The Common Good

Here We Go Again

Sojomail - January 31, 2008


Irregardless of the effect of the cuts, the cuts are illegal ... because they are designed to punish civilians for the acts of militants.

- Sari Bashi, director of the Israeli human rights group Gisha, responding to plans by the Israeli Defense Ministry to cut electricity and fuel supplies to Gaza, which defended its actions with the assertion, "The minister of defense has wide discretion in regard to fighting, including waging economic warfare." (Source: The Washington Post)

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Here We Go Again

I'm on a plane to Portland, Oregon, to begin the West Coast swing of The Great Awakening book tour that will also take us to Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego—all back to back. The events are quite diverse and very interesting, from universities, churches, various civic forums, pastors' lunches, student groups, and, of course, lots of bookstores.

Already, I am being reminded of the God's Politics book tour three years ago. So many people have told me how depressed they were after the 2004 election, and how the appearance of God's Politics gave them real hope again about the possibility of an alternative to the Religious Right, or, even more personally, how that promise actually brought them back to faith. I can't tell you how much that encourages me. Last time we were really stunned by the size of the turnout at all the book events and also at how young the audiences were. And Tuesday night, at the opening book event for The Great Awakening at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., the hall was filled with students.

I've been doing lots of radio interviews in the last few days and have found the comments and questions very interesting. Two stand out.

First, several interviewers have suggested that God's Politics and now The Great Awakening are giving Christian faith a different image than the one that has dominated for several years now. They say these books are helping to "re-brand" Christian commitment away from the divisive, partisan, political, and top-down agenda of the Religious Right to a new image of faith that is much more welcoming, open, inclusive, and focused on both compassion and social justice. I really hope that is true and that's part of the reason I write these books.

The second question I am asked is even more important, it seems to me. The Great Awakening is a very hopeful book, several of the interviewers have told me. But then they ask, "Do you think we really can be hopeful about real change in this country and the world?" They ask me to forgive them for their cynicism and then ask, almost longingly, if hope is really possible. That is exactly the question this book tries to deal with, and I am sure it will be the hot topic of conversation at every stop along this book tour.

Along the way, I'll be blogging about the people I meet and what they have to say. Keep up with us at the God's Politics Blog. And do visit The Great Awakening Web site our terrific staff has created for the book tour. It is full of good resources, including a downloadable study guide for those who want to start Great Awakening study groups in their church or community. (I heard a lot about those during the God's Politics book tour—including when I was in Dallas last year and a man whispered subversively in my ear that they had two God's Politics book study groups in George Bush's home church!)

The Great Awakening also has a cool little video about what inspired me to write this book, put together by some of our most talented young staffers (I am so lucky to have these people). You can also see the schedule for when we will be coming to a city near you! So come on out, bring your friends and bring your kids. We're going to have a whole lot of fun.


Spreading the Word on The Great Awakening

You can help us lift the message of The Great Awakening to a national audience. Buy the book today and your purchase will keep the momentum going – pushing the book to the bestsellers lists and to the front of bookstores and the national spotlight!

+ Click here to order your copy of The Great Awakening and help lift its message to a national audience.

Find out more about The Great Awakening at our new book Web site: There you can find (or start!) a book group in your area, download a free study guide or screensaver, and watch a video about the book.


+ See what's new on the blog of Jim Wallis and friends

Video: The Inspiration Behind "The Great Awakening" (by Jim Wallis)

A conversation with Jim Wallis on the inspiration behind the book.

Juno: A Truly Pro-Life Film (by Gareth Higgins)

It is a triumph that she has composed a film so full of generosity and so lacking in bitterness, so full of hope for family, for children, for people being able to pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and start all over again. Alongside the clear exploration of how to respond to unplanned pregnancy, this film has something to say to those of us seeking to explore what forgiveness and redemption means. More than that, in its embrace of the totality of our existence – from its acknowledgement that the promotion of values often has more to do with helping people move on from things that didn't work out than with dogmatic confrontation, to its critique of the fact that some religious voices seem incapable of communicating compassion, Juno is a truly pro-life film.

Well Done, Thou Good and Faithful Servants (by Jim Wallis)

John Edwards ended his campaign at the same place he started it and with the same theme—ending poverty as a moral imperative. In the Ninth Ward of New Orleans, Edwards said that he was stepping aside in this presidential campaign, but that he would now continue his lifelong work for economic justice. Before announcing his decision, he called both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to ask for a pledge to make ending poverty central to their campaigns for president and to their presidencies if they are elected.

