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God's Politics


des
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Someone just came up Sunday and GAVE me this book, said "(pastor) Lee said you wanted to read this". (Yes, my name is in at the public library and I expected to forget that I ever ordered it by the time it comes up.)

 

Anyway it is really good. I just started skimming it. It says some not esp. great things about progressives (he is definitely NOT one), but the point is quite different. Basically it is the lack of a prophetic voice in politics (since Martin Luther King). The way the Right (usually) gets it wrong is by too narrow a focus. And the Left does get it, by ignoring moral issues or not stating them issues as moral ones.

 

I think this book has a huge audience and would not be unappealing to evangelicals or liberals who have concerns about any of the issues he brings up (mainly poverty and war).

At the end, he talks about groups (of late) that have crossed over beyond demonation or even the evangelical to progressive divide.

 

BTW, there are "meet ups" being held in various cities to discuss the book (and for action). I am going to one of these tomorrow and will let you'll know how it was.

 

--des

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Down the board a bit is a thread I started called God's Politics. In it is a link to a discussion group on beliefnet that is discussing the book. The discussion is closed for new posters at this point, but you can read what others are writing. Might be interesting to see if others get out of the book what you do. :)

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BTW, I went to the discussion group. It was very interesting. Apparently this book has had a lot more press than I knew about. I saw Jim Wallis on CSpan2 and someone else had actually watched this. First time, I think, I have met someone else who actually watches book tv. :-)

 

--des

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I have read God's Politics and am co-facilitating a a discussion group that starts tonight. I am really looking forward to it.

 

I think Wallis, especially with his latest book, has really advanced the social justice and progressive Christian dialogue forward, and into a movement that is really taking hold here in America.

 

Another aspect of what I like about Wallis' book is that it calls for both liberal and conservative Christians to claim a common vision for social justice; helping the poor; and celebrating diversity.

 

I am excited about it, and really looking forward to the group...

 

In case you didn't know about it already, there is a discussion and study guide for God's Politics available on the Sojourners website:

 

http://www.sojo.net

 

Just click on the 'God's Politics' link on the left side of the page and then on 'download a study guide'...

 

 

Peace,

 

John

Edited by peacemover
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Thanks for this link John. I got the book a while ago, excited by the idea of it and the reviews. And then felt a bit off by some other things, thinking it was more conservative than i felt comfortable with it. I'll give it another go. Hope the discussion group goes well.

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Thanks for this link John.  I got the book a while ago, excited by the idea of it and the reviews.  And then felt a bit off by some other things, thinking it was more conservative than i felt comfortable with it.  I'll give it another go.  Hope the discussion group goes well.

 

Jim Wallis is a progressive voice of reason to the evangelical Christian community. Part of what I like about him is that he is a bridge-builder rather than merely a finger pointer. He certainly takes both conservatives and liberals to task; and has a lot of criticism for the Bush administration and the "American civil religion" that they have attempted to create by misusing religious language to claim divine endorsement of their policies.

 

He also affirms that conservatives and liberals can find a common vision to work together toward and that is that cause of social justice- i.e. care for the poor, better healthcare and education, more inclusivity of diversity, etc.

 

The group went well last night and was very interesting as 75% of the group is in a Salvation Army recovery program near the church where the group is being held. They have been indoctrinated with some pretty conservative theology over at the Army, but have a real hunger for spirituality, and an openness to new perspectives by enlarge.

 

The remaining 25% was comprised of "progressives" from the church and community. It was an interesting discussion. No one from the Salvation Army could afford to purchase a book so I gave them my copy to read and share.

 

It should be an interesting discussion...

 

Peace,

 

John

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Yes, I did not agree with all of his theological ideas, but I didn't think that that was entirely the point. I felt that he did sort of say his were correct, and more conservative (ie fundamentalist) and more liberal (ie progressive) were incorrect. However, at the end, I thought that he was really trying to build a bridge-- "hey look at the gospels (and for that matter the prophets) see what they are saying about social justice and war. He has talked at evangelical churches and been well received. He has talked at liberal churches and been well received. I think this is a point many of us could agree on.

 

Three favorite things:

 

The part about the scissors and the Bible.

 

I loved his description of a candidate (how about a candidate who is conservative on family values (without finger pointing at homosexuals) and desperate women who might have an abortion. But would really really strive to bring the abortion rate way down. Who would be radical towards social issues and war. (Someone said they'd be scared!)

We have not ever seen such a candidate.

 

And the social consciousness of his kid, Luke. (Emerging social consciousness in a child hasn't been discussed so well, at least I haven't read it.)

 

Only thing I think he is repetitive. But we had a good group discussion. We didn't really have any evangelicals but a couple moderate to liberal Catholics.

 

--des

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  • 1 month later...

