Author JEFFREY STOUT
Publisher PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS
The author is Professor of Religion at Princeton but this particular book is readable for high-schoolers if they put their mind to it, and for others who are pondering issues to do with democracy and the increasing domination of the that form of government by those who are form the economic and politic elites of our day.
This is not an overtly Christian book, but it is relevant for Christians who wrestle over just how deeply they should be involved with the political arena of their countries. Although the book concentrates on things in the United States, there is much that coincides with what is going on in other nation states who espouse the democratic form of government. The sub-title is “Grassroots Democracy in America” and the opening chapter concerns the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the way New Orleans residents have been abused by the wealthy elite, the power brokers both in the city and elsewhere, as they have made and manipulated affairs to re-align the city in ways from which they will profit. The abuse of the poor and downtrodden is narrated and their counter efforts of those local residents who have endeavored to meet face to face in neighborhoods and proceeded to combined meetings that seek, from the bottom of the pyramid of power, to bring accountability to city dignitaries, as they cozy up to the wealthy developers. Jeffrey Stout moves through situations in Arizona, Los Angeles and San Francisco and draws out lessons as to what can be done to correct the increasing divorce between the very, very rich and those who suffer at their hands, albeit indirectly so often. For Christian pastors and those in their churches who care about their country, and what they should or shouldn’t do as regards both local and national politics there is plenty of food for thought in these chapters. The book closes with a chapter entitled “The Organizer President” and deals with Barack Obama suggesting that he originally truly sought to correct wrongs in the whole system and became manipulated by others who had their own agenda’s particularly that wealthy elite who so often hold the real reins of power and the multinational corporations. Where stands the church in relationship to these matters? Here are some arguments to seriously consider. What should leaders and pastors teach, should they themselves become politicized or should they act in ways that help those in the churches to become responsible citizens in their nation or opt for that ‘citizenship which is in heaven’ and leave the rest alone? Some help to answer these and other questions is to be found in these pages.