Page 15


FOREWORD BY JIMMY CARTER REVIVING FAITH & POLITICS IN A POST-RELIGIOUS RIGHT AMERICA JIM WALLIS AUTHOR OF THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING GOD’S POLITICS: WHY THE RIGHT GETS IT WRONG AND THE LEFT DOESN’T GET IT BOOKS & THE CULTURE The Right Way, Reclaimed BY EMILY DePRANG The Great Awakening: Reviving Faith & Politics in a Post-Religious Right America By Jim Wallis HarperOne 352 pages, $25.95 used to know a woman in Austin who produced and directed lesbian comedies. Audiences loved the films, but reviews were invariably critical. “Not enough butches,” one would say, or “conforms to heteronormative standards of beauty.” The director’s response was always the same: “Where’s your lesbian film?” This retort came to mind as I read Jim Wallis’ The Great Awakening, subtitled Reviving Faith & Politics in a PostReligious Right America. This apparent follow -up to Wallis’ 2004 bestseller, God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It, tries to navigate a new nonpartisan path between the Scylla and Charybdis of politics and religion. Wallis, an evangelical pastor with a lifetime commitment to social justice, does such a courageous job of reimagining a Christian take on controversial political issues that I’m loathe to point out his few blind spots and rhetorical weaknesses. After all, where’s my politically viable, theologically sound rebuttal of the religious right? Wallis believes that Christiansalongside people of all religious and spiritual persuasionsshould act as the conscience ofgovernment, always advocating a more just society without allegiance to any party. But before readers can enjoy the spectacle of Wallis scripturally schooling his contemporaries on everything from immigration to the Iraq war, they have to get through the first hundred pages. In these, Wallis tries to establish that the Christian political agenda in America is already evolving beyond “baby-good, IMM:MiNV gay-bad” and embracing its destiny as an anti-war, anti-poverty, pro-environment force in American politics. This is a thrillingly hopeful premise, but Wallis’ attempts at substantiation are almost entirely anecdotal. Wallis writes, “Millions of American Christians are discovering God’s concern for his poorest children, and their biblical rediscovery could well change the political issue of poverty in the United States and around the world.” A reader who yearns for this statement to be true will be disappointed to learn that the supporting evidence is a New York Times article about starving children, which Wallis’ 8-year-old son 26 THE TEXAS OBSERVER APRIL 4, 2008