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Old November 15th, 2010, 07:38 PM   #1
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What the World Needs is a Spiritual Left

Today, sadly, it’s the religious right, the fascist fundamentalists who are out there politically “witnessing” to their faith and boldly getting in the face of society on a variety of issues. It hasn’t always been this way, no, religion isn’t always a reactionary force for bigotry and the status quo. There’ve been plenty of times throughout history when religion has instead given strength to revolutionary movements for social progress and justice. For example, during the Civil Rights Movement in the United States it was clergymen such as Martin Luther King who provided leadership and inspiration, and they did so out of their spiritually-grounded sense of justice.

But we live in a different day and age, with a different climate of attitudes, beliefs, and politics. The fact that the US has had a couple of Democrats in the Oval Office notwithstanding, since the Regan era the conservatives and the evangelical extremists who’ve infected the Republican Party with their ultrazealousness have been and remain in the catbird seat of American political life. As a result the impression that perhaps most people today have of religion and its adherents is unflattering. The popular image of religious folks held by non-religious people is that of socially conservative, rigidly traditional, self-righteous, judgy, and intolerant dogmatists.

Overcoming this unbeautiful image will take time and hard work, but religion is not inherently an uptight and cruel mind-set and when the public is reminded of this they’ll eventually come around to a more positive opinion of those of us who practice a spiritual worldview. This is why it’s so essential for religious men and women of the socially progressive, flexible, non-judgmental, and accepting variety to speak up and act up more against the holy rollers of hate who anchor their mean-spirited attitudes in their medieval theology. We need to show by our words and political stances and deeds that not all religionists are Pat Robertsons and Glenn Becks. That the born-again likes of George Bush and Mike Huckabee most certainly do not represent all people who are both politically involved and followers of a spiritual path.

That the public comes to know that religion can be a source of positive energy in politics is important not merely for the redemption of the image of theists, it’s crucial for the socio-economic and ecological salvation of our society.

The hallelujah hard-liners of the right-wing are God-bent on policies that are taking us collectively in the direction of an ironically unspiritual and apocalyptic future. If the pious private-enterprisers of the GOP have their druthers we’ll end up with a global economic system that divides humanity into billionaires and peons, with no other classes in between. If these Bible-thumping friends of big business continue to carry the day our semblance of a democracy will completely give way to a full-blown corporatocracy. And that corporatocracy will continue to irresponsibly practice godless capitalism until the worst case scenario of global warming is upon us and mankind finds itself facing hell on Earth.

So no, it’s not hyperbole to say that it’s imperative that the spiritual left begin to steal some of the thunder of the religious right. And no, secularism isn’t a safer and saner alternative to mixing religion and politics. If you think that the Inquisition and the Crusades discredit religion and its ability to progressively guide public policy, well, then all the off-the-scale murder and mayhem motivated by the materialistic worldviews of the twentieth century should completely put to shame the idea that we can count on the separation of church and state, on secular politics as usual to save us from our doom.

Yes, in the course of a single century, the 20th, irreligious leaders and political systems caused more loss of human life than all the witch hunters, jihadists, and other blood-shedding believers in all of recorded history. Of the estimated 284,638,000 people killed in man’s history 151,491,000 were killed in just the last century, despite the fact that it was the most rational and secular of centuries. Well, if you doubt these figures simply calculate the enormous number of humans whose lives were cut short by the greed of capitalism, tally the death toll of Stalin and Mao, add up the innocent victims of the Nazis, and then lump the number you get together with the millions who died in all the immoral wars fought by Western and totalitarian powers and you get a number that well exceeds the body count of religion.

And no, secular governments haven’t racked up higher kill rates merely because modern technology makes it easier to perpetrate mass slaughter. People with no sense of the sacred, and of the sanctity of life seem to be naturally more merciless, destructive, and kill-crazy. Secular ideologies, such as capitalism, are simply devoid of the values that humanize us. People raised on the anti-values of morally bankrupt capitalism often have little concept of why they should trouble themselves to show compassion to their neighbor, let alone an enemy. And the same holds true for indoctrinees of the other isms. For this reason secularism is not going to rescue us from the terror of history and create a “kinder and gentler” tomorrow.

