- 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: 256 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #289,164 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 Paperback – August 29, 2006
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How far should we go to understand each other’s points of view? Maybe the distance grace covered on the cross. (Bono, lead singer of U2)
Jim Wallis is an inspiration to me– for his witness of faith and his engagement with politics. (Bill Moyers)
Jim Wallis is compelling, provocative, and inspirational, with faith that can move mountains and can certainly move people and communities. (Archbishop Desmond Tutu)
Wallis at his usual passionate and brilliant self: he will move you to examine your conscience and search your soul. (E.J. Dionne, author of Stand Up Fight Back and Why Americans Hate Politics)
Jim Wallis is the major prophetic evangelical Christian voice in the country. (Cornel West, author of Race Matters and Democracy Matters)
“Wallis provides a refreshing alternative voice to the polarizing rhetoric currently popular.” (Library Journal)
From the Back Cover
Jim Wallis finds the current conservative, liberal, and libertarian options out-of-step with the desires of most Americans untenable. Wallis offers a fourth option, “The Common Good,” that would represent those who are traditional on issues of moral character, personal responsibility, sexual integrity, and family values (without scape-goating any group like single parents or homosexuals), while being very progressive on issues like poverty and racial justice. This option affirms good stewardship of the earth and its resources, supports gender equality, and looks first to peacemaking and conflict-resolution when it comes to foreign policy questions. At the spiritual heart of this option is linking one’s personal ethics to social justice.
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Top customer reviews
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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.
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, 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: