Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Rediscovering Values

Guess what. Turns out the book I read was called Rediscovering Values, not Comeback America (though it is by Jim Wallis). Since I got the book through interlibrary loans (a wonderful service that allows libraries across the county--and world-- to share books with each other) there was a piece of paper with loan info over the cover and I didn't read the title. But how I managed to think it was Comeback America despite it being a book all about rediscovering values is a mystery.

But anyway, Jim Wallis is a well-known preacher (though I hadn't heard of him before this challenge) and his book, as you may guess from the title, is about how Americans need to rediscover values. More specifically, he talks about how Wall Street's poor values (such as greed) helped to lead us into our current economic state, and how, rather than returning to normal when the economy improves, we should all re-evaluate our lives and what we see as most important.

I was wary about picking up a book written by a prominent preacher. I did not want to be preached at. And though each chapter of Wallis's book could be interpreted as individual sermons (mixing stories of the economy with stories from the bible and stories from ordinary people's lives), and though he certainly instructed readers on things they should be doing, he didn't proselytize. Though that could have been because the book seemed aimed at a religious audience, I like to think it's because Wallis wanted his book to be inclusive.

The feeling I got most out of reading Rediscovering Values was that I'd like to have a conversation with Wallis. He seemed like a genuine, good guy and someone, who despite having some views contrary to my own, would have a respectful dialogue about any issue. I suppose you could call Rediscovering Values one side of a potential conversation.

As a whole, Wallis is a fine writer, not super, not terrible (though he did repeat himself a bit). But I didn't get the sense that he was aiming to write beautiful sentences: instead he wanted to get his ideas across. Also, he had a lot of interesting facts peppered throughout the book, wrote a chapter on Detroit, and spent a few pages discussing Jon Stewart's interview with Jim Cramer (which you can watch here). So I give the book a 3/5. If I were asked for a book recommendation, it probably wouldn't come up, but I definitely wouldn't dissuade you from picking it up.

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