An American Awakening

From Ground Zero to Katrina The People We are Free to Be

Courtney Cowart

Sep/2008, 192 Pages, HARDCOVER WITH DUST JACKET, 6 x 9

ISBN-13: 9781596271012



A riveting record of an unusual journey by Courtney Cowart, a theologian who witnessed the two greatest catastrophes in recent American historythe 9/11 tragedy at the World Trade Center and the devastation of Hurricane Katrinaand how the author actively participated in the healing of both.

An American Awakening spans the time from September 11, 2001 through the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina in 2007. Beginning in New York, this account reveals Cowart's role in the Ground Zero recovery ministry at St. Paul's Chapel, "The Little Church That Stood," across the street from the World Trade Center. This gripping memoir presents the spiritual commitments made when the author's life was spared on 9/11, and how these commitments eventually led her to answer the call to serve in New Orleans. It is an engrossing account of Cowart's experience in post-Katrina New Orleans as director of the Office of Disaster Response for the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana, a post she accepted after her life-changing experience at Ground Zero. Cowart is probably the only American spiritual leader called to a sustained, front-line role in both the 9/11 and Katrina disasters, and this is the first and only memoir of that dual experience.

Download a free copy of "An American Awakening: A Reflection and Study Guide for Groups and Individuals," the companion study guide to An American Awakening, written by noted Christian formation expert Sharon Ely Pearson.

Courtney Cowart is a scholar in the field of Spiritual Formation and American Church History (Th.D. from General Theological Seminary). She is a survivor of 9/11 and served in the recovery of Ground Zero from historic St. PaulХs Chapel. She currently serves as Strategic Director of the Office of Disaster Response for the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Before these life-changing experiences Cowart worked in the field of philanthropy for Trinity Church Wall Street and prepared candidates for ordination at the General Theological Seminary in New York. She is a frequent speaker on the subject of sacred activism. She lives in New Orleans.

“Courtney Cowart’s book is a deeply moving account of the kind of discipleship that is possible in some very dark places of human suffering.  It is a real proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus and the freedom for service that it generates.”—Archbishop Rowan Williams, The Archbishop of Canterbury

“On the surface, this is an autobiography.  In reality, it is a true story about the spirit of Anglicanism and the power of caritas.  It will move you to tears, but pray God it will also move each of us to confess the truth behind the disparity in how we as a people dealt with the twin horrors of 9/11 and Katrina."—Phyllis Tickle, Author, The Great Emergence, Religion Editor (ret.), Publishers Weekly

“Courtney Cowart is an author of graceas a subject matter, as in the elegance of her art, and as a person who knows it when she sees it and can respond to it with her whole heart.  Grace cannot be planned, manufactured, packaged, or earned.  It is different each time.  How then can the church know it when it happens and clear the way for its power?  Courtney Cowart’s graceful story shows how.”—Jerome Berryman, Founder of Godly Play

“There is enough here to recall Episcopalian cadences . . . a rector, a vicar, a bishop who deliberately exhibits purple, and an archbishop stirred into the mix.  But the narrative offered is not an Episcopalian one.  It is rather a raw human account of day-to-day care and generosity that is marked by faith and that smacks of courageous staying power.  It is a narrative of immense power that invites recovery of human dignity, neighborly solidarity, and active hope."—Walter Brueggemann, Columbia Theological Seminary, Renowned biblical scholar

“This is a good book about real hope.  Courtney Cowart looks at two unspeakable tragedies and dares to think there is an important change in the soul of America.  She writes beautifully about the river of civic virtue we have witnessed in the aftermath of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina and thinks it has brought us to a better, more human and hopeful place.”—John Buchanan, Publisher of The Christian Century

"Books face tough competition with TV saturation. How much can words give us? In the case of Courtney Cowart, quite a lot. American Awakening is an eloquent call to the best impulses of a nation's soul." –Chicago Tribune, September 2008

Author Courtney Cowart “was caught outdoors and nearly killed in the collapse of the North Tower of the World Trade Center, a block and a half from her Manhattan office.

“Her subsequent work helping to shape the Episcopal Church’s exploding, months-long relief effort toward workers recovering bodies at Ground Zero made her a de facto relief expert, and thus the first person her alarmed church sent to Louisiana three days after Katrina to survey a stricken New Orleans.

“That makes Cowart witness to two historic traumas. More to the point she has seen close-range the astonishing rush of private aid, compassion, and solidarity that followed both events. 

“And the dual experience cracked open for her a vision of the Kingdom of Heaven.

“Whether that vision flickers out in a return to the status quo, or whether Americans can retain just a bit of that new-found solidarity toward each other, is the question undergirding her book.”–New Orleans Times-Picayune, September 2008


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