Tuesday, May 03, 2005

The Religious Left

The Rockridge Institute, along with a coalition of religious and other organizations, is hosting an online conference on Spiritual Progressives: A Dialogue on Values and Building a Movement, from May 9-20. It's free to register! In the Jewish realm, the hosts include Rabbis Michael Lerner and David Saperstein so far.

From the conference's description:
Religious fundamentalists have become a dominant voice in American politics—so much so that the word “religion” has become synonymous with the conservative political perspective. Because of this perception the progressive movement has been reluctant to embrace religion of any stripe, seeing it as counter to values such as compassion, freedom and trust.

Progressivism, in general, has not recognized the millions of Americans who possess a strong and vibrant faith that complements their progressive political views. The voices of these Americans have yet to be heard in significant numbers. The Spiritual Progressives conference is a step towards a remedy.

This is long overdue.

Part of the Rockridge Institute's work is in reframing the public debate. I am planning to lead a workshop at this year's NHC Summer Institute in which we will look at the ideas in George Lakoff's book Don't Think of An Elephant and brainstorm ways that progressive Jews can apply these ideas to intra-Jewish religious discourse (in addition to political discourse).

1 comment:

  1. Good for you on the workshop.

    In the current media climate, what's probably needed is a strong and unified push from religious progressives to revoke the sweetheart lease the entire "religious values" concept to conservative nutjobs.

    The challenge for me is to figure out how to reframe language in a way that doesn't seem condescending (you bleeping idiots?! how can you possibly think that only gay-bashers understand family values?!).

    Of course in a broader sense I wish that the media could present values, morals, and ethics as something that people come to from different perspectives, and that you really can have a strong sense of values without being religious. But of course nonreligious types are unlikely to ever organize enough to frame language, so I'm rooting for an ecumenicalism broad enough to provide cover.

    I'd settle as a sign of progress for the media to stop overtly making fun of atheists (cf. Michael Newdow) while reporting Dobson with a (mostly) straight face.