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IN BRIEF

Nonfiction

October 23, 1994|CHRIS GOODRICH

THE SOUL OF POLITICS by Jim Wallis (The New Press/Orbis Books: $19.95; 275 pp.). The many-hued spiritual revival occurring in the U.S. today--fundamentalist, prophetic, evangelical, feminist, New Age, etc.--has many politicians quaking in their boots. They should be quaking: modern politicos are largely responsible for this rekindled interest in religion, having failed to produce an effective, encompassing vision for the nation and the world at large. Jim Wallis, a religious and political activist based in Washington--whom Cornel West, in a brief preface, calls "the major prophetic evangelical Christian in the country"--in this book lays out his vision for a more spiritually oriented politics, and if he says little that's new, Wallis does draw attention to important, ongoing social problems. At bottom Wallis is concerned with selfishness: the ways in which the powerful reflexively dominate the less powerful, however one chooses to define power--in terms of wealth, gender, education, skin color, ad infinitum. "The Soul of Politics" isn't a call to arms but a plea for repentance, in its biblical sense of "turning around," and reads at times as if Wallis has seen into the heart of things. When he writes that "we can find common ground only by moving to higher ground," or that "the problem is not that the young people haven't learned our values; it's that they have," you can practically hear his parishioners say, in unison, "Amen."

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