“For nearly all my childhood and adolescence, on into early adulthood, politics gave my faith meaning,” Alisa writes, “Politics was...my way of proving I believed what Jesus said: 'Take heart! I have overcome the world.'” (5) A vision of a godly America was Alisa Promised Land. In her worldview, faith and politics were inseparable.
Then she ventured out into the world and found that her confidence in “culture-war politics” was shaken – so was her faith. “This book,” Alisa writes, “was born out of my search for a faith that's more than the sun of my political convictions and for a meaningful way of living it out.” (6)
“Less than half of young evangelicals identify as conservative, compared to nearly two-thirds of their parents.” (8-9) Fewer and fewer are identifying with the Republican party.
Alisa writes for young Christians navigating “the difficult waters where the currents of faith and culture collide.” (9) She writes for parents, to help them understand, “Our actions and beliefs are an expansion of the principles of justice and love that they imparted, not a rejection of those principles.” (10)
She writes of her early political training: “By electing the right people and defeating Satan's human emissaries, we could usher in heaven on earth.” (39) “I spent a year at community college believing that standing up for Jesus meant making myself the most obnoxious student in class.” (57)
Alisa eventually came to realize, “America is not a 'uniquely Christian' nation, and it never was.” (88)
She shares her growing discomfort with combination of Christianity and politics, her feeling of sickness at the revelation of her own nation's brutality. She was struck again with Jesus' words about meekness and peacemaking.
When the time got closer to the 2008 election, she realized, “I refused to make abortion my single-issue voting creed.” (151) She voted for Obama.
“I used to think that anyone who was poor had only himself to blame, that America is a magical and glorious place so overflowing with opportunity that anyone who's struggling is simply not working hard enough or looking hard enough or finds it more convenient to live off the hard work of others...” (184) “But something changed when I encountered the recession and unemployment first hand. Now when I look at the unemployed and destitute, I see what I might become if my life moves just a few steps in the wrong direction.” (186-7) “I've begun to understand the soul-numbing reality that outside forces … shape my fate.” (192)
She participates in demonstrations, “Because God made everyone and we can't treat human beings that way.” (211)
Alisa has gone from carrying a George W. Bush tote back to protesting corporate greed, from weeping for joy at the national anthem to singing it with the pang of loss. Nonetheless, she will pass on to her children: to care, to love, to take heart.
I recommend this book to young evangelicals and parents alike. It will help both of them understand the frustrations and changes occurring in the realm of faith and politics in the U. S.
Read Alisa's blog.
WaterBrook Press, 222 pages.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from WaterBrook Press for the purpose of this review.