Left Hand of God, The: Healing America’s Political and Spiritual Crisis

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9780061146626: Left Hand of God, The: Healing America’s Political and Spiritual Crisis

The unholy alliance of the Political Right and the Religious Right threatens to destroy the America we love. It also threatens to generate a popular aversion to God and religion by identifying religious values with a pro-war, pro-business, pro-rich, anti-science, and anti-environmental stance.

Over the past few decades, the Republicans have achieved political dominance by forging a union with the Religious Right. This marriage has provided a sanctimonious veneer for policies that have helped the rich get richer while ignoring the needs of the middle class and the poor, dismantling environmental and civil liberties protections, and seeking global domination. The Right champions the materialism and ruthless selfishness promoted by unrestrained capitalism and then laments the moral crises of family instability and loneliness experienced by people who bring these commercial values into their homes and personal lives. In response, the Religious Right offers insular communities for the faithful and a culture that blames liberals, activist judges, homosexuals, independent women, and all secular people for the moral and spiritual emptiness so many Americans experience.

Yet, however distorted both the Right's analysis and its solutions to America's spiritual crisis may be, it wins allegiance by addressing the human hunger for a life with some higher purpose. The Left, by contrast, remains largely tone-deaf to the spiritual needs of the American people. It is the yearning for meaning in life, not just the desire for money or power, that lies at the core of American politics.

Addressing the central mystery of contemporary politics -- why so many Americans vote against their own economic interests -- The Left Hand of God provides an invaluable, timely, and blunt critique of the current state of faith in government. Lerner challenges the Left to give up its deeply held fear of religion and to distinguish between a domination-oriented, Right-Hand-of-God tradition and a more compassionate and hope-oriented Left-Hand-of-God worldview. Further, Lerner describes the ways that Democrats have misunderstood and alienated significant parts of their potential constituency. To succeed again, Lerner argues, the Democratic Party must rethink its relationship to God, champion a progressive spiritual vision, reject the old bottom line that promotes the globalization of selfishness, and deal head-on with the very real spiritual crisis that many Americans experience every day.

Lerner presents a vision that incorporates and then goes far beyond contemporary liberal and progressive politics. He argues for a new bottom line in our economy, schools, and government. This is a fundamentally fresh approach, one that takes spiritual needs seriously in our economic and political lives. Presenting an eight-point progressive spiritual covenant with America, Lerner provides a blueprint for how the Democratic Party can effectively challenge the Right and position itself to win the White House and Congress. By appealing to religious, secular, and spiritual but not necessarily religious people, The Left Hand of God blazes a trail that could change our world and reclaim America from the Religious Right.

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About the Author:

Rabbi Michael Lerner is an internationally renowned social theorist, theologian, psychotherapist, and the editor of Tikkun magazine. He earned a PhD in philosophy from the University of California, Berkeley, and in clinical psychology from the Wright Institute. Lerner is rabbi of Beyt Tikkun synagogue, which meets in San Francisco and Berkeley.

From The Washington Post:

Two years ago, Thomas Frank's blockbuster What's the Matter with Kansas? posed a question: Why do so many blue- collar conservatives vote for Republicans at the expense of their own economic interests? Liberals everywhere immediately responded with vigorous head-nodding. Although Frank made a few stabs at answering his question -- Democrats haven't taken seriously parental concerns about our garish popular culture, and some conservatives favor cultural issues over economic well-being -- his frequent references to these Americans as "deranged" (eight times in the first chapter alone) implied that the real solution was to cure their irrational behavior. Fortunately, Michael Lerner has weighed in with another take on the question in The Left Hand of God: Taking Back Our Country From the Religious Right (HarperSanFrancisco). A social thinker with impeccable liberal credentials -- he's a Berkeley-based rabbi, sometime Hillary Rodham Clinton guru and the editor of Tikkun magazine -- Lerner has studied this question for three decades while conducting psychotherapy research. He's concluded that America is in the midst of a "real spiritual crisis," one that has been recognized and exploited -- but not solved -- by the Republican Party. For the first half of the book, Lerner diagnoses the symptoms and causes of this crisis and argues that "the search for meaning in a despiritualized world ... leads many people to right-wing religious communities" and politics. Among the thousands of people Lerner and his colleagues have interviewed, some common concerns surfaced time and again: eroding societal values, America's troubling emphasis on money and greed, unstable families, the attempt to place monetary value on everyone and everything, and spiritual isolation. Right-wing religious institutions appeal to these concerns by providing communities of comfort and instructions on how to change this status quo; right-wing politicians promise to fix the problem by imposing their own solutions. No wonder voters of modest means are attracted. But as Lerner expertly details, the proffered solutions don't eliminate the concerns so much as they trade on their political value. Concerned about unstable families? Just outlaw gay marriage. Worried about popular culture? Impeach those activist judges. And it's there, he argues, that liberals have the opportunity to craft a progressive "Spiritual Covenant with America," a blueprint that composes the second half of the book. From economic to family to national security issues, Lerner outlines a politics of meaning that connects traditional liberal values to what have been inaccurately defined as conservative concerns. The Left Hand of God is ambitious, sprawling and sometimes rambling, but it serves the vital purpose of articulating a progressive religious alternative to the conservative flavor of religion that has dominated American politics and society for the past 30 years. -- Amy Sullivan

The Politics of Meaning
Copyright 2006, The Washington Post. All Rights Reserved.

