Capital Commentary is the weekly current-affairs publication of CPJ, written to encourage the pursuit of public justice.

Politics & Prose

Byron Borger


June 29, 2012

By Byron Borger

Honoring God in Red or Blue: Approaching Politics with Humility, Grace, and Reason
Amy Black (Moody) 

The Center for Public Justice has several goals. Besides serious reflection and legislative advocacy, the Center helps advance the cause of Christian folks taking their citizenship seriously and more faithfully. For this, we need clear, useful resources that make the case that part of gospel-centered discipleship includes politics. Such vision-casting needs be interesting and accessible. This new book by a respected evangelical scholar and friend of the Center, Amy Black, is a perfect example of just this sort of resource. It is insightful about the Biblical call to enact justice in the public square as well as foundational ideas about political philosophy. Black also explains in interesting ways how bills become laws, how parties work and a bit about basic democratic proceedings. There are good discussion questions after each chapter including some ideas for greater involvement, making this fabulous for small group use or adult education classes.  The Center for Public Justice CEO Stephanie Summers also endorses the book, affirming its thoughtful, non-partisan perspective. Summers writes:

 For Christian citizens who are weary from the fighting that too often characterizes current engagement in politics and are looking instead for a God-honoring approach, Black's book is a healing balm.  The good news: God cares about government and gives it, as well as citizens and other institutions in society, important roles to play and corresponding responsibilities to fulfill. This book invites readers not only to hope again, but to think deeply before deliberately taking action.

Shalom and the Community of Creation: An Indigenous Vision
Randy S. Woodley (Eerdmans)

Woodley is a professor at George Fox Seminary and a respected Cherokee Indian, known for his evangelical work on First Nations’ theology. He is a captivating storyteller and good writer; his previous work about ethnic diversity, Living in Color, is excellent. Here, Woodley explores the biblical and theological nature of shalom, making this one of a very few must-read books on the subject. His particular insight, related to his Native American perspective, is how the integrity of creation must be a central part of our understanding of shalom. Rave reviews have come in from various quarters: Howard Snyder calls it “an essential corrective,” and Matthew Sleeth declares it “a beautiful and timely meditation.” Celia Deane-Drummond from Notre Dame says it is “like a breath of fresh air,” and Walter Brueggemann observes that Woodley “precisely describes the lethal social situation we have created and then exposits an alternative way for abundant life.  This book shows that there are intellectual, moral resources available for redirecting our political-economic imagination.” Woodley is a serious scriptural teacher who helps us appreciate the biblical vision of creation care within the context of God’s gift of shalom.

The Price of the Ticket: Barack Obama and the Rise and Decline of Black Politics
Frederick C. Harris (Oxford University Press)

The Center for Public Justice had its earliest days as a political movement largely within the immigrant community found within the Dutch Christian Reformed Church; we have long appreciated others, rooted in a particular cultural and philosophical situation, who also have unique political aspirations about the public good. It should come as no surprise that many of us—because of our shared position as outsiders to mainstream political practice and because of a direct interest in racial justice—have paid close attention to “black politics.” Harris is a distinguished professor at Columbia University. In this work, he ruminates on the ironic reality that in many ways, President Barack Obama earned his way into the White House by distancing himself from historic black politics, at some cost to black America. Whether this “post-racial” movement was wise or healthy remains an important question, but Harris asks other questions, as well: What will become of the historic movement of minority voices doing specifically African-American-centric politics? What will become of the black caucus in the U.S. Congress? What will become of the political coalitions and grass roots activism that have marked the African American community in the past? This narrative is wonderfully written, informative and important, if admittedly perplexing. Richard Iton writes that “it will quickly become the gold standard for studies of the Obama presidency through the lens of race.” 

—Byron Borger runs Hearts & Minds Books. Capital Commentary readers can get a 20% discount on books listed here by ordering through Hearts & Minds.

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Capital Commentary is a weekly current-affairs publication of the Center for Public Justice. Published since 1996, it is written to encourage the pursuit of justice. Commentaries do not necessarily represent an official position of the Center for Public Justice but are intended to help advance discussion. Articles, with attribution, may be republished according to our publishing guidelines.”