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America's Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America Hardcover – January 19, 2016

4.7 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

"Jim Wallis has grasped with amazing clarity and insight the persistent pain and sin of racism in America. In America's Original Sin we have not only a recounting of the pain of racism and xenophobia but also a hope-filled cartography for a new, reconciled reality. As a Latino evangelical, I have found in Jim Wallis a key ally and fellow visionary for a racially reconciled America."
--Rev. Dr. Gabriel Salguero, president, National Latino Evangelical Coalition; pastor, Lamb's Church

"Jim Wallis is a clarion voice our nation desperately needs right now, especially the parents and grandparents raising our next generation of children. Only the truth will set us free."
--Marian Wright Edelman, president, Children's Defense Fund

"Jim Wallis is a visionary veteran in the struggle against white supremacy. In this powerful book, he calls for a new conversation and action on the ground--in our homes, churches, sports arenas, and schools--in order to be true to the best of who we are!"
--Cornel West, Union Theological Seminary; author of Race Matters

"Every so often a leader addresses the pressing crisis of his or her day with the clarity, passion, and conviction that offers not only critique but hope that can only be forged in the trenches of faithful struggle and engagement. Jim Wallis has done just that by confronting the injustice of racism in our nation."
--Noel Castellanos, CEO & president, Christian Community Development Association (CCDA)

"We will not get better as a country until we face the sin we've inherited, the sin that continues to wound our brothers and sisters. This book can help us build a better nation by facing the terrible truth of our self-centeredness and the wonderful truth of God's ongoing, redeeming love."
--Joel C. Hunter, senior pastor, Northland--A Church Distributed

From the Back Cover

Crossing the Bridge to a New America

"Jim Wallis marches among our hardiest and most steadfast pioneers on the path to a more perfect union and a more vibrant faith. America's Original Sin is a powerful act of Spirit-led truth telling and a loving disruption of the status quo. Wallis calls us to transcend racial categories and to see in one another the image of God. He points out the structural realities of sinful racism and makes clear that to be redeemed, we must do more than deny it. This is required reading for all who believe in the promises of God, hope for the American democracy, and long to see the power of a justice ethos grounded in love."
--Rev. Dr. William Barber II, president, North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP; author of The Third Reconstruction

"I have been waiting a long time for this book. I have been waiting for a white, male, evangelical Christian to say what Jim Wallis has the courage to say. Jim, in his own inimitable way, invites us into a conversation about America's original sin that is long overdue. America, the church, the criminal justice system, and, indeed, all of us, need to engage in the level of truth telling that he is calling for in this book."
--Cynthia L. Hale, senior pastor, Ray of Hope Christian Church, Decatur, Georgia

"Jim Wallis, the nation's preeminent evangelical prophetic teacher and preacher, sends a tough love letter to America, demanding and daring the church not only to repent of the 'original sin' of racism but also to join the fight against all forms of racial injustice. I encourage everyone who is concerned about our democracy and who desires to see the church live out its true mission of love and justice to read this prophetic epistle."
--Otis Moss III, senior pastor, Trinity United Church of Christ, Chicago, Illinois

"In the face of the implicit and often unconscious structures of racism, 'it's time for white Christians to be more Christian than white,' says Jim Wallis. If you don't understand this quote--or if you do--read America's Original Sin. Wallis unpacks for white Americans how we lost our souls, and he maps out the road of repentance to systemic and personal racial healing."
--Sharon E. Watkins, general minister and president, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

"For decades, Jim Wallis has steadfastly spoken, written, and lived as one committed to racial justice and reconciliation. This book is a consummate distillation of those themes that leans back to remember 'America's original sin,' principally to rivet our attention and commitment to a different future. This is a sobering and motivating act of hope."
--Mark Labberton, president, Fuller Theological Seminary
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Brazos Press (January 19, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1587433427
  • ISBN-13: 978-1587433429
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,238 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
This book is a concise and focused primer for all Christians, but especially for white evangelicals who are reading the signs of the times and struggling to discern how to respond. In the age of Obama, Ferguson, Charleston, and the fifty-year anniversaries of so many of the key battles of the Civil Rights Movement we need efforts like this and the conversations that will emerge from them.

