Synopses & Reviews
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.
"Named one of Utne's 100 American Visionaries, Rabbi Lerner, editor of Tikkun magazine, delivers an ambitious proposal called a 'Spiritual Covenant with America.' Before detailing his plan, he provides an extensive survey of American history and ideology, rife with examples of dominant and controlling attributes favored by those on the right (the 'right hand of God') who believe in a frightening world replete with evil and ruled by an avenging God. This contrasts with what he considers the loving, kind and generous tendencies of those at the 'left hand of God,' who instead believe in a compassionate and merciful deity. These delineations occur on both sides of the political aisle and not solely within one religion. Rabbi Lerner addresses both the 'intolerant and militaristic' tactics of the political right and the 'visionless...often spiritually empty' tenets of the political left with an even hand. His vision of a country devoid of poverty, homelessness, unemployment and uninsured citizens comes with an actual blueprint, in which Americans rededicate themselves to traditional values of love, kindness, respect and responsibility. Unfortunately, the rays of hope delivered in this impassioned proposal are buried in an often rambling and repetitive dialogue that may alienate those most likely to respond." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"A highly decent and challenging critique." Kirkus Reviews
"Just sharing these profound ideas that Lerner presents in such an accessible manner is itself a great contribution you could make to healing our country." Cornel West, author of Democracy Matters: Winning the Fight Against Imperialism
"Lerner's needed voice for progressive spirituality will find resonance across many faith traditions. I'm deeply grateful for his work." Brian McLaren, author of A New Kind of Christian
"An enormously important book
practical steps we can take to launch a spiritual revolution and save this beautiful planet." Robert Thurman
"The blueprint for the next stage in the spiritual development of our planet." Deepak Chopra
"Lerner is a rare voice of sanity and intelligence in a nation where our moral values have been corrupted..." Howard Zinn
"An insightful, inspiring book by Rabbi Lerner that can put America back on track." Arun Gandhi, president, M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence
The unholy alliance of the Political Right and 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.
In the past few decades, the Republicans have achieved political dominance by forging a union with a Religious Right that provided a sanctimonious veneer to policies that help 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 the global competitive marketplace, and then laments the moral crisis when the values that people have learned all day in the world of work gets carried home into personal life and contributes to family instability and a culture of loneliness. Enter the Religious Right with nurturing communities for the faithful and a culture that blames liberals, activist judges, and all secular people for the moral and spiritual emptiness so many Americans experience. The Left, on the other hand, 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 is at the core of American politics.
About the Author
Rabbi Michael Lerner is an internationally renowned social theorist, theologian, psychotherapist, and the editor of Tikkun magazine. He earned a Ph.D 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.