Walter Rauschenbusch would be proud of activist minister Jim Wallis,a modern-day incarnation of a Progressive-era leader, embodying the proudtradition of the Social Gospel in the American church. The founder of Callto Renewal, a coalition of churches struggling to overcome poverty throughcommunity service and political activism, Wallis has been at the forefrontof efforts to build up the church as a crucial actor in the crusade forsocial justice. His latest book, "Faith Works," is an impassioned brief onbehalf of volunteerism as a force to change American life, offering a setof values which are radically opposed to the individualisticand materialistic culture at large: "When the only purpose the cultureoffers is endless consumption, service fills the void by providing amission."

The book offers many inspiring examples of church-based activism andreligious service that's made a real, tangible improvement in people'slives, ranging from community service to broader political efforts likethe Living Wage Campaigns, seeking to raise local minimum wages. Wallisoffers a powerful example of what the church's role in political lifemight be--what it might really mean for Christians to live up to theGospel that it's as easy for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle as it is for a rich man to enter heaven.