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LOCAL Commentary :: Labor & Class

Book Review: God's Politics

Recently I had the chance to read Jim Wallis, God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets it Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It (San Francisco: Harper, 2005). This book was in part a response to the re-election of G.W. Bush, and in part a response to the overwhelming sense for religious life to be highlighted and return to public life, specifically the public life of those on the Left.
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I believe that Wallis has made me an evangelical, and I can only hope that the evangelicals who read this book will be transformed into activists. Jim Wallis makes the case that Christians ought to be called to sustain and uphold the dignity of all human life. Something that both conservatives and liberals alike have sorrowfully forgotten.

This book was in part a response to the re-election of G.W. Bush, and in part a response to the overwhelming sense for religious life to be highlighted and returned to public life, specifically the public life of those on the Left.

Jim Wallis is an evangelical from a small evangelical school called Wheaton College, in suburban Chicago, Illinois (www.wheaton.edu). He became active on issues of social justice during the Civil Rights movement and later founded one of the most progressive Christian organizations in the country, Sojourners. (www.sojo.net)

His take on politics and the change that must happen in America is an all-encompassing perspective that remains rooted in biblical enthusiasm that Christians will find refreshing and non-Christians will find intriguing. I found myself unable to argue with the truth telling Wallis does on a number of levels.

Wallis quotes the president of Duke Seminary in saying, “The Lord Jesus Christ is either authoritative for Christians, or he is not. His Lordship cannot be set aside by any earthly power. His words may not be distorted for propagandistic purposes. No nation-state may usurp the place of God.? (Wallis p154) In other words, as a Christian I am called to take back what has been usurped. This means that Christians are called to present another world-view. One that is centrally focused on God’s Justice for all God’s children. In many cases, the call to serve the poor must be incorporated with the call for Justice.

Wallis reflects on the often quoted scripture that justifies division amongst the classes as sanctified by God- “The poor you will always have with you.? He looks at this quote differently, by including the context in which it was written. He says, “You know who comes first in the kingdom of God. So, you will always be near the poor, you’ll always be with them, and you will always have the opportunity to share with them.? (Wallis 210) It is from this text that Jesus requires a radical social location for every Christian. One that is in close proximity to “the least of these.?

He doesn’t stop there however, he just gets even more theological, relying on one of my favorite prophets Micah in discussing the actions of Enron executives. I highly recommend this book for anyone who is looking to incorporate their faith in the struggle for economic justice.

Emily Harry is currently an organizer with Interfaith Worker Justice, www.iwj.org in Chicago, IL. An aspiring pastor in the United Methodist Church, Emily recently graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University where she was active with the Richmond Coalition for a Living Wage, Food Not Bombs, and an active member at Asbury United Methodist Church on Church Hill.
 
 


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