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America's Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America Hardcover – January 19, 2016
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From the Inside Flap
--Rev. Dr. Gabriel Salguero, president, National Latino Evangelical Coalition; pastor, Lamb's Church
"Jim Wallis is a clarion voice our nation desperately needs right now, especially the parents and grandparents raising our next generation of children. Only the truth will set us free."
--Marian Wright Edelman, president, Children's Defense Fund
"Jim Wallis is a visionary veteran in the struggle against white supremacy. In this powerful book, he calls for a new conversation and action on the ground--in our homes, churches, sports arenas, and schools--in order to be true to the best of who we are!"
--Cornel West, Union Theological Seminary; author of Race Matters
"Every so often a leader addresses the pressing crisis of his or her day with the clarity, passion, and conviction that offers not only critique but hope that can only be forged in the trenches of faithful struggle and engagement. Jim Wallis has done just that by confronting the injustice of racism in our nation."
--Noel Castellanos, CEO & president, Christian Community Development Association (CCDA)
"We will not get better as a country until we face the sin we've inherited, the sin that continues to wound our brothers and sisters. This book can help us build a better nation by facing the terrible truth of our self-centeredness and the wonderful truth of God's ongoing, redeeming love."
--Joel C. Hunter, senior pastor, Northland--A Church Distributed
Top Customer Reviews
This book’s title originates from a November 1987 article in Sojourners which began with the sentence: “The United States of America was established as a white society, founded upon the genocide of another race and then the enslavement of yet another.” Such an assertion contradicts the central lie of America’s founding narrative. American Christianity has been tangled up in that lie. “It’s time,” Wallis writes, “for white Christians to be more Christian than white.”
The legacy of white supremacy disables white evangelicals from addressing contemporary incidents of racialized violence against African-Americans with any degree of sympathy, insight, or relevance. Unfortunately, this has not rendered them mute on the topic even as it has exposed them as part of the problem rather part of the solution. Jim Wallis is trying to keep evangelicals in conversation with concerns outside their parochial worldview.
In this book he presents a strong, uncompromising view of race and racism. He connects central biblical concepts with incisive contemporary anti-racist analysis and then offers some of the best available mainstream progressive recommendations. There is little here that is original or has not been said before. His strength is in bringing it all together in a manner and tone that (some) evangelicals might be able to hear at a moment when we all need to hear it.Read more ›
“Fifty years,” I told him. That was my age at the time.
The best messages have to steep for a while, and clearly the message of America’s Original Sin has been steeping for quite some time. In fact, a few months ago, Jim Wallis told me that this was the book he’s always wanted to write. I believe he’s been writing it all his life. It’s only now, in the fullness of time, that we’re getting to read it.
This book lays bare the facts about white America’s moral responsibility for this country’s racial dysfunction. These facts are not really in dispute but are nevertheless largely ignored by white Christians. Not any more. Jim Wallis doesn’t just present the facts; he confronts us with them.
America’s Original Sin is not just a reminder of our jaded history or our hypocritical present. It is more than the sum of its sobering statistics. It calls into question the very benignity of whiteness. It reminds us of our biblical commitments. It calls us to repentance.
The repentance to which Jim Wallis points, however, is not simply a cathartic spiritual experience. He’s not just talking about committing to change but about making changes—changes in our relationships, changes in our churches, changes in our politics. And the book is chock full of practical prescriptions as to what that change should look like.
Perhaps the best thing about this book, however, is just how very personal it is. Reading this book feels a lot like having a conversation with Jim Wallis, right down to the de rigueur references to Little League.Read more ›
Jim offers a superb analysis of how racism has shaped and formed itself within our society throughout American history. Jim Wallis has always been arguing for economic and racial justice, throughout the past few decades.
Wallis defined the United States’ original sin as:
“Well, the original sin is…this nation was founded by the near genocide of one people and the kidnapping of another people to build this nation.”
He now offers a new path to understanding and conquering racism, in our country. It was a great read about our principles and virtues, I highly recommend it! Hope it helps:)
I wanted to like the book; but the truth is that I did not. It was a frustrating read for me. Nevertheless, it gave me a lot to think about.
Through the course of attempting to articulate what it was that troubled me in these pages, I re-read early chapters of Lillian Smith's 1949 classic, KILLERS OF THE DREAM (which was revised and republished in 1961). Hers is the clear-eyed view of the complicated dilemma of segregation in which white Southerners found themselves caught up, written from the empathetic perspective of an articulate writer who was herself a white Southerner. Smith was not a defender of segregation, however. She saw the world as a place where all its children should be able to play together, and grow together, as equals. But she understood intimately the dilemma with which white Southerners lived.
It is this rare but necessary perspective that Wallis' writing seems to lack.
In his engaging "My Story" in the opening pages of chapter 1, Wallis reveals how it was that he gained a sympathetic perspective of African Americans; but evidently he never was able to get beyond his anger to the place of developing a similarly sympathetic or empathetic perspective of the white, racially- and socially-unengaged Christianity that he rejected. Consequently-—or so it seems to me-—that same anger, unresolved, pervades and weakens his ability to communicate effectively with the audience he most hopes to reach with this book: That would be white America, and particularly the white Evangelical Christian America in which he grew up (xxiii; 3-4, 62).
Following are some of the specific problems I had with this book.
1.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A must read if you want to understand part of what's happening in America today!Published 22 hours ago by John A. Atkinson
Well written and thorough as far as this white person is concerned. As a Christian I am ashamed that we as a nation have failed and are continuing to fail our brothers and sisters... Read morePublished 2 days ago by Dan Swartz
Excellent. Insightful. Jim Wallis understands the current pulse of America as well as the heart of the American church. Read morePublished 9 days ago by BETTY SEXTON
If you read this book with a open mind, ready to learn another point of view, it will change the way you look at race. And it will make to want to be part of a change in America.Published 12 days ago by Diane McFall
This book disappoints.
On the plus side, Jim Wallis helpfully collects anecdotes, but then he draws invalid conclusions from them. Read more
This was eye opening and educational for me. It was helpful to gain a new perspective on the background and maybe some reasons behind race relations in America today.Published 1 month ago by John D. Camp