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Archive for the ‘ESRA’ Category



Interdependence Day Celebration

Jul2

by: on July 2nd, 2015 | 5 Comments »

Credit: Creative Commons / epicfireworks.com/blog

[The article below gives advice on how anyone anywhere can transform the U.S. "Independence Day" celebrations July 4 into Interdependence Day, and why you should! Now, if you happen to be in the SF Bay area, or even anywhere in northern California on July 3rd, we can also invite you to Rabbi Michael Lerner's vegetarian pot-luck celebration this evening of Interdependence Day, followed for those who might be interested, in a Jewish Renewal style Shabbat celebration. You don't have to be Jewish to attend either of these or both, and the only cost to you is to bring a main course vegetarian dish to share.

It's at 951 Cragmont Ave, Berkeley, a few doors south of where Cragmont intersects Marin, one block east of where Marin intersects Spruce St. from 6:30-8:30 p.m.

We will have a vegetarian pot-luck and celebrate inter-dependence day by recognizing our interconnection will all beings and transcending narrow nationalist themes sometimes attached toJuly 4th, but also celebrating what is good and valuable in the USA. Since Shabbat starts so late in the summer, we'll eat first and celebrate interdependence.

Bring your favorite poems, songs, dances, and musical instruments that somehow connect to our emphasis on the interdependence of all of us with all other people on the planet, and our interdependence with the Earth. At 8:30 p.m.we will light Shabbat candles and do the Jewish Renewal Shabbat celebration.]

July 4th

Faced with July 4th celebrations that are focused on militarism, ultra-nationalism, and “bombs bursting in air,” many American families who do not share those values turn July 4th into another summer holiday focused on picnics, sports and fireworks while doing their best to avoid the dominant rhetoric and bombast.

We in the Network of Spiritual Progressives believe that this is a net loss. There is much worth celebrating in American history that deserves attention on July 4th, though it is rarely the focus of the public events.

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Jewish Beliefs About GMOs

Jun11

by: Robyn Purchia on June 11th, 2015 | 1 Comment »

A beautiful green field of wheat.
Credit: Flickr / Miran Rijave.

Like most environmental issues, the growing supply of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in food raises many concerns. Although GMO crops can feed more people, they also put people’s health at risk and degrade the environment. Small farmers can make more money growing and selling more crops, but buying GMO seeds gives corporations a lot of power over these small farmers. Along with these ethical concerns, religious groups must also wrestle with the theological issues GMOs raise.

When religion tries to apply ancient texts to modern technology there is rarely a clear answer. Application of Jewish laws and ethical traditions has burdened the GMO debate with numerous contradictions. In figuring out Jewish beliefs on GMOs we may be left with only one theological question: Can humans make God’s creation more perfect?

Jewish Law as it Applies to GMOs

Consistent with the principle that anything not expressly prohibited by God is permitted, Jewish law, or halacha, generally takes a permissive position on GMO food. But just because halacha doesn’t expressly prohibit GMO food, doesn’t mean it’s entirely silent on the issue.

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Right or Wrong? Climate Change

Jun1

by: David Morgan on June 1st, 2015 | No Comments »

Some people claim, “Environmentalism is just another religion” to rebut people who link climate change to human activity. What about organizations such as Jesus People Against Pollution, which cite Scripture? Are their views grounded in the Bible?

I have no doubt organizations that support environmentalism can find strong scriptural foundations. Care for creation is embedded in the creation accounts of Genesis and in Christians’ responsibility to care for the marginalized in society. I have addressed this subject in earlier “Right or Wrong?” articles titled “Building ‘green’” and “Going green.”

Oil refineries and their smokestacks emitting greenhouse gases at twilight.

Credit: CreativeCommons / Kris Krüg.


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Channeling Our Passions Into Effective Action

May28

by: on May 28th, 2015 | 1 Comment »

I recently had the honor, with Rabbi Michael Lerner, of speaking with over 20 amazing leaders, activists, authors and others about how we can build a politics of love and justice and a world based on these values.

