I should have a lot more time for writing in late May through August.
I didn’t actually mean to write in chronological order, but it’s worked so far. So if I keep going down that path, the next chapter will focus on Anne Morrow Lindbergh and cover the years 1927-1935. Anne was many things in her accomplished life, including (as I put it in the introduction) “the foremost of the many conversation partners who spoke into Charles Lindbergh’s spiritual development.” Here’s some of what I’ve already blogged about her; I’m sure bits and pieces of that post will find their way into the manuscript, as others have already.