Jim Wallis, an evangelical Christian, is one of the leading figures at the crossroads of religion and politics in America today. He is a public theologian, nationally renowned preacher, faith-based activist, and author of ten books. He is the founder of Sojourners, a nationwide network of progressive Christians working for justice and peace, and continues to serve as the editor of Sojourners magazine, covering faith, politics, and culture. Wallis also teaches at Georgetown University. He is profiled as one of our Living Spiritual Teachers.
Wallis contends that we live in "a shallow and selfish" age where taking care of ourselves and those closest to us has resulted in the loss of the democratic ideal of the common good. Looking out for those who are homeless, poor, and unemployed has been set aside for other priorities by both political parties. And if all this weren't enough to drive us into the pits of depression, Wallis points out the lack of civility in our culture on all fronts from political dialogue on television to violence on the soccer field by parents venting their anger on referees.
The author takes the title of this book from a quotation by Abraham Lincoln: "My concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God's side." Christians are called to be caregivers in the name and spirit of Jesus. For Wallis, the journey back to the faith that has been lost is through the poor. He pays tribute to a new generation of "Matthew 25" believers who take this mission of downward mobility seriously. He also salutes the immigration reform statement signed by 150 evangelical leaders trying to extend the Christian spiritual practice of hospitality.
Speaking from his role as an evangelical leader, Wallis asks Americans to move from satisfying their appetites to living their values day-by-day: "People were made for family, community, and human flourishing, not consumerism, materialism, addiction, and empty overwork." Wallis prophetically criticizes the damaging role money is playing in politics, and he is upset about the growing inequality between the rich and the poor. He ends with praise for the old fashioned values of marriage and parenting, noting with pride his love of being a Little League coach.