A giant in Southern politics of a day gone by, Harry Dent ultimately found himself a giant in a different kingdom–the kingdom of God. Through the process, he come to understand which had the greatest importance.
I met Ginny Dent Brant a few years ago when we shared a mutual interest in Southern Baptist Convention issues, especially related to its International Mission Board. I knew nothing of Harry Dent or the Southern Strategy; she never mentioned her famous father. I have vague memories of Nixon in office, of Patty Hearst’s kidnapping and of Watergate in real time. I have no memory of Harry Dent and memories of Chuck Colson only start from my mid-teen years.
For the similarly uninitiated, Harry Dent was a Republican strategist in the deep South who is credited with developing the party’s base of strength during a time that Southerners were not generally courted by presidential politics. He was also an insider in the Nixon White House until, providentially, he was demoted just before a certain after-hours tour at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D. C.
Dent Brant’s book is both a memoir of her admired father and an autobiography of her own spiritual journey. Chronicling their moves to/from South Carolina and DC, Harry Dent’s not always successful juggling of his family, career and business ventures, and her own ministry, Freedom covers many years of God’s working in and through a family.
While those over 50 might have clearer memories of Harry Dent’s political influence and stature than I, many of those will have no memory of his second career, indeed his second life.
A lifelong church goer, Dent was of that special breed of Southerner: the moralist. Seeing church as a great way to churn out good citizens, his “Christianity” amounted to little more than a few sayings and behavioral expectations. He never saw the connection with the real world and his daughter’s desire to pursue God at all costs. After many years, though, Dent met Christ and was forever changed.
Harry Dent’s second life was that of a lay-preacher fired by the gospel to reach those who had suffered under the rule of communist leader Nicolae Ceausescu in Romania. Preaching and teaching to the spiritually famished people in cities like Cluj became his passion. His founding of Laity Alive and Serving (now headed by Ginny Brant) was birthed from his desire to see other non-pastors involved in taking the love of Jesus to the ends of the earth.
Finding True Freedom is for those who are interested in the Nixon administration, politics in the deep South or the way that God uses willing people to accomplish Kingdom goals. It is also a meaningful reminder of how the lives we lead touch others in ways we cannot always anticipate.
Published by CLC Publications, Finding True Freedom, by Ginny Dent Brant, is available through the Amazon.com link below, at bookstores in North and South Carolina, and select Family Christian Stores. Her upcoming book signings are:
Tues., Nov. 2nd 4 – 6:00 pm at Trenholm Plaza in Columbia, SC
Thurs. Nov. 4th 4 – 6:00 pm at Riverhurst Shop on 123 in Clemson, SC
Fri., Nov. 12th 5:30 – 7:30 at Family Christian on Harbison Blvd in Irmo
Sat. Nov. 13th 10 – 12:00 at Books on Main in Moncks Corner
1 – 3:00 at Family Christian at Northwoods Mall in N. Charleston