Former president Jimmy Carter warns that we stand at the edge of an extensive and profound crisis. In recent years, he insists, the radicalism of the fundamentalists has caused vehement divisions throughout our society. "Fortunately," he writes, "this disharmony has not yet become final, as the federal courts, members of Congress, religious leaders, and the general public have not solidified opinions on most of these controversial issues." In Our Endangered Values, he implores Americans to reaffirm our traditional national commitments.
By adding his own voice to the discussion, Carter reminds us of a time when religion was tied to such virtues as humility and to such practices as soul-searching. He may not have been one of our best presidents, but he is undoubtedly one of our finest human beings.
The Washington Post
After several books on spirituality and homespun values (most recently Sharing Good Times), President Carter turns his attention to the political arena. He is gravely concerned by recent trends in conservatism, many of which, he argues, stem from the religious right's openly political agenda. Criticizing Christian fundamentalists for their "rigidity, domination and exclusion," he suggests that their open hostility toward a range of sinners (including homosexuals and the federal judiciary) runs counter to America's legacy of democratic freedom. Carter speaks eloquently of how his own faith has shaped his moral vision and of how he has struggled to reconcile his own values with the Southern Baptist church's transformation under increasingly conservative leadership. He also makes resonant connections between religion and political activism, as when he points out that the Lord's Prayer is a call for "an end to political and economic injustice within worldly regimes." Too much of the book, however, is a scattershot catalogue of standard liberal gripes against the current administration. Throwing in everything from human rights abuses at Abu Ghraib to global warming, Carter spreads himself too thin over talking points that have already been covered extensively. Agent, Lynn Nesbit. (Nov.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
This is a book of reason and tolerance but also of indignation. The former President draws on his religious faith and political experience to comment wisely on a wide range of "hot button" issues. Although Carter's tone is patient and explanatory, his views are bound to be newsworthy and will rekindle some old fires. He is dismayed by the influence of fundamentalism both in religion and in politics; as he observes, "Narrowly defined theological beliefs have been adopted as the rigid agenda of a political party." He further accuses the neoconservatives who guide the Bush administration of having imperialistic goals. Carter writes at length about post-9/11 human rights violations, gun control, nuclear proliferation, the death penalty, the dilution of environmental quality, and the dangers of preemptive war. He passionately encourages women to demand a greater leadership role in the church while candidly discussing his own religious beliefs and struggles with the Baptist Church. However, his most cohesive chapter is concerned with the growing gap between rich and poor, which he calls the greatest challenge facing the world in this new century. This book is an eloquent personal testament that deserves a wide readership, regardless of political affiliation. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 7/05.]-Thomas A. Karel, Franklin & Marshall Coll. Lib., Lancaster, PA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
The former president shares his personal thoughts, saturated with his religious beliefs, on the moral decline of the U.S. political sphere. What has become of the principles that were thought to guide American political practice, asks Carter? What has become of the ethical notions of peace, economic and social justice, freedom and human rights, a quality environment, the rule of law and global cooperation? Carter (Sharing Good Times, 2004, etc.) traces the rise of thuggish American triumphalism to the ascendancy of special interests, governance through secrecy, fundamentalist influence and the impact of 9/11, when politics lost the nuance of diplomacy and slid into the tinderbox of black-and-white. Though he speaks frankly about his Southern Baptist life-and explains exactly how it influenced his worldview while president, and continues to instruct every step he takes-he is quick to advocate a separation of church and state on the institutional level (even if readers may wonder about his time spent, on the taxpayer's dime, with leaders of Poland, South Korea and China, on what might be considered evangelical matters). Homosexual rights, abortion and the death penalty may always serve as divisive issues, Carter avers, yet he takes issue with the areas where common ground was squandered: fudging or outright abandonment of nuclear non-proliferation; the ham-handed treatment of the Kyoto Protocols and the retreat from landmark legislation dealing with clean air and water, mining, grazing, forestry, toxic wastes and endangered species; the rush to punish rather than rehabilitate the prison population; legalizing the abuse of civil liberties through the Patriot Act; the thirst to engage inpreemptive war; and the pandering to the rich at the expense of the poor. Plenty to nit-pick, but Carter's overarching decency, his care for the human condition and the health of planet Earth shines through.
"Our Endangered Values cannot be safely ignored."
The Wall Street Journal
"Carter offers an unusual combination: a man of faith and a man of power....By adding his own voice to the discussion, Carter reminds us of a time when religion was tied to such virtues as humility and such practices as soul-searching...he is undoubtedly one of our finest human beings."
Alan Wolfe, The Washington Post Book World
"The prolific former president writes eloquently about how his faith has shaped his moral vision."
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
"Carter has come to the defense of our national values. We need a voice from the not-so-distant past, and this quiet voice strikes just the right notes."
Garry Wills, The New York Review of Books