"My concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God's side."--Abraham Lincoln
Lincoln led America through one of the most tumultuous times in our nation's history. Reading his words today, it is clear we still have much to learn concerning what it means to be on God's side.
Bestselling author, public theologian, and leading Christian activist Jim Wallis speaks directly into our current context, revealing the spiritual compass we need to effect lasting change in our society. He explains how the good news of Jesus transforms not only our individual lives but also our public lives. Jesus's gospel of the kingdom of God helps us recover a personal and social commitment to the common good and shows us--in concrete ways--how to be both personally responsible and socially just. Working together, we can reshape our churches, society, politics, and economy.
- Whose Side Are You On?
This review first appeared on my blog, Jacob's Café (jacobscafe.blogspot.com).
Jim Wallis is well-known by many Christians, and he often is viewed as controversial in the evangelical community, as he uses the term evangelical while promoting progressive ideals through the social justice group, Sojourners. I've never read or listened to any of his work, so I was intrigued to listen to an audiobook version of his (very long) tome, On God's Side: What Religion Forgets and Politics Hasn't Learned about Serving the Common Good.
The book, running at about 14 hours for the audio version and 300 pages for the print edition, has a lot of information and examples of Wallis' points. Many posts could be written about these points, but I was generally impressed with Wallis' ability to be rather balanced and try to find a common ground in the name of the Gospel.
The basic premise of his text is a fundamental shifting of the paradigm of faith in politics, which argues God is always on our side (whichever side you're on). As the title of the book suggests, Wallis asserts that this perspective and the question of whose side God is on misses the point. We should be asking if we're on God's side. While I'm sure this argument has been made before, and it's not simple to live out, I really appreciated how this view shifts the focus from being anthropocentric to being theocentric. Both sides of the political (and theological) aisle seem to increasingly emphasize humanity as central rather than trying to find out how to re-orient to be in line with God. The result, Wallis argues, should be striving toward the common good rather than our individual, siloed good. And I agree.
If you like texts on the politics of religion, this is a great addition. But the print version might be better. Again, I haven't listened to Wallis before, but for him being such a national leader who has to speak regularly, his narration of his own book was less-than-impressive. In fact, the almost monotonous tone made some very important points seem unimportant. I usually love authors narrating their own works because you can hear their passion and interest in their points, even if their readings aren't great. Unfortunately, both were lacking here, making me sometimes question if Wallis even believed what he was saying. I hope he does because his points are important and much-needed.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
- Very Long But Fascinating
On God's Side by Jim Wallis is an interesting mix of politics, social issues and social justice which is bound to raise some heated discussions due to its content. It covers everything from social justice to the hot topic of the year gay marriage and how Christians should approach those topics.
The first thing that I noticed about this book is the length of it and the breadth of topics that it covers, it is not your casual Sunday afternoon read but it is quite informative. I agreed with the majority of what Jim outlined in the book especially the importance of having social justice and true democracy where people aren't left out for any reason.
However I believe he goes too far on the issues of gay marriage and Christian/Muslim relations, seeming to push for acceptance of their beliefs and not just accepting them as neighbours with differing beliefs but maybe that is just my understanding of the comments. These are just minor issues I had amongst all the good points that are raised.
The narration was alright but it would have been better if a professional narrator was used as the narration was a bit dry and monotonous at times.
This book is very long and at times a bit dry but it is filled with great causes and issues that should be discussed as Christians.
This audio book was gifted as a part of the christianaudio Reviewers Program in exchange for my unbiased review of this work. More information can be found about this and other Christian audio books at christianaudio.com.