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Jim Wallis' "God's Politics"


Shamrock
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A former fundagelical and friend of mine who is active in Gainesville YoungLife (christian outreach for secondary school kids) recommended Wallis' new book to me 2 days ago. He said it radically changed his views on what God wants us to represent here on earth and really shocked him to his core. He knows I'm against the so called "Religious Right" and so lent the book to me and my views have also been radically changed. You could consider me a secular liberal with a general disdain for religion despite the fact that most of my friends are conservative evangelical christians. God's Politics is opening my eyes to broader possiblities and the power of religion to reshape society and the globe for the better. No, I'm not talking discrimination against gays...

 

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detai...=books&n=507846

 

Editorial Reviews

 

Amazon.com

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

 

Excerpt from jacket cover

 

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.

 

 

I especially thought of CFD when I started reading this book. Right up your alley.

 

Discuss.

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The problem is that there are differences that exist between being religious and being moral. A lot of people who are religious are moral. Thats fine. But a lot are not. For example, a lot of people think those who do not follow Christ will go to hell. Others think that because the bible says something on a topic, it is absolute. Some think extra marital sex is wrong. But these religious views are not per se moral. With the exception of abortion, the non religious left is just as moral as the religious right. Morality has and always will play a very large role in politics. People like me just don't want moral politics to be a religious thing because we don't want that extra stuff. We want governments decisions on moral issues to make sense not because a 2000 years of an ever changing historical religion says something but because it is moral in and of itself as best as possible. (something philosphers have struggled with through the ages). I mean for goodness sake, 37% of this country wants creationism to be taught over evolution.

 

To gain the religous of this country while still maintaining the above is the goal at hand for the left. The campaign to basterdized liberals has been so strong that I dont know if it can happen. But too many of the left also are elitist on these matters(read atheists...great quote from daily show-"Atheism: the religion devoted to the worship of one's own smug sense of superiority.").

 

The issue is complicated however because I know full well the hope and dreams of people like Falwell and Robertson and it doesnt mesh with morality. Its resisting those nutballs while also getting the religious that the left has to do.

 

Here is another perspective on the issue: There are many many people on the left who are religious. My mom is one of the most religious people Ive ever met. Its always God this God that...God is responsible for everything(not me :lol ). She is also one of the most loyal democrats Ive ever met. For her, her religion is a personal matter and her politics are a public matter. She simply does not want them to mix. I read a good quote on dailykos the other day on how as much as the left fears religion influencing government, its also a big matter of government influencing religion that should be feared. What happens when the quasi religious government now starts dictating religious edicts onto people like my mom who has a personal relationship with God? When happens when the religious leaders become too powerful and start demanding people follow a certain way?

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As oversimplified as i can respond to this. My take vs. a liberals take on helping others. I think I should help others, liberals think the govt should froce me to help others.

690553[/snapback]

I guess you're just a good person then. Why weren't these people being helped before the government had to to step in? Because bosses were taking advantage of the poor and of workers. If it weren't government enforced "you" would probably give nothing and we'd be 3rd World.

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As oversimplified as i can respond to this. My take vs. a liberals take on helping others. I think I should help others, liberals think the govt should froce me to help others.

690553[/snapback]

I guess you're just a good person then. Why weren't these people being helped before the government had to to step in? Because bosses were taking advantage of the poor and of workers. If it weren't government enforced "you" would probably give nothing and we'd be 3rd World.

691630[/snapback]

 

Thats not really true. Are we really better off after the New Deal than we were 20-30 years before it? We have evolved along with the world. govt can create minimum wage laws and 8 hour workday laws and still not have to create any social programs.

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