This another book on my nightstand. Looks good and look forward to reading it. One of the criticisms that I read at Amazon (believe this is where) was that he does not offer solutions. In other words good dialogue about issues but he himself offers nothing new. The reader said they kept waiting only to be disappointed and that if Wallis is to offer a clear alternative to conservative issues (eg about the War) he must propose something workable.

 

North

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It isn't a good argument, imo. The book is filled with examples of what he has personally done and what those he knows have done. He also has the website and Sojourner-- www.sojo.net. I get frequent emails re: social action. I don't think whoever made that statement read the book very well.

 

As for something new. Not sure there is anythign new under the sun. :-)

 

 

 

--des

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It isn't a good argument, imo. The book is filled with examples of what he has personally done and what those he knows have done. He also has the website and Sojourner-- www.sojo.net. I get frequent emails re: social action. I don't think whoever made that statement read the book very well.

 

As for something new. Not sure there is anythign new under the sun. :-)

 

 

 

--des

 

I look forward to reading it and believe Wallis offers an alternative voice to the Christian right.

 

I could not find much about his academic background. Do you have any info.

 

North

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I look forward to reading it and believe Wallis offers an alternative voice to the Christian right.

 

I could not find much about his academic background.  Do you have any info.

 

North

wallis.jpg

 

Here is a link to Jim Wallis' profile and bio from the Sojourners' website, that provides that information.

 

 

 

Peace,

 

John

Edited by peacemover
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I have this, but I haven't read much of it. From the reception that it has received, this is definitely one of those books that will make a difference in how people think, if for no other reason, it publically validates those who agree, but who have been silent due to perceived pressure from conservative church authorities.

 

What little I have read is pretty cool.

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I would definitely agree, XA- Wallis gives voice to a whole segment of progressive Christians whose collective voice has been largely drowned out by the rightist political establishment and conservative media agenda.

 

Beyond that, however, one aspect of Wallis' book and of the movement he is a part of through Sojourners is that it has credibility and respect on both sides of the political spectrum. Wallis is socially progressive, yet he also is largely pro-life. He does not believe prohibitive legislation (with abortion for instance) is the answer, but rather to offer better options for prevention and follow up care. Still, he believes that we need to focus on initiatives to improve quality of life- both for struggling Americans and people in the 2/3rds world, especially places like Sudan.

 

Wallis demonstrates a rare gift to reach people on both sides of an issue, and move them both toward a more compassionate, socially conscientious way that is unified by shared values.

 

Although he really takes the Bush administration to task- about the war in Iraq, their abysmal failure with healthcare policy, and shortcomings in Middle East, and African policy for instance. However, he also reaches out to moderates and conservatives based on common faith values of concern for the least and the lost, and life.

 

I wish he would run for office, but, perhaps his grassroots level movement will make even more of a difference- like he says- most politicians lick their finger and test the wind before making a decision... As people of faith, we are called to be 'wind changers' as he likes to say.

 

So let's go change the wind, people!

 

Peace,

 

John

Edited by peacemover
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"So let's go change the wind, people!"

 

fwwwww, fwwwww, fwwwww - /blowing to the left/  ok, all together now!!!! :)

 

I know, I know... It sounds like corny idealism, but that is really how change happens in the world- enough people standing together and committing to a common cause.

 

I think a large part of the problem we face now is American apathy- people are too absorbed in their own comfort zones to stand up and help make a difference.

 

I am seeking to be more involved with this movement, and hope others here will as well.

 

Peace in the name of all that is holy to you,

 

John

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"I know, I know... It sounds like corny idealism, but that is really how change happens in the world- enough people standing together and committing to a common cause.

 

I think a large part of the problem we face now is American apathy- people are too absorbed in their own comfort zones to stand up and help make a difference.

 

I am seeking to be more involved with this movement, and hope others here will as well.

 

OOPS! I really didn't mean to be sarcastic... I can see how you read it that way. I was smiling support. I agree very much about the apathy and see a great deal of willful, purposeful ignorance... I too am trying to find ways to be involved that don't leave me feeling like Don Quixote! :)

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I think a large part of the problem we face now is American apathy- people are too absorbed in their own comfort zones to stand up and help make a difference.

This is THE problem we face. We are conditioned from the time we're infants to sit passively and be bombarded with TV commercials promising us quick fixes to all of our problems (bad breath, credit card debt, the list goes on and on). The commercials are getting better and better as we learn more about the human brain and how it absorbs and uses information. I think it's harder than at any previous point in human history to stand against this tide, and to equip our children to do it. Parenting is a subversive activity! I'm looking oh so forward to it, but the challenge can't be overstated. B)

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parenting is subversive! :) When my kids started noticing commercials, we would go and find the trick. Look at the cool toy on tv... go to the store... gee, it doesn't do any of the stuff it did on the commercial. Trick. The nasty sugar-filled goop they're selling? Try one! Yuck!!! Trick. It really is fun!

