Item description for God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It by Jim Wallis...
Overview A leading voice of Christians in this country offers a prophetic indictment against America's pursuit of individual spiritualities to the exclusion of any social responsibility for the common good, as well as the lack of political options for believers who want to link their personal ethics to social justice.
Since when did believing in God and having moral values make you pro-war, pro-rich, and pro-Republican? And since when did promoting and pursuing a progressive social agenda with a concern for economic security, health care, and educational opportunity mean you had to put faith in God aside?
While the Right in America has hijacked the language of faith to prop up its political agenda--an agenda not all people of faith support--the Left hasn't done much better, largely ignoring faith and continually separating moral discourse and personal ethics from public policy. While the Right argues that God's way is their way, the Left pursues an unrealistic separation of religious values from morally grounded political leadership. The consequence is a false choice between ideological religion and soulless politics.
The effect of this dilemma was made clear in the 2004 presidential election. The Democrats' miscalculations have left them despairing and searching for a way forward. It has become clear that someone must challenge the Republicans' claim that they speak for God, or that they hold a monopoly on moral values in the nation's public life. Wallis argues that America's separation of church and state does not require banishing moral and religious values from the public square. In fact, the very survival of America's social fabric depends on such values and vision to shape our politics--a dependence the nation's founders recognized.
God's Politics offers a clarion call to make both our religious communities and our government more accountable to key values of the prophetic religious tradition--that is, make them pro-justice, pro-peace, pro-environment, pro-equality, pro-consistent ethic of life (beyond single issue voting), and pro-family (without making scapegoats of single mothers or gays and lesbians). Our biblical faith and religious traditions simply do not allow us as a nation to continue to ignore the poor and marginalized, deny racial justice, tolerate the ravages of war, or turn away from the human rights of those made in the image of God. These are the values of love and justice, reconciliation, and community that Jesus taught and that are at the core of what many of us believe, Christian or not. In the tradition of prophets such as Martin Luther King Jr., Dorothy Day, and Desmond Tutu, Wallis inspires us to hold our political leaders and policies accountable by integrating our deepest moral convictions into our nation's public life.
Citations And Professional Reviews God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It by Jim Wallis has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
Ingram Advance - 04/01/2005 page 126
Books & Culture - 05/01/2005 page 26
Commonweal - 05/06/2005 page 24
Christianity Today - 06/01/2005 page 64
Christian Century - 07/26/2005 page 36
New York Times - 02/06/2005 page 14
Library Journal - 02/15/2005 page 136
New York Times - 03/06/2005 page 15
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 1.25" Width: 6" Height: 9" Weight: 1.55 lbs.
Release Date Feb 1, 2005
Publisher Harper Collins Publishers
ISBN 0060558288 ISBN13 9780060558284
Availability 0 units.
More About Jim Wallis
Jim Wallis is the founding editor of Sojourners magazine and a well-known Christian leader for social change. An activist, writer, and popular speaker, his books include Who Speaks for God?; Faith Works; The Soul of Politics: A Practical and Prophetic Vision for Change (The New Press); and, most recently, the national bestseller God's Politics. He lives in Washington, D.C.
Jim Wallis has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It?
God's Politics Apr 12, 2008
This is a well-written book by a respected theologian. I suppose that is why so many conservatives give this book poor reviews. Jim Wallis has forgotten more about religion and Christianity than most so-called religious conservatives ever knew about those subjects. Wallis is critical of war, and critical of how certain elements of our society have hijacked religion and politics for their own gain, or at least to promote their own agenda.
The Bible can confuse and bewilder. Those who stand by it as their lifeblood often spew certain verses or Biblical references such as an eye for an eye when considering the current war in Iraq or the post 9/11 world in general. They conveniently forget Jesus' message of peace and forgiveness because it doesn't fit into their imperialistic world view.
Wallis shows how conservatives have played into the hands of those in Washington whose only goal is power. Christianity is being held hostage by the war machine. George Bush can say you are either with us or against us as if the world is so simple. Bush and his neo-conservative minions (actually one should say Dick Cheyney and his neo-conservative minions led by puppet Bush) forget the world is complex. For their part the Democrats are not really seen as the counterbalance to this mess, as they are really seeking a way to tap into the national sentiment of security and antiterrorism to get their own slice of the imperial pie. But one can love America and think this war is not worth either the cost in human lives or the billions of taxpayer's dollars being spent on it. Would George Washington support this war? One can only speculate, but our first president did advise against entangling alliances. What have us taxpayers got for our money? Not much.
Wallis illustrates how America has adopted the mantra of empire as a result of electing a president who convinced himself he's been put in power by God when the country needs such a person in power. Wow, the arrogance of it all. Wallis challenges Christians to stand up and take back their country in the face of hypocrisy and blatant blasphemy from the suits in power (I say suits because this mess is not just the making of Republicans and neo-conservatives, there are plenty of Democrats who buy into this imperialistic theory and want their piece of the action as well).
