Raised Right by Alisa Harris


I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect when I started this book.  The description intrigued me as it hinted at Alisa’s childhood of carrying signs and picketing abortion clinics.  I was not raised that way, not even close, but the political aspect of her childhood and how that shaped her life made me want to know more about how that would affect her faith.

This book was born out of my search for a faith that’s more than the sum of my political convictions and for a meaningful way of living it out.   (page 6)

This book was interesting, easy to read, and a good challenge to reexamine my own views on politics, mercy, justice and faith.  Alisa and I may have had very different childhood experiences, but her views on certain issues are not too far from mine.  Funny how God can use many paths to lead the same point…

I now think that loving America is like loving my family.  We have a shared identity and a common experience, a history that ties us together and past grievances that divide us.  But I don’t love my family because it’s exceptional, because it can dominate everyone else or has the fastest technology and the richest members or is somehow more blessed by God than others are.  I love my family, my country, because it’s mine- because this is the community where God saw fit to plunk me and I have an obligation to its rancorous, disputatious, obnoxious, and suffering members.  It’s easy to love the world and hard to love our neighbor.  (page 90-91)

Alisa’s simple story-telling style drew me into the book and kept me interested to the point where I finished it in only 2 sittings!  I just kept wanting to know more about her and how these stories would affect her life.  Her vulnerability in sharing both funny & hard stories is something that I admire and appreciate.  It is not easy to share about how your family may have hurt you, how people attack you because they misinterpreted what you said, or how you were so broke you had to scrape together change just to get home.  Writing her story and sharing these things might bring more criticism and maybe even some shame, but I applaud her for taking the risk to be vulnerable and transparent to bring to light issues that aren’t always talked about in such a calm and compassionate way.

For once, I wanted just to care about people as people- not as enemy combatants, potential converts, or notches in my holy belt of truth.  (page 59)

As Alisa walked through her years of picketing, campaigning, and researching & defending the Republican ideals, she continued this path into college, where she flat out became tired.  She was burnt out.  She had no more arguments left in her.  And her path began to change.  This part particularly struck me after having been in college ministry for 5 years. College is a big turning point for a lot of kids, whether that is for good or bad.  For Alisa, it seemed to be a point where she began to ask more questions and seek something more than a campaign.

I was done chasing supermen.  I had stopped believing in the perfect leader who could say “Let there be justice,” and by the force of his word change the whole earth into heaven.  Instead I determined to grab hold of the truth I’d always known- that the Leader had already come, had chosen instead to say, “My kingdom is not of this world,” and had been despised and rejected because His message was bigger than the first-century political pundits had predicted.  (page 75)

Having been a history major with a minor in political science in college, politics has always been something that has intrigued me.  Yet, it wasn’t something I really wanted to engage in because I do not like conflict and you can’t avoid it in politics!  I really appreciated Alisa’s story and her approach to this topic.  We might not agree on every issue, but we do agree a lot on much of the process.  She identifies issues within even the discussion of these topics and ask some good questions as a journalist, Christian, American, and human being.  There is more to each of us than just labels and we need to see past them to truly be able to live and engage with people.

As yet another presidential race begins to heat up, I’m both excited and apprehensive.  The mud-slinging has already begun and we have 10 months to go until the election.  This is a timely book and a good reminder of what is important in this process.  I am all for getting out and voting and participating in the process.  But let’s not get caught up so far in the machine that we lose sight of the people this is really about and the Person who ultimately rules over all.

I loved Alisa’s reflection on the 2008 election and want to end with it as just a little piece of perspective:

For the first time in my long and illustrious political career, I was throwing my support to a Democrat- but really I was voting for a leader who reflected my belief that the world is a more complicated place than a culture warrior’s sound bite and I knew that if I chose wrongly, it wouldn’t be the end of the world.  I’d seen that politicians had their limits in enacting good; they also had their limits in enacting harm.  (page 154-155)

That’s not to say that I endorse Obama, or even voted for him.  But I appreciate the perspective that while this is an important decision, it is not the end.  We need to look at the whole picture.  Thanks Alisa for sharing your heart & story.

-Check out the first chapter of this book here!

*I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review

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One Response to Raised Right by Alisa Harris

  1. This sounds like an interesting book. Great review! Hugs and hope you have a wonderful New Year!!! :O)

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