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Raised Right: How I Untangled My Faith from Politics Paperback – September 6, 2011

3.9 out of 5 stars 122 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Praise for Raised Right

“Journalist [Alisa] Harris gives a face and a voice to America’s younger generation, offering herself up as a case study of Christian youth caught in a partisan nation.… Young Americans will identify with her coming-of-age struggles and passion for weeding out injustice. Right-wing politicians and older generations of Christians should pay close attention in order to understand, and perhaps empathize with, her demographic.”
Publishers Weekly

“Endorsements to co “A wonderful story for political misfits of all shapes and colors. Harris invites you to hop off the political bandwagon and to walk with her down the narrow way that leads to life. And she reminds you not to veer too far off the path to the left or to the right, lest you get confused and can’t find the way home again.”
—Shane Claiborne, author, activist, and recovering sinner, www.thesimpleway.org

Raised Right demonstrates that the evangelical stampede to the far right in the 1980s has produced a generational backlash, as young evangelicals like Alisa Harris encounter the Hebrew prophets and the words of Jesus. This is the most encouraging book about evangelicals and politics I have read in a very long time.”
—Randall Balmer, Columbia University, author of Thy Kingdom Come: How the Religious Right Distorts the Faith and Threatens America

Raised Right is funny, insightful, and packed with truth. Harris speaks on behalf of a generation of culture warriors longing for a more peaceful way forward. Those who grew up in the trenches will relate to every page.”
—Rachel Held Evans, author of Evolving in Monkey Town

“In Raised Right, Alisa Harris paints a fascinating picture of how the same religious devotion can send succeeding generations to opposite sides of the political battlefield. And while her story may be more common than ever, it’s uncommonly told. Alisa’s voice is fresh, honest, gracious, and provocative in all the right places. An enthralling and illuminating read.”
—Jason Boyett, author of O Me of Little Faith: True Confessions of a Spiritual Weakling

“Alisa Harris is a smart, fearless, gracious writer who, in her memoir Raised Right, showcases a deft mature-beyond-her-years honesty and kindness when sharing her affecting story of growing up in a politics-and-faith-charged environment. But the brilliance of Raised Right shines brightest when Harris begins confessing—often with a self-deprecating spin—the personal and spiritual unraveling that happens when she begins to unmarry her faith from her politics. Ultimately, hope wins throughout as Harris discovers small bits of humble truth along the journey. And because narrative in Raised Right is rich yet familiar, readers will discover small bits of their own.”
—Matthew Paul Turner, author of Churched and Hear No Evil

Raised Right chronicles Alisa Harris’s journey from an evangelical childhood community steeped in the politics of James Dobson to an evangelical young adulthood where the politics of Barack Obama are preferred. It is engaging and well written, and it will be very illuminating to anyone who wants to understand the changes afoot among youth raised evangelical and what those changes will mean for American politics.”
—Jonathan Dudley, author of Broken Words: The Abuse of Science and Faith in American Politics

About the Author

Alisa Harris is a journalist living in New York City who enjoys writing in quirky coffee shops. A 2007 graduate of Hillsdale College, she has worked as a college instructor in writing and journalism. Her writing has been published in WORLD, the Farmington Daily Times, Albuquerque Journal, and Detroit Free Press.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 230 pages
  • Publisher: WaterBrook Press (September 6, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307729656
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307729651
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (122 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,964,969 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I was first interested in this book because I, too, have come to a point where I do not like the politicization of conservative Christianity. It seems to me that I should be able to be a conservative Bible-believing Christian without having to be a political activist for the Republican party. So, I really hoped this book would help me along in my own journey.

To start with, I must say that I enjoy the authors writing style. It was very easy to read and she is a gifted storyteller. Her stories are all very revelant and serve to bring out the points she is trying to make as she explains the things she wrestled with as a young adult.

However, I didn't end up feeling like she really "untangled" her faith from her politics. Its seems, rather, that she has embraced both theological and political liberalism. I really feel that her faith is just as much entwined with her politics as it ever was.

