THE SOUL OF POLITICS: A Practical and Prophetic Vision for Change by Jim Wallis

THE SOUL OF POLITICS: A Practical and Prophetic Vision for Change

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A passionate plea for social justice and renewal, from the nationally known activist, preacher, and editor of Sojourners magazine. Drawing on his firsthand experience of inner-city life in Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, and Chicago and his visits to trouble spots such as Nicaragua, the Philippines, and South Africa, Wallis (The Call to Conversion, 1981) sets out his vision of a new politics, based on biblical principles, that incorporates both liberal social concern and conservative zeal for personal responsibility. He is at his best, however, when describing actual incidents and people. We meet Mrs. Mary Glover, a 60-year-old African-American woman at the Sojourners' Neighborhood Center, 20 blocks from the White House, who prays aloud each morning before the hungry arrive for food: ""Lord, we know that you'll be comin' through this line today. So help us to treat you well."" We hear of 13-year-old Eddie, who gets drawn into drug-dealing and death on the streets of the capital. Wallis, whose heroes are Gandhi, Dorothy Day, and Nelson Mandela, is eloquent in his denunciation of consumerism and the huge gap between the affluent and the poor. He argues that the concept of human rights, rather than being seen as individual rights, should be broadened by a notion of community and deepened by a sense of the image of God in each person. Wallis's view of a social action that would link the issues of poverty, racism, sexism, and nuclear weapons is more visionary than practical, and his style is overly rhetorical and preachy. He avoids discussing the underlying philosophical questions of how society should be run and what people's duties are to each other, and his assessments of people and situations, such as that of contemporary South Africa, can be idealistic and naive. The foreword is by Garry Wills and the preface by Cornel West. A stimulating vision of a just society but with little meat for those who want to ask deeper questions.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1994
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: New Press