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Renowned author Jim Wallis speaks

God is not a Republican or a Democrat. So then why is there such a heated debate between the two parties as to who can claim God’s allegiance? This topic was discussed in the McInnis auditorium at the most recent “Conversations that Matter.”

Jim Wallis, the editor of Sojourners magazine, led a panel discussion which featured several distinguished guests from around the area.

Wallis started off the night with a short introduction, which included a brief summary of his most recent book God’s Politics: Why the Right Get It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get it. He complimented Eastern and its many facets of faith-based activism.

“Eastern has really led the way,” Wallis said, “You connected faith to social justice a long time ago.”

Wallis went on to talk about the dichotomy between both the left and the right and how neither is really helping. Both sides claim to have solutions but fail to realize that both need each other to succeed.

“I am tired of this left and right debate, it’s killing poor people,” Wallis said. He also stated that neither party has ever lived with, or around, poor people.

Wallis also brought up good points about the single party issues that have faulted both parties. These included the emphasis on economic equality posed by the Democratic Party and the focus put on gay marriage and abortion by the Republicans.

Wallis argued that we must not become caught up in these single issue debates but rather be open to conversing with others about what needs to be changed.

After Wallis finished, the panel of guests had a chance to respond and contribute their own opinions to the discussion.

Frank Allen of St. David’s Episcopal Church was the first to speak and commented about how much he enjoyed the presentation by Wallis.

Allen spoke about how either our vision has become too small, or we have lost our vision for the world completely.

“We are called to live in a righteous way, and we must raise our sight to a higher vision,” Allen said.

Delores Brisbon, a prominent figure at the University of Pennsylvania hospital, followed with some poignant commentary about race in America.

Besides pointing out that Sunday morning is the most segregated hour in America, Brisbon mentioned the difference in average income between blacks and whites.

Rich Craven of the Church of the Saviour in Wayne spoke next and agreed with Wallis’ pleas to help unify the two parties.

“We need to look for a common ground and make sure we are not seduced by political power,” Craven said.

Dr. Christopher Hall, the newly instated Provost and Dean of the Honors College, was on hand and served as a moderator for the discussion. Hall asked some very interesting questions surrounding the nature of sin and how it fits in with the war on terror and other forms of “policing.”

Microphones were then turned over to the audience and nearly a dozen questions were asked and answered by Wallis.

The event was successful in bringing thoughtful and engaging conversations about relevant issues that all political parties should be able to speak openly about.

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