The Elusive Middle
In 2005 public opinion caught up with Jim Wallis. For decades the president and CEO of Sojourners had lobbied for social justice as the Religious Right captured headlines. But widespread liberal angst over President Bush's 2004 election roused attention for his cause.
Wallis's 2005 book, God's Politics, spent four months on The New York Times bestseller list. He became the go-to evangelical to rip the Religious Right and wag his finger at the secular Left. Wallis introduces few new ideas in The Great Awakening: Reviving Faith and Politics in a PostReligious Right America (HarperOne). "The monologue of the Religious Right is over," Wallis says in his standard speech line. Maybe, but can Wallis prove that evangelicals have flocked to his side?
Like God's Politics, The Great Awakening alternates between criticisms of the Right and the Left. "If I were an unborn child and wanted the support of the far Right, it would be better for me to stay unborn for as long as possible, because once I was born, I'd be off its radar screenno childcare, no health care, nothing," Wallis writes. "Nor should I expect support from the far Left, which speaks so much about human rights, because I won't have any until after my birth."
Still, it's not hard to see where Wallis's sympathies lie. When he discourages Christians from making political appeals based on "sectarian religious demands," he echoes Sen. Barack Obama's speech at the 2006 Call to Renewal conference. When he writes, "I believe that the real battle, the big struggle of our times, is the fundamental choice between cynicism and hope," he evokes Obama's The Audacity of Hope.
Unfortunately, factual mistakes further belie Wallis's claim to nonpartisanship. He suggests that the 2006 ...