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Blog // Thoughts
January 16, 2005

God’s Politics?

God’s Politics is the name of the latest book from Jim Wallis of Sojourner’s fame. If you read Jim’s justification for the book, it does seem timely, but also somewhat reminiscent of the last “book for a movement” he wrote, The Soul of Politics. Maybe I am just worried, following on from Wendell Berry that […]

God’s Politics is the name of the latest book from Jim Wallis of Sojourner’s fame. If you read Jim’s justification for the book, it does seem timely, but also somewhat reminiscent of the last “book for a movement” he wrote, The Soul of Politics. Maybe I am just worried, following on from Wendell Berry that when we name a movement, we begin a process that leads to the movement losing its radical edge.

Of course, The Soul of Politics was a good book that at the time caused many (including myself) to stop and think and it may well be that God’s Politics is equally timely. The real question, however, is what if any discourse this book will generate. The political divide within the church is so strong, between the liberal and conservative tendencies. Moreover, liberalism itself seems contorted by its own inability to be morally clear. The situation is now far less reconcilable than it was when The Soul of Politics was written and the evangelical wing of the church is less likley to revise its politico-theological programme today.

In part this is because the conservative shift is not just an ideological or even moral shift. It is a cultural shift. I don’t think you can any longer address the Christian conservative political agenda in purely ideological terms (I’m keen to see on what terms Jim addresses it in God’s Politics). This shift is as much about SUVs, shopping malls, BBQs and the new exurbia as it is about elected officials. It is in every sense a cultural grid for interpreting reality. I’m not sure how far we can get talking about the morality of politics abstracted from the widespread assumption in most evangelical groups about the correctness of suburban life, along with all its cultural and economic accoutrements.

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