“Reclaiming Hope: Lessons Learned in the Obama White House About the Future of Faith in America”, by Michael R. Wear

I recently had the chance to read Reclaiming Hope: Lessons Learned in the Obama White House About the Future of Faith in America, by Michael R. Wear. This nonfiction book was published on January 17, 2017 by Thomas Nelson.

About this book (from the back cover):

Before he had turned twenty-one, Michael Wear found himself deep inside the halls of power in the Obama administration as one of the youngest-ever White House staffers. Appointed by the president in 2008 to the Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships and later directing faith outreach for the president’s 2012 re-election campaign, Wear threw himself wholeheartedly into transforming hope into change, experiencing first-hand the highs and lows of working as a Christian in government.

In this unvarnished account of faith inside the world’s most powerful office, Wear gives unprecedented insight into the most controversial stories of the last eight years, from the president’s change of position on gay marriage and the politicization of religious freedom to the administration’s failure to find common ground on abortion and the bitter controversy over who would give the benediction at the 2012 inauguration. Wear also reveals the behind-the-scenes struggles behind some of the administration’s signature achievements, including the adoption tax credit and making human trafficking a presidential priority. And he offers a rare window onto the ways the president himself viewed the role of faith in politics.

More than a memoir of the Obama administration, Reclaiming Hope is also a passionate call for faith in the public square, particularly for Christians to see politics as a means of loving one’s neighbor and of pursuing justice for all while promoting racial reconciliation and fighting for religious freedom for people of all faiths. At a time when large numbers of thoughtful Christians are arguing for withdrawal from participation in public institutions, Wear’s experience at the white-hot center of civic life shows how and why Christians must be involved in every aspect of cultural life—even if failures seem to outnumber successes—while working on behalf of the nation’s common good.

My Verdict:

This is an interesting and balanced book. I especially recommend it to folks on the “right”, of whom I am one. I found the book to be pleasant and encouraging on a number of fronts. For one, it has a marked moderation in tone that is completely missing from most of our political discourse. Wear’s style is humble and winsome. There is little of the condescending partisanship rampant in current politics and media, and that was refreshing. Along the same lines, there was a temperance in the way he depicted the various parties and personalities. Maybe the best word to describe his perspective is “generous”. I did not expect this to be a scintillating “tell-all”, and it wasn’t. Instead, Wear expresses a humble and sincere respect, even for those he disagrees with. I am personally connected to more typically conservative and Republican circles. While those groups broadly represent many of my values, I am also aware of their eccentricities. As a result, I want to hear rational and kind voices from the other side, but I feel like those are hard to come by. Wear is the kind of voice I am looking for. He gives us an honest and encouraging look into the life of a devout Christian navigating the Democratic party and the Obama White House. Wear writes as someone who doesn’t find his identity in his politics, but in his faith. This fosters the ability to work with and respect people across the political spectrum, even when you don’t agree with them on certain issues. My one criticism is a function of the books strength. That humble and temperate tone, in a few places, comes off as naiveté. Some issues seem more clear cut than he lets on. But then, maybe that is a function of my own political beliefs.

“An important and extremely timely book…Get it, read it, and talk to others about it.” –Timothy Keller, author of Reason for God

“A warm, engaging read of the author’s experience with faith, politics, and the intersection (and sometimes collision) of the two. Reclaiming Hope is an important contribution in this age of religious and political polarization.” –J.D. Vance, author of Hillbilly Elegy

If you’d like to check out Reclaiming Hope it is currently on sale for $10.99 for the Kindle version right now. If you prefer a physical copy the hardcover version is currently on sale for $17.99. Remember, Amazon’s prices can change at any time.

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