Great Awakening: Reviving Faith and Politics in a Post-Religious Right America

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What will it take to solve the biggest issues of our time: extreme and needless poverty, global warming and environmental degradation, terrorism and the endless cycle of violence, racism, human trafficking, health care and education, and other pressing problems? While Washington offers only the politics of blame and fear, Jim Wallis, the man who changed the conversation about faith and politics, has traveled the country and found a nation hungry for a politics of solutions and hope. He shows us that a revival is ...

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What will it take to solve the biggest issues of our time: extreme and needless poverty, global warming and environmental degradation, terrorism and the endless cycle of violence, racism, human trafficking, health care and education, and other pressing problems? While Washington offers only the politics of blame and fear, Jim Wallis, the man who changed the conversation about faith and politics, has traveled the country and found a nation hungry for a politics of solutions and hope. He shows us that a revival is happening, as people of faith and moral conviction seek common ground for change.

Wallis also reminds us that religious faith was a driving force behind our greatest national reforms, such as the abolition of slavery and the civil rights movement. These "great awakenings" happened periodically at crucial times in our nation's history to propel us toward the common good. The time is ripe for another movement that will transform this country. With The Great Awakening, Wallis helps us rediscover our moral center and provides both the needed inspiration and a concrete plan to hold politics accountable and find solutions to our greatest challenges.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
By the count of most religion historians, there have been four Great American Awakenings since Colonial times; the first in the early 18th century, the most recent in the 1960s and '70s. To this tally, Jim Wallis has now added a fifth, which he believes is already underway. The editor of the liberal evangelical magazine Sojourners contends that even in the heartland, Christians are now rallying behind a social justice agenda that is more comprehensive than traditional conservative calls for bans of abortion and gay marriage. A provocative manifesto for believers.
Publishers Weekly

Recognizing that America's faithful have subverted their evangelical Christian ideology into a conservative political ideology, Wallis reminds readers that to follow the spirit of Christianity truly does mean to go beyond the simple two-party system and understand the greater principles of the faith. Wallis assesses the wide range of movements and new ideas emerging from Christians and what this new reckoning within their hearts and minds means for the political realm. With tools and goals that help listeners achieve spirituality over ideology, Wallis reveals the "common ground" upon which faith in America can be rebuilt and opened to a larger group of discontented believers. At a slow, deliberate pace, Wallis narrates with an elderly but genuinely sincere voice. A few voice shifts hint at poor sound editing, but the clarity and crisp voice of Wallis still shines through. However, his tone can be a bit droll, and it seems to move forward with almost languid reluctance. He performs a few vocal impersonations quite well, but often in doing so, only reinforces his overall weak performance in the straight narration. Simultaneous release with the HarperOne hardcover (Reviews, Dec. 10, 2007). (Feb.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
“This is a must-read for anyone concerned about the staggering problems that America faces today. Before you vote, read THE GREAT AWAKENING.”
Christian Ethics Today
...a timely, powerful, persuasive book which richly deserves a wide hearing....
USA Today
Laden with anecdotes, Wallis’ book claims a groundswell of progressive believers could accomplish social transformation that mere politics cannot deliver.
In These Times
Offers insight into religious activism and the possibilities for a more progressive approach to religious engagement in the public square
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060558291
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/22/2008
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 1,499,596
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Jim Wallis is the author of the New York Times bestseller God's Politics, which electrified Americans disenchanted with how the Right had co-opted all talk about integrating religious values into our politics by offering an alternative voice. Wallis is a leading figure at the crossroads of religion and politics in America today, the author of eight books, and the founder of Sojourners, a global faith and justice network. He is a public theologian, an internationally renowned speaker and preacher, a faith-based activist, husband, and father to two young boys, and a Little League baseball coach.

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Read an Excerpt

The Great Awakening LP
Reviving Faith & Politics in a Post-Religious Right America

Chapter One

Revival Time

When Faith Changes Politics

Arriving in Atlanta recently for a speaking appearance, I was happy. For any preacher, Atlanta is a wonderful place to be, a place where preaching is an art form. On this occasion, I returned to a favorite place—Ebenezer Baptist Church, the home congregation of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The pastor, Rev. Joe Roberts, was about to retire, and he welcomed me back warmly, "You've been to the old Israel, but now you're in the new Israel" (referring to the old historic church on Auburn Avenue and the brand-new sanctuary across the street where two thousand people had gathered that evening).

I remembered. It was indeed the old place I'd been to before, on the occasion of the first annual national holiday for the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. For their Peace and Justice service, Ebenezer had invited a young white preacher. I was excited, but very nervous. When I stepped into that historic pulpit, I froze. Dr. King had preached here, so had his father, "Daddy" King, and so had countless leaders of the civil rights movement and the leading black pastors of our time. What was a young white kid from Detroit doing in this pulpit? I was, you might say, a little tentative as I began. "Well, Martin Luther King Jr. was for justice and . . . p-p-peace," I stammered, " . . . and probably we should be too." It was something short of powerful.