As the executive director of the Network of Spiritual Progressives (NSP), members often tell me they can imagine what a better world would look like – one that judges the efficacy and rationality of our institutions, not on how much profit they earn, but that they treat living creatures and the earth with the dignity and respect that we all deserve. Yet, many folks feel disheartened that this notion is not often discussed in popular media or that there isn’t a successful political party championing our shared values. These individuals have turned to the NSP because they want to be a part of a movement that holds that realizing this world is not simply naïve idealism, but, in fact, is realistic if we work towards making it so.

As with any movement, it’s important to glean wisdom and turn to those who are leaders in their own right for inspiration. The speakers in this series offered a profound sense of hope as well as real-world steps for action, which deeply resonated with the summit’s attendees. One of the participants told me that the calls had instilled in her a sense of inspiration and excitement she had not felt for years and did not expect to feel again.

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Revolution: The Network of Spiritual Progressives Newsletter, May 2015

May19

by: on May 19th, 2015 | Comments Off

Revolution: The Network of Spiritual Progressives Newsletter, May 2015

Politics of Love and Justice Summit

It all begins tomorrow! If you haven’t yet registered for the NSP’s upcoming virtual summit called The Politics of Love and Justice: Integrating Spirituality and Activism to Build a Sustainable and Caring World, then please make sure to do so now! It’s FREE for all to tune in live during the event or to listen for 48 hours after the broadcast. Plus, if you’re a paid member of the NSP, we’re gifting you a complimentary downloadable upgrade of the entire event so you can listen at your leisure. Not yet a member but want to take advantage of this amazing gift, you can join here.

We’re so thrilled to be able to share with you 15 different conversations with over 25 different people, including Marianne Williamson, David Korten, Charles Eisenstein, Rev. angel Kyodo Williams and so many more amazing change makers, thinkers and community leaders. Click here to learn more about our presenters.

I truly hope you’ll participate in this summit. We know that you’re already interested in how we focus the values and energies we have as spiritual progressives into real world activism and these talks are designed to do just that. So if you’re looking for something that’s interesting, informative, and filled with a lot of heart then please join us!

Register for free!

Happenings from Chapters

We are so excited by the outpouring of enthusiasm and support we’ve received as of late and the interest in building chapters and connections with others who share our vision. If you would like to start a chapter or project where you live, please click here to read our Starter Guide and then join our monthly calls — see below for details.

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Integrating Spirituality and Activism – How to Change the World

May13

by: on May 13th, 2015 | 1 Comment »

If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, what am I? If not now, when?- Rabbi Hillel, Pirke Avot 1:14

Our world is riddled with tragedies: the epidemic of killings by police in the U.S. of African Americans, boats capsizing with hundreds of The Politics of Love and Justice Summitpeople fleeing war-torn countries in search of security, safety and well-being, children dying from illnesses stemming from malnutrition at alarming rates, women and girls being raped as victims of wars, and the list goes on. As spiritual seekers we desperately yearn for a day when peace and nonviolence, love and care, kindness and generosity as well as a deep connection with the sacred in one another and with the creative force of the universe reign.

Many of us, in our despair, turn to spiritual guidance and practices to soothe our pain and find solace. Feeling powerless to impact the enormity of the problem and recognizing that social change efforts often lack deep spiritual integration and wisdom, we instead decide to focus our energies on our inner work rather than align ourselves with larger social change movements. We find comfort in the belief that personal transformation alone can and will result in societal transformation.


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The Environmental and Social Responsibility Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

Apr22

by: on April 22nd, 2015 | 2 Comments »

It’s time to sweep aside all the illusions:

*That the national environmental organizations have a secret plan to save the environment but just haven’t told us yet

*That local acts of environmental sanity in a few dozen urban areas will make a dent on the global degradation of the life-support-system of the planet

*That “new technologies” will solve the problem

*That individual acts of recycling and “conscious consumerism” will change what is being produced

*That good guy corporate leaders will eventually turn around the massive impact that global corporations have been having in undermining Nature’s balance

*That political sanity will prevail if only we get a new president (remember when you thought that about Obama? Are you now thinking it will happen with Hillary?)

Illusion after illusion after illusion.

