Review: God’s Politics–Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It (Hardcover)

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5.0 out of 5 stars Jim Wallis for National Chaplain–Extraordinary Book,

May 4, 2005
Jim Wallis
Jim Wallis has my vote to be Chaplain to the Nation. This is an extraordinary book. Indeed, if the President has a Science advisor, I have to ask myself, why doesn’t he have a Faith advisor?

I recommend this book be read together with “Faith-Based Diplomacy” by Douiglas Johnson, and “The Soul of Capitalism” by William Greider. This hard-hitting book is full of both common sense and scholarship. Over-all it slams both Right and Left–the Right for claiming that Jesus is pro-war, pro-rich, and a selective moralist; the Left for not embracing faith and God as part of the politics of America.

Early in the book I am immediately won over by the author’s preliminary manifesto in his preface: we who have faith are not single-issue voters; we believe that poverty is a religious issue; that caring for God’s earth is a religious issue; that war–and making peace–is a religious issue; that truth-telling is a religious issue; that human rights are a religious issue; that our response to terrorism is a religious issue; and finally, that a consistent ethic of human life is a religious issue.

Throughout this book the author returns again and again, to a theme that I am now seeing everywhere: morality matters. The author is superb at relating the power of faith and the morality of religion (not pretentious morality, but practiced morality) to the real world. On pages 105-107, if you are glancing through the book in a bookstore, he repeats key points he made a year after 9-11 on how to defeat terrorism–among his ten points a few simply leap off the page: 4. Let’s define terrorism the right way, and allow no double standards. 5. Attack not only the symptoms, but also the root causes of terrorism. 6. The solutions to terrorism are not primarily military. And so on.

Poverty, economic justice, and *moral* capitalism are the underlying challenges that confront the author, and he does a really fine job in this book of showing how America will never be safe if we fail to address global as well as homeland poverty. (In this regard, see my reviews of “Working Poor” by David K. Shipler, and “Nickled and Dimed” by Barbara Ehrenreich.)

The book ends with an extraordinary list of 50 predictions for the future. This list, by itself, is worth the price of the book. #45 is consistent with the eight movements centering around collective intelligence: “All our media will be owned by two or three corporate conglomerates unless and effective movement rises up to stop this trend and restore a genuinely democratic public discourse.” I have the strong feeling that the author’s faith is being tested by both the Right and the Left–indeed, in the social and economic policy arena, the author, from a religious point of view, is a perfect counter-part to the Chairman of the Council of Foreign Relations, Peter Petersen, whose book, “Running on Empty: How the Democratic and Republican Parties Are Bankrupting Our Future and What Americans Can Do About It,” is the practical counterpart to “God’s Politics.”

This is a world-class, Nobel-level discourse.

See also:
American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War On America
American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21stCentury
The Left Hand of God: Taking Back Our Country from the Religious Right
Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political SeductionReligion Gone Bad: The Hidden Dangers of the Christian Right
Piety & Politics: The Right-Wing Assault on Religious Freedom
Dogs of God: Columbus, the Inquisition, and the Defeat of the Moors
Thank God for Evolution!: How the Marriage of Science and Religion Will Transform Your Life and Our World
The Complete Conversations with God (Boxed Set)
Faith-Based Diplomacy: Trumping Realpolitik

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May 4

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