This book’s title originates from a November 1987 article in Sojourners which began with the sentence: “The United States of America was established as a white society, founded upon the genocide of another race and then the enslavement of yet another.” Such an assertion contradicts the central lie of America’s founding narrative. American Christianity has been tangled up in that lie. “It’s time,” Wallis writes, “for white Christians to be more Christian than white.”

The legacy of white supremacy disables white evangelicals from addressing contemporary incidents of racialized violence against African-Americans with any degree of sympathy, insight, or relevance. Unfortunately, this has not rendered them mute on the topic even as it has exposed them as part of the problem rather part of the solution. Jim Wallis is trying to keep evangelicals in conversation with concerns outside their parochial worldview.

In this book he presents a strong, uncompromising view of race and racism. He connects central biblical concepts with incisive contemporary anti-racist analysis and then offers some of the best available mainstream progressive recommendations. There is little here that is original or has not been said before. His strength is in bringing it all together in a manner and tone that (some) evangelicals might be able to hear at a moment when we all need to hear it.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I really enjoyed Jim Wallis's new book. Racism is a blight on our society and is as old as America, itself. In the book, Jim tries to have us see how racism creates repetitive patterns and systems that often spark adversity and tragedies, both on a personal level and a national level. He asks us us to peer inside ourselves and understand how pride, hate, and resentment, affect our daily actions and words. He boldly asks us to to walk together into a new future.

Jim offers a superb analysis of how racism has shaped and formed itself within our society throughout American history. Jim Wallis has always been arguing for economic and racial justice, throughout the past few decades.

Wallis defined the United States’ original sin as:

“Well, the original sin is…this nation was founded by the near genocide of one people and the kidnapping of another people to build this nation.”

He now offers a new path to understanding and conquering racism, in our country. It was a great read about our principles and virtues, I highly recommend it! Hope it helps:)
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
One Sunday I stood in the church vestibule greeting congregants as they exited. One man complimented me on the sermon and then asked this somewhat unusual question: “How long do you think it took to prepare that?”

“Fifty years,” I told him. That was my age at the time.

The best messages have to steep for a while, and clearly the message of America’s Original Sin has been steeping for quite some time. In fact, a few months ago, Jim Wallis told me that this was the book he’s always wanted to write. I believe he’s been writing it all his life. It’s only now, in the fullness of time, that we’re getting to read it.

This book lays bare the facts about white America’s moral responsibility for this country’s racial dysfunction. These facts are not really in dispute but are nevertheless largely ignored by white Christians. Not any more. Jim Wallis doesn’t just present the facts; he confronts us with them.

America’s Original Sin is not just a reminder of our jaded history or our hypocritical present. It is more than the sum of its sobering statistics. It calls into question the very benignity of whiteness. It reminds us of our biblical commitments. It calls us to repentance.

The repentance to which Jim Wallis points, however, is not simply a cathartic spiritual experience. He’s not just talking about committing to change but about making changes—changes in our relationships, changes in our churches, changes in our politics. And the book is chock full of practical prescriptions as to what that change should look like.

Perhaps the best thing about this book, however, is just how very personal it is. Reading this book feels a lot like having a conversation with Jim Wallis, right down to the de rigueur references to Little League.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A powerful message delivered at exactly the right time. Anyone who cares about equality and the future of our country should put this on their list.

Evangelicals are often portrayed as a monolith in the media. Candidates are going after the "evangelical" vote in the primaries, which is synonymous with a conservative white voter, but Wallis and the organization he leads represents a different kind of evangelical and hope for a different, more progressive, conversation around race and faith in America.
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