Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Whose side is God on?

Rabbi Michael Lerner, author of The Left Hand of God, was in the Quad Cities over the weekend to speak at the Quad Cities Progressive Action for the Common Good's Spiritual Progressives Conference. There is an excellent article in the River Cities’ Reader by Jeff Ignatius about Rabbi Lerner and what he had to say. For example, this is Rabbi Lerner’s take on the Congressional Democrat’s lack of commitment for ending the war in Iraq.

Many Democrats, for example, believe in ending the war in Iraq but refuse to act on that belief. "They don't fight to end it because they think it's not realistic and it's not politically in their interest," Lerner said. "They don't want to offend those who do support the war. They're afraid they'll be labeled ‘not supporting our troops' if they vote to cut off all funds and say that they're going to end the war right now."

These "practical" Democrats have their priorities wrong, Lerner said. "The spiritual world view tells us to go for our highest values, and to let them shape our actions," he said, "not let your actions be shaped by what seems pragmatic at the moment. ... To believe in God is to believe that there is a force in the universe that makes possible the transformation of that which is to that which ought to be. To align yourself with that force is often to be aligned against being realistic."

Here is Rabbi Lerner’s advice for how to fight the war on terrorism.

"We have come to believe that the fundamental reality of the world is one in which people are out to get us and hurt us, and that the only way we can protect ourselves is to dominate others before they dominate us," he said.

Instead, the United States should lead "a global Marshall Plan" and "act toward others in a spirit of generosity and caring."

In terms of a policy recommendation, Lerner said the United States should dedicate 1 to 2 percent of its gross domestic product "to once and for all end global poverty, homelessness, hunger, inadequate education, [and] inadequate health care, and to repair the global environment." Further, the U.S. should encourage other world powers to make the same commitment.

The effect would be "to dry up the cesspools of anger and hatred against the richest country in the world - us - and the resentment that people have about the way the United States has acted in the world, as a dominator," Lerner said. Extremist groups wouldn't be able to find recruits, he claimed.

Read the entire article

When you give it a little thought it seems kind of strange that the religious right has convinced so many people that their values of homophobia, xenophobia, capital punishment and opposition to sex education and family planning are God’s values, when everyone knows that God’s foremost commandment is to treat others with kindness and compassion, feeding the hungry and housing the homeless. Although the news media refers to social conservatives as “values voters,” that is a misnomer since everyone votes their values. We progressives have values that are much better aligned with the fundamental teachings of all the world’s great religions than the mean-spirited, punitive world-view of the so-called religious right. It has only been our reluctance up until now to frame our arguments in religious terms that has allowed the conservatives to perpetuate the fraud that God is on their side.

1 comment:

Socialist Christian Hippie said...

Interestingly, there was an article, I think last week, in the New York Times Sunday Magazine that put forth the thesis that evangelical Christians were coming around to a more "leftist" economic point of view.

Of course, next to worshiping God above all other Gods the bible is mostly about showing proper hospitality.

Gary Willis was on the radio the other day espousing the theory (that I find to be true, and espouse myself, as a Christian) that the bible has nothing to say on abortion. It makes absolutely no mention of it.

(Ecclesiastes actually says: Better yet [than the living and the dead] are those who have not yet been born) If you were a mindless literalist you might take that to promote the practice.

Christians are a natural progressive ally. Democrats simply need to reach out to them as such.

Jesus did not chastise the tax collectors, or the whores, or the lame. He welcomed them. His act of hospitality is what heals their hearts, not any speeches or denunciations. He saved that for the self-righteous religious leaders of the day.

Notice that Pat Robertson endorsed Giuliani.