If you want to understand the thought process of the young, postmodern, Emergent church types, this book will be very revealing for you. But, if you really just are looking at escaping politicized Christianity while holding fast to conservative, biblical Christiantiy you will likely be frustrated by and disappointed in this book.
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I have calculated Alisa Harris' age to be from the mid-to upper 20's. (I may be mistaken here, and if so, let me know). Whether I'n accurate or not, I know that she is still a young person. In my opinion, that made her book even more effective. "Young person" and "ignorant person" are not always one and the same. In fact, her book resonated very well with me at my age -- considerably over 21 years old.

I was born in the Truman era -- and when I went to Bible College, Lyndon Johnson was president. When he was elected, the president of the school was sad over that. I figured that our school president was very Republican. At the time I was, too, but I began to wonder -- where does the Bible say that Christians must be Republican? Times were different then, but I was noticing a shift in thinking in many Christian circles that I wasn't articulate enough to put into words. Those were the days of the "Cold War," and people interested in Medicare (which was passed while I was in Bible College) were seen as being leftists if not borderline "Communistic." Communism was a live issue in those days, and Democrats were seen to be at best slightly "pink" if not "red" altogether.

Fast forward to Ms. Harris' experience. Some of the things she mentions, I realize that I thought about in retrospect. In 1964 and 1965 I had wondered about what seemed to be a fixation of many Evangelical Christians on the Republican party. Even though I was probably "conservative" then (and maybe still am) I had a hard time proving Biblically that private enterprise is morally superior to government control. Eve though I preferred private enterprise (and still do) it didn't mean that I was a better Christian than someone who wanted a more government-oriented approach to politics.
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Born to a politically active, conservative family in New Mexico, Alisa shares stories of her family standing by the highway holding picket signs when she was a girl too young to really know what they were taking a stand for. She shares her starstruck story of touching then Republican presidential nominee, George W. Bush. "My fingertips just brushed the hem of his sleeve. It was enough." Her home school field trips to the state capital where she and her classmates were unleashed upon unsuspecting liberals to practice conversation techniques meant to remove the scales from their eyes and sending them running to the GOP confessing their many sins along the way. After moving away from home, the events of September 11th, the resulting Iraq War and through forming relationships with fellow New Yorkers, Alisa realized that she had mixed up her priorities. That being a follower of Jesus' teaching didn't necessarily go hand in hand with the GOP's political agenda and that those who cheered for the opposing side weren't as misguided, uninformed or evil as she was taught to believe.

This book isn't so much a guide to how to untangle the reader's faith from their politics as it is a memoir of Alisa's faith journey. The last few chapters, while important felt different from the rest of the book in tone and subject matter and I felt that they could have been developed a little bit more to better tie into the rest of the book. The chapters read like blog posts and are therefore easy to read. There are a few scriptures that she references as a basis for her belief change but for the most part, she speaks of general christian concepts and examples from conversations with liberal christian friends.
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Something I've noticed about myself is that while I'm willing to consider new and different angles on a given issue, when it comes to using what I've learned in order to take a side on that issue my firstborn brain often hesitates if I don't have a feeling of permission to make the choice I'm about to make.

Alissa Harris's new book "Raised Right" gave me the feeling of permission I needed.

***We interrupt this review to bring you the reviewer's Life Story for the sake of journalistic transparency in background comparison between her and the book's author.
- Management***

The oldest of three kids, I was raised in a warm, nurturing, politically conservative Christian home by parents who loved their kids, their families, and the world around them. To the point, even, that they sold their home in the Chicago suburbs to live in South America for three years where my mom taught grade school and my dad built schools, churches, a drug rehab facility, and whatever else came up. They loved God. They loved people. They loved each other. Luckily that love rubbed off on their kids.

While our family rejected the absurd stereotype of many culture-Christians who live to call This, That, or The Other politician either a Saint or an Anti-Christ, we were a Republican-voting family. My parents never specifically instructed me as such, preferring to keep politics out of their children's lives, but I still knew which box I should check when I reached 18. In fact, I was in my early 20s before it occurred to me to even think about listening to- not just hearing- the whys and wherefores behind the reasoning of the American Left. Not even to agree with it, mind you, but just to listen to it.

I didn't really need for there to be alternatives growing up.
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