American Awakening is more than just a book. It’s a movement. A campaign for the soul of America. Resisting today’s onslaught of anxiety, isolation, and depression, American Awakening instead celebrates the life that’s truly Life, calling participants to a renewed sense of unity even amid the chaos.
From his youth, John Kingston has always carried a vision for a free and united America. In American Awakening, Kingston pulls from history, science, faith and culture to offer eight forgotten principles to restore the soul of America, by building better lives, breaking through cultural divides and rediscovering who we are—together.
Kingston’s passion and drive is incredible and I knew I had to get him on the podcast program. The result is an almost hour-long master class on soul-restoration in the public sphere.
The Interview | John Kingston, American Awakening
This excerpt has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Josh Olds: What was the inspiration for this book? What made you think that this is something that Americans need to hear?
John Kingston: Right, so I have been active in the public square in the last handful of years, starting in 2016. And when I say active, I mean, its the first time I tried to insert myself in the public square instead of just trying to do things in support in the background…I’ve worked in a lot of public policy initiatives, but I never was actually the kind of try to play my way onto the stage to see if I could influence things. That changed in 2016 with the rise of Trumpism. And the way that, you know, the church and country and my people seemed to not stand for the principles I cared about…
What I found in 2016-2018 was that we’re asking people in the public square to act in ways that they’ve, at the moment, lost the capacity to…When you have lost a sense of your purpose and your meaning and significance in the world, you forget that we’re supposed to live in community…I sort of realized that the problems out there demanded something different and deeper than what politics or the public square could lead people. So don’t get me wrong. I’m a big fan of good leadership and good leadership is a really big component of all this. But fundamentally, these are our spiritual issues. And what we needed was a spiritual awakening. So the book and the whole American Awakening movement was a call for spiritual awakening and re-grounding ourselves in the basics of who we are as people as children of a living and loving God and as Americans together.
Josh Olds: To me, it’s this idea that we increasingly have looked at politics to save us and I think that that is As the world grows more secular as America grows more secular, I think that’s to be expected. Because in the absence of any religious component, then government does kind of begin to fulfill that role in public life. And what we have found over the course of the last four years, especially, but even, you know, decades before that, is that it’s just led to an increased level of division, and increased level of hostility and an increased level of extremism. I think what you’re saying is that if we—not ignore the political principles—but begin with the spiritual core, and then see how the political principles work out of that, then that’s going to be the beginning of the awakening.
John Kingston: Correct. Completely agree…People of faith have, we’ve lost the thread, we’ve lost the narrative of who we are as people of faith. I’m just gonna get really bold and revolutionary radical sounding here for a moment here, but we are arguably as racist and materialist and politicized and polarized as the culture around us. And, you know, when you’re that way, why do we expect to be people of salt and transformative quality?…We’ve had a misbegotten political and public square theology for decades now, which has turned a generation of Christian voters into single issue voters, for instance, and it doesn’t matter what compromise is required… And, again, I’m a conservative. I mean, I’ve been conservative my entire life. So it’s not like I’m against these principles. It’s just that those are second-order principles. The first principle is loving your neighbor as yourself and carrying that into the public square.
Josh Olds: When it comes to the public square and the way that many evangelicals speaking, it just does not seem to embody that love for the neighbor…This didn’t just begin with Trump, it’s something that’s been ongoing and degrading for a while. But for you, was it sort of the rise of Donald Trump and evangelical connection to him that sort of led you down this path?
John Kingston: I didn’t fundamentally think we were just off track until 2016. Now maybe it’s my lack of acuity and insight and perception. Wiser observers that I probably saw it, but I don’t recall, you know, too many folks speaking so profoundly about it. And then 2016 happened. I spoke with Republican governors of faith, Republican senators of faith, because I spent all year in 2016 trying to stop the rise of Trump and Trumpism. I was so certain that this was anathema to our fundamental values as Christians, most importantly, and as people of conservative principle.
The Book | American Awakening
We live in the greatest peace and prosperity that the world has ever known, but Americans are feeling more division, isolation, depression, and despair than ever before. These are issues of the soul. We seem unable to find purpose and meaning. We can’t find “the life that is truly life”–a vibrant and purpose-filled way of living best experienced together.
From his youth, Kingston has always carried a vision for a free and united America. With an approachable and conversational style, as well as a dash of humor, Kingston draws on a diverse and compelling collection of wisdom–the parables of the Bible and the philosophy of Aristotle, the legacy of Nelson Mandela and the speeches of Abraham Lincoln, the songs of Bruce Springsteen and current studies from the best neuro and social scientists today–to remind us that there is no “them,” there is only us, and we’re in this together.
In American Awakening, Kingston offers eight timeless principles for breaking through this darkness and despair and cultivating a radical togetherness, both here in this country and around the globe. You’ll discover the profound impact of:
Making more from less
Responding instead of reacting
Finding your unique sense of belonging
Wherever you find yourself politically or spiritually, a healthy and united America starts with you. Join the Awakening movement and let’s rediscover who we are—together.
The Author | John Kingston
John Kingston is a lawyer by training and Fortune 500 senior executive by experience, who has been inspired by his faith to invest his fortune in awakening America to values that made her a nation unrivaled in human history. Kingston gained national attention in the 2016 and 2018 political cycles with innovative and inclusive campaigns positioned against the extremes of American politics, and has been active in national arts, culture, and political movements for two decades.