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
has struck a chord with contemporary Americans who, according to bestseller lists, are buying Walliss book in droves. Regardless of how critics feel about the authors religious beliefs (evangelical Christian) and political leanings (traditional on family values; progressive on issues like poverty and social justice), they are hard-pressed to argue with his central tenets: God belongs to no single political party and true faith transcends political categorization. Wallis writes that liberals and conservatives alike should work for a "new spiritual revival
that could transform our society." While at least one reviewer complains that Wallis glosses over the religious lefts failures, no one denies that he has produced a timely, thought-provoking book.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.