At first glance, a book by Chris Hedges on "America's broken covenant with the Ten Commandments" seems radically misplaced. The complaint that U.S. society has failed to follow the Decalogue is usually heard from the Religious Right or the evangelical center.

So what is this left-leaning former war reporter for The New York Times doing with a thesis more suited to Alabama's former chief justice Roy Moore?

A Presbyterian pastor's son who trained for the ministry at Harvard Divinity School while pastoring in a Roxbury, Massachusetts, ghetto, Hedges was born to preach. In the opening chapter on the initial commandment prohibiting worship of foreign gods, he narrates the gulf between Harvard's liberal theology and the loveless, hopeless lives in his neighborhood.

Hoping to rescue two teenage heroin addicts from sin and oppression, he instead descended to their depth. By the end of his second year, they were trying to kill him, and he was using the police and the courts to try to destroy them. Hedges discovered the truth that "the darkness … in Roxbury was my darkness, our darkness." Chastened, he left the ministry and the church to become a war correspondent.

Hedges weaves this story with those of other souls struggling with the idols that separate them from God. Here and in the rest of the book, he's still preaching-crying out against idolatry, violence, and selfishness, and calling for repentance, community, and love.

When Hedges left Roxbury, he ritualized the moment by throwing an empty bottle against the front door of his church. Some readers might feel that Losing Moses on the Freeway is a similar act of vandalism against God's church. It isn't. True, swear words for Hedges include institutional religion, rules, television ...

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