Bill Clinton’s new book, Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World is out to much fanfare. I haven’t read it yet and frankly wasn’t planning on reading it. But then a friend send me a note saying, “So I actually purchased Bill Clinton’s latest book Giving……and I’m actually enjoying it. I’m not sure what’s wrong with me. Can I review it for your blog?” How could I say no? Here is his review:
The other day I was perusing the book selections at the local Barnes and Noble and came across a shrine devoted to Bill Clinton’s latest book Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World. As a lifelong conservative Republican my initial thought was to just kick over the whole display. After all, for conservatives like me, he is the antichrist and scripture says to resist him. But then I found myself doing something even worse. I bought a copy!
I have to admit I left the store feeling quite noble for my bipartisanship. But this topic is of interest to me and I was quite curious to hear what he had to say about it. And surprisingly, I actually liked the book. It’s a quick and easy read (only 211 pgs), but provides a good overview of the many different things individuals are doing around the world to improve the lives of those in need – and a call to action for the rest of us to do our part.
In many respects this is a very conservative book. After all, it is we conservatives who argue that those in need are best served by individuals and private organizations and not large government programs. Clinton does devote a whole chapter to the role of government, but it is focused mostly on grassroots organizations aimed at changing our laws and what we can do to support them (but I certainly wouldn’t call any of those organizations “conservative”).
I was intrigued as our former President talked about the different ways we can give – through our time, money, skills, and resources. As he described the many individuals and organizations he encountered during his years in office and his post-Presidency humanitarian work, I found myself looking up some of these groups on the internet to see how I too can get involved. For example, there is Kiva (www.kiva.org), an organization that allows individuals to loan money to entrepreneurs in poor nations around the world; Operation HOPE (www.operationhope.org) aimed at empowering underserved communities with the education and resources needed to improve their economic well-being; and many more.
Of course, the book isn’t without its faults. In an obvious attempt to be all-inclusive, Clinton fails to give Christians their due. Christian churches make up a major portion of the giving and volunteering that goes on in the world, but are mentioned only in passing and always along with other religions. Tragically, there was not one single mention in the entire book of Pastor Rick Warren and all the work he has done to reduce poverty and help those suffering with AIDS and other diseases. He is just one example of many I could point out.
And I’m sure it is just a coincidence that this book hits the shelves in the midst of a heated Presidential election where the author’s wife just happens to be the front runner for the Democratic nomination. And I’m sure Bill Clinton wasn’t exaggerating when he said, “My wife was my first role model for what it means to be a public servant without public office.” How sweet.
But Christ told us that the best way we can demonstrate our love to Him was by loving others. Clinton’s book provides numerous examples of how we can fulfill this mission and I would encourage everyone to read it. My guess is that you will be inspired to step up and do your part too.
There is so much to say about this review. First, it is a good one. Second, it is yet another indication of the remarkable shift occurring in evangelical circles. Evangelicals are liked spurned lovers who, having been betrayed by Bush, the one they knew would “complete” them, are now playing the field, open to even the mostly unlikely hookups. I’m not saying evangelicals are going to flock to Sen. Clinton en masse – my friend certainly won’t – only that some of them might and that may be all she needs.