Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Book Review: Seven Ways to Change the World

Jim Wallis has been a massive influence on my life. His A Call to Conversion for the first time in my life gave me both the permission and the understanding that an essential part of following Christ was caring for the poor. In so many ways his story mirrored mine, I related to it and was inspired by it. I've read many of his books since. Seven Ways to Change the World is his latest work.

In some ways there's not an awful lot that's new here. Themes that I read in The Soul of Politics and in God's Politics are once again present here. Wallis again repeats his call for prophetic not partisan politics from Christians and although tries to claim a third way, although I doubt any Republican readers would see it like that. Still I like his politics if not always his theology.

I'm not entirely sure who his intended readership is here, because for a Christian there is some Bible but not enough, for a non-Christian there is probably too much. Anway, Wallis wants a justice revival, a third great awakening. Revivals change society on that we are agreed, whether there is really tangible evidence that one is about to happen is a point of debate. Wallis is an optimist, he places great faith in dialogue, declarations, covenants and statements. These proclomations by Sojourners or some other body are heralds of a new dawn. I'm British, so I'm much more cycnical about the power of any of those things. When it came to demonstration the change Wallis talked about, the examples were too often people saying things and not often enough people doing things.

Still, there were places where his passion inspired me again, challenged me on distance from the community, called me again to political involvement, and in some ways felt a bit more personal than some of his previous works. His confession that humility is hard to come by in his line of work was a timely reminder that CJ Mahaney was on to something.

If politics doesn't grab you, pass this one by and read A Call to Conversion instead, if you've not read God's Politics and politics does grab you, then this should be a thought provoking read.


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