I received the email from sojomail informing me of the appearance of Jim on the Daily Show (er….sorry….A Daily Show), so I watched. I had been interested to read what , after 4 years of God’s Politics , was to be the next emphasis. What Jim said to Jon sounded somewhat the same, but perhaps I’ve heard all of this before, as a sojo subscriber. I decided that on the basis of what sounded like a lot of re-visiting of what I have already read and heard, that I wouldn’t be in a big hurry to get the book. But then I did a Google on the title , to see who was selling it at what price, I saw one listing in the 30 dollar range. Wondering why the hefty price, I saw that it was the audio on CD. I went over to Audible.com, and there it was, available to download, and having had some difficulty in choosing books to use my credits upon, decided this would be the a way to get into the contents of the book with already earned currency (Audible member credits). Also, I can listen to the book while going to and coming from work, or on car trips that are more than brief.
This is still an interesting issue; this relationship between spiritual movements amongst progressives and the approach to politicking based on that movement. I am increasingly uncomfortable with the language being employed by Jim, but I also wonder if this hasn’t been a positive thing for the “reputation” of Christianity in the public eye.
But I am also suspicious of the whole idea of “making Christianity more palatable”. And the idea of politics for me is that the church and its life ARE the politics of the church. The church is to embody what constitute the politics of Christians. I am hearing less about the church from Jim these past 4 years, and more about spirituality as individual, which is a disturbing, disappointing trend. Disappointing because I feel like I owe so much to Jim and Sojourners, and based on Jim’s founding days (Call to Conversion etc.) it seems that Jim is taking on too much of a secular flavor. I’m not convinced either, that one needs to “speak the language” of “moral values” in place of Christian vision; or that “bad theology” is any less intelligible than “bad religion”.
If The Great Awakening is an apologetic, aimed at secular politics, one might have a good defense of Jim’s approach. But I’m not sure I buy that either. If the appropriate vision is that proclaimed in the story of God’s people, then we need to look to the character of the life lived in that community, and the activists who are “spiritual but not religious*” can observe the politic of that people and judge the “impact” of that “religion”
(* this is a category of seeker that Wallis identifies as a “new denomination” in the opening section of the book.)
I often avoid saying anything at all on the theology of God’s Politics/Great Awakening because it is so hard to come away from attempts with any sense that I have satisfactorily tackled it. But there you have it, at least one more try. (And more to come , no doubt, as I listen to more. I’m only just past Chapter1).