Book Club Channel
Raised Right: Read An Excerpt
Shortly after our plane landed, we entered the convention center, where candidates set up booths and distributed anything to which they could afﬁx a campaign sticker. I wandered, collecting campaign paraphernalia for candidates I liked, conscientiously refusing buttons from moderates I despised, and drinking water from a bottle covered with campaign stickers for Redmond.
When it came time to vote for the candidate whose name would be ﬁrst on the ballot, the county chairman—who was technically not allowed to take sides in primary elections but had not been called by God to a party leadership role to let liberal Republicans win primaries—gathered up the ballots for absentee voters and handed them all to me. I was too young to vote, but I checked off Bill Redmond's name on each one and stuffed the ballot box. "The pastors can preach," the county chair was fond of saying, "but they should leave the political machinations to me. I can get my hands dirty for God."
A few weeks earlier my family had gone to White Sands, New Mexico, a desert where scientists tested the atomic bomb. While the rest of the kids rolled in the glittering sand, I tore myself from my biography of Ronald Reagan long enough to trot across the sand and spell out a political campaign message: "redmond."
There was no one for miles, and the wind would blow it away, but still I shufﬂed through the sand, spelling r-e-d-m...with my footsteps. I'm not sure who the message was for, since no one would see it but God.
For nearly all my childhood and adolescence, on into early adulthood, politics gave my faith meaning. Politics expressed my faith. Politics was my way of ﬁghting for "a future and a hope," my way of proving I believed what Jesus said: "Take heart! I have overcome the world." A surge of political fervor marked my soul's revival, and the vision of a godly America was my promised land. My faith was so intertwined with conservative politics that I viewed them as one and the same. In my ironclad worldview, faith and politics were inseparable.
So when I ventured out into the complicated world and found it shaking my conﬁdence in the goodness of culture-war politics, my faith shook too. With the conservative political accoutrements of my evangelical Christianity stripped away, little of my faith remained.
This book was borne out of my search for a faith that's more than the sum of my political convictions and for a meaningful way of living it out.
When it comes to politics, the children of old-school evangelicals are undergoing a shift. We have yet to convince our parents that we are not rejecting what they taught us but living it out in a different way. My parents taught me to be suspicious of power, so when I see power concentrated in big corporations, big government, and big money, I become suspicious. My parents taught me to ﬁght for the disenfranchised and weak—the child who couldn't pray in school or the businessman who couldn't work without government bullying. Today I feel compelled to combat injustice when I look at families torn apart by harsh immigration laws and when I see men wearing three-thousand-dollar suits while orchestrating the crash of the American economy. I hear a dad talk fondly of the American Dream as he enters a lottery to get his son into a decent school, and it outrages me that his son's fate rests on a gamble. My parents' hearts broke over the ugliness they saw in abortion clinics, and I am heartsick over the ugliness of wars in Iraq and elsewhere. But the lesson they taught me remains: when you see injustice, you have to speak up.