Brilliant Articulate Documentation of Rank Hypocrisy,
This book is a bright shining truth, and after absorbing every single word while flying across America, with copious notes, I have nothing but complete admiration for the author. As he sums it up, the promises made by the Bush-Cheney-Rove team to the evangelical right were a wild ride with a spectacular flame-out. Eight billion was promised for faith-based charities, $30 million was actually delivered. The White House, not Congress, took the tax cuts and tax credits for charity out of the legislation.
This is an extremely thoughtful and well-developed account. The first half of the book recounts the author's journey from Kennedy staffer to pro-life to evangelical Republican, and that first half of the book is essential to understanding the great good of the evangelical right, setting up a better understanding of the great bads that followed.
The author pulls no punches early on in the book in suggesting that the evangelical right punish Bush-Cheney-Rove (strangely, he never mentions Cheney, only Rove and Card) by “fasting” in the 2006 elections, i.e. not voiting.
I was seriously moved and impressed with his account of how and why he accepted Jesus in a pro-active manner, and how he then was able to move beyond lip service and taking Jesus for granted, and into a life of service. He gives Chuck Colson, Nixon's former hatchetman and resurrected evangelist, credit for his awakening.
The history of the Christian Coalition and the Family Research Council, and the manner in which they mobilzed at least ten million but closer to thirty million evangelicals one neighborhood at a time, bottom up and inside out, in less than three years, is both religious and political history at its finest. 40% of the Republican delegates in 2000 were in one way or another connected to “The Fellowship,” itself a fascinating social network.
The author impresses me with his maturity in understanding that faith is an innoculation against corruption, and in seeing the danger of confusing one's agenda with God's will.
The author was in at the creation of Empower America with Bennett, Kemp, and Kirkpatrick, and I found his core theme of the need for a cultural renewal of our values and who we are as a Nation, compelling. He discusses the social pathologies that are decomposing our society (see my review of “The Cheating Culture”).
I especially liked his balanced presentation of how Clinton agreed that we have gotten too secular, and would urge both left and right to read that superb book, “The Left Hand of God,” which is, with this one, a fundamental text for healing our Nation.
The author was with Team Ashcroft on the Hill, and recounts with distress how Gingrich blew off the Christian Coalition and social issues.
The book substantially improved my regard for George Bush as a person, and for John Ashcroft as a person and a politician. I was expecially taken with the author's sincere descriptions of Bush's genuineness, and of AZshcroft's integrity in not pushing his religion on others. The description of how George Bush stops, slows down, and connects to former addicts is alone worth the price of the book. He's been there and it is never far from his mind.
There is one inconsistency. The author claims that the evangelical right is at odds with the pro-business, pro-wealth rest of the Republican Party (actually, as a moderate Republican, I no longer consider these extremists to be real Republicans–more like carpetbaggers). However, while claiming to be anti-greed, they appear to have cut a deal with Wall Street to share power.
The book ends with a sad discussion of how the evangelical right is all too wiling to spend tens of millions trashing the Clintons, but not at all interested in donating $25,000 to a poverty program.
The author concludes that seduction leads to insularity and insularity leads to deceit. He concludes that politics is not the answer, and a return to bottom up neighborhood level faith-based charity might do what politics cannot.
I put the book down with a diagram on the title page, a triangle, with faith at the top, the wealth of knowledge on the lower right, and the poor on the lower left. An arrow from faith to knowledge is labeled with a dollar sign. Our religions must fund the distribution of free cell phones and knowledge, this creates intelligence and usable information for the poor (see my review of C. K. Prahalad, “The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid”), and this in turn converts the poor into good souls of faith.
I hold this author in the highest esteem. He spoke truth to the President (Karl Rove did NOT want him speaking that truth), and in giving us all this book, he has given us a bright shinining light on the future. I see this so clearly because of his work: stop funding politicians, start funding the poor's access to knowledge, unleash their entrepreneurship, and harvest their souls.
This is an utterly sensational book, easily in the top rank of the 770+ books I have reviewed here at Amazon, and together with David Johnston's books on “Faith-Based Diplomacy” and the book “The Left Hand of God,” one of the top three non-fiction books I would recommend to every person of faith.
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