God and Hamilton:
Spiritual Themes from the Life of Alexander Hamilton & the Broadway Musical He Inspired
By Kevin Cloud
Reviewed by Kerry Greenhill
In God and Hamilton, Kevin Cloud has written a thoughtful exploration of twelve spiritual themes found in Alexander Hamilton’s life and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s phenomenal Broadway musical: Grace, Shame, Faith, Initiative, The Outsider, Sinner and Saint, Equality, Forgiveness, Despair, Surrender, Death, and Redemption.
Beginning with an enthusiastic appreciation of the musical itself, with consideration of the ways that theater can be a spiritual “thin place” to experience moments of transcendence, Cloud then focuses each chapter on one of his identified themes. He examines the theme as played out in Hamilton’s life and in the musical, and connects it with personal, biblical, historical, and contemporary examples.
This is a thorough, accessible, well-researched and compelling book, worthy of individual reading and group study. There are some instances where I felt Cloud left some problematic theological assumptions unexamined, as when he relates a story by another author of an infant’s drowning, without a theological response to the explicit statement that “God could have stopped it,” which can be harmful for many. His chapter on Equality is a good beginning to inviting readers to address contemporary issues of racism and sexism, but could have gone much further. Cloud also engages in imaginative speculation about what Hamilton or other historical figures may have thought or felt in particular situations, which sometimes felt a bit forced to fit his chapter’s themes.
But overall, I enjoyed reading God and Hamilton. It is thoughtful, sincere, rooted in faith without being too preachy, and I would comfortably recommend this book for anyone who loves the musical and is interested in connecting Christian faith to history and daily life.
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR,Part 255.