Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Festival of Homiletics Reflections: Jim Wallis

Jim Wallis also preached at the Festival of Homiletics on the day focused on 'Prophetic Preaching.' I am of course familiar with Jim Wallis, but haven't really read much from him other than his blog posts. I own God's Politics, but it is on the shelf with the 100 other books I've purchased but not yet read.

I enjoyed Wallis - I think he certainly has a clear sense of the converging political/spiritual climate we're in.

Wallis said, "People don’t know what we mean by our words about religion." He talked about people constantly coming to him and saying, "I didn’t know you could be a Christian and care about (fill in the blank social issue)." He said that people hunger for spirituality and social justice – and people are looking for the connection between the two. He said that people of faith need to clarify what we are against and what we are for. "When someone steals your faith, you have to take it back. Prophetic preaching can’t just be in mode of dissent and disagreement and complaint, a clear no. But it also has to have a strong and clear yes. What are you for?"

Wallis reminded us, "Left and right are not religious categories" – they don’t fit us or describe us well or do us justice.

"The best social movements have spiritual foundations. We won’t get to social justice without a revival of faith/spirit. Spiritual activity can’t be called revival until it changes something about the society."

"Every generation has opportunity to alter two things, according to Wallis: What is acceptable and what is possible. Can we also alter what is faith? The moral contradiction we’ve lived with is no longer acceptable to us – until that feeling happens, injustice and misery will continue. Will we tolerate 3 billion people living on less than $2 a day? That the life expectancy gap between rich and poor places is 40 years? That death is a social disease? That 30,000 children die a day from utterly preventable poverty and disease? We have the resources to end (fill in the blank issue), but we lack the moral and political will."

Wallis concluded telling us that we have a choice between hope and cynicism. "Hope is not a feeling but a decision. Cynicism can be a buffer," he said. A tend towards cynicism sometimes myself, and not hope, so I'm trying to take those words to heart!

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