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God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It Hardcover – January 11, 2005

257 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

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

From Bookmarks Magazine

God’s Politics has struck a chord with contemporary Americans who, according to bestseller lists, are buying Wallis’s book in droves. Regardless of how critics feel about the author’s 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 left’s failures, no one denies that he has produced a timely, thought-provoking book.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: HarperSanFransisco (December 22, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060558288
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060558284
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (257 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #958,016 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jim Wallis is a bestselling author, public theologian, speaker, preacher, and international commentator on religion, public life, faith, and politics. He is president and CEO of Sojourners, where he is editor-in-chief of Sojourners magazine. He regularly appears on radio and television, including shows like Meet the Press, the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, the O'Reilly Factor, and is a frequent guest on the news programs of CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, MSNBC, Fox, and National Public Radio. He has taught at Harvard's Divinity School and Kennedy School of Government on Faith, Politics, and Society. He has written eight books, including: Faith Works, The Soul of Politics, Who Speaks for God? and The Call to Conversion.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

176 of 192 people found the following review helpful By Robin Orlowski on January 19, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This book is very thought-provoking. The author sees a place for religion, arguing that the exclusion of religion from the political sphere is unrealistic. It does not reflect the way which Americans have and continue to make policy.

Even liberal politicians are motivated to enter public life and work on behalf of other people because of their own religious convictions according to this book. Denying that these are moral values and their roots in religious belief damages our own standing. This denial then feeds into a stereotype that the left is bereft of any morals or opposes religious people.

At the same time. Wallis takes on the 'religious right' who have comadeered Republican Party infrastructure since the late 1970's/early 1980's. He argues their current interpretation of 'good' public policy is also counterproductive to good public policymaking; anybody not sharing their worldview instantly becomes demonized. Because there are so many different religious perspectives in America (even among Christian denominations themselves) religious right actions actually undercut the standing of religion throughout American society, as practiced by these groups religion becomes percieved as something which is harsh, judgemental, and exclusionary.

I appreciated this book's complex view of religion. It clarifies that the problem is not religion itself, but how we employ it in public life which is the real problem.
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136 of 148 people found the following review helpful By MovedbyMusic on January 16, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I have waited for years for someone to finally write a well-written book on the balance between political secularism and faith. A book that does not go overboard on any issues. A book that does not go into guttersniping or is so full of proselytization that the fanaticism makes you want to run and hide under a blanket. This book is incredible because it puts common sense back into emotionally charged issues that skew people too far in either direction. I think what keeps happening is that people posture so much to the far left or far right espousing God as their compass they lose their perspective in what is realistic and factual. They are so hell-bent on making someone else see their point of view they leave no room for consideration of another option.

I found myself agreeing with so much this author had to say. We are not about being a religious-based society but we are about having faith, compassion and spirituality. We have never been about disassociating conscientiousness from religious freedoms.

I so highly recommend this book I wish I could give it ten stars.......
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122 of 134 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on January 13, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I've never met Jim Wallis, so unlike a previous reviewer I can't speak to his political aspirations nor to how writing this book may help him in that regard.

Speaking only for myself I can say that Jim's approach to the Christian faith, and the fact that he has given voice to that approach, is a great relief. It is leadership like Jim's and ideas and actions like those taken by Sojourners and Call to Renewall, that make it possible for me to continue to identify myself as a Christian. That has not always been an easy thing to do in liberal company.

While the writing in this book isn't always the sharpest, nor the construction the cleanest, this book is very approachable, very readable and (more importantly) extremely timely in the moral life of our country. It is time for people of "values", and Christians in particular, to stop aligning themselves with secular parties or along other political demarcations.

Jesus' message, the Good News, the Gospel, and the life it calls one to, is not about Red States vs Blue States. It's not about being a Donkey or an Elephant. It is about being on God's side, the common good. More than anything else, people of conscience need to ask themselves if they are aligned with the sheep, or the goats.

The action that Jim Wallis calls us to in this book is not about political parties. It's about taking the great commission seriously. Jesus didn't tell the apostles to go out and make converts, but disciples. He taught that when the great judgment comes we won't be questioned on our party affililations, our church membership, nor even on whether we believed that Jesus is God.
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95 of 103 people found the following review helpful By W. P. Strange on January 15, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Wallis gets it, and I think in truth so do most Americans. It isn't really about right, left, liberal conservative, it's about rational thinking and doing the right thing and no political ideology has a corner on that. A must read for those who are tired of one sided rightwing/leftwing screeds and writers who use tastless titles meant to anger as selling tools - pay attention Ann Coulter!
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47 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Bart Breen VINE VOICE on October 25, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Wallis brings an important and much needed message to the religious and political arena. Most of what he has to say is articulate, well thought out and presents the important message that Christians must beware of the dangers of "Group-Think."

My primary criticism and the reason I give the book 4 stars rather than what would have otherwise surely been a 5, is that the title is somewhat misleading. Reading this book I was under the impression that it would seek to point out issues on both the Democrats and Republicans and indeed there are places where that seems to happen.

Far more, however, this is aimed primarily at the "Right-Wing Conservative" faction of the Republican party who have embraced religious values. What little criticism the Democrats receive is more along the line of "They don't communicate their message, well." The title would lead you to believe there is criticism all the the way around. It just isn't so. -1 Star for misleading this reader in that regard.

Granted, the Republicans are the party of power and as such are worthy of more scrutiny. Even factoring this in, I don't believe an objective reader could look at this and conclude it is a balanced and equally critical look at both parties.

That having been said it is still an important and riveting book.

Wallis is nothing if not passionate and his lifestyle and actions as reported by him, are in line with what he is saying which I respected immensely and chose to accept at face value. Of particular note, and resonating with this reader were these important points:

1. No reading of the Bible can miss the prevelent theme of how Christians respond to the poor as a primary tenet of Christians and their role in society.

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