[UPDATED] All Saints Church has long had a reputation for bringing influential figures onto its hallowed grounds for forums and speeches from the pulpit. That tradition will resume in a major way at 10 a.m. this Sunday, June 28 when the Pasadena institution plays host to legendary Governor Jerry Brown and author Jim Newton, author of the newly released biography “Man of Tomorrow: The Relentless Life of Jerry Brown.”
“I wrote a biography years ago of Earl Warren , who was until Jerry Brown, the longest serving governor in the history of California,” said Newton. “The Warren book allowed me to do a history of California, from 1900 to 1950, because in 1953, he left to go to the Supreme Court. And so my California story sort of ended when he left.
“I was looking for a way to write about more contemporary California history,” he said. “As I searched around for the right way to do that, it occurred to me, and other people who suggested it, that Jerry Brown is kind of the dominant figure of California politics in that period. I was fascinated by him.”
Due to the ongoing shutdown of churches in California amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the event will be a virtual one, with viewers able to log in and watch via Zoom at 10 a.m. via https://zoom.us/i/817796514.
“Governor Brown has had as great a hand as anyone in shaping the last 50 years of California’s life,” said All Saints Rector Mike Kinman. “He has not only been a transformative leader but a deep philosophical and theological ponderer of the great issues of our time. Jim Newton’s book is an amazing chronicle of all of it and it is a unique opportunity to bring both of them to All Saints Church.”
The setting is an apt one for Brown, not only since All Saints is a bastion of support for progressive causes, but also because of his lifelong penchant for spiritual pursuits. Born into a Catholic family as the son of another California governor, “Pat” Brown, he left college at Santa Clara University in 1956 to attend Sacred Heart Novitiate, a Jesuit novice house in Los Gatos, intent on becoming a Catholic priest.
Instead, he wound up entering politics for an illustrious career that saw him win four terms as the state’s governor, Newton describes his service as the 34th and 39th governor of California in these terms: “He was governor twice, 28 years apart, and he was exactly right for both times.”
Brown’s other governmental positions included terms as the state’s Secretary of State, mayor of Oakland, and Attorney General. He also made three unsuccessful runs for the presidency in 1976, 1980 and 1992. Newton spent 25 years at the Los Angeles Times as reporter, editor, editor-at-large, and editor of the editorial page. He teaches at UCLA and is the author of two other critically acclaimed, best-selling biographies.
While taking several years off from politics in the 1980s, he studied Buddhism in Japan and spent time volunteering with Mother Teresa among the poor in the streets of Calcutta. His varied spiritual interests led to his receiving the nickname “Governor Moonbeam.”
Prominent reviewer Evan Thomas has already lavished praise upon the new biography, stating: “Jerry Brown is one of the most intriguing and misunderstood figures in American history. To follow the man who was known as Governor Moonbeam and Linda Ronstadt’s boyfriend – but who was also the savvy pol who saved the state of California – is a strange and fascinating trip. There is no better guide than Jim Newton, a vivid and insightful writer who knows his subject cold.”
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