The Great Awakening

January 20, 2008

Jim Wallis of Sojourners/Call to Renewal and author of the best-selling book God's Politics has a new book coming out called The Great Awakening. He offered a taste of the theme of his new book in the latest issue of Sojourners. Here are a few highlights:

Something is happening. Faith is being applied to social justice in ways that we might have never imagined just a few short years ago. Spiritual power is being harnessed to address the greatest social challenges that we face today.

... As I travel the country, I can see and feel a revival of faith that is directly leading to new calls and commitments for social justice. That rebirth and renewal of faith is being directly applied to the moral and biblical scandal of poverty around the globe and here at home, the crises of environmental degradation and climate change that pose such a threat to God's creation, and to the multiple assaults on human life and dignity that shame our world.

... Such revivals of faith applied to our most significant social and public challenges also show the capacity to bring people together--even across traditional political boundaries and divisions--in order to find real answers and solutions. That's because faith and spirituality can take us deeper than politics can, with a moral commitment that allows us to transcend our usual ideological debates.

... We have to break the political impasses and public apathy that prevent us from finding solutions to some of the biggest moral issues of our time. These commitments, if made by individuals, congregations, and communities--and finally by our political leaders--might help us reach a "tipping point" on those great issues and break through to some real answers. And in the process we might even experience some healing of our broken political process.

Revival is necessary, because just having a new and better political agenda will not be enough. Getting to the right issues isn't enough. Having the right message isn't enough. Finding the right program isn’t enough. The real question is what will motivate and mobilize the kind of constituencies that will move politics to change. I believe that will require the energy, power, and hope that faith can bring. People acting out of their best ideas and values is a good thing, but people acting out of their deepest wells of faith can be even more powerful.
I have not read his latest book, but plan to because he offered many important issues to think about in the others I have read. Although he sometimes is as partisan as some of those on the right that he critiques, he still offers a good and needed message about the need for faith to transcend partisanship.

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