Monday, March 8, 2010

Book Review -- The Great Awakening

The Great Awakening is the companion and follow up to God’s Politics in which Jim Wallis calls for a new sort of politics among Christians, which emphasizes not just a few hot button issues, but rather a policy that addresses the many life threatening issues that we are facing in our world today.

This book echoes the message of God’s Politics, and calls Christians to a new awakening. Wallis is passionate about both Christianity and politics and both shines is this book. Wallis grounds his book in the understanding that the message of Jesus is inherently political; divorcing his message from political undertones strips the message of the gospels of their power. Wallis consistently appeals to the themes of the Kingdom of God, and justice as key characteristics of the message of Jesus. These themes are to be understood by the church as the foundation for Christian’s action in the world.

Wallis continues his book by addressing several hot button issues including racial diversity, a consistent ethic of life, family values, responsible stewardship of creation, and peace. At every turn Wallis calls forth Christians to think and act in a Christian way. For too long Christian politics have been co-opted by the Religious Right, something Wallis continually critiques because of their narrow focus on issues, and blatant disregard for others which Wallis considers to be essential.

The Great Awakening calls Christians to further action, and points to a new way forward. It calls Christians to truly love their neighbor, to fight against the continued racial boundaries that constrain many in America. Wallis pleads with Christians to consider their stewardship over God’s good creation, and our responsibility to care for what God has left us stewards over.

A consistent ethic of life includes not only support for pro-life legislation, but must be expanded from the cradle to the grave. 30,000 people will die today from preventable diseases, a fact which is often lost on Christian conservatives who focus their sole attention on abortion. A holistic Christian is one who fights for the unborn; while at the same time joins the battle to provide medical help for those who so desperately need it.

As with any book, the author does not come to the table without presuppositions, and biases. Wallis is no different. If there is a weakness to his book, it is the perceived hubris that at times comes across in his writing. While the Religious Right certainly damaged both politics, and Christians understanding about their responsibility in the political world, they are not the pariahs that Wallis seems to make them out to be. At times the constant criticism of only one side of the coin makes the book somewhat less believable, and reminds the reader of the constant partisan politics which Washington so frequently falls into, thereby rendering them unable to pass legislation which would make a significant impact on our world.

I recommend this book to anyone interested in a new way forward in politics, Christian or not, this book will be helpful for any reader, and lead them to a greater understanding of the issues which we must be concerned about, and the issues that we must address.

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