- Hardcover: 384 pages
- Publisher: HarperSanFransisco (December 22, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0060558288
- ISBN-13: 978-0060558284
- Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.3 x 9.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 255 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #782,943 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It Hardcover – January 11, 2005
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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
Gods Politics has struck a chord with contemporary Americans who, according to bestseller lists, are buying Walliss book in droves. Regardless of how critics feel about the authors 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 lefts failures, no one denies that he has produced a timely, thought-provoking book.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.
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This struck a chord with me because I had effectively said the same things myself in private conversations with friends and family, although not nearly so eloquently. Until I heard Wallis interviewed on Frontline, however, I felt almost alone. When I went to one of Wallis book signings, I related this story to him, and he emphatically signed my book "Mike, You are not alone! Jim Wallis"
I labored through the book because the message is so important, but I admit the policy sections didn't flow very well, and, as other reviewers have pointed out, Wallis tends to repeat himself, so I only gave the book 4 stars. Even if you don't want to read the book, I still strongly encourage you to see Wallis speak in person. He may not be a great writer, but he's an excellent public speaker, as one might expect from a preacher. In a one hour speech you'll learn the central message of his book and feel both inspired an entertained. I guarantee it.
I'll end with some of my favorite quotes from the book:
"Faith is personal but never private."
"Budgets are moral documents."
"This is your Bible." Wallis apparently has a Bible with all passages calling for mercy and kindness to the poor and dispossessed carefully cut out. He especially likes to shake this "hole-y" (not Holy) Bible in front of conservative theology students while repeating the quote.
Wallis makes good points. Generally speaking, the first half of each chapter lays out his general principles and connects concerns for social justice to the gospel. Unfortunately, the second half of each chapter degenerates into riffs, with repetition of earlier themes, the wholesale inclusion of editorials or ecumenical statements on topics, some name-dropping and stories about speeches that Wallis has given or people he's met.
Indeed, the titles set the tone for the volume as a whole. Wallis gave the book three titles: "God's Politics: Why the Right Gets it Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It: A New Vision for Faith and Politics." Each title is fine by itself, but there are too many of them. I submit that two of those would have sufficed, and that even the third one could stand alone without loss. Much of the book is like that - - a strong editor willing to cross out large chunks of text would have made it better.
This would have been twice the book with half the words.
Wallis, a Christian evangelical with very progressive social views, takes both sides of the political spectrum to task.
Of conservatives, he asserts that the radical right has co-opted and abused the language of faith on hot-button values issues like homosexuality and abortion, while at the same time enacting and supporting policies that have left 50 million Americans without health care, our urban schools in shambles, and seniors with little or no retirement benefits or health coverage- thus failing to fulfill the great commandment to "Love your neighbor."
He critiques liberals for failing to engage people of faith in their vision for social justice, healthcare and education reform. Wallis claims that all too many social liberals have stubbornly clung to such a rigid secularism that many people of faith with similiar social views have felt alienated by their rhetoric.
He takes the Bush administration to task for their mis-handling of the 9/11 investigation, an unjust war in Iraq, along with fear-mongering and court-packing.
He is also pro-life, so he calls on both sides- not to outlaw abortion, but to focus the energy and resources on prevention, better pre-natal care and more adoption options.
Wallis calls for a consistent ethic of life.
Some other key topics he addresses in the book are international relations, economic justice, race relations, and social change.
I deeply respect Jim Wallis because he doesn't just talk the talk- he lives it! He was on the front-lines of the civil rights movement, out of which he started Sojourners. He lives in the heart of Washington, D.C. in one of the most economically and socially challenged urban centers in America. He is a uniter rather than a divider- he critiques aspects of both sides of the political spectrum; and calls for all people of faith to reclaim a unified vision for social justice.
This is an outstanding book that will change your life, and hopefully encourage you to join the movement seeking to bring about positive change in the lives of others in society.
There is also an excellent study guide for the book available online at the Sojourners website: