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Pursued by the Spirit

BOOKS | A memoir of meeting God and grappling with politics

Nancy French Handout

Pursued by the Spirit
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“WORDS CANNOT adequately describe the discomfort of my husband almost running for president while I worked for [Donald] Trump’s main supporters,” ghostwriter Nancy French confesses in Ghosted (Zondervan 2024). In 2016, she and her husband David (Iraq War veteran, lawyer, and now a columnist at The New York Times) became Never Trumpers after decidedly Republican careers. Even as the Frenches peeled away from the GOP, Nancy had book contracts to finish—which meant, among other things, attending a MAGA rally. Soon, though, the Frenches spoke out against Trump. Then, Nancy French says, watched many friends disown them or drift away. Hence the book’s title. French writes, “I woke up one morning and I was far, far away from the place I’d always been.”

French’s memoir isn’t just a political story. The title also alludes to the Holy Ghost. She starts as a little girl ­living below the poverty line in Tennessee, where “the hiring criteria for country Church of Christ preachers was a car salesman’s enthusiasm, a firm handshake, and baptism by immersion.” One such pastor sexually abuses French as a girl, and her church covers it up.

Later she attends Lipscomb University, where she endures more trauma and becomes an angry feminist atheist. Soon she’s ready to give up on life. Her conversion to true faith—involving her husband-to-be, an apartment floor, C.S. Lewis, and the Holy Spirit—is stunning.

While Ghosted is a memoir, it’s also directed at an American church facing political fracture. At one time, French argues, it seemed easy for Christians to find common political ground: Republicans were the “good guys,” and Democrats were the “bad guys.” Today that line is “fuzzier than I’d originally believed,” she writes. French admits she was among those fostering inter-party outrage in her work as a ghostwriter: “I knew how to eviscerate political enemies, and I did. … I looked for the worst of Democrats and elevated them, even though the outliers can’t possibly represent the whole of a political party.” She makes a resolution to change. She decides she will “not bear false witness against my liberal neighbor.”

For French, Trump’s ascendancy in the teeth of multiple sexual accusations against him reflected her painful church past. “My whole life,” she writes, “I’d seen people ignore the sexual actions of men if they were valuable enough to the organization.”

Whatever one makes of French’s politics, the believing reader will recognize the God she comes to know throughout the book. People may have ghosted her, she writes, but He didn’t.

Chelsea Boes

Chelsea is editor of World Kids.



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