The Politics Of Meaning: Restoring Hope And Possibility In An Age Of Cynicism

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9780201479669: The Politics Of Meaning: Restoring Hope And Possibility In An Age Of Cynicism

Drawing both on religious traditions and the insights of psychotherapy, Michael Lerner here proposes and provides a detailed plan for a “politics of meaning” that would reshape our economic and political lives in the twenty-first century.Lerner, the editor of Tikkun magazine and a practicing psychotherapist, shows how liberals and progressives can reconstitute themselves as the pro-family and pro-values force in American society. They must, he argues, he argues, accept as legitimate Americans; hunger for meaning in their lives, which until now has led many to embrace the political Right.The Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal have described Lerner as “the guru of the White House,” and Rush Limbaugh has singled him out for lengthy attacks. Still, Lerner argues that even President Clinton and the Democrats have lost the nerve to pursue a true politics-of-meaning program.The author contends that we and our politician can no longer separate healing of the soul from healing of our political and social world. The selfishness and cynicism that is at the root of our spiritual and values crisis must itself be addressed to fix our “broken politics.” Unfortunately, out competitive market rewards precisely those narrow-minded qualities that lead us to treat others as means to our own narrow ends.The most obvious manifestation of this crisis is in the growing difficulties many Americans face sustaining their families and loving relationships, and in the increased crime and violence in our society. But just as corrosive, the author argues, is Americans’ growing willingness to accept as unchangeable, aspects of our economy and society that are in fact within our power to change—unemployment, environmental destruction, hunger, and homelessness.Michael Lerner’s book will be essential reading for the closing years of the twentieth century. At a moment in American history when public life feels increasingly debased and irrelevant, Lerner’s vision of a society based on caring for our soul and recognizing each other as infinitely precious offers a way of doing politics that no longer forces people to choose between their deepest spiritual longings and their desire to have impact on the world.

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Review:

Michael Lerner, former radical and crusading editor of the magazine of Jewish thought, Tikkun, has never lost his idealism. Until now Lerner has been promoting his ideas, dubbed "the politics of meaning," through his magazine and in lectures and workshops around the country. He won praise from Hillary Clinton, although that soured under media spotlight. This book lays out his analysis of America's spiritual emptiness, encouraging direct political action to enlarge the sense of community. He rejects both the right's profit-oriented bottom line and the left's splintering of society into minority rights ghettoes. Though his ideas are rooted in Judaism, his concept of God is broadly inclusive, and his critique is relevant to all Americans.

About the Author:

Michael Lerneris the editor of Tikkun magazine, and holds Ph.D.’s in philosophy and in clinical psychology. He is the author of Jewish Renewal: A Path to Healing and Transformation and, with Cornel West, of Jews and Blacks: Let the Healing Begin. He is rabbi of Beyt Tikkun synagogue in San Francisco.

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