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

Politics and Prose

Byron Borger


March 30, 2012

by Byron Borger

This is a continuation of a series of articles introducing new books significant to the principled practice of public justice.

Fixing the Moral Deficit: A Balanced Way to Balance the Budget Ronald J. Sider (IVP) $15.00 More than a year ago, the Center for Public Justice joined with Evangelicals for Social Action (ESA) to create a major public affairs project entitled A Call for Intergenerational Justice: A Christian Proposal on the American Debt Crisis, offering a thoughtful and balanced approach, framed by the way government, citizens and institutions share responsibility in ensuring that several generations will be faithful to one another in grappling with our ongoing debt crisis.  ESA President Ron Sider used the Call as a springboard for an extended extrapolation of the themes of intergenerational justice. InterVarsity Press agreed to rush this book to publication, and many organizations helped Sider with the impressive research (including staff from Bread for the World, The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, Calvin College economist George Monsma, along with Sider's colleagues at ESA). It is urgent, powerful, brief and clear, offering much insight to this national debate marked by a biblical concern for the poor that is essential for any Christian contribution to this topic.

It underestimates the vital policy proposals set forth by Sider in Fixing the Moral Deficit to summarize its thesis by saying that, while it is a moral duty to balance the budget, we dare not to it on the backs of the poor. As one reviewer wrote, "Thank God for this book! It gives the best survey of America's disastrous debt crisis, along with biblically-based critiques of the options to resolve this crisis that are being proposed on Capitol Hill."  From the opening chapter, "The Crisis is Real," through the helpful critiques of current proposals, to the final "A Better Way" and "We Can Do It," Sider's clear-headed, principled and hope-filled tone makes this a truly excellent example of leadership for robust Christian citizenship. Put it on the top of your "must-read" list and join the campaign for intergenerational justice.

Religious Liberty Volume 2: The Free Exercise Clause Douglas Laycock (Eerdmans) $35.00 

As the debate continues about the freedom of voluntary associations and religious organizations, Center for Public Justice advocates should learn as much as possible about First Amendment issues.  Douglas Laycock, law professor at University of Virginia, is one of the most respected and influential legal scholars of our time and has even argued religious liberty cases before the Supreme Court.  This second of four, comprehensive volumes of both Laycock’s popular writings and scholarly essays includes articles, amicus briefs, court documents and other essential essays, making it a truly extraordinary collection for anyone who wants to explore deeply matters such as religious freedoms of schools, the right to church autonomy, the rights of non-mainstream religions, employment law (such as the landmark Employment Division v. Smith) and the like. As Kim Colby of the Christian Legal Society Center for Law and Religious Freedom said, "Any person who cares about religious liberty (and we all should be greatly concerned about its increasingly fragile condition) needs to read Douglas Laycock.” 

Through the Year with Jimmy Carter: 366 Daily Meditations from the 39th President  Jimmy Carter  (Zondervan) $24.99 

Regardless of what one thinks of the legacy of the Carter administration or his recent work in conflict resolution throughout the globe, most know that for most of his White House years, and certainly before and thereafter, the 39th President served as a Baptist Sunday School teacher. This daily devotional has a page-a-day excerpt of various classes and Bible studies Carter has taught over the course of his life. A date is given for each one, verifying that these were, in fact, parts of lessons that he has actually delivered.  Nearly every entry has a basic Bible lesson and almost always a very inspiring story or example to illustrate his lesson. There is also a closing prayer for each day, making the book a fine resource for one’s own personal devotions.  This devotional is neither heavy Scriptural study nor sophisticated political theory.  Yet, his legacy—a lifetime of Bible teaching, linking contemporary issues and first-hand experience in diplomacy and public service with hundreds of Biblical texts—coming from a public servant of such high position is inspirational. 

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.”