September 18, 2011 1 Comment
Be the People, A Call to Reclaim America’s Faith & Promise, is a call to action for those that many would categorize as “the religious right.” What makes this book so interesting, is that the author is not what one would expect. Dr. Swain is an African-American woman raised in the rural South in a shack with no indoor plumbing. She dropped out of high school, has been divorced, raised kids as a single mother, and admits to having an abortion.
Against all odds, Swain earned her GED, and eventually achieved a successful career in academia. She is now a professor of political science and of law at Vanderbilt University. Her “rags to riches” background is a forceful reminder that the ideals of the “American Dream” are alive and well; and can be achieved regardless of socioeconomic backgrounds.
The book is broken into two parts; the first is titled “Broken Vows: Forsaking What We Once Knew.” It focuses on the changing values that Americans have, and how they have departed from those of our founding fathers. She is critical of political correctness, and its censoring of traditional Christian expression of thought in the public sphere. Swain documents how Christian values were integral in the creation of historical documents such as the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution.
Her pro-life stance is strong, and she documents her own personal battle with guilt and health complications following her own abortion. Swain courageously criticizes faulty arguments on the “necessity” of abortion, knowing that she risks losing her academic career by “coming out” publicly as a Christian. She compares many of the academic studies on abortion to the documented “junk science” of climate scientists that have altered data to document climate change, now referred to as “climategate.”
Part Two of the book is entitled “Banished Virtues: Reclaiming Truth and Justice in Policy Choices.” In the second part of the book, Swain amplifies her call for readers to become politically active. At the end of each chapter she includes “Action Points”, which have suggested readings, and topics for small group discussions. She also prints the link to her website for more discussion items.
Swain presents a strong spiritual message of taking action in society. Although heavily centered on political issues and activism, she also encourages readers to be openly Christian in the business world. She laments that major media is heavily slanted toward secular humanist culture, and that merely winning at the ballot box will not counter what she considers the deterioration of our culture.
The last 90 pages of the book are filled with what I consider “clutter.” She includes the text of the Ten Commandments, The Declaration of Independence, The Bill of Rights, and the Constitution of the United States of America (1787) as appendices. This is followed by traditional style notes documenting sources and an index.
As important as the founding documents are, I do not feel it necessary to have them printed in this book. She could have simply stopped with encouraging her readers to read them. All are readily available on the Internet and at libraries everywhere.
Despite this, I found her book thought provoking. Her unique perspectives on poverty, race, and women’s issues are something that conservatives and liberals alike can benefit from. I recommend this book, and give it four stars on a five star scale.
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- Book Review: Be The People (jeffersonthought.wordpress.com)
- Award Winning Author Carol Swain Discusses Declining Values and Morals in America in New Book (your-story.org)