Source: as Review copy from the publisher via LibraryThing Early Reviewers program.
Finished: 1/1 /12
Rating: 8 out of 10
Publisher: WaterBrook Press
Synopsis (from the Book Description): Alisa Harris grew up in a family that actively fought injustice and moral decay in America. She spent much of her childhood picketing abortion clinics and being home-schooled in the ways of conservative-Republican Christianity. As a teen she firmly believed that putting the right people in power would save the nation. But as she moved into adulthood, Alisa confronted unexpected complexities on issues that used to seem clear-cut. So, she set about evaluating the strident partisanship she had grown up with, considering other perspectives while staying true to the deep respect she held for her parents and for the Christian principles that had always motivated her.
Overall Impression: I didn’t grow up similarly to Alisa Harris — I didn’t grow up a Christian and my parents don’t agree with each other when it comes to politics — but there was a lot that resonated with me in her memoir.
For a while, I was really getting into conservative politics, listening to talk radio (what vitriol…), chatting politics with friends, and thinking that the right could really save us all. But over the past few years, I’ve grown really uncomfortable with how we’re broken up between red and blue. When asked, I have a hard time explaining the discomfort — it’s not like I thought some policies on each side were right. It is more an overall realization that we’re dealing with actual humans here. And when we paint each other with such broad strokes, we lose sight of the humanity of the people who aren’t on our side.
Harris puts it this way: “We seek in one another the assurance that there is just one correct interpretation of the world, that everything is so simple that anybody can see it unless they’re malicious or stupid or willfully ignorant; and we punish one another for proving with our differing conclusions that the truth is not that easy.” [emphasis mine]
This is one of the things I liked most about Harris’s book — she looks at both sides of the aisle with a lot of grace and humility, realizing that yes, we have different ways of looking at the world — but that doesn’t make you any less human than I am. There is a lot of gray area in every issue that we get tangled up in, yet we leave absolutely no room for dialogue, which leaves no room for compromise or working together. We just spout slogans and one-liners and forget that the person we’re talking to / arguing with / yelling is a human too. We say that this is how Christians are supposed to vote, without actually looking at the person of Jesus and realizing he looks nothing like a Republican or a Democrat. Or an American, for that matter.
Harris’s book is a call to everyone to listen to each other and to treat each other with grace and respect, realizing that we don’t have all the answers. And to stop slapping the Jesus name on things that are decidedly unChrist-like.
Highly recommended to Christians who struggle with how active to be in politics or if you feel like all your Christian friends thing differently than you do.
Positives: Such humility and honest struggle — her story resonated with my own.
Negatives: A little short — I thought some of her ideas and struggles could have been fleshed out more.
Other books I’ve read by Alisa Harris: none
Other blogger opinions:
David Swartz: “But Raised Right tells the story of thousands like Alisa who still embrace the spiritual and theological faith of evangelicalism but reshape its living out and who will change the face of American Christianity over the next two decades.”
Carl Gregg: “Her life story is a testament that people can change, grow, and mature.”
Oxford Circus: “While Harris gets a lot right in this book—and often convicted me of my own political blind spots—the conclusions she embraces in place of her childhood conservatism often feel as incoherent and untested as the ones she abandoned.”
Extras: Follow Alisa on Twitter
Legal gobbledygook: I received this book free from LibraryThing as part of their Early Reviewers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”