Americas Original Sin
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America's problem with race has deep roots, with the country's foundation tied to the near extermination of one race of people and the enslavement of another. Racism is truly our nation's original sin. "It's time we right this unacceptable wrong," says bestselling author and leading Christian activist Jim Wallis. Fifty years ago, Wallis was driven away from his faith by a white church that considered dealing with racism to be taboo. His participation in the civil rights movement brought him back when he discovered a faith that commands racial justice. Yet as recent tragedies confirm, we continue to suffer from the legacy of racism. The old patterns of white privilege are colliding with the changing demographics of a diverse nation. The church has been slow to respond, and Sunday morning is still the most segregated hour of the week. In America's Original Sin, Wallis offers a prophetic and deeply personal call to action in overcoming the racism so ingrained in American society. He speaks candidly to Christians--particularly white Christians--urging them to cross a new bridge toward racial justice and healing. Whenever divided cultures and gridlocked power structures fail to end systemic sin, faith communities can help lead the way to grassroots change. Probing yet positive, biblically rooted yet highly practical, this book shows people of faith how they can work together to overcome the embedded racism in America, galvanizing a movement to cross the bridge to a multiracial church and a new America.
Changing the Conversation about Race in America If we are ever to find a cure for America's racial dysfunction, it's not enough to know what has happened; we must also understand why. Why have people of European descent oppressed their racial "other," and why have we never been able to move beyond the resulting racial hierarchy? In White as Sin public theologian Scott Garber asks and answers the why question, offering prophetic insight and practical solutions. White as Sin identifies a moral flaw embedded in the very soul of white identity, showing how that defect enables an entire litany of racial ills. Moreover, this book explains the mindset that sustains a sinful solidarity between yesterday and today. It takes us on an epic journey into the origins of whiteness. It explores the twisted recesses of racial injustice. It lays bare our own hearts and our own hypocrisies. Ultimately, however, White as Sin: A New Paradigm for Racial Healing is just that--a formula for hope and healing. The author outlines a transformational process designed to change not just what we do but who we are, one that seeks to right the wrongs of the past and lay the foundation for a beloved community.
Jim Wallis thinks our life together can be better. In this timely and provocative book, he shows us how to reclaim Jesus's ancient and compelling vision of the common good--a vision that impacts and inspires not only our politics but also our personal lives, families, churches, neighborhoods, and world. Now available in paperback with a new preface. "Personal/political, religion/politics, faith/power, ideology/pragmatism . . . Jim Wallis is a wrestler of values, ideas, and policies and how they interact to shape the world we live in. His deep, melodious voice is easy to listen to, but what he says takes a harder commitment to live by."--Bono, lead singer of U2; cofounder of ONE.org "Wallis persuades more powerfully here than ever before. . . . He lays out the theology of [Jesus's gospel of the kingdom] and then issues to all Christians a rallying cry to apply that theology both in private life and in the arena of public activity."--Phyllis Tickle, author of Emergence Christianity "Jim Wallis has long been an influential voice on Christian ethics and public life. . . . A fresh take on the interplay of faith and politics in America."--Relevant "Jim Wallis and I have a variety of differences on domestic and international policy, but there is no message more timely or urgent than his call to actively consider the common good."--Michael Gerson, op-ed columnist, The Washington Post "Reading this book will help you be more like Jesus, especially in the public square."--Joel C. Hunter, senior pastor, Northland--A Church Distributed
In 50 short, sharp, incisive essays, Jim Goad examines why the idea of being white has become the modern version of the unpardonable sin.
Writing in response to our current “constitutional crisis,” New York Times bestselling author and Christian activist Jim Wallis urges America to return to the tenets of Jesus once again as the means to save us from the polarizing bitterness and anger of our tribal nation. In Christ in Crisis Jim Wallis provides a path of spiritual healing and solidarity to help us heal the divide separating Americans today. Building on “Reclaiming Jesus”—the declaration he and other church leaders wrote in May 2018 to address America’s current crisis—Wallis argues that Christians have become disconnected from Jesus and need to revisit their spiritual foundations. By pointing to eight questions Jesus asked or is asked, Wallis provides a means to measure whether we are truly aligned with the moral and spiritual foundations of our Christian faith. “Christians have often remembered, re-discovered, and returned to their obedient discipleship of Jesus Christ—both personal and public—in times of trouble. It’s called coming home,” Wallis reminds us. While he addresses the dividing lines and dangers facing our nation, the religious and cultural commentator’s focus isn’t politics; it’s faith. As he has done throughout his career, Wallis offers comfort, empathy, and a practical roadmap. Christ in Crisis is a constructive field guide for all those involved in resistance and renewal initiatives in faith communities in the post-2016 political context.
