The Rev. Jim Wallis, long-time editor of Sojourners and self-styled “prophet,” has apparently decided that Speaking Truth to Power™ is for losers. According to Rebekah Sharpe of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, he’s rather be the Power:
Although not present in person at the April 26-29 Sojourners’ “Mobilization to End Poverty,” President Barack Obama, twice before a guest of Sojourners, sent a video-recorded message to the approximately 1,100 Sojourners gathered at Washington, DC’s Convention Center. President Obama told the crowd, “My administration is working to match your service with a commitment of our own: that the least of these will not be forgotten. That’s why we’re working to reduce poverty… why we passed the SCHIP bill to insure that millions of kids have the healthcare they need.”
Sojourners’ chief Jim Wallis joked about how his group’s relationship with the current administration was improved from that of prior presidencies. “I was talking to a reporter just the other day,” said Wallis, “And he asked me, ‘what’s the difference in this White House and previous White Houses?’ And I said well, sometimes with other White Houses they’ve been quite eager to arrest us. This one puts you on taskforces which sometimes takes more time.”
Wallis acknowledged that this political change had inspired him to reconsider the Biblical prophets with whom he identified. In past attempts to speak prophetically about policy matters, Wallis said, “When I think about how we relate to power my models and archetypes are Micah, Amos, Obadiah; it’s our paradigm, habit.” In contrast, “now we have a President and a Congress who want to seriously confront poverty… I think we need some theological reflection. We may have to learn from Joseph, and Daniel, who had the king’s ear.”
Joseph, you’ll remember, was the Egyptian pharaoh’s prime minister. Nothing like aiming high, Rev. Jim.