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  1. Plesion
    Gender: male
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    High-Octane, High-T Faith
    September 6, 2012
    Plesion
    Gender: male
    Quality: 4
    Value: 4
    Meets Expectations: 4
    Can a Christian politician–or voter–make his faith a private matter, not influencing his politics? "Christian faith is always personal but never private. . . . It's like asking a married man to act single in public. He can certainly do that–but he won't stay married for long." Gems like these are sprinkled throughout this well-written consideration of what it means for Christians to "render unto Caesar what is Caesar's," that is, what they owe (if anything) to their government. As you can see from the quote, Chaput (the Catholic archbishop of Philadelphia) definitely does think it's desirable for a Christian to apply his faith when engaging in politics–although he cites some notable cases (Mario Cuomo, some of the Supreme Court justices) who might as well be atheists, so little does their faith influence their decisions. There have been and always will be "in name only" Christians who find it useful to have a church connection, but they let themselves be guided by the culture, not by their faith. As Chaput phrases it, "The truth will make us free (John 8:32)–not comfortable, not respected, but free in the real sense of the word: able to see and do what's right." He offers this advice to people sizing up the candidates: "`You shall know them by their fruits' (Matthew 7:20). That's the first and best voter guide ever written."

    I should mention that I am not Catholic, and while reading Chaput's book I had to mentally substitute "Christian" where he had "Catholic." There are a handful of deep thinkers in the Catholic church, and it would be foolish to avoid fine books like this just because the authors are Catholic. Chaput's writing reminds me of C. S. Lewis–concise, logical, one thought flowing smoothly into another–no fat, no fluff, no pandering to a softminded reader's need to have her self-esteem boosted. Here there are a lot of "hard sayings" that, like the hard sayings of Jesus, call us to be better and strive harder. Chaput leaves the reader aware that it is hard to live the Christian life, also hard to buck the secular culture and bring out faith into the public forum. But he makes the challenge appealing–not a pat on the head, but a far more life-enriching "Get in there and fight, son!" Or, to quote a hymn that several denominations have foolishly dropped from their hymnals, "Onward, Christian soldiers."
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