The following is excerpted from The Left Hand of God: Taking Our Country Back From the Religious Right, by Rabbi Michael Lerner (HarperSanFrancisco, Feb, 2006).

The unholy alliance of the political Right and Religious Right threatens to destroy the America we love. It also threatens to generate a popular revulsion against God and religion by identifying them with militarism, ecological irresponsibility, fundamentalist antagonism to science and rational thought, and insensitivity to the needs of the poor and the powerless.

By addressing the real spiritual and moral crisis in the daily lives of most Americans, a movement with a progressive spiritual vision would provide an alternate solution to both the intolerant and militarist politics of the Right and the current misguided, visionless, and often spiritually empty politics of the Left.

People feel a near-desperate desire to reconnect to the sacred, to find some way to unite their lives with a higher meaning and purpose and in particular to that aspect of the sacred that is built upon the loving, kind, and generous energy in the universe that I describe as the "Left Hand of God."

By contrast, the "Right Hand of God," sees the universe as a fundamentally scary place filled with evil forces. In this view God is the avenger, the big man in heaven who can be invoked to use violence to overcome those evil forces, either right now or in some future ultimate reckoning. Seen through the frame of the Right Hand of God, the world is filled with constant dangers and the rational way to live is to dominate and control others before they dominate and control us.

It is the search for meaning in a despiritualized world that leads many people to right-wing religious communities because these groups seem to be in touch with the sacred dimension of life. Many secularists imagine that people drawn to the Right are there solely because of some ethical or psychological malfunction. What they miss is that there are many very decent Americans who get attracted to the Religious Right because it is the only voice that they encounter that is willing to challenge the despiritualization of daily life, to call for a life that is driven by higher purpose than money, and to provide actual experiences of supportive community for those whose daily life is suffused with alienation and spiritual loneliness.

Many Americans have a powerful desire for loving connection, kindness, generosity, awe and wonder, and joyous celebration of the universe. These desires are frustrated by the way we organize our society today. A progessive movement or a Democratic Party that speaks to these desires in a genuine and spiritually deep way could win the popular support it needs to create a world of peace, social justice, ecological sanity,.........

To continue reading excerpt see:
http://www.alternet.org/story/32037/
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ "I have not always been right, but I have always been sincere." ~ W.E.B. Du Bois ~~~~~~~~~~~
Original Post
quote:
What they miss is that there are many very decent Americans who get attracted to the Religious Right because it is the only voice that they encounter that is willing to challenge the despiritualization of daily life, to call for a life that is driven by higher purpose than money, and to provide actual experiences of supportive community for those whose daily life is suffused with alienation and spiritual loneliness.

In general I agree with what this guy is saying, except for this part. The Right doesn't provide these things. It particularly doesn't call for a life that is driven by a higher purpose than money.
quote:
Originally posted by Black Viking:
quote:
What they miss is that there are many very decent Americans who get attracted to the Religious Right because it is the only voice that they encounter that is willing to challenge the despiritualization of daily life, to call for a life that is driven by higher purpose than money, and to provide actual experiences of supportive community for those whose daily life is suffused with alienation and spiritual loneliness.

In general I agree with what this guy is saying, except for this part. The Right doesn't provide these things. It particularly doesn't call for a life that is driven by a higher purpose than money.
The reference is specifically to the Religious Right and thus I think that it has some merit. I think that this characterization is consistent with the lived experience of the average conservative or evangelical Christian. This is not synonymous with the position of the corporate and neo-conservative interests on the Right.
The biggest problem with this thesis is that it accepts using religion for political purposes. In doing so it counterfiets religion and thus defeats the very purpose it sets out to achieve.

Rabbi Lerner rightly castigates the religious right for being more right than religious. He doesn't actually mean to do that, of course, for his concern is not the religion of the right. As with so many people who are themselves primarily political, he sees life in political terms. For him in this book, leftward politics is the way of national salvation, therefore leftist politics should be the dominant philosophy of our national life. Whatever achieves that is good.

Teh religious right, insofar as it is right, does not do that, and thus is bad for America. Hence, the left should be stronger and more dominant, and if the religious right is strong because of its religion, then the left needs a religion, too.

Rabbi Lerner is not so religious as he is political, and thus we must take what he says about religion (he does oversimplify the religious in an effort to demonize those with whom he disagrees because they demonize those with whom they disagree, and he accuses them of all having the same "God is an angry God" philosophy, which also is not true) with an ounce or two of sodium chloride.

