Waiting for (Spiritual) Lefty

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Hamlet.jpgWhat’s the best word for describing the Religious Left today? Judging by the three-day conference organized by Michael Lerner’s Network of Spiritual Progressives starting tomorrow in Washington, the most charitable one I can come up with is “ambivalent.” Entitled “Creating ‘The Caring Society’: A Progressive Alternative to Tea Party Extremism and Corporate domination of American Politics and Culture,” the exercise seems like…well, first try to read through this stirring piece of promotional prose:

Support Obama to BE the Obama Americans Thought They Were Voting For & Resist the Corporate Takeover of America:

A Unique Strategy Conference Bringing together Religious and Spiritual
Progressives with Secular Liberals and Progressives in the Age of Obama to
explore strategies appropriate for the complexities of a period in which the
failures of the Democrats to present a coherent progressive vision and program
has created the space for the rise of a quasi-fascist and racist movement on
the Right that threatens to move all of American political discourse in violent
and destructive ways, and simultaneously to strengthen corporate dominance. We
will address strategy both in response to the immediate crisis of 2010, and
also in regard to building a long-term vision of the economic, spiritual, and
ethical dimensions of a democratic society that could re-inspire people to
fight for fundamental changes and societal transformation beyond the limits of
“inside-the-beltway pragmatism” and “being realistic” in
terms set by the corporate media.

Ah, the complexities, the complexities! ‘Twere better. perhaps, to paraphrase the Bard:

To be for Obama, or not to be–that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the soul to
The slings and arrows of outrageous pragmatism
Or to take up arms against a sea of realism
And by opposing end it…

The list of “speakers, presenters and workshop leaders” is not exactly star-studded, and includes only one prominent African-American pastor–former Riverside Church minister James Forbes. A Sunday demonstration in front of the White House will feature a memorial service for those who died in the Gaza flotilla fiasco. Whatever.

  • January

    I, too, was unimpressed with Rabbi Lerner’s efforts until I paid attention to its inclusiveness. “Star-studded” it may not be but principled it is.
    Lerner’s support of the Gaza War investigation’s critique of Israel earned him reprisals, presumably from American Zionists. Support of moderate American Islamists is not exactly a popular position these days for a rabbi or anyone else.
    Does “Spiritual Politics” have a position on the Israeli blockade? Your “whatever” spits into the wind. Wipe the … off your face before your next ridicule of a progressive struggle.