Conservative evangelicals have hugged their Bibles, worn their flag pins, and self-righteously attempted to co-opt any discussion of religion and politics. Liberals are embarrassed to discuss their religious beliefs in public and attempt to avoid the subject altogether. Is there an appropriate way Christians and other morally concerned people can express their faith and values in the public debate while still supporting the constitutional separation of church and state?
We've become great at pursuing our individual "spiritualities," but in the process may have lost sight of the power of religious belief for motivating social reform. What we need is something akin to the social politics of Jesus: speaking out for peace, justice, the poor and disenfranchised, while speaking out against oppressive government and rampant commercialism.
Drawing on his experiences with the poor, with preachers, and with presidents, Wallis points a way for every person to draw on their faith and spiritual tradition to do their part, offering practical tips for how one can enact the spiritual ethic in their own public lives.
Wallis finds the current conservative, liberal, and libertarian options out-of-step with the desires of most Americans untenable. Wallis offers a fourth option, "The Common Good," that would represent those who are traditional on issues of moral character, personal responsibility, sexual integrity, and family values (without scape-goating any group like single parents or homosexuals), while being very progressive on issues like poverty and racial justice. This option affirms good stewardship of the earth and its resources, supports gender equality, and looks first to peacemaking and conflict-resolution when it comes to foreign policy questions. At the spiritual heart of this option is linking one's personal ethics to social justice.
A prophetic book, it provides a scathing indictment of American society and the skewed values our government seems to endorse and implement. A hopeful book, it offers a platform for bringing the spiritual and political together, offering an alternative to the conservative, liberal, and libertarian options currently available to Americans.