Finding God in a Novel: Josiah for President by Martha Bolton

by Laurie Winslow Sargent:

As polls close on Election Day and the identity of our next president remains uncertain,  I have a few thoughts about the book Josiah for President.

 

Have you ever picked up a book, hoping desperately you’ll like it–while also feeling a bit skeptical about the plot? I felt a touch of that before reading the novel Josiah for President. Note “before”.

Knowing the talent of author Martha Bolton (see her amazing bio) and the caliber of fiction by Christian publisher Zondervan, I expected great writing and editing. I was simply curious about how Martha would pull off the plot: an Amish man running for president.

The book begins with Congressman Mark Stedman, a presidential candidate who–after lagging in the polls–quits his campaign. While driving home to Wisconsin from Washington D.C., a traffic backup leads him to try an alternate route. Stedman ends up stranded temporarily in Pennsylvania Amish country, near a town called Bird-in-Hand, where he meets an Amish farmer, Josiah Stoltzfus.

“Stedman learns more from Josiah in a few days than in his many years in office. He comes to the conclusion that someone with a little old-fashioned common sense, not a career politician, should be running the country. ”  [FROM THE BACK COVER]

Considering how old-order Amish usually shun pride and politics, I wondered how Stedman would even persuade Josiah to run. And if he did get farmer Josiah out of the gate, wouldn’t Josiah’s family be shunned by their community? Thankfully, that tension about potential shunning was woven well into the plot, and action and dialogue realistically revealed why Josiah was ultimately persuaded to become a write-in  presidential candidate.

I also wondered how Martha would create a political climate that would make it logical for the general populous to even consider Josiah a legitimate candidate. The way Martha set this up was intriguing and plausible.

Instead of a country with fervent passions for candidates on both sides of the political fence (as we’re experiencing this week), in her novel Martha created an apathetic bunch of voters with no logical, moral candidates to select from. Even the former president has given up.

Congressman Stedman is pressured (after his own campaign ends) to endorse an unsavory candidate within his own party who he doesn’t respect. Instead, he makes an impulsive (and somewhat rebellious) decision to endorse an unknown and mysterious candidate.The disenchanted populous is suddenly enchanted, hoping that man may be someone who could change the country.

Author Martha Bolton, formerly a comedy writer for Bob Hope, injects humor into Josiah for President as she portrays what would happen if Amish garb and slogans suddenly became fashionable (distracting many potential voters from thinking too deeply about other issues) and social media focused on how a return to the simple life might not be so bad for America.

I asked Martha what inspired her to write this book. She replied:

 “I got the idea for Josiah for President last summer, while at a meeting with the producer for The Confession Musical (based on Beverly Lewis’ best-selling trilogy) and Half-Stitched, the Musical (based on Wanda Brunstetter’s newest book).

“As the scriptwriter for those musicals, I had been spending some time in Amish country. And since we were coming up on the 2012 election year, the two worlds (politics and Amish) were already in my head and the idea just came.  I wondered to myself:  what if an Amish man could be drafted to run for president?  Someone with the Amish kind of sensibility, a back to basics attitude, and a man of his word would make a great president. And he would be the ultimate green candidate. I mentioned the idea to the producer and he told me to start writing it right away.  I wrote the story as a screenplay first, and then turned that into the novel.”

So how was I finding God–or thinking about Him, as I read this novel? I began to wonder how willing I would ever be to go out of my comfort zone to accomplish God’s will in my life–as Josiah did.

See the book book trailer:  Josiah for President – Martha Bolton

Find Josiah for President on Amazon.com, Christianbook.com, and through other bookstores.

Also: For show dates for the The Confession (playing this Fall  in Bird-in-Hand PA) click HERE. The musical is also playing in Shipshewana IN and Sugarcreek, OH.

 © Laurie Winslow Sargent. Laurie edits Finding God Daily, and is an author/contributor and magazine article writer. She blogs for parents at  ParentingByFaith.com and for writers at  SellYourNonfiction.com.  Join her on Twitter as @LaurieSargent.

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  1. Fur fun, too, you can watch the movie The Shunning (based on the first book in the Amish trilogy by Beverly Lewis). Some of the characters in the musical The Confession, which Martha Bolton wrote the musical script for, are also in this movie.
    https://movies.netflix.com/WiMovie/The_Shunning/70197445?locale=en-US

  2. Oops. Slip of the finger on the keyboard there! Although fur fun could apply to animal lovers (and hey, there IS a horse on the book cover) or to speaking with a Southern accent.

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  1. [...] the video below, meet Martha as she shares her recent works on Amish musicals and fiction, including Josiah for President, and describes what it was like working closely with comedian Bob Hope for over fifteen [...]

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