We are up against a global economic and political system that has only gotten worse and worse over the course of the 45 years since Earth Day 1970. Consciousness has grown, small battles have been won, and the people who worked so hard on both fronts deserve our commendation. But don’t deceive yourself: the situation of the planet has gotten worse and worse, and it will continue to do so until we have a movement capable of fundamentally changing our economic and political system.

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The Politics of Extinction: An Introduction to the Most Beautiful Animal You’ll Never See

Mar19

by: William deBuys on March 19th, 2015 | Comments Off

Maybe baby steps will help, but the world needs a lot more than what either the United States or China is offering to combat the illegal traffic in wildlife, a nearly $20-billion-a-year business that adds up to a global war against nature. As the headlines tell us, the trade has pushed various rhinoceros species to the point of extinction and motivated poachers to kill more than 100,000 elephants since 2010.

Last month China announced that it would ban ivory imports for a year, while it “evaluates” the effectiveness of the ban in reducing internal demand for ivory carvings on the current slaughter of approximately 100 African elephants per day. The promise, however, rings hollow following a report in November (hotly denied by China) that Chinese diplomats used President Xi Jinping’s presidential plane to smuggle thousands of pounds of poached elephant tusks out of Tanzania.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration has launched its own well-meaning but distinctly inadequate initiative to curb the trade. Even if you missed the roll-out of that policy, you probably know that current trends are leading us toward a planetary animal dystopia, a most un-Disneyesque world in which the great forests and savannas of the planet will bid farewell to the species earlier generations referred to as their “royalty.” No more King of the Jungle, while Dorothy’s “Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!” will truly be over the rainbow. And that’s just for starters.


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The Militarists and Haters Win in Israeli Elections

Mar18

by: on March 18th, 2015 | 3 Comments »

Winners: Netanyahu, AIPAC, U.S. Republican Party, Sheldon Adelson (American Jewish billionaire funder of the right), Hamas, Islamic State, the right-wing Mullahs in Iran.

Losers: Israeli, World Jewry, the Palestinian people, the forces for peace and non-violence everywhere, the Palestinian Authority, the people of Iran, the people of the U.S.

According to Israeli newspapers reporting on the outcome of the Israeli election on Tuesday, Likud increased its lead in the next Knesset of 120 members. It will now hold 30 Knesset seats, compared to the Zionist Union (former Labor Party) with 24 seats. As the front runner, Netanyahu will be asked to create the government coalition.

The Joint List of Palestinian Israelis, the third-largest party, gets fourteen seats, followed by Yesh Atid with eleven, Kulanu with ten, Habayit Hayehudi (ultra right) with eight, Shas with seven, United Torah Judaism with six, Yisrael Beiteinu (fascist right) with six, and Meretz (once the peace party) with four.

Though the Israeli president has said he will ask for a government of national unity, it will be unity around the policies which Netanyahu put out clearly in the last days of the election: No Palestinian state, no deal that would allow Iran to develop nuclear energy, no willingness to count Arab Israelis as “real Israelis” (Netanyahu went so far as to warn the Israeli public that they were in danger because Arab Israelis had formed a Joint List and might become a real force in the Knesset unless the Jewish Israelis rallied around Netanyahu’s Likud party).

How can the right wing grow to so much power in an Israel filled with mostly decent human beings, some of whom have even been influenced by Judaism’s teachings of love for neighbor and love for “the other,” though of course most Israelis are secular?

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At the March for Real Climate Leadership with the Network of Spiritual Progressives and Beyt Tikkun

Feb13

by: Meaghan Kachadoorian on February 13th, 2015 | 1 Comment »

People wearing yellow shirts holding their hands up at a protest.

The March for Real Climate Leadership drew thousands of people to downtown Oakland to support a ban on fracking in California. Credit: Meaghan Kachadoorian

On the weekend after the driest January in recorded history, the Network of Spiritual Progressives partnered with student, labor, and community organizations for the March for Real Climate Leadership. Thousands marched through Oakland to highlight California’s climate crisis and call on Governor Jerry Brown to ban fracking in California.

Before marching to the convergence place at Lake Merritt, indigenous groups came together in song and prayer, high school student groups demanded a habitable planet for their generation and generations to come, and an intergenerational commitment to a more equitable world filled the air at the Frank Ogawa Plaza in front of Oakland City Hall.

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