How can we reimagine hope through the lens of politics and faith?
“Our political institutions are built for our participation, but they do not require it” (Wear 211).
I remember, on both occasions, when President Obama was elected to the presidency of the United States of America. I watched my Facebook timeline blow up with victorious comments and comments of extreme frustration. Had I a Twitter handle at the time, I can’t image what it would look like.
“In an increasingly polarized politics and culture, this is the role Christians can play. We can take risks in the political arena to affirm that some things are more foundational than partisan politics, and when we see others do so, we can support them as they face people who do not understand” (Wear 176).
That faith could be reimagined in America as part of the solution rather than part of the problem, is something I feel a deep desire to understand.
This is what Michael Wear seeks to inform his readers of in Reclaiming Hope: Lessons Learned in the Obama White House About the Future of Faith in America.
“Barack Obama understood the religious landscape and historical context briefly discussed here, and he seemed to offer a new way to be a Christian in national politics: confident, but open; conviction-filled, but inclusive; focused on issues of justice and opportunity; and seeking to find common ground in the culture wars, not inflame them” (Wear 19).
Wear directed faith outreach for President Barack Obama as one of the youngest White House staffers.
He begins with the hope he had as a young Christ follower in politics and in the White House. Throughout the book he remains unbiased and critiques both the Democratic and Republican parties on issues such as the Affordable Healthcare Act, adoption, abortion, the contraception mandate, and the evolution of the former president’s stance on LGBTQ rights. “There was significant progress on fighting modern-day slavery as well” (Wear 181).
I came away learning about what it means to have the president attend church. I was not aware of the orchestrated events that must take place and the displacement of congregants if the president is to attend church service. I will never look at another president the same if he does not regularly attend church.
I learned what it is to hold faith close and use that for the common good in politics. I was always aware of how our language and media rhetoric gauges what we’ll say for the next 24 hours. We’ve become a culture of slogans. Our banners hang from our mouths, and all too often from our fingertips. Yet, in the face of uncertainty, we must never lose hope.
“If Christians are to truly address the circumstances of the voiceless, the oppressed, and the vulnerable, we must acknowledge that while prayer and private acts of kindness and compassion are essential, an approach that includes only these tools is incomplete” (Wear 209)
Wear’s writing is clean and academic. I recommend this book no matter what side of politics you are on. His voice is needed and appreciated as a young ambassador for people of faith to work together for the common good.
Michael is the author of Reclaiming Hope: Lessons Learned in the Obama White House About the Future of Faith in America. He also writes for The Atlantic, Christianity Today, USA Today, Relevant Magazine and other publications on faith, politics and culture. He serves on the national board of Bethany Christian Services, the nation’s largest adoption agency, and holds an honorary position at the University of Birmingham’s Cadbury Center for the Public Understanding of Religion. Michael and his wife, Melissa, are both proud natives of Buffalo, New York. They now reside in Washington, D.C.
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