(Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

Abraham Lincoln is said to have remarked that he wasn’t concerned about whether or not God was on his side. Instead, he was more concerned about being on God’s side. In his new book, theologian Jim Wallis explores what it means to be aligned with the divine in an age of political dysfunction and bitter hyper-partisanship. Wallis joins us to discuss his book “On God’s Side,” and his call for a national conversation on the meaning of “the common good” in both our politics and our personal lives.

Guests:
Jim Wallis, CEO of Sojourners, a national Christian social justice organization, and author of "On God's Side: What Religion Forgets and Politics Hasn't Learned About Serving the Common Good"

  • Hewhay

    Given that there is no credible evidence whatsoever that there exist any gods, and certainly not Yahweh, any person claiming to be “on god’s side” is speaking sheer nonsense– and no doubt often people who say such things wish to dupe people into believing they have some kind of authority over those duped people. But as science progresses each year, greater numbers of people discern that religion’s fantasies and unprovable claims do not afford a person any authority, and those claiming to derive self-importance from religion are charlatans. There is no quick shortcut to gaining knowledge or wisdom, and every single year that a person labors to understand a holy book’s or religion’s teachings is a year wasted, thrown into an abyss of self-delusion and meaninglessness.

    • thucy

      “But as science progresses each year, greater numbers of people discern that religion’s fantasies and unprovable claims do not afford a person any authority, and those claiming to derive self-importance from religion are charlatans.”

      To place unfailing faith in reason is a mistake – as long as reason is a human construct, interpreted by humans who are by nature irrational, it cannot be reason. The greatest slaughters in the 20th century weren’t religious, but secular.

      • SandyB

        And not only that, but where are your “facts” that “religion” is having less influence? There is much that you are probaby not aware of that is happening not only around the globe in places like India, China, Africa, but also in Europe and the US that are not part of what the media reports.

  • Beth Grant DeRoos

    While I have read Jim Wallis’ books (God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It, The Call to Conversion : Why Faith Is Always Personal but Never Private) and am interested in his views on why conservatives who are supportive of social programs that work or are environmentally minded dont get the media attention.

    Like Ron Dreher who wrote Crunchy Cons about those who wear Birkenstocks, organic garden, love the environment and nature. Or the Seventh Day Adventist who are big on the environment, vegan, vegetarianism. Or Calvin DeWitt, who is the cofounder of the International Evangelical Environmental Network.

    • thucy

      Beth,
      I think we can’t acknowledge “good” conservatives’ existence because if we did, sensible people on left and right could find common ground. And the powerful people who call the shots, and who hold such influence over even public radio and tv, can’t let that happen.

  • Chris OConnell

    I don’t think it is so much about being “aligned with the divine in an age of political dysfunction and hyper-partisanship.” But it is really how to be aligned with this (obviously fictional) divinity in an age of reason and science, but also in an age of mass murder and random (and not so random) cruelty: how can we even imagine aligning with a deity behind this insane, hyper-material world?

    It is a tough time for those who believe in the God of the ancient books but not because of political dysfunction or partisanship. But because of plane travel, and microwaves, and modern medicine, etc.

  • thucy

    Jim Wallis, good man. Lovely to hear his voice of faith, compassion and reason.

  • Fay Nissenbaum

    Is Jim Wallis essentially asking “What Would Jesus Do”?

    Also, as Nancy Pelosi said in the last hour, what of ending the current financing and influence peddling in political campaigns? Pelosi just said that freshmen are forced to only fundraise from the day they get elected. WE are “the people” constitutionally, not “special interests”, so isn’t it moral to craft the way we pay for our system in a moral manner, rather than paying ethics mere lip service?

    Please comment on corporations as ‘people’? The institution we empower to determine the “law of the land” —our Supreme Court — has cast them so.
    ~Fay~

    • Beth Grant DeRoos

      It was Congress woman Jackie Sperier who was last hours guest NOT Nancy Pelosi.

  • Jim Wallis, you are full of **IT. Immigration bill will never pass, keep dreaming. The system is only broken when you are an illegal. Seem to work fine for everyone else who came here legally. It’s liberal racists like this ***hole that will be the death of America.

    • maronesj

      HAHA! You sound like the **hole that will ruin the universe.

    • Beth Grant DeRoos

      Your name fits you well. I notice you never ever note the role those who hire undocumented play. Am thinking of all those retirement communities in Arizona with less expensive beautiful homes, many built using undocumented workers hired by white conservative builders.

  • Guest

    This is the first I have heard of Jim Wallis. I am in no way ‘religious’ but I am very interested in politics. His comments are very intriguing and I have gained an enormous interest in reading his book from listening to this program.

