The Common Good

Christianity Today

Christianity Today Press Items
Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners, is beginning a book tour promoting his new book, Rediscovering Values: On Wall Street, Main Street, and Your Street—A Moral Compass for the New Economy. The book examines how to respond to the economic recession through the eyes of faith. On Sunday, Wallis wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post on how the economic crisis is also a spiritual crisis. "We have been asking the wrong question: When will the financial crisis end? The right question is: How will it change us?" said Wallis, who also said he supports increased government involvement in finances. "This could be a moment to reexamine the ways we measure success, do business and live our lives."
President Obama's address on Afghanistan turned the politics of Christian advocacy groups on its head. Friends were critical. Foes were supportive. And some groups found themselves with strange bedfellows. Jim Wallis of Sojourners decried the troop increase as "a mistake" and "the wrong direction," calling for greater diplomacy and more humanitarian aid. "We will pray for our servicemen and women who will continue to sacrifice for a tragic strategy, for more innocent civilians in Afghanistan who will die from more military escalation, for a president whose deepest instincts we still trust, and for the soul of our own nation," said Wallis. "May God save us from our well-intentioned mistakes."
Jim Wallis of Sojourners said the mixed results indicate that the public is weary of "old politics" from both parties. Wallis thinks the public is tired of a money-and-power struggle in politics and is still waiting for Obama's promised "change we can believe in."
Sojourners supported giving Obama the Nobel Prize in several posts. Valerie Elverton Dixon wrote that while little has been accomplished so far, Obama has a vision for peace. She wrote that the Nobel committee recognized this vision and "has given him a just peace prize." Edward Gilbreath viewed the prize as "a salute to America's ability to finally rise up to the ideals of equality, freedom, and strength through diversity that it was founded on." Jim Wallis interpreted the prize as a "prayer." He wrote that he wanted it to "be a prayer for the U.S. itself, to lead in a new way and to seek a fundamentally different approach to the many global decisions that this new president will now have to make."
President Jimmy Carter is not the only person to cite racism as a reason why people might challenge Obama and his proposals. Sojourners head Jim Wallis wrote that he sees at least some racial subtext in the opposition to Obama and his proposal. Ryan Rodrick Beiler wrote on Sojourners' blog that "the hatred being aimed at our current president is quantifiably different than that unleashed on Bush." Obama receives around 30 death threats daily, four times the number Bush received.
Along with Page, evangelicals on the council include World Vision president Richard Stearns, Florida megachurch pastor Joel Hunter, and Sojourners president Jim Wallis.
Evangelicals on the office's broader council include Richard Stearns, president of World Vision, Frank S. Page, president emeritus of the Southern Baptist Convention, Joel C. Hunter, pastor of Northland, a Church Distributed, and Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners.
President George W. Bush's former speechwriter Michael Gerson called it "an orgy of strange bedfellows" as he and Sojourners founder Jim Wallis launched the Poverty Forum, a shared commitment to help the poor during an international financial crisis.
Fourth, the newly created advisory council is a sign of hope. Fifteen members have been named, with up to ten more to be announced. Four of the initial members are recognized evangelicals: Richard Stearns, president of World Vision; Jim Wallis of Sojourners; Frank Page, past president of the Southern Baptist Convention; and pastor Joel Hunter of Northland Church in Longwood, Florida. The council will advise broadly on foreign and domestic policy, and will be able to hold hearings and issue reports and recommendations. It has the potential to become a major force.
I also wrote a story addressing the issue of whether groups can discriminate based on faith in their hiring practices. I spoke with Doug Koopman, co-author of a book on Bush's office, who was concerned about how the office has set new priorities rather than receiving them from the organizations. Joel Hunter and Jim Wallis, two members of the council, told me about the executive order yesterday.