The good rabbi probably does not view the world simplicitically, which makes it all the more saddening that he would view the religious right so simplistically. Who was it who said that for every complex problem there's a simple answer which is wrong?
quote:
Originally posted by Melesi:
The biggest problem with this thesis is that it accepts using religion for political purposes. In doing so it counterfiets religion and thus h religious right, insofar as it is right, does not do that, and thus is bad for America. Hence, the left should be stronger and more dominant, and if the religious right is strong because of its religion, then the left needs a religion, too.

Rabbi Lerner is not so religious as he is political, and thus we must take what he says about religion (he does oversimplify the religious in an effort to demonize those with whom he disagrees because they demonize those with whom they disagree, and he accuses them of all having the same "God is an angry God" philosophy, which also is not true) with an ounce or two of sodium chloride.



First, off you wacko nut jobs on the right started using religion for political purposes.

And second, something needs to be done about it because you are oppressive of the rest of us. And I know this from experience.

Lastly, aren't we the expert on viewing the world simplistically?
quote:
Originally posted by Melesi:
Good argument: "You started it!"
Very adult.


What the hell do you call prayer in school? or demanding "equal time" for Creationism in science classes but politicizing religion????

Speaking as a teacher, people have ALWAYS been free to pray in the classroom. What's not going to happen is me leading them.

I don't see why I should try overly hard to speak as an adult to mental children... Roll Eyes

The political right's brand of religion is poisonous and it needs to be neutralized.
And even if you don't worship an angry God, you this-the-way-and-only-way brand of Christian, you do worship a senile, capricious, somewhat insane God... People such as yourself ought NOT be running the country.
You're not thinking. "I" didn't do any of this, do not want any of this, don't agree with it when it is tried, so you are not talking about me no matter how much you want to pretend you are.

++++++++++++++++++++++++
What the hell do you call prayer in school?
++++++++++++++++++++++++

How does this apply to the topic?

The first public school in America was Christian, in Boston. It was run, as most things were, by the Brethren, who, though not exactly right-wing, were nonetheless oppressive.

Speaking of being oppressive, the history of the world shows that one does not have to be religious to be oppressive. China and the Soviet Union were rather heavy-handed against human rights, as were most of the empires in the world. It would appear more that empires and would-be empires "started" the opressiveness that has you so exercized. All one has to do is be least like the Church and most like an empire to be as you react against here, which means that your target really isn't the Church, and not even its so-called right wing. It's humanity's drive and demand for power.

That's why I object to Rabbi Lerner's thesis. It isn't right, for it leaves out most facts. His solution will not be a solution, nor will yours. Rid the world of religion and you will still have ambition and hate and oppression.

You know, as you are.
quote:
Originally posted by Melesi:

Speaking of being oppressive, the history of the world shows that one does not have to be religious to be oppressive. China and the Soviet Union were rather heavy-handed against human rights,


I did not claim one had to be religious in order to be oppressive nor have I ever gone on record as being for the elimination of religion. Nor have I ever expressed the view that by getting rid of religion we would also rid ourselves of hatred, ambition, and oppression. I've actually expressed opposite views on a number of occasions. So where you get these ideas is beyond me.

Back to the subject. OK. I accept that I shouldn't identify you with the religious right. But I will go so far as to claim that the religious right has had a corrupting influence on religion generally in this country. And this influence is beginning to also corrupt our civic institutions. It seems to me entirely reasonable and appropriate that in order to repair/reverse that damage it is necessary to address both religious and secular audiences from a point of view which is both political and religious.

quote:

That's why I object to Rabbi Lerner's thesis. It isn't right, for it leaves out most facts. His solution will not be a solution, nor will yours. Rid the world of religion and you will still have ambition and hate and oppression.


You've never heard me put forth "a solution"

And to what problem are you claiming Lerner's "solution" will not be a solution to??

quote:

Rabbi Lerner is not so religious as he is political, and thus we must take what he says about religion (he does oversimplify the religious in an effort to demonize those with whom he disagrees because they demonize those with whom they disagree, and he accuses them of all having the same "God is an angry God" philosophy, which also is not true) with an ounce or two of sodium chloride.


You make NO sense. He isn't demonizing "the religious". He IS religious. He's a rabbi. If anything it seems that he ins't so much tying to demonize those with which he disagrees as to find common ground... Roll Eyes

Lastly as to

quote:

The biggest problem with this thesis is that it accepts using religion for political purposes. In doing so it counterfiets religion and thus defeats the very purpose it sets out to achieve.


