Friday, December 30, 2011

Raised Right: How I Untangled My Faith from Politics by Alisa Harris

I have had this book for months on the top of my "books to be read & review." And for one reason or another, it just kept being pushed off. But I finally have finished Raised Right by Alisa Harris and wanted to give due diligence in my review of this book.

First off, Harris is a journalist by trade and her skills at writing comes through in this book. She has a way of painting a picture that brings allows me to be there. She draws me into her story, which is very engaging.

And her story? Well, she was raised in a conservative Christian home that believed America could be restored back to God if only the right politicians were elected into office. So, from an early age, she wrote speeches, campaigned, wore political buttons, and hung calendars of politicians in her bedroom. She says, "My faith was so intertwined with conservative politics that I viewed them as one and the same" (5). She was a Christian conservative Republican.

And at some point in her life, her thinking began to change. She says,
"I'd been fighting my entire life for change through politics. But I had seen no real change--no mass civil-rights movements for the unborn, no revival sweeping the public schools. I tried to explain my disillusionment to my parents when they wanted to know why my interest in campaigning had waned, and I found myself repeating an idea from Bush's stump speech. Bush had said that when it came to abortion, we had to change not just laws but also hearts. Politics only goes so far, he'd said, and I was beginning to think it didn't go far at all." (120)
I agree. She realized that fighting the political battle is not the most important thing in life. Much of what she said is what I tried to articulate in a blog post last July called, "A Christian Perspective on Being American." My faith moves me to not worship this country. I agree with Bush's comments that laws being changed are not going to be the cure, the heart needs to change. And politics will never do that. A new political campaign will never change a person's heart. That is what the gospel does.

For all I agree about in this book, the tragedy I found is that it is void of the gospel. The subtitle of the book is "How I Untangled My Faith from Politics." As I read it, I kept asking myself, "faith in what? Faith in God? Faith that takes care of the homeless? Faith that fights for the rights and dignity of women?" It wasn't until the conclusion where she summarizes what she has learned, that we should care, love, and take heart. She ends the book like this:
"As Jesus urged His followers, 'Take heart! I have overcome the world'--not through a show of power but a picture of love." (219)
And there we have it. It's all about love. Yes, love. I agree, love. But there was never a mention of why our hearts need the love of Jesus. No mention of sin. No mention of the cross. No mention of the wrath of God poured out on His son on my behalf. No mention of faith in Jesus alone. Just the mention that we need to love and care for the hurting and helpless, which apart from the gospel does nothing for eternity. I just keep thinking, what good is it if we help someone live another 50 years, but never help them look 50 million years from now? It is probably about as much use as a new political campaign.

I received a copy of Raised Right by Alisa Harris from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group for review.


  1. Thad,

    Too often it seems that "Conservative Christians" know a lot more about political activism than they do about the Bible or the Lord. Is it going to far to say that, based on what is revealed in the book, the author shows little understanding of the gospel in either her former right wing or current left wing phase?

  2. That is exactly what I am saying. It seems like there is the celebration of the country at first & then the celebration of faith (with no object). No celebration of the righteous life of Jesus, His death & resurrection---the gospel message.


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