I will never forget the moment I walked out of the Richard Rogers Theatre in New York City, having just experienced Hamilton the musical. Hamilton has captured our culture’s imagination like no Broadway musical ever before. It currently has almost 700,000 fans on Facebook, plays to sold out shows every night in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, and is beginning a forty-plus city national tour in January. Hamilton mania has taken over our country.
There are many reasons this musical resonates so deeply with audiences across the country. The lyrics, music, and songwriting truly are genius. The innovative decision to cast the Founding Fathers with actors of color creates all kinds of imaginative possibilities. Hamilton’s life itself offers a compelling storyline, with huge triumphs and disastrous failures.
But another reason exists that explains why Hamilton impacts audiences at the level that it does. Hamilton offers people a transcendent experience, a story that draws audiences into the presence of the Holy. Actress Rosie O’Donnell, who has seen the show over fifteen times observes that Hamilton “is medicine that I need for my soul. It feels vital to me; it feels like going to church.”
Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator of Hamilton, gave a speech recently where he talked about one of his favorite aspects of live theatre: its ability to create moments of transcendence. Hamilton teems with such moments. Moments where a poignant scene takes place on stage, an act of betrayal, an offer of forgiveness, the grieving of a loss of a child, and the entire atmosphere changes in the theatre. Everyone watching can feel the weight, or the presence, of an important truth, or even of God himself.
After my experience watching Hamilton, I read Ron Chernow’s biography of Hamilton. As I read more about Alexander and his wife Eliza, my conviction grew that this story was a deeply spiritual one. Alexander grew up with a robust faith, prayed and studied the Scriptures in college, and interpreted the world through a spiritual lens. His wife Eliza might have been even more devout. She followed God faithfully and served him throughout her life.
After experiencing the musical and reading the biography, I felt compelled to write a book that connected this cultural phenomenon with the spiritual themes found at its center. Themes such as grace, despair, surrender, death, and redemption. Themes that are not only at the center of Hamilton’s life, but at the center of our lives as well. By diving deeper into these themes, and their presence in Hamilton’s life, this story and musical have the power to transform our lives. We only need to open ourselves up to it.