What exactly is the purpose it sets out to achieve?
+++++++++++++++++++++++++
I did not claim one had to be religious in order to be oppressive nor have I ever gone on record as being for the elimination of religion. Nor have I ever expressed the view that by getting rid of religion we would also rid ourselves of hatred, ambition, and oppression. I've actually expressed opposite views on a number of occasions. So where you get these ideas is beyond me.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++

You are not reading, either. What I wrote was slightly hyperbolic. Lerner's thesis is that the left needs religion to become more powerful and influential. I say that that is the wrong reason for a religion, and the results will not be as Lerner (or you, it appears) would like to think. "Even if you rid the world of religion entirely" we would not be rid of the oppression against which you--rightly--react--wrongly--was the force of the line, not "You say that we should rid the world of religion." The attempt was to show that your theory will not achieve the goal you seem to wish. Lerner wishes to end the manipulation of religion for political purposes by teh Right by manipulating religion by the Left. That will ony substitute one tyranny for another.

The problem is pride, a problem that the Church has long elucidated and warned against, even the political right of the American Church. That it does not do so consistently is a problem. not of the religion, but of the thought going into the religion, the human thought that feels that certain political goals are worth having so we must cover them with a religious wash.

The Religious Left does that, too. In Wisconsin I heard several speeches over a few years by members of the religious Left that were exact mirrors of speeches given by the religious Right. The goals were different, the mthods were the same, for they all said in essence, "We are right and they are wrong. Follow us." AA churches are noted for having Democratic candidates share their pulpits, but not Republican ones. And AA churches are not quite perfect, are they? The problem is not the religious right. It's the use of religion for political purposes, an occurance that the Hebrew prophets fulminated against for years. Will we never learn?

++++++++++++++++++++++++
You've never heard me put forth "a solution"
++++++++++++++++++++++++

You didn't post Rabbi Lerner's words approvingly?

++++++++++++++++++++++++
And to what problem are you claiming Lerner's "solution" will not be a solution to??
++++++++++++++++++++++++

Read my first post again.


+++++++++++++++++++++++
You make NO sense. He isn't demonizing "the religious". He IS religious. He's a rabbi. If anything it seems that he ins't so much tying to demonize those with which he disagrees as to find common ground...
++++++++++++++++++++++++

Read what I wrote. I did not say that he demonized religion. He did demonize "those whith whom he disagrees":

"By contrast, the "Right Hand of God," sees the universe as a fundamentally scary place filled with evil forces. In this view God is the avenger, the big man in heaven who can be invoked to use violence to overcome those evil forces, either right now or in some future ultimate reckoning. Seen through the frame of the Right Hand of God, the world is filled with constant dangers and the rational way to live is to dominate and control others before they dominate and control us."

Interesting, these words, since he started out with exactly the same kind of thinking:

"The unholy alliance of the political Right and Religious Right threatens to destroy the America we love. It also threatens to generate a popular revulsion against God and religion by identifying them with militarism, ecological irresponsibility, fundamentalist antagonism to science and rational thought, and insensitivity to the needs of the poor and the powerless."

Which is why I say that his idea will not work. It's founded on exactly the same problem he accuses the Right of having.

Instead, Christians need to cease having such an interestin politics. They need to be interested in politics, they need to be informed and cast their votes according to a candidate's principles and not his promises, and they need to remember always that the way that God has shown us is always indirect--one conclusion that one could draw from this is that leftist politics are entirely misguided since they are direct and not indirect--and therefore Christians must be more patient and less direct. We must affect our society through life and action and word, changing lives and worldviews one person at a time, one act of love at a time, not through political action.

This, of course, will relieve the leftists among us, for they will no doubt imagine that this will leave the playing field open for them. No, there will always be rightists to oppose them. They just shouldn't be Christians. That's a bit of an overstatement, for I do not intend to leave the imporession that I think all Christians should stay out of politics. I do say, however, that politics should not be of interest to Christians except only as a means to a practical end, not to a moral or spiritual one. Thus, most Christians should not find politics very interesting. They should be busy doing more important things.
quote:
Originally posted by Melesi:
Thus, most Christians should not find politics very interesting. They should be busy doing more important things.


Like hanging themselves...