If we’re to have any realistic hope of evolving a more livable, loving, equitable, just, and all-around ethically noble society we definitely need to rediscover the spiritual dimension of life, and the religious feeling for the brighter side of our human nature. We therefore need to take religion back from the fundamentalists and sanctimonious conservatives, to once again show that people don’t have to choose between religious rightists and godless liberals, that there is a spiritual left with an alternative take on how to solve our world’s problems and build a united and sustainable global village. In other words, it’s high time for the religious left to stand up and make itself count.



Last edited by charleslb; November 15th, 2010 at 08:04 PM.
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Old November 19th, 2010, 03:56 AM   #2
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So basically you believe that if a church-goer is conservative they are bad, and if they are liberal they are good.
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Old November 22nd, 2010, 04:43 PM   #3
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The world has a spiritual left. They do not have a religious left. You know all those people who say they don't believe in organized religion but are deeply spiritual? That's them. The spiritual left.

Most of them are just full of crap. They adhere to religious values etc when they find it convenient and reject everything that they don't. They belong to the self-defined faith. It is pretty tedious and annoying. Especially when I point out that organized religions didn't give us Jonestown or Waco. Those were cults lead by deeply spiritual people who practiced the religion of self.

Quote:
Originally Posted by charleslb View Post
Today, sadly, it?s the religious right, the fascist fundamentalists who are out there politically ?witnessing? to their faith and boldly getting in the face of society on a variety of issues.
Provide a concrete example so this nebulous string of adjectives makes sense?

Quote:
Originally Posted by charleslb View Post
It hasn?t always been this way, no, religion isn?t always a reactionary force for bigotry and the status quo.
Where and what religions are a force for bigotry and the status quo?

Quote:
Originally Posted by charleslb View Post
There?ve been plenty of times throughout history when religion has instead given strength to revolutionary movements for social progress and justice.
Where it has been used to justify a political movement culminating in war brought by the "righteous"? Did you condemn this elsewhere? You seem to not mind the bit about war as much as which side it is used by.

Quote:
Originally Posted by charleslb View Post
For example, during the Civil Rights Movement in the United States it was clergymen such as Martin Luther King who provided leadership and inspiration, and they did so out of their spiritually-grounded sense of justice.
Very true. And in the mid 1800s Christianity was the force driving the anti-slavery movement. This fact has me curious why you think religion is a force for bigotry.

In any event, you're speaking to social justice not religion here. They are different things. You approve of religion when it is employed for political purposes... political purposes you approve of.

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Originally Posted by charleslb View Post
But we live in a different day and age, with a different climate of attitudes, beliefs, and politics.
That elected the first black President two years ago.

Quote:
Originally Posted by charleslb View Post
The fact that the US has had a couple of Democrats in the Oval Office notwithstanding, since the Regan era the conservatives and the evangelical extremists who?ve infected the Republican Party with their ultrazealousness have been and remain in the catbird seat of American political life.
These extremists, what have they accomplished that you regard as horrible?

The religious and social right have made zero headway on their main issue, abortion.

Organizatiosn like the Mral Majority and Christian Coalition are largely toothless (or dead)

Quote:
Originally Posted by charleslb View Post
As a result the impression that perhaps most people today have of religion and its adherents is unflattering. The popular image of religious folks held by non-religious people is that of socially conservative, rigidly traditional, self-righteous, judgy, and intolerant dogmatists.
Unsupported claim. Most Americans (75% iirc) self-identify as Christians. I doubt they hold the view you assign to them about themselves.

Quote:
Originally Posted by charleslb View Post
Overcoming this unbeautiful image will take time and hard work, but religion is not inherently an uptight and cruel mind-set and when the public is reminded of this they?ll eventually come around to a more positive opinion of those of us who practice a spiritual worldview. This is why it?s so essential for religious men and women of the socially progressive, flexible, non-judgmental, and accepting variety to speak up and act up more against the holy rollers of hate who anchor their mean-spirited attitudes in their medieval theology. We need to show by our words and political stances and deeds that not all religionists are Pat Robertsons and Glenn Becks. That the born-again likes of George Bush and Mike Huckabee most certainly do not represent all people who are both politically involved and followers of a spiritual path.

