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“If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend.”

March 14, 2013

honoring god in redI think it was very strategic of Amy Black and Moody to get together for the publication of Honoring God in Red or Blue. If it had been published elsewhere, I really think it would’ve gotten buried, read mostly by those who are drawn to the more controversial political works of folks like Ron Sider or Jim Wallis- the kinds of people Brett McCracken wrote about in Christian Hipsters. And that would’ve been a shame, because reading Honoring God isn’t like reading Fixing the Moral Deficit or God’s Politics, though fans of those titles would probably appreciate this book too. Moody was a perfect publisher of this book, and the choice of this publisher tells us something about the author. Her audience isn’t politicians or graduate students–though if they read this, their time would be well spent! This is a title  for any voting-age Christian. In all seriousness, it might even make a great gift for an eighteen-year-old in your life!

Black’s book seems to have been written with a genuine concern that Christians learn how to navigate the often ugly terrain of politics and political discussions. Rather than trying to convince the readers that they should think one way or another about a particular policy, she’s straightforward about her aims: “First, I want you to be a faithful witness for the gospel as you interact in politics. Second, I want you to develop your own thoughtful and faith-informed perspective on political issues” (p. 10).

Black’s equipped to do this. She has her PhD. in political science from M.I.T. and is currently an academic chair in the political science department at Wheaton. Reading her book, which is written on a popular level, you probably won’t be able to figure out where she lands on the political spectrum, and that’s because Black is more interested in helping you getting a handle on the spectrum itself. After a quick overview of the political terrain, Black gives the reader some helpful resources for having constructive political conversations, and also, for making decisions.

Key to “honoring God,” in Black’s estimation, is loving one another. If we revert to name calling and hasty caricatures of “the other side,” we’ve quit honoring God, both in our voting and in how we talk about politics. The full title is Honoring God in Red or Blue: Approaching Politics with Humility, Grace, and Reason. Can we compare that to some of the other political titles on the market today? Here’s a sampling: Arguing With Idiots, Demonic, The Wrecking Crew, Gangster Government, What in the World is Going On… I could go on!

This book is under 200 pages and a great introduction for political involvement to those who are convinced that apathy isn’t the right response to the mud-slinging that we see on television during election years. Ultimately, it’s optimistic- it’s possible to be involved with politics and maintain civility, and even integrity, in Black’s estimation. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to do it, but it will take a little effort, and might mean looking for more information on an issue than what your preferred news media outlet tends to provide.

Humility, grace, and reason. Is there anything more refreshing?

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