  • aa aa

    Wallis’ views on illegal immigration are morally bankrupt. Like the current “non-reform” Senate bill, he does not effectively address the issue that legalizing the millions of undocumented now without effectively enforcing future illegal immigration (the current Senate proposal does NOT do this since it actually does not penalize visa overstays and only has a “strategy,” not an already implemented policy, to enforce borders) will simply lead to more mass illegal immigration, not solving the “vulnerability” problem he claims to care about, and making poverty and inequality here worse for everyone in the bottom half, regardless of citizenship. We have already had stagnating or declining real wages, and underemployment for those of us on the bottom for the last thirty years, which is when our elites started winking at mass illegal immigration. Constantly flooding the labor market with more and more low and medium skill laborers has hurt those of us in the bottom half. The laws of supply and demand will not disappear through wishful thinking.

    Wallis is one the worst hypocrites in political life today. Unlike libertarians, who don’t actually care whether open borders leads to increased poverty and inequality, he pretends to care about these issues, yet his policy position on immigration worsens things for those of us at the bottom, who, unlike the “undocumented” in the US, have no access to welfare, educational financial aid, or cheaper housing in foreign countries. When real wages are so low because we have to compete with practically unlimited numbers of illegal and legal immigrants (the situation of the last 30 years) and there isn’t enough educational financial aid for us because we have to divide that limited pot of aid with illegals who also demand in-state tuition subsidies and aid, you ARE making things worse for us low-income Americans.

  • S Prasad

    The pastor only mentions Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. I would like to point out that there are 1+ billion hindus and millions of buddhists.

    • John

      Perhaps this is because they worship the same god and have a history of violent conflict.

      • MJ

        1st, no they don’t. 2nd, violent conflict? Are you serious? Christianity was founded on Violent Conflict.

  • timholton

    I missed WHY our concern for the public good has gone away.

    Michael used the phrase “body politic.” I hoped Mr. Wallis would pick up on this language. The old metaphor of society as a body, obviously indispensable to Christian theology (as in “Corpus Christi”) and to framing ideas of the public and the public good, seems to barely survive, and yet it is perhaps the best metaphor ever created for instilling in us the idea of vital existence together with others, of cohesion and union respecting variety — that all of us, greatest to least, are helpful parts of the body politic. John Winthrop’s sermon “A Model of Christian Charity” (often referred to as his “City On a Hill” speech) leans heavily on the metaphor and places this understanding at the foundation of American political tradition.

 Of course, in a debased society, our foundations are no longer familiar.

    To all but the absolute individualist, we do belong to others. So the question, regardless of your political tendencies, should be, beyond our own PERSONAL bodies, where do we LIVE? In what body politic do we truly thrive? Mr Wallis seems to concentrate on the nation as a whole. But the idea of the nation– one of hundreds of millions of citizens — as a meaningful and practical body politic, may be only the tendency of the time, and one growing rapidly obsolete, as demonstrated by corporations that put their own self-interest above all others; Tea Partiers, libertarians and states rights advocates thoroughly disaffected with federal government; and the various localist impulses seen across the political spectrum.

    

Speaking for myself, I’d ask, without retreating from an undeniably globalized world, is it possible that John Winthrop’s understanding of the local community as the PRIMARY body politic is right? Aren’t the nation and global humanity simply too big for us to meaningfully belong as individuals seeking to be true and vital parts of a political and economic body? Is it instead in the LOCAL body politic where we’ll revive the understanding that there is, after all, such a thing as the public good, and that it’s a living thing — truly a living body and being of which we are each a part?

    • Vapor Fog

      Excellent post…thank you

  • Joe Truth

    Pastor Wallis was making some sage points, elevating himself above the fanatic fray… but… then he turned stupid on the gun control thing. To Mr Wallis and NPR… the NRA is not driven by some evil conspiracy of gun manufacturers. It’s driven by US… the people of this country who value the Second Amendment.

    That 90% of Americans believe in background checks and why didn’t the Senate pass it is a thinly veiled spin by Mr Obama. Clearly 90% of Americans don’t believe in registration databases, which turn into confiscation databases, as is being proposed in California. And background checks that turn sticky in databases do just that… turn into registration roles.

    Mr Obama and his mindless minions, of which Wallis unfortunately cast himself as a member, can repeat statistics that don’t jibe with common sense all they want, but they won’t get traction with a immune to spin Main Street.

    • Bill Newcomb

      90% do not believe in back ground checks. If they would get out of the cities and takes the survey they would have a great shock. If the wording was different, and the people who are for this commanded some respect–then there would be more understanding. The Anti gunners, the ones out front have a terrible history on this subject. Because of this — there is no trust.

  • Wendy Fitz Williams

    I think this is a good start from 2008 I have been praying for the Church as a whole to refocus on the Bible. I’m thankful to see I’m not alone.

  • MJ

    This man, in my opinion, is a TRUE Christian. He does not confuse his own words with Gods words. He never pretends that he is speaking for God. Unfortunately, most Church leaders think they are chosen by God and therefore are always right.

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