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God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It Paperback – August 29, 2006

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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 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 399 pages
  • Publisher: HarperSan Francisco; Reprint edition (August 29, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060834471
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060834470
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (255 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #632,174 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 191 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 147 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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121 of 132 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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108 of 118 people found the following review helpful By DJ Rix on January 25, 2005
Format: Hardcover
After the 2002 midterm elections, Jim Wallis asked a Republican political operative the following extended question:

"What would you do if you faced a candidate that took a traditional moral stance on the social and cultural issues? They would not be mean-spirited and, for example, blame gay people for the breakdown of the family, nor would they criminalize the choices of desperate women backed into difficult and dangerous corners. But the candidate would be decidedly pro-family, pro-life (meaning they really want to lower the abortion rate), strong on personal responsibility and moral values, and outspoken against the moral pollution throughout popular culture that makes raising children in America a countercultural activity. And what if that candidate was also an economic populist, pro-poor in social policy, tough on corporate corruption and power, clear in supporting middle-class and working families in health care and education, an environmentalist, and committed to a foreign policy that emphasized international law and multilateral cooperation over pre-emptive and unilateral war? What would you do?" I asked. The Republican strategist paused for a long time, and then said, "We would panic!"

That sums up the spirit, the "angel" of this book. For Wallis, there is a fourth way in politics, beyond liberal, conservative & libertarian. It is a "prophetic politics" rooted in tradition. Jim Wallis is not a radical theologian. He's not trying to overturn The Apostles' Creed & reinterpret the Resurrection of Jesus Christ to make it compatible with the laws of physics as we understand them. He does understand, as so many Christians from Paul of Tarsus to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King have understood, that just to live truly as an authentic Christian is a revolutionary act.
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