Monday, May 29, 2006

Media Misrepresents the Intent of the Network of Spiritual Progressives

Media Misrepresents the Intent of the Network of Spiritual Progressives

The writers at the Economist don't get it yet. When it comes to the new Network of Spiritual Progressives, that is. Mainstream journalists, in general, are not widely deserving of being credited for being professionals of vision. They tend to cling to lazy misnomers - to what they know.

They're wrong about the Network of Spiritual Progressives. This isn't some newfound unity of "the Suddenly Left and Religious" vs. the Religious Right.

This is not a partisan game we're playing. This is about hope and vision; not about playing "gotcha" with the Religious Right. God is not a Republican. God is not a Democrat. The media needs to come to terms with the fact that millions upon millions of American citizens are people of faith, yet their core common values are not being represented in the public.

This cartoon betrays the real work of the Spiritual Progressives because, unlike the Religious Right and their decidedly non-spiritual co-opting of Republicans, no one in the Network of Spiritual Progressives is claiming to have triumphal political ownership of the Democratic party. Unfortunately, the Economist
and the New York Times have not yet learned the truth about what this Network is set upon accomplishing.

The Economist's gross misunderstanding of the Network's platform contributes to their grim political predictions for Progressives based upon what I suspect are unintentionally-reached false conclusions.

Don't swallow it.

Journalists continue to paint "moral values" inside some imaginary box that consistently assures, with perpetual falsities, that the Religious Right will retain possession of the political keys to "moral authority." Democrats partake willingly in this game, virtually handing the keys to the "moral authority vehicle" over to the GOP like secular drunks silenced by the fear of running off the road while offending. Meanwhile, the only ones offfended are people with common sense and a wide array of common spiritual values.

When I speak of common spiritual values, I am not talking about a stiff obligatory morality with a prescribed set of specific moral behaviors based in one certain religion. That's totally incompatible with today's American society, which is made up of such a culturally, politically, and spiritually diverse population. There will always be a moral order of which any society's law will be a reflection. A society with no moral order would probably not survive for very long. In a Democratic society with such a diverse population, our legal institutions must remain the social-structural basis of a practical moral order. Not the church.

The notions of right and wrong, good and bad are always going to be inescaple and integral parts of the spiritual, religious, and legal facets of our society. There will be no end to ensuring that church and state are kept separate. Someone will always be overstepping the boundary and someone else will always have to remind them of the line between chruch and state. In a rational and diverse democracy, we must always remain guards at the crossroads...where religion and law will inevitably intersect. Americans are, in overwhelming numbers, people of faith. Religion involves both group activities and private activities. Americans develop personal value-structure, in large part, through faith and through the human spirit.

We cannot have a holistic society or a government that really works for the best interests of the most oppressed in our society unless we learn to talk about what is best about our common values and, together, create a practical moral order which can be transcribed to the kind of law we want to see and the kind of government in which we can continue to participate with pride. If our society doesn't have laws and public policies that work for the least of us, I do not see it as a society with an acceptable moral order. Do you?

In time, if this new movement has any success, all journalists who have misunderstood and bungled the coverage of this Spiritual Progressive network will understand that Green, Democratic, and moderate Republican voters have been gagged for too long by the super-secular special interests that would love (just as much as the Religious Right would love) to have political leaders (especially Democratic leaders) continue to deliver lame, unconvincing, and meaningless platitudes to millions of spiritual voters. The trouble is, citizens can spot a phony and a panderer from a rhetorical shout away. *Read Politics: A New Bottom Line, which I wrote for the One America Committee last week.

The Network is here to change the way we speak about the issues and to drive the creation of policy that will reflect a democracy that is made up of people who actually care about something other than only the economic "bottom line." Some of the ideas may seem idealistic, but where there is no vision, there is no progress. Consider how you may have felt about your "idealism" if you'd been a slave longing for freeedom that you thought could never be possible - or a woman at the turn of the 20th century, still without a vote.

If successful, the Network will have the tremendous power of the Spirit behind it - the human spirit as well as the voice of mystery that most of us human beings have been hearing for thousands of years. Let's see the two-issued-wonders - the falsely pious Bush-hugging Jerry Falwellians and the "I've got to make the Supreme Court change the overwhelming majority's values because they're not mine" Michael Newdowians try to beat the voice of love and caring that comes straight from the human heart.

I was at the conference in Washington, D.C. last week, and so was Peter Rothenberg. By reading his brief article at the Nation this week, I can see that he has a much better handle on the topic.

* cross posted at American Street

Politics, Network of Spiritual Progressives

I See Things When I Look at Clouds

I See Things When I Look at Clouds

Tonight I saw a bird - or a butterfly, perhaps.

This is so weird (for lack of a better word). Anonymoses saw something completely different when he put the photos to the test of shading (the photos were not altered otherwise). Who is this mysterious man? (Note his deep-set eyes; his beard...)

The cloud was hovering directly over a watchfire pile at a Memorial Day commemoration last evening.
(Twilight Zone theme plays here)

Syracuse Memorial Day Watchfire

Syracuse Memorial Day Watchfire

In American history, a watchfire was a fire lit by troops so that stray soldiers could find their way home from battle.

In Syracuse, a watchfire is annually sponsored by Central New York Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 103. This year was the 19th year for the local event and the 12th year that the watchfire was held at the New York State fairgrounds. The organizers say that the light from the blaze symbolizes the memory of soldiers who never found their way home.

The preparations are many and the watchfire is almost ready to be lit. Thousands of spectators wait on lawn chairs until darkness falls.

Patriotic songs are sung.

A U.S. Navy veteran just after he'd thrown his flag up to the pyre to be burned.

Honorary devotions are posted at the base of the pyre.

The watchfire begins.

A veteran gives a final salute to the flags being burned.

Local Democratic candidates Chris Fowler (121st NYS Assembly District), Dan Maffei (running for U.S. Congress, 25th District), and Al Stirpe (121st NYS Assembly District) with wife Chele and daughter.

Below are photos of Siri Iamsakuldacha, 25, of Syracuse, N.Y. Siri served in the U.S. Army for five years, including a one-year tour of duty in Baghdad, Iraq with the U.S. 1st Armored Divison. Siri is now serving in the National Guard and serves at Military funerals. Siri was mentioned in this news article in 2003.


"Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect,
no ravages of time testify to the present
or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people
the cost of a free and undivided republic

-- General John Logan - May 5, 1868


Note: This post was mentioned today at the Daou Report/