You're not black are you? It always amazes me that black folk can cling so fiercely to the notion that some illiterate Jew died for their supposed 'sins' 2000 years ago when it's SO abundantly clear that the men who died for your * silly black asses * looked like










Last edited {1}
A pity that you don't remember that we killed Malcolm X ourselves. What color was Talmadge Hayer? Malcolm had said that the Nation of Islam was out to kill him, and perhaps you saw the documentary on his life, "Brother Minister"? It included a secret recording of Louis Farrakhan saying that if they, the NOI, killed Malcolm, that wasn't anybody elese's business.

So you're saying that Malcolm died for us even though we did the killing?

You're substituting one Savior for another while castigating the very idea of a Savior?
Well didn't the Jews kill Jesus - or at least advocate for his death? Jesus was a Jew you know?

And no I'm not substituting one saviour for another. Perhaps what I'm actually doing is questioning the entire notion - or supposed function - of a "saviour"
The Jews did not have the authority to kill Jesus. That's why they took him to the Roman Pilate.

Ok, so no savior. Then why bring up Malcolm X?
quote:
The unholy alliance of the political Right and Religious Right threatens to destroy the America we love. It also threatens to generate a popular revulsion against God and religion by identifying them with

militarism... God has always been identified with militarism, at least in the Old Testament

ecological irresponsibility,
Know one creates pollution, or cuts down trees in the name of God
fundamentalist antagonism to science and rational thought,
Yeah, God forbid 'science' is ever held accountable and questioned. Didn't the sun revolve around the 'flat' world that placed more 'limits' on what man can or can't do, than any fundamental religion ever placed?

and insensitivity to the needs of the poor and the powerless
I don't know of any political faction/ religion that promotes poverty and justifies it as the 'will' of God.
God has always been identified with militarism, at least in the Old Testament

Is that so? Really? Perhaps you need to return to your religious studies, young one....

Know one creates pollution, or cuts down trees in the name of God

There is a significant political movement in this country that actively opposes environmental regulation (The "Wise Use" movement)... and do so, partly using biblical justification. In fact, these people are all over the current Bush administration. Why not trash the environment if you believe Jesus is returning to make everything new?

Yeah, God forbid 'science' is ever held accountable and questioned. Didn't the sun revolve around the 'flat' world that placed more 'limits' on what man can or can't do, than any fundamental religion ever placed?

I think you may be a little confused. It was the Church that defended the idea of the geocentric universe against the heliocentric concept of Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo.

I don't know of any political faction/ religion that promotes poverty and justifies it as the 'will' of God.

Again, youngster, you need to pay closer attention to current politics...
Last edited {1}
quote:
Originally posted by Melesi:
The Jews did not have the authority to kill Jesus. That's why they took him to the Roman Pilate.

Ok, so no savior. Then why bring up Malcolm X?


and note that I added "or at least advocated for his death"
++++++++++++++++++++++++=
I think you may be a little confused. It was the Church that defended the idea of the geocentric universe against the heliocentric concept of Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo.
++++++++++++++++++++++++

This is a common response among those who have only relied on what they've heard but haven't studied the case (isn't that an accusation made against religious people?)

The Galileo case was a case of Galileo against the majority of astronomers of the time. The argument against Galileo was: 1. the sun appears to move around the earth, 2. We can't get up into space to see what's actually going on, and 3. The mathematics of a geocentric solar system work. So the Church, having gathered other atronomers to address the issue, found that the majority of scientific opinion was against Galileo. So the Church sided with them (they should know, they're scientists, after all) and not with Galileo.

Many years later someone happened to mention to Ludwig Wittgenstein how silly the medievals and early Renaissance thinkers were to believe that the sun revolved around the earth, and Wittgenstein answered "Yeah, yeah" (well, not really, but by this time he was tired of this statement), "but I wonder what it would have looked like if the sun actually did revolve around the earth?"

The point is that our observations would have been exactly the same. So let's not blame the Church for something the scientists were convinced was true, ok?

Now, shall we get back to the original subject? HB, you seem to have a penchant for lapsing into the personal attack ("youngster") which takes the thread off topic.

What Rabbi Lerner advocates will not work. Using religion for political purposes is a counterfeit of religion and damaging to politics, for it places the reasons of the politics in a self-centered, a priori position, one chosen to fit an already-existing concept and thus not open to fact and reason. Hence it is doomed to tyranny, for it will only imbue politics with the atmosphere of religion whien that religion was only chosen because it fit the politics to begin with.

It is not a good idea.

Add Reply

Post
×
×
×
×
Link copied to your clipboard.
×