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Cynthia, I love it! My nephew, who is in HS took a class (gifted) in media literacy. He is noticing how they are snookering teens. He notices how they "push cool". But this should be part of education from preschool and up. (Of course, don't think this would go over so well with the neocons.)

 

BTW, there was a great Frontline documentary, "The Marketing of Cool".

 

--des

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Cynthia, I love it! My nephew, who  is in HS took a class (gifted) in media literacy. He is noticing how they are snookering teens. He notices how they "push cool". But this should be part of education from preschool and up. (Of course, don't think this would go over so well with the neocons.)

 

BTW, there was a great Frontline documentary, "The Marketing of Cool".

 

--des

 

Des, I think the piece you are referring to is The Merchants of Cool

 

Great series and good resources and info on the website...

 

Thanks for mentioning that one...

 

Peace,

 

J

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  • 1 month later...

I will also be leading and facilitating a three part forum on God's Politics. Although I agree with the premise that old and new testament prophetic faith/poverty/justice issues cannot be divorced from politics, I found the book sloppy, a laborious read, repetitive and full of clichés. It could have easily been 100 pages (or less) with a DVD/CD resource guide to boot. That would have been much more effective. Jim Wallis has been an effective voice for over 35 years and this book does him no justice (no pun intended). This book needed an editor with a big red marker. I feel it was rushed to print and reduces his voice to mediocre-dum. Still, I will be reading what folks are gleaning from this book in order to make an effective case for his central theme. William

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I think I liked the book more than you did William, but I also think it would have been more effective if pruned a LOT. I don't know who his editor, etc. was, but I thought that person should have done a better job. I eventually saw it as more of a bunch of essays and speeches which made it more readable, but still I agree wtih the your point. I think 100 pages or so would be about right.

 

I see the message as an essentially "new" (or at least rediscovered) one in American politics (not new in and of itself). Funny thing but I hear a few people sounding like him lately, and I am pretty sure they have read the book: Hillary Clinton, for one, talked about social justice issues as moral values.

 

 

--des

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I think I liked the book more than you did William, but I also think it would have been more effective if pruned a LOT. I don't know who his editor, etc. was, but I thought that person should have done a better job. I eventually saw it as more of a bunch of essays and speeches which made it more readable, but still I agree wtih the your point. I think 100 pages or so would be about right.

 

I see the message as an essentially "new" (or at least rediscovered) one in American politics (not new in and of itself). Funny thing but I hear a few people sounding like him lately, and I am pretty sure they have read the book: Hillary Clinton, for one, talked about social justice issues as moral values.

 

 

--des

 

Yeah. Clinton's Global Initiative has some of the same punch. Personally I think that Jim is courageous and right on track. However, the book needs slicing and dicing to get the message across. You might want to check the links I've put together below. The streaming audio files give you a much better taste of Jim than the book. Jim Wallis is an oral story teller and that medium is much more effective in presentation. I plan on taping the NPR interview and using snippets to re-enforce the central themes. This is a HUGE subject and requires some channeling to make it effective. William

Edited by williambrandes
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Hi all:

 

I got to see Jim Wallis speak at the Network of Spiritual Progessives conference in Berkeley this past summer . . . he was great and the whole conference was excellent. Haven't read God's politics yet, but I do enjoy writings I have seen by Wallis in Sojourners and various other journals.

 

The Network of Spiritual Progressives is an ecumenical organization spearheaded by Rabbi Michael Lerner's Tikkun community. I encourage anyone who wants to participate in a political movement that seeks to form networks between progressive people of all faiths as well as spiritual-but-not-religious people to check out this organization! I guess I should actually start a thread about it. At any rate, there will be another meeting of this conference in Washington, DC, in February 06. If you're interested, go to www.tikkun.org.

 

At the Berkeley conference (and the DC conference will be similar) we had speakers / artists / groups like: Jim Wallis, Peter Gabel, Fritjof Capra, Matthew Fox, Carol Flinders, Holly Near, "Swami Beyondananda," Thandeka, Buddhist Peace Fellowhip, John Shelby Spong, Van Jones, Rami Shapiro -- in D.C. they'll also have Sister Joan Chittister!

 

Okay, sorry . . . I'll start another thread. Eventually.

 

:rolleyes:

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Here's a link from Beliefnet. Former Senator Danforth is beating the same drum as Wallis - yay! :)

 

http://www.beliefnet.com/story/176/story_17656_1.html

 

 

I agree that Wallis is a much better speaker and essay writer than his book indicates. Does anyone else find that many "spiritual" books are wonderful for the first half and repetitive for the second? I thnk many/most could be pared down.

Edited by Cynthia
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