That the public comes to know that religion can be a source of positive energy in politics is important not merely for the redemption of the image of theists, it?s crucial for the socio-economic and ecological salvation of our society.

The hallelujah hard-liners of the right-wing are God-bent on policies that are taking us collectively in the direction of an ironically unspiritual and apocalyptic future. If the pious private-enterprisers of the GOP have their druthers we?ll end up with a global economic system that divides humanity into billionaires and peons, with no other classes in between. If these Bible-thumping friends of big business continue to carry the day our semblance of a democracy will completely give way to a full-blown corporatocracy. And that corporatocracy will continue to irresponsibly practice godless capitalism until the worst case scenario of global warming is upon us and mankind finds itself facing hell on Earth.

So no, it?s not hyperbole to say that it?s imperative that the spiritual left begin to steal some of the thunder of the religious right. And no, secularism isn?t a safer and saner alternative to mixing religion and politics. If you think that the Inquisition and the Crusades discredit religion and its ability to progressively guide public policy, well, then all the off-the-scale murder and mayhem motivated by the materialistic worldviews of the twentieth century should completely put to shame the idea that we can count on the separation of church and state, on secular politics as usual to save us from our doom.

Yes, in the course of a single century, the 20th, irreligious leaders and political systems caused more loss of human life than all the witch hunters, jihadists, and other blood-shedding believers in all of recorded history. Of the estimated 284,638,000 people killed in man?s history 151,491,000 were killed in just the last century, despite the fact that it was the most rational and secular of centuries. Well, if you doubt these figures simply calculate the enormous number of humans whose lives were cut short by the greed of capitalism, tally the death toll of Stalin and Mao, add up the innocent victims of the Nazis, and then lump the number you get together with the millions who died in all the immoral wars fought by Western and totalitarian powers and you get a number that well exceeds the body count of religion.

And no, secular governments haven?t racked up higher kill rates merely because modern technology makes it easier to perpetrate mass slaughter. People with no sense of the sacred, and of the sanctity of life seem to be naturally more merciless, destructive, and kill-crazy. Secular ideologies, such as capitalism, are simply devoid of the values that humanize us. People raised on the anti-values of morally bankrupt capitalism often have little concept of why they should trouble themselves to show compassion to their neighbor, let alone an enemy. And the same holds true for indoctrinees of the other isms. For this reason secularism is not going to rescue us from the terror of history and create a ?kinder and gentler? tomorrow.

If we?re to have any realistic hope of evolving a more livable, loving, equitable, just, and all-around ethically noble society we definitely need to rediscover the spiritual dimension of life, and the religious feeling for the brighter side of our human nature. We therefore need to take religion back from the fundamentalists and sanctimonious conservatives, to once again show that people don?t have to choose between religious rightists and godless liberals, that there is a spiritual left with an alternative take on how to solve our world?s problems and build a united and sustainable global village. In other words, it?s high time for the religious left to stand up and make itself count.



blah blah blah

You're suggesting that liberals embrace religion and spirituality in order to pursue political ends and condemn conservatives who have. You don't seem to have much problem arguing that what's good for the goose isn't good for the gander.
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Old November 27th, 2010, 02:33 PM   #4
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What the World Needs is a Spiritual Left

Is, IMO, spiritual freedom. That is to say, the freedom to be as spiritual (or not) as one sees fit without the arguing over who is right and who is wrong. Sadly, religion has helped eliminate that possibility.
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Old November 27th, 2010, 03:10 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by connermt View Post
Is, IMO, spiritual freedom. That is to say, the freedom to be as spiritual (or not) as one sees fit without the arguing over who is right and who is wrong. Sadly, religion has helped eliminate that possibility.
Why do you think this is so?

A founding American principle is in the establishment clause. We have no state religion. You are free to believe or not believe whatever you please and no one may legally coerce you otherwise. That pretty much defines religious (or spiritual) liberty to a T.

You may argue or not argue as much as you like. No one is forcing you to enter or stay out of a debate. That's what liberty looks like.
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