But then, from the lower left side of the church, a voice boomed back at me. "Oh, help him, Lord, help him! C'mon young man, you're supposed topreach." So I started to—a little. "Aw, you're not there yet!" he bellowed. He, of course, was enacting the "call and response" tradition of the black church, which I have grown to love. The old man was the "amen corner" of Ebenezer Baptist Church, and he proceeded with a litany of "well," "yes sir," "mercy, mercy," "preach it now," and lots of "amens" until I was proclaiming, prancing, and sweating—preaching my heart out until I was thoroughly exhausted when I finally finished. Afterward, I rushed down to my amen corner, whose name was Deacon Johnson. "You just pulled that sermon out of me," I exclaimed, breathless. Standing tall, he put his hands on my shoulders and smiled at me. "Son," he said, "I've raised up many a preacher in my time."

Deacon Johnson has passed now, Rev. Roberts told me, but I will always remember him. Just as Deacon Johnson had pulled the best out of me, I reflected that night in Atlanta, that pulpit at Ebenezer Baptist Church (and the civil rights movement rooted there) had called out the very best from the American people. The truth is that we've got some bad stuff in us as Americans, but we've got some good stuff, too. Bad religion calls forth our worst stuff, but good religion calls out our best. I smiled as I remembered how Deacon Johnson had raised me up that night, and I climbed into the Ebenezer pulpit once again. It's time for some good religion tonight, I said to myself.

Two of the great hungers in our world today are the hunger for spirituality and the hunger for social justice. The connection between the two is the one the world is waiting for, especially the new generation. And the first hunger will empower the second.

Those on the Religious Right did it wrong, allowing their religion to become too partisan, too narrow, and too ideological. They were used by politics and did plenty of using themselves—using both people and issues to further their own agenda. But I believe their day is over, and we have now entered the post–Religious Right era. That's not just optimism, but a claim based on serious observation, as this book will point out.

Some people believe the alternative to bad religion is secularism, but that's wrong, too. The answer to bad religion is better religion—prophetic rather than partisan, broad and deep instead of narrow, and based on values as opposed to ideology. In America (and in most of the developing world), religion is here to stay. The question is not whether faith and spiritual values will be applied to politics, but how? Can faith enter public life in ways that are respectful of democracy, pluralism, and diversity? Could spiritual renewal supply the energy that makes social justice more achievable? Is revival necessary for reform? I believe the answer to all those questions is an emphatic yes, and this book will explain why.

One learns a lot crisscrossing the country for three decades, speaking (and listening) in every part of America and to a multitude of audiences and constituencies. Because much of my speaking is also preaching, I have been with almost every religious denomination and faith community in America, and have watched the relationship between faith and politics significantly affect the issues of society—for good and ill. I've also traveled extensively overseas and been an eyewitness to many of the greatest crises the world faces today, as well as the kinds of initiatives and movements capable of changing those realities.

I have been listening, and I'd like to report that many Americans, and in particular many people of faith in this country, believe we can do better with both our religion and our politics—and around the world, people are hoping that we do. Listening to people across America and throughout the world convinces me that it is time for a new kind of politics, and that a better public engagement by faith communities could help get us there. The good news is that many people are ready for both—better religion and better politics. In fact, we may be approaching a new "revival" of faith, one that opens the door for real solutions that transcend partisan politics and leads the way to concrete victories for social justice. I am suggesting that we need nothing less than a powerful movement of faith to renew American politics—one that effectively combines personal conversion and social justice. Personal transformation is necessary for social movements, and social movements are necessary to transform politics.

The Great Awakening LP
Reviving Faith & Politics in a Post-Religious Right America
. Copyright © by Jim Wallis. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Table of Contents

Foreword   Jimmy Carter     ix
Introduction: Something Is Happening     1
Revival Time: When Faith Changes Politics     11
Changes in the Air: The New Agenda     31
How to Change the World, and Why: Rules of Engagement     53
The Moral Center: Politics for the Common Good     79
Inclusion and Opportunity: The Welcome Table     103
Stewardship and Renewal: The Earth Is the Lord's     135
Equality and Diversity: The Race to Unity     157
Life and Dignity: Critical Choices     189
Family and Community: The False Choice     217
Nonviolent Realism: Resolving Our Conflicts     235
Integrity and Accountability: Doing the Right Thing and the Question of Leadership     267
What's Acceptable, What's Possible: Notes to the Next Generation     283
Epilogue: Red Letter Christians and Justice Revivals: Coming to a City Near You     299
Jim Wallis Sr.: Man of Faith     311
Acknowledgments     317
Notes     321
Index     331
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 2.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 23, 2008

    Did he/she read this book?

    I am going to purchase this book soon. I have other books by Wallis and have enjoyed them.I do not feel someone should respond to the reviews if they haven't even read the book. Obviously, this reviewer is part of the religious right and won't even give the book a chance.

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 31, 2008


    The fact that 'post religious right' is in the title makes it obvious this isn't worth the read. Oh yeah, and hope...hmmm....i wonder...

    0 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 19, 2008

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    Posted January 4, 2010

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    Posted January 22, 2009

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