"American democracy is in precarious health. Books on tyranny and fascism are now bestsellers. Parents wonder whether their children will still grow up in a democracy. Gallows political humor about the collapse of the republic creeps into ordinary conversation. No longer a shining model for the world, American democracy today strikes a more cautionary note. An anxious pessimism dominates. By every expert judgment, the United States is slipping. In late 2017, the Economist Intelligence Unit downgraded the United States from "full democracy" to "flawed democracy," giving it the same ranking as Italy. In January 2018, Freedom House downgraded its rating of American democracy to 86 (out of 100), just above Poland (85) and Greece (85), but behind Latvia (87) (and down from 94 in 2010). The August 2018 "Bright Line Watch" survey of 679 political scientists concluded: "Our expert respondents perceive a consistent, ongoing decline in the overall quality of American democracy from 2015." In the August/September 2018 "Authoritarian Warning Survey," 747 democracy experts collectively gave the United States a one in six chance of democratic breakdown in the next four years, and were nearly unanimous (97.1 percent) in their assessment American democracy had declined over the last decade. Let me repeat: a one in six chance of democratic breakdown. That's like rolling a six-sided die, and hoping it doesn't land on Hungary"--
The New York Times bestseller A New York Times Notable and Critics’ Top Book of 2016 Longlisted for the PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction One of NPR's 10 Best Books Of 2016 Faced Tough Topics Head On NPR's Book Concierge Guide To 2016’s Great Reads San Francisco Chronicle's Best of 2016: 100 recommended books A Washington Post Notable Nonfiction Book of 2016 Globe & Mail 100 Best of 2016 “Formidable and truth-dealing . . . necessary.” —The New York Times “This eye-opening investigation into our country’s entrenched social hierarchy is acutely relevant.” —O Magazine In her groundbreaking bestselling history of the class system in America, Nancy Isenberg upends history as we know it by taking on our comforting myths about equality and uncovering the crucial legacy of the ever-present, always embarrassing—if occasionally entertaining—poor white trash. “When you turn an election into a three-ring circus, there’s always a chance that the dancing bear will win,” says Isenberg of the political climate surrounding Sarah Palin. And we recognize how right she is today. Yet the voters who boosted Trump all the way to the White House have been a permanent part of our American fabric, argues Isenberg. The wretched and landless poor have existed from the time of the earliest British colonial settlement to today's hillbillies. They were alternately known as “waste people,” “offals,” “rubbish,” “lazy lubbers,” and “crackers.” By the 1850s, the downtrodden included so-called “clay eaters” and “sandhillers,” known for prematurely aged children distinguished by their yellowish skin, ragged clothing, and listless minds. Surveying political rhetoric and policy, popular literature and scientific theories over four hundred years, Isenberg upends assumptions about America’s supposedly class-free society––where liberty and hard work were meant to ensure real social mobility. Poor whites were central to the rise of the Republican Party in the early nineteenth century, and the Civil War itself was fought over class issues nearly as much as it was fought over slavery. Reconstruction pitted poor white trash against newly freed slaves, which factored in the rise of eugenics–-a widely popular movement embraced by Theodore Roosevelt that targeted poor whites for sterilization. These poor were at the heart of New Deal reforms and LBJ’s Great Society; they haunt us in reality TV shows like Here Comes Honey Boo Boo and Duck Dynasty. Marginalized as a class, white trash have always been at or near the center of major political debates over the character of the American identity. We acknowledge racial injustice as an ugly stain on our nation’s history. With Isenberg’s landmark book, we will have to face the truth about the enduring, malevolent nature of class as well.
In the years following World War II, American Protestantism experienced tremendous growth, but conventional wisdom holds that midcentury Protestants practiced an optimistic, progressive, complacent, and materialist faith. In Original Sin and Everyday Protestants, historian Andrew Finstuen argues against this prevailing view, showing that theological issues in general--and the ancient Christian doctrine of original sin in particular--became newly important to both the culture at large and to a generation of American Protestants during a postwar ''age of anxiety'' as the Cold War took root. Finstuen focuses on three giants of Protestant thought--Billy Graham, Reinhold Niebuhr, and Paul Tillich--men who were among the era's best known public figures. He argues that each thinker's strong commitment to the doctrine of original sin was a powerful element of the broad public influence that they enjoyed. Drawing on extensive correspondence from everyday Protestants, the book captures the voices of the people in the pews, revealing that the ordinary, rank-and-file Protestants were indeed thinking about Christian doctrine and especially about ''good'' and ''evil'' in human nature. Finstuen concludes that the theological concerns of ordinary American Christians were generally more complicated and serious than is commonly assumed, correcting the view that postwar American culture was becoming more and more secular from the late 1940s through the 1950s.