Michael Gerson, Washington Post columnist and former aide and speechwriter to President George W. Bush, visited Gordon September 13 and 14. Gerson's Thursday address, “Whose Responsibility is Opportunity? The Role of Citizens, Government and Civil Society” tackled the “durable, deepening divide rooted in class," resulting in a society in which people are “betrayed by their birth.
Gerson's Friday-morning address, "Three Responses to Suffering," analyzed varying Christian responses to human suffering: indifference, compassion and justice. He emphasized how political action can address suffering, and ended by contextualizing suffering—-both corporate and individual—within Christian theology. He exhorted students to be socially active, yet not to make activism itself the primary focus.The world does not lack for important causes, he noted, but it does need people to pursue those causes with a perspective shaped by faith.
Gerson's visit marked the second event in the Richard F. Gross Distinguished Lecture Series at Gordon College. The new series, named in honor of Gordon’s sixth president, features prominent public officials, scholars and leaders representing a diversity of contemporary perspectives and reasoned discourse.
“Michael Gerson is one of the leading conservative opinion-shapers in the country today,” says Tal Howard, history professor and director of Gordon's Center for Christian Studies, which sponsored the lectures. “A key architect and spokesman for George W. Bush’s idea of ‘Compassionate Conservatism,’ Gerson has a knack for showing how conservative principles wedded to religious conviction can empower individuals and civil society to work for the greater good of all citizens."
Gerson is the author of Heroic Conservatism (HarperOne, 2007) and co-author of City of Man: Religion and Politics in a New Era (Moody, 2010). He is the Hastert Fellow at the J. Dennis Hastert Center for Economics, Government, and Public Policy at Wheaton College in Illinois. He serves on the United States Holocaust Memorial Council, the Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Committee on Conscience, the Board of Directors of Bread for the World, the Initiative for Global Development Leadership Council, and the Board of Directors of the International Rescue Committee. He is co-chair of The Poverty Forum and co-chair of the Catholic/Evangelical Dialogue with Dr. Ron Sider. From 2006 to 2009, Gerson was the Roger Hertog Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).
Before joining CFR in 2006, Gerson was a top aide to President George W. Bush as Assistant to the President for Policy and Strategic Planning. He was a key administration advocate for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the President's Malaria Initiative (PMI), the fight against global sex trafficking, and funding for women’s justice and empowerment issues.
Prior to that appointment, he served in the White House as Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Presidential Speechwriting. Gerson joined Bush's presidential campaign in early 1999 as chief speechwriter and a senior policy advisor.