Nonfiction — print. HarperOne, 2006. 371 pgs. Purchased.
Wallis’ “new vision for faith and politics in America” was the selection of my parents’ Sunday School class five years ago. I was sort of a member of the class, but I gave up on the book after thirty pages. It’s been on my TBR list ever since, especially since the class had such interesting conversations and reactions to Wallis’ thoughts.
The book — subtitled “Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It” — asks why believing in God and having moral values makes you pro-war, pro-rich, and pro-Republican? And why promoting and pursuing a progressive social agenda with concern for economic security, health care, and education means you have to put your faith in God aside? Wallis stresses that Jesus’ greatest concern was for the poor and argues that the most important political and social issue for Christians should be decreasing poverty in America and the world. At the same time, Christians should accept global warming and work to sustain God’s creation and place less emphasis on hot-button, litmus-test issues such as abortion.
“If the Democrats could be persuaded by both good political sense and sound moral values to moderate some of their positions by becoming anti-abortion without criminalizing an agonizing and desperate choice, and being pro-family without being anti-gay, they would change politics in America by giving permission to millions of voters who would naturally vote for them except for the cultural and moral divide they feel with Democratic language and polices.” (pg. 11)
I wound up giving up on this book again; stopping at 282 pages out of 371 and skimming to the end.When I read the introduction, I once again found myself nodding along with the basic premise of Wallis’ book because when did one side of American politics gain a monopoly on the Christian religion. But I had to give up and move on to something else because there was very little food for thought. Let me clarify, when taking a position, Wallis does not reference the Bible as his support. Because he either chose to or refused to do so, he basically states his position and then moves on. The lack of support — biblical or not (very few footnotes and citations for outside facts) — makes it nearly impossible to respond to him or think critically about his position.
I also felt like I was being preached to, especially since God’s Politics is very repetitive and Wallis cites own company as an outside source. In several chapters Wallis presented his view, follows it up with a copy of a letter/speech/ad by him restating that view, which he would later repeat in another section. Additionally, as someone in my parents’ class pointed out (I kept notes tucked in my Bible), Wallis never discusses America’s ideal that the church and the state be separated; he assumes that because most politicians are self-described Christians (even if his book says they’re really not), this country should conform and follow Christian ideology — whether that be pro-environment, pro-war, or anti-poverty.