Fridays with Friends: Cherie Harder shares her inspirations

Image courtesy the Trinity Forum.
Image courtesy the Trinity Forum.

Cherie Harder serves as President of the Trinity Forum. Prior to joining the Trinity Forum in 2008, Ms. Harder served in the White House as Special Assistant to the President and Director of Policy and Projects for First Lady Laura Bush.

Earlier in her career she served as Policy Advisor to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, advising the Leader on domestic social issues and serving as liaison and outreach director to outside groups. From 2001 to 2005, she was Senior Counselor to the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, where she helped the Chairman design and launch the We the People initiative to enhance the teaching, study, and understanding of American history.

On behalf of All Nine’s “Friday with Friends” series, author/historian Kevin Belmonte recently conducted this interview with Cherie:

Image courtesy the Trinity Forum.
Image courtesy the Trinity Forum.

Kevin Belmonte: What/Who/where are your consistent sources of inspiration?

Cherie Harder: Along with a good chunk of Christendom, I find CS Lewis and his works to be a source of ongoing encouragement and inspiration. I first read The Chronicles of Narnia as a kid, and try to re-read it every few years or so, and find it unfailingly rousing and helpful. 
And then there’s Wilberforce. I first discovered Wilberforce (and you played a role in this!) as a part of a small group of Capitol Hill staffers in the late 90s — before he was cool, so to speak. This group of staffers met, prayed, and schemed together about how we could proactively, creatively, and Christianly impact the culture in our respective posts — and found Wilberforce’s example to be not only an inspiration, but even a blueprint of sorts. Many of the tactics he and the Clapham Circle used in the effort to abolish the slave trade and reform the culture of his time were so creative and clever that they were catalytic in forming our own strategic/political approaches. Other sources of inspiration: the consistently profound thought and work of Dallas Willard and Eugene Peterson.

KB: What artists (musicians, poets, painters, photographers, filmmakers, etc.) do you recommend?

CH: Art and artists who have enriched my life include the late works of Rembrandt, the memoirs/thoughts of Henri Nouwen and Frederick Buechner, the novels of Charlotte Bronte, Muriel Spark, and Penelope Lively; and the poetry of Emily Dickenson, Billy Collins, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and Dana Gioia (weird mix, I know). One additional (and thoroughly honorable) mention should be given to jump blues and swing music. Growing up in a fairly fundamentalist home, I was not allowed to dance. In my early 30s, I agreed to accompany a friend who had just endured a tough break-up to swing dance lessons – and found, to my total surprise, that I not only loved the music and the dancing itself, but wasn’t all that bad at it. There was delight in the discovery – and it enriched my life.

KB: How can readers of All Nine get involved in what you’re doing?

CH: All Nine readers will, I believe, find a very welcome home at the Trinity Forum. We provide a space for thoughtful professionals to engage life’s greatest questions in the context of faith – and provide a platform for the best of Christian thought. We do this through the publication of quarterly Readings, which make the best of classic and contemporary literature and essays accessible to a non-academic audience, and through our programs, which provide a forum for discussion of the big questions of life, and a platform for thinking leaders to engage leading thinkers. Our website is www.ttf.org, and our store is at: http://ttf.gostorego.com

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