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The Politics of Jesus: Rediscovering the True Revolutionary Nature of Jesus' Teachings and How They Have Been Corrupted.

The Politics of Jesus: Rediscovering the True Revolutionary Nature of Jesus' Teachings and How They Have Been Corrupted by Obery M. Hendricks Jr. Doubleday, August 2006 $26, ISBN 0-385-51664-9

Treating people's needs as holy is the crux of Jesus' message, believes Dr. Hendricks, author of the Politics of Jesus. In this hard-hitting treatise, Hendricks, a New York seminary professor and ordained elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, argues that Jesus' message has been warped by, among other things, conservative politicians and religious leaders who "attempt to force their views and interests on everyone as if their interests, by definition, are God's interests." Says Hendricks, "This is not faith; it is arrogance."

Hendricks's arguments are by no means reactionary. Rather, he provides sound support for the notion that America has strayed far away from Jesus' central message, which challenged the status quo and pushed for political, social and economic change.

Part One of the three-part book provides an historical framework that reveals the forces that shaped the political perspective of Jesus, who was a member of the "underclass" of His day.

In Part Two, Hendricks puts forth seven political strategies that Jesus used, including "Give Voice to the Voiceless" and "Don't Just Explain the Alternative, Show It." Hendricks gives numerous examples of these strategies at work, such as the 1964 March on Washington and the life of Robert Carter III, a colonial aristocrat whose religious experience led him to free more than 500 slaves in 1791.

Part Three challenges the standing of politicians such as Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush as Godly leaders, by arguing that their policies and actions (such as their treatment of poor people) fall far afield of Jesus' teachings.

Fiction fans may remember Hendricks's novel Living Water (HarperSanFrancisco, 2003), a retelling of the biblical story of the woman at the well, a story that provides a key example of Jesus' radical political perspective. The Politics of Jesus gives much-needed critical analysis to an overriding political voice that Hendricks shows to be anything but Christ-like. More than that, this book will encourage much-needed dialogue among the faithful of how to regain a prophetic voice that treats the needs of people as sacredly as we do our altars.

--Reviewed by Kathryn V. Stanley Kathryn V. Stanley is the FAITH editor for Black Issues Book Review.
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Author:Stanley, Kathryn V.
Publication:Black Issues Book Review
Date:Jan 1, 2007
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