God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It
Publication date: Aug. 29, 2006
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New York Times bestseller God's Politics struck a chord with Americans disenchanted with how the Right had co-opted all talk about integrating religious values into our politics, and with the Left, who were mute on the subject. Jim Wallis argues that America's separation of church and state does not require banishing moral and religious values from the public square. God's Politics offers a vision for how to convert spiritual values into real social change and has started a grassroots movement to hold our political leaders accountable by incorporating our deepest convictions about war, poverty, racism, abortion, capital punishment, and other moral issues into our nation's public life. Who can change the political wind? Only we can.
Secular liberals and religious conservatives will find things to both comfort and alarm them in Jim Wallis's God's Politics. That combination is actually reason enough to recommend the book in a time when the national political and theological discourse is dominated by blanket descriptions and shortsightedness. But Wallis, editor of Sojourners magazine, offers more than just a book that's hard to categorize. What Wallis sees as the true mission of Christianity--righting social ills, working for peace--is in tune with the values of liberals who so often run screaming from the idea of religion. Meanwhile, in his estimation, religious vocabulary is co-opted by conservatives who use it to polarize. Wallis proposes a new sort of politics, the name of which serves as the title of the book, wherein these disparities are reconciled and progressive causes are paired with spiritual guidance for the betterment of society. Wallis is at his most compelling when he puts this theory into action himself, letting his own beliefs guide him through stinging criticisms of the war in Iraq. In his view, George W. Bush's flaw lies in the assumption that the United States was an unprecedented force of goodness in a fight against enemies characterized as "evil." Indeed, although both the right and left are criticized here, the idea is that the liberals, if they would get religion, are the more redeemable lot. Wallis's line between religion and public policy may be drawn a little differently than most liberals might feel comfortable with, and while he pays some lip service to other faiths most of his prescription for America seems to come from the Bible. Still, for a party having just lost a presidential election where "moral issues" are said to have factored heavily, God's Politics is a sermon worth listening to. --John Moe