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5.0 out of 5 stars Voice from the Religious Right, Pulling Us Back to a Biblical Center, May 21, 2012
This review is from: A Faith of Our Own: Following Jesus Beyond the Culture Wars (Hardcover)
In this dangerous new era of political campaigns, when any angry billionaire can blanket America with hate-filled attack ads, the rise of Jonathan Merritt may be an answer to prayer. Merritt, at 29, is heir to evangelical royalty as the son of former Southern Baptist Convention president James Merritt and a family friend of the late Jerry Falwell (as well as other Religious Right luminaries). Yet, Merritt is using his considerable clout as a hot young writer to urge evangelical friends nationwide to move, as his subtitle puts it, "Beyond the Culture Wars."

Why should we pay attention to Jonathan Merritt now? Every day, fresh headlines show the growing toxicity of politics. With uncapped spending by Super PACs, the New York Times predicts that billions of dollars are flowing into frequently angry messages that, by definition, candidates cannot even try to moderate.

In religious circles, there's not a more important voice emerging than Jonathan Merritt, who is calling for religious calm from every public pulpit that welcomes him. From the Huffington Post to the Washington Post, from FOX News to network TV talk shows, Merritt is using his considerable connections to call for truly biblical compassion. Despite his own blanketing of American media, where can you find Jonathan Merritt's most eloquently argued manifesto for rethinking faith and politics? In the pages of this new book. That's why you should pick up a copy on behalf of your own faith, whatever that faith may be, and on behalf of those who hope to see some civility return to our republic.

Don't misread this review and think that Merritt is arguing for Christians, or anyone of strong faith-based convictions, to simply walk off stage and give up on activism. On the contrary! Many truly biblical issues fuel Merritt's passion. Google up evangelical Christian advocates of abolishing nuclear weapons and you'll find that Merritt has hung his shingle along side Rob Bell, Shane Claiborne, Brian McLaren, Tony Campolo and many others. Look for Christians who are preaching that we must all work together to save our environment and, once again, Merritt ranks among the top names.

In the book, Merritt writes: "Christian leaders who claim to represent the larger movement often so thoroughly misrepresent the rest of us that many would cherish clearing the deck and starting from scratch. Today's Christians believe we all need to learn how to disagree without being disagreeable. To listen more and speak less and perhaps infuse our debates with a modicum of respect. Turning imperative debates into an episode of The View doesn't help anything. People crave a civil society for both personal and pragmatic reasons. Most of humanity feels the offense of harsh words even when they are directed at others. ... A coarse culture is also an unproductive culture--especially in a democratic society whose engine runs on compromise and coalition building. When incivility reigns, progress is stymied and compromise is replaced by stalemate."

Care about your faith and the future of our world? Pick up a copy of Jonathan Merritt's book for an eloquent plea about a truly compassionate way to wage your own campaign.
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