Saturday, August 20, 2016

Barry Hankins's "Woodrow Wilson"

Barry Hankins is Professor of History at Baylor University, as well as a Resident Scholar with the Institute for Studies of Religion (ISR). His publications include Baptists in America: A History and Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism: A Documentary Reader. Hankins's biography Francis Schaeffer and the Shaping of Evangelical America: Fundamentalist Warrior, Evangelical Prophet was awarded the 2009 John Pollock Award for Christian Biography.

Here Hankins dreamcasts an adaptation of his new book, Woodrow Wilson: Ruling Elder, Spiritual President:
Woodrow Wilson: Gregory Peck the way he played Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird—serious, driven, strong sense of justice (except on race; contra Finch), not given to humor or frivolity, but very affectionate and loving with his children.

Ellen Wilson (Wilson’s first wife): Geraldine Chaplin the way she played Tonya in Dr. Zhivago —smart, devoted to her husband, good mother, but couldn’t stand up to Wilson, willing to promote his career while tolerating and even supporting his affair.

Mary Hulbert Peck (Wilson’s long-running emotional mistress): Goldie Hawn—flirt, collects men (especially if they’re famous) needy, and emotionally dependent, becomes a tragic figure.

Edith (Wilson’s second wife): Meryl Streep—strong, makes Wilson realize how wrong his affair with Hulbert-Peck (Goldie Hawn) was, both promotes and protects her husband’s career, the first co-presidency (the Clintons made the second), practically runs the presidency after Wilson’s stroke.

Colonel Edward M. House (Wilson’s closest advisor; rival to Edith (Meryl Streep)): Tommy Lee Jones (best supporting actor, like House a Texan)—completely devoted to Wilson (Peck) but strong enough (and smart enough) to plant ideas in Wilson’s mind, convince the president the ideas were his own, and thus shape presidential policy while also promoting it.

William Monroe Trotter (African-American editor of the Boston Guardian newspaper): Morgan Freeman—After Wilson allowed his administration offices to be segregated, Freeman, as Trotter, squares off with Wilson in a raucous Oval Office debate. “Now, Mr. President,” he said, “it is true in almost every case that we who suffer know as even you can’t know. There would be things that come to us that couldn’t possibly come to any other class of citizen.” Trotter (Freeman) says the only way for people to understand racial discrimination is to “wear a face that is black or brown, as we do. And then they would see this democracy in a way which they have never seen it.” Wilson (Peck) replies tersely, “I assure you that it will be worked out.”
Learn more about Woodrow Wilson: Ruling Elder, Spiritual President at the Oxford University Press website.

Writers Read: Barry Hankins.

--Marshal Zeringue