- Series: Harvest Book
- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: Harvest Books; 1 edition (September 15, 1995)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0156003287
- ISBN-13: 978-0156003285
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 20 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #899,975 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Soul of Politics: Beyond "Religious Right" and "Secular Left" 1st Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
The founding editor of Sojourners magazine, Wallis criticizes both liberals and conservatives and argues in favor of a progressive platform backed by an emphasis on spirituality.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
A passionate plea for social justice and renewal, from the nationally known activist, preacher, and editor of Sojourners magazine. Drawing on his firsthand experience of inner-city life in Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, and Chicago and his visits to trouble spots such as Nicaragua, the Philippines, and South Africa, Wallis (The Call to Conversion, 1981) sets out his vision of a new politics, based on biblical principles, that incorporates both liberal social concern and conservative zeal for personal responsibility. He is at his best, however, when describing actual incidents and people. We meet Mrs. Mary Glover, a 60-year-old African-American woman at the Sojourners' Neighborhood Center, 20 blocks from the White House, who prays aloud each morning before the hungry arrive for food: ``Lord, we know that you'll be comin' through this line today. So help us to treat you well.'' We hear of 13-year-old Eddie, who gets drawn into drug-dealing and death on the streets of the capital. Wallis, whose heroes are Gandhi, Dorothy Day, and Nelson Mandela, is eloquent in his denunciation of consumerism and the huge gap between the affluent and the poor. He argues that the concept of human rights, rather than being seen as individual rights, should be broadened by a notion of community and deepened by a sense of the image of God in each person. Wallis's view of a social action that would link the issues of poverty, racism, sexism, and nuclear weapons is more visionary than practical, and his style is overly rhetorical and preachy. He avoids discussing the underlying philosophical questions of how society should be run and what people's duties are to each other, and his assessments of people and situations, such as that of contemporary South Africa, can be idealistic and nave. The foreword is by Garry Wills and the preface by Cornel West. A stimulating vision of a just society but with little meat for those who want to ask deeper questions. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
His call is for us all to become engaged in embodying the vision personally and working to embody it politically. It is a challenging book, but full of hope.
My qualms with the book included the inclusion of religion in the government, attack on the wealthy, and the broad statements that lacked real ways to reform the country. I think Wallis' religion is based in good ethics, but like any religion, is too dogmatic and subjective to mandate 300 million different people with different religions or lack thereof. He also insists that top down corporations need to redistribute income and wealth, which is a generous thought, but anti competition. Lastly, he admits he hasn't the details to express these ideas in legislation, which might defeat part of the point. To Wallis' defense, he says the change comes from the bottom corners of the impoverished and it transforms society. It's an interesting idea, but I have my questions.
I'd read the book if you're scratching your head when you think of the way politics have transformed with such a loud media invading our lives constantly. You might have a lot of questions or criticisms, but you will probably find a gem in there too.
Wallis calls for what he calls a "prophetic politics of personal and social transformation," one that's built on the Judaeo-Christian insight that righteousness requires both individual and social responsibility. A contemporary re-application of this insight can help the secular left and the religious right learn from and complement one another and break free of the dysfunctional impasse they've reached. The left tends to overemphasize structural evil at the expense of individual responsibility; the right tends to overemphasize individual virtue while ignoring structural evil. But the prophetic politics--the politics with soul--Wallis advocates takes both into consideration. Individual responsibility to other individuals, to the community, to the environment, a call to action that "challenges the old while announcing the new" (p. 53), a spirit-filled replacement of unjust institutions that prevent humans from attaining maximal being: this is the heart of Wallis' message.
It's easy to become cynical and opt out of the political arena to cultivate one's own garden. But if Wallis is correct, such a withdrawal--if I may use an old-fashioned word that we perhaps ought to take seriously again--is a sin. To remain silent in the face of injustice is to acquiesce to it. Wallis' book gives us a good idea of how to go about healing the fragmentation of our society. The last third of the book deals with strategic details.
Read this book. Politics is too important to be left to the professional politicians.