Walter Rauschenbusch would be proud of activist minister Jim Wallis, a modern-day incarnation of a Progressive-era leader, embodying the proud tradition of the Social Gospel in the American church. The founder of Call to Renewal, a coalition of churches struggling to overcome poverty through community service and political activism, Wallis has been at the forefront of efforts to build up the church as a crucial actor in the crusade for social justice. His latest book, "Faith Works," is an impassioned brief on behalf of volunteerism as a force to change American life, offering a set of values which are radically opposed to the individualistic and materialistic culture at large: "When the only purpose the culture offers is endless consumption, service fills the void by providing a mission."

The book offers many inspiring examples of church-based activism and religious service that's made a real, tangible improvement in people's lives, ranging from community service to broader political efforts like the Living Wage Campaigns, seeking to raise local minimum wages. Wallis offers a powerful example of what the church's role in political life might be--what it might really mean for Christians to live up to the Gospel 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.

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