'Slavery, Plain and Simple' (by Jordan Buckley)

On Nov. 20, a report was filed with the sheriff's office in Immokalee by three men - all of them tomato pickers - who had broken through the ventilation hatch of a U-haul truck their employers had locked them in and escaped. Earlier this month, their employers were indicted in federal court on charges of indentured servitude and peonage. U.S. Attorney Doug Molloy called the operation – which, interestingly, was situated just three blocks from where Burger King was hosting its press tour – "slavery, plain and simple."

Video: The Moral State of the Union (by Jim Wallis)

Tonight, President Bush delivers his seventh State of the Union address. We are certain to hear about the president's plan for stimulating the economy. Yet, for many people of faith, there is a hunger for a new vision of our life together where bold changes are enacted to address the most pressing moral issues of our time. I’ve written about this hunger for change in my latest book, The Great Awakening, in which I talk about how spiritually-based movements for social change have transformed our nation. The abolition movement to end slavery, the fight to end child labor, the civil rights movement – all of these were movements led by people of faith who hungered for a better way. I believe we’re at another important moment in history. Together, we can end the moral scandal of poverty, the degradation of God's creation, the cultural assault on our families and children, and seeing war as the only way to confront evil. You can watch my reflections on "The Moral State of the Union" here: click here for the complete prepared text or download the complete audio as an mp3.

The Truth About Obama’s Faith (by Obery Hendricks)

Every day there seems to be some new outrageous charge leveled at Barack Obama. One of the most pernicious is that he is a Muslim who is dishonestly masquerading as a Christian. This charge is so malicious - and so untrue - that it is time to set the record straight.

What Do Evangelicals Want? (Jim Wallis)

On Wednesday, Sojourners and Beliefnet, in collaboration with the National Association of Evangelicals Christian Student Leadership Conference, hosted a panel discussion on "Choosing a president: What do evangelicals really want?" I joined Steve Waldman and David Kuo of Beliefnet, Rich Cizik of the NAE, Bishop Harry Jackson of Hope Christian Church and the High Impact Leadership Coalition, Lynne Hybels of the Willow Creek Community Church, Rev. Joel Hunter of Northland Church and former president of the Christian Coalition, Rev. Sam Rodriguez of the National Hispanic Leadership Conference, and Rev. Cheryl Sanders of the Third Street Church of God and Howard University School of Divinity in a 90-minute conversation. I was honored to be part of the group, and found the discussion informative and inspiring. I encourage you to listen to the entire conversation, but here are my favorite quotes from each of the panelists.

Race, Religion, and the Election (by Romal Tune)

After Sen. Clinton won New Hampshire, pundits and reporters began to raise questions about race and if, in the privacy of the voting booth, white people would not vote for a black man. Now it is clear from the results in Iowa and the support that Sen. Obama has been receiving from people of all races since the beginning of his campaign, that he is perceived by many as a candidate who transcends race. It's clear that for many people, a candidate's race is not their major concern. However, given the media's fascination with race—based on the outcome in New Hampshire and their inability to find a rational answer for the turn of events—some assumed it must be Obama's race.

Signs of Real Hope for Social Change (by Becky Garrison)

On Jan. 21, I attended a lunch hosted by New York Theological Seminary and New York Faith & Justice to kick off Jim Wallis' book tour for The Great Awakening. As I looked around the room, I was pleasantly surprised that the ecumenical spirit I observed at the launch of NY Faith & Justice was proving to be the real deal. My prediction that this was not another PC peace and justice group proved to be right on target. Here in New York City, representatives from Union Theological Seminary and Campus Crusade for Christ seldom come together and break bread. Yet they were present in this room together.


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Top Stories:

Evangelicals call for a non-partisan political agenda
Scripps Howard News Service
"The menu of politics is broken, and people want a different menu. God is not a Republican or a Democrat," the Rev. Jim Wallis said. "We've got Christians on both sides now." Wallis is president of Sojourners, a religious community in Washington, and editor of the group's magazine. The religious community's mission is "to articulate the biblical call to social justice, inspiring hope and building a movement to transform individuals, communities, the church, and the world."

A New Great Awakening?
U.S. News and World Report
But are we at the beginning, as some progressive evangelicals claim, of yet another Great Awakening? Jim Wallis, the noted liberal evangelical minister and founder of the Sojourners community in Washington, D.C., is making that claim very boldly in both the title and argument of his newest book, The Great Awakening: Reviving Faith & Politics in a Post-Religious Right America.

Local best-seller list
Denver Post

Authors plumb American politics for God's sake
USA Today

Jesus wants your vote — and he needs a running mate
Religion News Service

Walking the Walk
Abilene Reporter-News

A battle cry for Christian reform
Charlotte Observer

Evangelical panelists say Christian voters broadening political agenda
Associated Baptist Press

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