Here are two opinions on the impact of the political strategy of Rabbi Michael Lerner's Network of Spiritual Progressives. I agree 100% with Mr. Wakefield's word below. As a Christian I stand by the opinion that, without a vision, the people do perish. Justice and freedom perish. Sometimes it takes prophetic vision to not only inspire, but to make otherwise impossible ideas materialize in world that is well-known for wearing blinders. The angels of our better nature will always be the angels of our better nature.
I believe that Martin Edlund (whose words follow Mr. Wakefield's further below) is looking to the next election - perhaps 2008. That has its place, but if real change is ever going to come, it must come through prophetic vision.
Before the next elections it would profit the Democrats to take seriously some of Lerner's perceptive and creative ideas . Lerner understands that the secular left needs to tone down its hostility to religion and spirituality if it hopes to win elections in a country in which the vast majority of voters consider themselves religious. Wallis tells the story of a young man in Boston who told him at a book signing it was easier to come out as gay in Massachusetts than to come out as religious in the Democratic Party. Lerner now has his own story of the way religion is perceived along party lines. When a volunteer in the last election said he couldn't attend a Sunday morning meeting because he had to go to church, his committee chairman was confused. ``I thought you were a Democrat," he said.
Lerner hopes to change that perception, and this book is a good starting point.
I believe that Martin Edlund (at Slate) is tending to forget that the Network of Spiritual Progressives is a fledgling movement on its way to finding its strength from the grassroots-up and does not seek to counter the message of Reverend Jim Wallis. Mr. Edlund wrote:
[Rev.]Wallis has been a frequent adviser to the party since the 2004 election, and both [Sen.] Hillary Clinton and [Sen.]Barack Obama are scheduled to appear at his conference this week. During his event, by contrast, Lerner had to settle for a private, off-the-record meeting with Obama.
Regardless of the fact that it was over or under the radar, Senator Obama's words say more about spiritual unity than politics. I don't see any need to promote division between God-fearing, moral and ethical people, I resent Mr. Edlund's soft characterization of these Spritual Progrssives as sandal-wearing weirdos, and I disrespect politicians who act out of fear rather than conviction. Senator Obama was not afraid to say what he meant yesterday, and both Reverend Wallis and Rabbi Lerner wholeheartedly approved. Rabbi Lerner's Tikkun sent out an email yesterday about Obama's speech, saying:
Last month during the Spiritual Activism conference that brought 1,200 Spiritual Progressives to Washington, D.C. , Rabbi Michael Lerner met privately with U.S. Senator Barack Obama to discuss the NSP’s Spiritual Covenant with America and Lerner’s book The Left Hand of God: Taking Back our Country from the Religious Right. What he found was a remarkable level of shared ideas in relationship to the Network of Spiritual Progressives’ basic message.
I most deeply regret to see writers hoping to divide people of similar spirit and purpose. It calls to mind the lockstep Republicans in Congress who strategically seek to make the Democrats appear divided, when they are actually far more liberal thinkers in the public square, which leads to debate, innovation, and progress rather than stale lockstep conservatism.
The conference's Spiritual Covenant with America included more concrete proposals on everything from corporate responsibility to foreign policy and the environment. But its scattershot approach puzzled some attendees. I tagged along with one on a Capitol Hill visit at which he handed the list to his Congressman's staffers and urged them to "just pick one thing, I don't care what it is."
I was at the same conference that Mr. Edlund is speaking of, and I can understand the point in his article about the somewhat confusing nature of the visits to our Congresspeople. However, I have to say that the beauty behind the very idea of Spiritual Progressives meeting with their respective Congresspeople was to reinforce the idea that we citizens are the leaders that we've been waiting for. Make no mistake, many people came away from that conference with the knowledge and self-awareness surrounding their newfound empowerment.
...he [Rev. Wallis] must leave [Rabbi] Lerner behind.
I can't tell you how much I disagree with this statement. America's spiritual renewal and America's democracy will only be stronger because the people are unafraid to be the leaders they've waited for. In this day and age where so many religions are at war with one another, Rabbi Lerner needs Reverend Wallis and Reverend Wallis needs Rabbi Lerner. We need them, too - now more than ever. They are both decent, intelligent, and amazingly reverent men of God - great teachers both - and we are lucky to have their presence and help here on this earth.
Bush has no plan for victory because all of his neocon's plans went chaotically astray. Rest assured, though. Karl Rove will find a way to make shit shine.
General "Wave the White Flag" Casey agrees with most Democrats - let's get our troops out of Iraq on an intelligently steady-but-surely basis. Mr. Rove will still beat the "cut and run" drum.
If reason follows any of the arguments of the few Iraq War supporters that are left today, Iraq's new Prime Minister al-Maliki must look like a sniveling and cowardly little peacenik - a commie 'girlie man' who says, "Hey, evil killers, we can talk this out. Kumbayah. I'll let your crimes against these occupiers go if you'll just stop shooting at us. I'll even set a timetable. Come - let us love."
November's coming. Hurry, partisan rubber-stamp Republicans! Karl Rove's writing your flag-draped talking points as we speak. Prepare to wet your flabby lips and hope to reach empty heads. Here are your talking points, rubber-stampers. Get ready to let 'em fly....
Victory is ours. We got Saddam. We got Zarqawi. We've killed and captured evil terrorists, at home and abroad. After a series of democratic elections Iraq has a new democratic government. We brought the war straight to the terrorists instead of having to fight them here at home. Iraq is now free and democratic nation. Our troops have done their duty for democracy and freedom, and now they're coming home. We are stronger. We are more secure. We've made the world safer for democracy. Remember 9/11. Flag. Remember 9/11. Flag. Remember 9/11. Flag. Remember 9/11.
...even though there was never had a connection to the government of Iraq. Hundreds of thousands of people are unecessarily dead and the civic infrastructure of an entire country is destroyed... but who cares now? We "won." So take that win and shove it, you fucking Democrat rat bastards We are one united and strong nation, under God, indivisible.