I just submitted this workshop description for the NHC Summer Institute:
Don't Think of an Elephant: How Can Liberal Jews Express Our Values?
In his book Don't Think of an Elephant!, cognitive linguist George Lakoff writes about how conservatives have dominated American political discourse by framing the debate with terms like "right to life" and "tax relief", so that even when liberals argue against these positions, they are still arguing within the conservatives' frames. In this workshop, we will look at Lakoff's ideas and extend them to intra-Jewish religious discourse: every time a liberal Jew says "I'm not shomer shabbat [Shabbat-observant] -- I light candles after sundown and then drive to synagogue," s/he is allowing a particular Jewish ideology to define "shomer shabbat" even if s/he rejects this ideology for him/herself. We will look at the cognitive frames that are common, and then brainstorm new frames by which liberal Jews of all types can express their values positively rather than negatively.