This is a book that urges us to learn from the 2008-2010 economic and financial crisis (what Wallis calls the Great Recession), to build a better economy for the future based more on ancient spiritual values, on sustainability, love for the planet, simpler living, than on the current poor values of greed, immediacy and selfishness - "I want it now and it's all about me." Wallis draws on Christian, Jewish and Muslim ancient traditions to make his point, alongside plenty of data and accompanying stories for illustration. What he exposes about the ways we live compared with so many who are far less fortunate should not only alarm us, but should strike at the very heart of our conscience. Written for the American market, the message is just as pertinent for the UK if you don't mind the data and stories being obviously more American biased - I have to say that does not bother me; the message is still clear and it does no harm to see it in a broader geographical context. Now, Wallis insists, is an opportunity to build a better economy, one that is for the "common good." Because there is enough for us all, Wallis assures us, if we share, but to do so and to see real result there has to be a change of heart and mind for us all. And he calls for a greater spiritual awareness and for all faiths and churches to bear responsibility for working towards social justice across the world. The book usefully concludes with what Wallis calls 20 moral exercises; practical "to do" lists relevant for us all. And his assistant Tim King leaves an epilogue of hope, where he observes some of these values already being lived by the young, and writes of his own hope that good values he learnt from his grandparents will be passed down to the next generation.Read more ›
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120 of 123 people found the following review helpful
Wallis at his best4 Jan 2010
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I began reading Jim Wallis when I was in seminary, and of all his books, my favorite is his book The Call to Conversion , which I consider to be a classic moral text for American Christianity. I've also enjoyed the lesser known Faith Works, but I found two of his recent books to be too much about politics and not enough vintage Jim Wallis.
But his newest book, Rediscovering Values: On Wall Street, Main Street, and Your Street , is a return to the themes and to the fire of his classical period of fighting for American Christians to cut back and help the poor and to take stock of how we live. This is the most personal of his books -- the stories about his two boys and baseball and their night time prayers are priceless. It is also the most generous and pastorally sensitive. (Never mind that one of my (our) North Park students, Tim King, got to write The Epilogue.)
This books calls America, and Christians in America, to ask not "How can we recover our economy?" or "How can we get back to way things were?", but to ask "How can this economic crisis change us?" and "What can communities of faith do about it?" Wallis fears that we want to go back to the way things were, but the way things were got built on sandy foundations and reckless speculation and spending. Instead, in this book he calls us back to the values that can make a society strong and a church a witness to God's justice and peace.
Like Tim Keller, Wallis thinks the decades leading up to our economic crisis were rooted in idolatry, where greed was good, where it was all about me, and where the idea of "I want it now" ruled the day. Instead, we need to begin to see when enough is enough, that we're all in this together, and that we need to think of what life here will be like seven generations from now (as American Indians did).
So, Wallis probes ideas that can make a difference, like recommitting ourselves to family cultures and to the deeper meaning of work.
This book closes with twenty moral exercises, including the idea that calendars and family budgets are moral documents and that we need to measure our "screen" time over against our family time. The book returns to one of Jim's earliest themes: the value of simplicity in life.
This is Jim Wallis at his best, now softened and measured by his family life. I've become a fan of Jim Wallis again.
29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
Going beyond the capitalism/socialism impasse22 Jan 2010
Aaron D. Taylor
- Published on Amazon.com
I've been reading Jim Wallis's writings for the past few years now on the Sojourners blog, but this is the first book I've purchased of his. Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, "To be great is to be misunderstood." When I Google Jim Wallis I notice that his critics all but accuse him of being a member of the communist party. These same critics are the ones that seem to think that if you don't believe the market should run everything, then you must be a Marxist!
I think that Rediscovering Values can go a long way to silence Wallis's critics if they would just give him a listening ear. Jim Wallis is not saying that he favors a centrally planned economy over a market economy. Neither is he trying to replace capitalism with socialism....or any other "ism." What Wallis is saying is that the private sector, the public sector, and the civic sector should all serve as a system of checks and balances against the other, and neither can function properly without a moral compass that looks out for the common good of all.
Very well written and highly recommended!
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Wallis Strikes Again!19 Jan 2010
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There is perhaps no more relatable ethicist in America than Jim Wallis. His common sense approach and easy to read prose get across points that would either be overcomplicated or fall flat in less adept hands. With "Rediscovering Values" Wallis aptly points out that the financial crisis was, in a broader sense, a moral crisis. As people have increasingly put their faith in the markets they abrogated any sense of responsibility to ensure their investments were indeed in capable hands. The increasingly higher returns lulled investors into a false sense of security which ultimately led to the calamitous collapse of the markets. And as with his earlier books Wallis does not let readers off easy, and instead argues that each individual has an obligation to renew their own sense of ethics and morality rather than assuming others will act in such a manner. But Wallis views this as an opportunity, or a teachable moment, rather than acting as a scold. The result is a book that is challenging, yet also invigorating. Wallis is preaching not just to individuals, but to society and specific businesses and leaders as well. What makes our society great is that we have an unspoken and unwritten contract between us all to act in an ethical and moral manner. Failing to do so will result in condemnation in the marketplace; something currently unfolding throughout our economy as we speak. Fail to act in an ethical and moral way and not only will your business face the consequences, but your career will as well; something aptly pointed out by all the out-of-work investment bankers.