Wallis believes in Christianity's message of hope and love as opposed to embracing the shackles of oppression. He challenges Christians to ignore the seductive tendencies of empire and strive for a life of true Christian virtue. Who knows, maybe some day it will happen.
A much needed antidote to the Religious Right Feb 28, 2008
I have had this book since 2005 and find it to be even more appropriate today as we near the 2008 Presidential election. Wallis does an excellent job of making his case for why Christians have an obligation to be involved in the political process. However, he also lays out the rationale why Christians must be concerned with more than just the hot-button issues of abortion and gay marriage. Wallis shows why Christians have an obligation to care about poverty, environmental issues and equal rights among other issues. He also shows why it is wrong for religious and para-religious organizations to be used by outside interests and political parties and he makes a good case that candidates should be supported for their values and ideas, not simply because of party affiliation.
A Missed Opportunity Feb 21, 2008
I should have liked this book. I am what might be called a hesitantly blue evangelical (I'm not a very good democrat but was a worse republican) and mostly agree with him point by point. So when Wallis talked in his introduction about what I would call a 4th quadrant option (my terminology) that is not liberal, conservative or libertarian but passionate about life, justice and peace, I was pretty hopeful. But I did not enjoy this book and upon reflection came up with 3 reasons that, while the target audience, the book missed its mark with me:
1. It is really dry. Maybe it is because I had my MP3 player switching between chapters of Klosterman, Gladwell and Wallis, so the latter withered in comparison, but this book could have easily been a pamphlet. There are not many anecdotes (aside from occasional name dropping) or historical allusions to make the text move. Just repetitive exposition on a range of positions. `Budgets are moral documents' is a true and borderline insightful statement the first or even the second time for emphasis, but not the fifth.
2. It is not that insightful. Here is my problem. I could have written this book. There is little analysis, be it economic or exegetical, just repeated sweeping claims. Wallis does not reside enough in either the world of complex economic/political theory or in the world of the Biblical text to bring either insightfully to bear on the complex issue of a Christian's role in a democratic super power. Dubious economic and political theories were stated boldly without empirical support and the scriptures were used for selective proof texting (despite his decrial of the practice).
3. It is not what it claims to be. In his introduction Wallis bemoans the fact that since he isn't in the religious right he is automatically dubbed the religious left because the media lacks other categories. I agree that most lack the necessary categories to describe the needed fourth quadrant position that he describes. I just don't think that he holds it. I think Wallis is firmly in the religious left. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but please don't patronize us with the illusion or claim of a new way so desperately needed. You simply can not write a book that hopes to unite people of faith in a tent big enough for evangelicals by devoting just a couple pages to abortion and concluding that Clinton had it right all along (while, in fairness, suggesting `the left is far more dogmatic on this issue than the right'). Now abortion is a complex issue loaded with conflicting goods and evils that gets to the core of very important issues like personhood, personal autonomy, gender interests, economic justice, protection of innocents and many others. I get that it is not easy and probably should not be the centerpiece of a religious political theory. But that is why it deserved an entire chapter. The quest to restore a love of peace, justice and the poor in red evangelicals is road blocked by the religious left's indifference on this issue. Whether that makes sense to Wallis and those like him or not, it is the reality. If you are not going to talk about the things that make conservatives conservative than you are just preaching to the proverbial choir, congratulating yourself on your righteous stances and selling books.
So I guess I was mostly disappointed that this text was a missed opportunity on a very important thesis. I love Wallis' idea that the Church should refuse to be co-opted by any political artifice and should speak prophetically to all parties. I just don't think he represents this idea.
Post Script: Several of my conservative friends have accused me of leaning left because of a simple desire to be liked. Holding liberal positions is a low cost way to acceptance by a large number of people and avoiding the scorn generally heaped upon those who genuinely believe that the hope for the poor is in markets, industries and innovations. This critique has given me pause more than once and after watching Wallis' interviews with Jon Stewart (who I really enjoy), I fear might benefit him as well. A prophet does not try that hard to be liked.
Waste of Time Jan 21, 2008
While mildly thought provoking, this book is a waste of time. You could get a better idea of what this guy was trying to convey by reading the beatitudes from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount.
Instead of outlining what the auther thinks God's politics would be, he constantly harps on the errors of the two major polictal parties. The auther does not offer any viable solutions.
I cannot recommend this book to anyone.
To get a better idea of God's politics, open your Bible and put God's words to action.
God's politics-----a man's bias Jan 12, 2008
This is the most one-sided, leftist reflection of current events masquerading as religions thought I have ever read in my life. There is some real helpful insight in these pages. But, it is so obscured by partisan rhetoric, that even a thoughtful individual would have great difficulty reading it. My Sunday School class has been struggling to discuss the chapters. Even the liberals are turned-off by the slant. His use of scripture is generally good, but the bias gets in the way of almost every point.