Thursday, March 14, 2013

God's Politics and Mine

Wallis in Parts III and IV bites off a whole lot to chew on -- War and Poverty -- Two realities that have always been with us, and surely are evident in the world today.   Writing in 2004/5 Wallis of course is focused on the aftermath of 9/11 and the presidency of George W. Bush.  Charitably, Wallis does not see W as bad person, a hypocrite religiously.   Rather, W is sadly misinformed about what biblical faith is.  (And so are a whole bunch of other American Christians.)  Wallis -- rightly, in my view -- finds the civic religion of our time frightening, and dangerous.  

"The real theological problem in America today is no longer the religious Right, but the nationalist religion of the Bush administration, one that confuses the identity of the nation with the church, and God’s purposes with the mission of American empire."  (Kindle  2806-2807)

W is no longer President, of course.   But given the current President's use of war in Afghanistan and military drones a whole lot of other places, one is disappointed that we haven't moved farther away from war as an instrument of international politics.  It is deeply entrenched in us all.

In Part IV  Wallis makes some excellent points about where conservatives and liberals ought to be able to agree.  He points to 'conservative' values of promoting healthy families, teaching personal responsibility, and discouraging sexual promiscuity as values that everyone can and should embrace, for the good of the poor.  Liberals are right to point out where economic and social systems deny opportunity to the poor.  But as they do, they shouldn't be ashamed to also say "Amen" to some of the things conservatives value.

Wallis calls the church to stand with the poor, personally and politically. And he cites instances where people of faith, working together, have been able to achieve great changes in the world.

Along the way he makes good use of biblical material:  the idea of "Jubilee" in the Hebrew Scriptures, the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats, Mary's Magnificat, the many voices of the prophets that excoriate the rich who oppress the poor.