And rather than being an anti-business screed, "Rediscovering Values" lays out a number of principles for people to follow to set themselves on the right financial path going forward. These are all common themes in his other bookssuch as God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It, The Great Awakening: Reviving Faith and Politics in a Post-Religious Right America, and Faith Works: How to Live Your Beliefs and Ignite Positive Social Change, but a nice reminder for someone picking up one of his books for the first time. Admittedly, Wallis will not appeal to "Prosperity Gospel" Christians, but he will appeal to "Social Activist" Christians to the left. In the end that may minimize the audience that Wallis reaches, but hopefully people will keep an open mind and a discerning heart as they read.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Transformational Moment27 Jan 2010
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"The economic crisis presents us with an enormous opportunity: to rediscover our values - as people, families, as communities of faith, and as a nation." So begins Jim Wallis' newest book, which issues a rally cry to embrace a "transformational moment" in the history of America. Wallis does this by identifying how we got here, what we got ourselves into, and the way out.
Although I don't agree with every point Wallis makes, he has challenged me to rediscover the core values of my faith and respond. For example, as I try to live as a Good Samaritan, I was challenged to remember that "The gospel story of the Good Samaritan teaches an age old lesson that we must reach out to other human beings in order to be human ourselves and that we will likely have to cross some traditional social boundaries to do that."
Readers of the book will see how they can use this transformational moment to regain balance by remembering that enough is enough, that we're in it together, and that our aim must be to "develop an ethic of a sustainable economy and sustainable communities and to teach that ethic to our children."
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
God versus Government2 Nov 2011
David J Spuria
- Published on Amazon.com
As a rabid fan of Glenn Beck, I want to make it clear that I took up reading this book as a way to understand "the other side". Surprisingly Jim Wallis does not come off as the Marxist Glenn Beck believes he is. We agree on some things. Family matters. Consumption is consuming us. The culture is designed to make us buy stuff. Kids are getting too much screen time. Wall Street folks seem to earn a disproportionate amount of money. Big banks shouldn't have been bailed out. We should get back a simpler life.
But there seems to be some irony in the fact that Wallis' favorite president, Barack Obama wanted these banks bailed out. Goldman Sachs gave more money to Barack Obama than any other candidate in history. Wallis talks about green energy like it's a panacea. In light of the Solyndra scandal and smaller daily solar scandals, there's little Wallis can say to convince me that green is now. Green may be the future, but it's not now. It's really kind of off putting that Wallis sees "green shoots" sprouting up in Detroit, a city that's been decimated by 40 years of liberal democrat rule. Detroit is somehow better because his beloved Tigers sell $5 tickets and the city draws on their winning seasons. Or the fact that there are urban farms popping up and people have returned to the 16th century as they barter for goods and services. Not sure how that represents green shoots.
Wallis never met a democrat he doesn't like. He blames both parties, but wastes no time making Ronald Reagan into the reason we have today's problems. No mention of how in 2006, we got the democrat controlled congress who went full steam ahead in making it possible for folks who couldn't pay for mortgages to own their own homes. There is plenty of blame to lay at the feet of all politicians since about 1998. Dot com bubble. 911 (gets little or no mention). Wars (some okay, some not). Housing bubble. And soon, education bubble. There are convenient omissions, and oversimplified solutions.
The book is highly readable, and at times makes sense. But it's far too political. It suggests that government needs to intervene and control everything that gets out of whack. The market is treated like some kind of leper that makes everyone greedy and selfish. Wallis seems defensive about the Marxism charge. He devotes an entire page debunking the charge rather than explaining what he meant when he called himself a "good Marxist"..and the question that he answered from a reporter...he said "absolutely" when asked if the Gospel was about redistribution of wealth.
On the bright side, the book is fairly winsome. Jim Wallis isn't a monster. He does mention Van Jones, who is a genuine radical, but Wallis comes off as reasoned and passionate. Jim Wallis is the chief spiritual adviser to Barack Obama. Apparently that advice does not include telling the President to attend church or to pray for solutions. I came away not hating Jim Wallis. But I also came away with a sense that I just read 240 pages of pie-in-the-sky liberalism. God wants people to be the change. And that means the church - not the government. I would still recommend the book since it talks a lot about consumerism and makes the case for a stronger family unit and community involvement.