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Book Description HarperCollins Publishers Inc, United States, 2007. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Revised ed.. Language: English . Brand New Book. The unholy alliance of the Political Right and the Religious Right threatens to destroy the America we love. It also threatens to generate a popular aversion to God and religion by identifying religious values with a pro-war, pro-business, pro-rich, anti-science, and anti-environmental stance. Over the past few decades, the Republicans have achieved political dominance by forging a union with the Religious Right. This marriage has provided a sanctimonious veneer for policies that have helped the rich get richer while ignoring the needs of the middle class and the poor, dismantling environmental and civil liberties protections, and seeking global domination. The Right champions the materialism and ruthless selfishness promoted by unrestrained capitalism and then laments the moral crises of family instability and loneliness experienced by people who bring these commercial values into their homes and personal lives. In response, the Religious Right offers insular communities for the faithful and a culture that blames liberals, activist judges, homosexuals, independent women, and all secular people for the moral and spiritual emptiness so many Americans experience. Yet, however distorted both the Right s analysis and its solutions to America s spiritual crisis may be, it wins allegiance by addressing the human hunger for a life with some higher purpose. The Left, by contrast, remains largely tone-deaf to the spiritual needs of the American people. It is the yearning for meaning in life, not just the desire for money or power, that lies at the core of American politics.Addressing the central mystery of contemporary politics -- why so many Americans vote against their own economic interests -- The Left Hand of God provides an invaluable, timely, and blunt critique of the current state of faith in government. Lerner challenges the Left to give up its deeply held fear of religion and to distinguish between a domination-oriented, Right-Hand-of-God tradition and a more compassionate and hope-oriented Left-Hand-of-God worldview. Further, Lerner describes the ways that Democrats have misunderstood and alienated significant parts of their potential constituency. To succeed again, Lerner argues, the Democratic Party must rethink its relationship to God, champion a progressive spiritual vision, reject the old bottom line that promotes the globalization of selfishness, and deal head-on with the very real spiritual crisis that many Americans experience every day.Lerner presents a vision that incorporates and then goes far beyond contemporary liberal and progressive politics. He argues for a new bottom line in our economy, schools, and government. This is a fundamentally fresh approach, one that takes spiritual needs seriously in our economic and political lives. Presenting an eight-point progressive spiritual covenant with America, Lerner provides a blueprint for how the Democratic Party can effectively challenge the Right and position itself to win the White House and Congress. By appealing to religious, secular, and spiritual but not necessarily religious people, The Left Hand of God blazes a trail that could change our world and reclaim America from the Religious Right. Bookseller Inventory # AAR9780061146626

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Book Description HarperCollins Publishers Inc, United States, 2007. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Revised ed.. Language: English . Brand New Book. The unholy alliance of the Political Right and the Religious Right threatens to destroy the America we love. It also threatens to generate a popular aversion to God and religion by identifying religious values with a pro-war, pro-business, pro-rich, anti-science, and anti-environmental stance. Over the past few decades, the Republicans have achieved political dominance by forging a union with the Religious Right. This marriage has provided a sanctimonious veneer for policies that have helped the rich get richer while ignoring the needs of the middle class and the poor, dismantling environmental and civil liberties protections, and seeking global domination. The Right champions the materialism and ruthless selfishness promoted by unrestrained capitalism and then laments the moral crises of family instability and loneliness experienced by people who bring these commercial values into their homes and personal lives. In response, the Religious Right offers insular communities for the faithful and a culture that blames liberals, activist judges, homosexuals, independent women, and all secular people for the moral and spiritual emptiness so many Americans experience. Yet, however distorted both the Right s analysis and its solutions to America s spiritual crisis may be, it wins allegiance by addressing the human hunger for a life with some higher purpose. The Left, by contrast, remains largely tone-deaf to the spiritual needs of the American people. It is the yearning for meaning in life, not just the desire for money or power, that lies at the core of American politics.Addressing the central mystery of contemporary politics -- why so many Americans vote against their own economic interests -- The Left Hand of God provides an invaluable, timely, and blunt critique of the current state of faith in government. Lerner challenges the Left to give up its deeply held fear of religion and to distinguish between a domination-oriented, Right-Hand-of-God tradition and a more compassionate and hope-oriented Left-Hand-of-God worldview. Further, Lerner describes the ways that Democrats have misunderstood and alienated significant parts of their potential constituency. To succeed again, Lerner argues, the Democratic Party must rethink its relationship to God, champion a progressive spiritual vision, reject the old bottom line that promotes the globalization of selfishness, and deal head-on with the very real spiritual crisis that many Americans experience every day.Lerner presents a vision that incorporates and then goes far beyond contemporary liberal and progressive politics. He argues for a new bottom line in our economy, schools, and government. This is a fundamentally fresh approach, one that takes spiritual needs seriously in our economic and political lives. Presenting an eight-point progressive spiritual covenant with America, Lerner provides a blueprint for how the Democratic Party can effectively challenge the Right and position itself to win the White House and Congress. By appealing to religious, secular, and spiritual but not necessarily religious people, The Left Hand of God blazes a trail that could change our world and reclaim America from the Religious Right. Bookseller Inventory # AAR9780061146626

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