Saturday, July 7, 2007

FOR ANYONE CLINGING TO THE SPARKS OF HOPE FOR CHANGE

"God's Politics: Why The Right Gets It Wrong and The Left Doesn't Get It" by Jim Wallis, the editor of Sojourner Magazine, is possibly the best book ever written concerning the current state of polarized politics, how it compares to the "politics" of the Bible, and presenting a "third way" for Christians to deal with ALL the pressing issues of our time without aligning with either the democrats' or republicans' SELECTIVE moral issues.
This is an excerpt from the book outlining its premise:

"God is not partisan; God is not a Republican or Democrat. When either party tries to politicize God, or co-opt religious communities for their political agendas, they make a terrible mistake. The best contribution of religion is precisely NOT to be ideologically predictable nor loyally partisan. Faith must be free to challenge BOTH right and left from a consistent moral ground."

The most refreshing thing about this book is that it is NOT merely a protest or complaint, but it's an ALTERNATIVE. Instead of just pointing the finger, illuminating what's wrong with everyone else, it provides well thought out, well researched, biblical solutions as an alternative to the OLD, ABUSED, and whittled down compromised choices of just "left" and "right" politics. The topics covered in this book include: abortion, family breakdown, poverty, wealth, accountability, private, individual, and social responsibility, gay marriage, capital punishment, war, peace, nonviolence, the environment, stewardship, moral economics, biblical politics, new vision, imperialism, nationalism, social reform, justice, the dangers of empire, and POWER.

This is an excerpt from the chapter analyzing political responses to poverty:

"I am always amazed at the debate about poverty, with one side citing the need for change in personal behavior and the other citing the need for better social programs, as if the two were mutually exclusive. Obviously both personal and social responsibility are necessary for overcoming poverty... The conservatives are right when they say that cultural and moral issues of family breakdown, personal responsibility, sexual promiscuity, and substance abuse are prime reasons for entrenched domestic poverty. The liberals are right when they point to the critical need for adequate nutrition, health care, education, housing, and good paying jobs as keys to overcoming endemic poverty."

Without sugar-coating, Jim Wallis lays out and analyzes the fundamental assertions, goals, and ideologies of both Democrats and Republicans, critiquing each party's falsehoods, hypocrisies, and weaknesses, as well as praising each party's moral truths and strengths. He compellingly challenges the misguided, narrow, and extreme passions of the far-left and far-right and the resulting indifference-laced cynicism consuming politically-moderate Christians that are stripped of hope for real change by the abundance of irrelevant and ineffective political rhetoric.

This is an excerpt from a chapter encouraging hope for the cynics:

"Cynicism is the place of retreat for the smart, critical, dissenting and formerly idealistic people who are now trying to protect themselves. They are not naive. They tend to see things as they are, they know what is wrong, and they are generally opposed to what they see. These are not the people viewing the world through rose-colored glasses...But ultimately cynicism protects you from commitment...Perhaps the only people in the world who view the world realistically are the cynics and the saints. The only difference between the cynics and the saints is the presence, power, and possibility hope."

My belief in Christ is deeply rooted in hope: hope for salvation, hope for growth, hope for the poor, hope for justice, hope for strength, hope for guidance, and hope for CHANGE. Whether Jesus comes back tomorrow or in a hundred years, I refuse to let any end-times defeatist mentality rob me of the hope for the Body of Christ to rise up and change the world in concordance with loving our neighbors as ourselves. I highly recommend this book for people who desire to be active bridge-builders, justice-seekers, and peacemakers in an effective, realistic, fair, and biblical way.

10 comments:

from Christy Fritz said...

this book is the next assigned reading at our new church here for the one.org series of meetings that the pastor holds every few months.
his hope is that we'll be a purple church... obviously neither red or blue.
he gave a series on justice last year before we got here, that i heard from our homegroup leader was awesome.
the site is lakeforest.org and then sermons, justice for all, i think was the series.
i've always taken this view. my dad was an independent ( although not really anymore) so i never got using God to prove your party was right. i think it's important to be involved, but have NEVER been able to pick sides... i am excited to read the alternative view...
thanks for the review.

Tia Lynn said...

I get so happy to hear of more churches supporting the one campaign. It's an historic effort for justice and defending the cause of the poor. The Church should be at the forefront of such a movement. Exceeding mere charity and moving into the realm of justice and accountability from our leaders to the world's poorest...

What kind of church do you go to?

Tonya said...

I just tagged you so I linked and when I popped over, I saw this. No time to read right now. I'll be back later!

Tonya said...

I'm back. That book sounds like a good read. I am going to add it to my list.

I found myself saying "YES!" even as I was reading your review.:):):)

I know I should probably read it myself before I start asking questions but does this guy say that the main responsibility for change lies with the church or with the government? Because I think (MHO) that the church has already dropped the ball and may be inclined to let it stay in the court of politics. I hope he addresses that. If we offer people hope without offering them HOPE! we're robbing them. The secular government can't give HOPE! even if it hands out food and medicine...know what I mean, Vern??? (are you too young to remember that show?)

Tia Lynn said...

Jim Wallis most definitely believes that the church should be in the forefront of the many of the social issues facing our country and the world (as He points out that in American history the movements that changed things most were driven by the church: end of slavery, civil rights, suffrage, etc.) However, he is not an either or kind of guy, and definitely thinks both the church and governemnt have certain responsibilities and BOTH are lacking, in desperate need of a fresh vision.

Tonya said...

well, I would certainly agree with that!:)

from Christy Fritz said...

hey tia...
it's presbyterian with a little "p". that's what the pastor says anyway. :)

lakeforest.org
it's HUGE now. there were about 400-500 when we started last year in April, now there are 1200. CRAZY!!! we have a tight homegroup though, so thats been cool. i often wonder why we're somewhere so big but,we are really being challenged.

Matty Hillard said...

God doesn't have anything to do with politics and neither should Christians. It's a distraction from the eternal in exchange for man's physical temporary agendas.

Tia Lynn said...

Oh Matty. Have you ever heard the phrase, "You can be so heavenly minded that you are of no earthly good"? God calls us to the eternal, but also calls us to care for the needs plaguing his beloved children NOW, here on earth. Jesus said to pray, "Thy Kingdom Come. Thy will be done, on EARTH, as it is in Heaven." As Christians we have a sacred obligation to live out God's kingdom on earth and do all we can to bring God's love and justice to the world, even through politics.

Peter said...

Jim Wallis is the man! By reading your writing style and the subjects you choose to write about, you should work for his magazine, Sojourners. It's all about social justice and examining the different aspects of faith, politics, and how they intertwine.