President Obama is a political pragmatist and said so repeatedly throughout his 2008 campaign. Unfortunately, many of his supporters failed to understand the full meaning of that reality.
Stopping the tsunami requires every tool in our kit, even the choice of a timid and misguided plugger—whom we need to prod, push, and often militantly oppose—over the stoker. Plugging the leak opens up prospects that the people will mobilize rapidly from below and rebuild the levy while quieting the floodwaters.
As we confront the current election and the next four years, many progressives are reflecting upon how we reached this juncture and what role we should play moving forward. Given the partisan character of our country and the mixed results of the current administration, what are spiritual and religious progressives to do?
These online exclusives are freely accessible articles associated with Tikkun’s Fall 2012 special section on “America Beyond the 2012 Election”: Click on the titles below to read these articles. In addition, don’t miss the print issue’s ten subscriber-only articles on this topic: subscribe now to read them on the web (explore the table of contents) or order a single copy in the mail. America Beyond the 2012 Election
The Stoker and the Plugger
by Charles Derber
God Sucks as a Campaign Manager
by Greg Palast
They Must Call Us To Sacrifice: A Christian Perspective on the 2012 Election
by Don Shriver
Essays on Obama
The articles below are responses to the ideas presented in Gary Dorrien’s print article, “Obama in Question,” as well as in his book The Obama Question. Supporting Obama from the Left
by Sheila Davaney
The Moral Priority of the Common Good
by Frank Kirkpatrick
Core Beliefs and Pragmatism in Obama’s Politics
by Peter Paris
Politics and the Limits of Religious Optimism
by Anthony Pinn
On The Obama Question: A Black Womanist Response
by Eboni Marshall Turman
Practical Curiosity and Democratic Leadership
by Sharon Welch
I and my imaginary lover hover
above the roofs of the Jewish village. Above the courtyards, dairy barns, animal pens. Above the awnings of the chicken coops. Amid smells and clucking, cold air and wind
muss her imaginary hair, soft, colorful, flapping like cards. My love is not Jewish, she’s an urban girl, from the city of Tel Aviv,
giggling a pleasant and liberating laugh.
It took James H. Cone four weeks to write his first book, Black Theology and Black Power, a work surging with revolutionary expectation. It took him six years to write his latest work, The Cross and the Lynching Tree, a book of haunting sorrow and beauty.
The online exclusives below are freely accessible articles associated with Tikkun’s Fall 2012 special section on “Christianity Without the Cross?” — Click on the titles below to read these articles. In addition, don’t miss the print issue’s three subscriber-only articles on this topic, including Lawrence Swaim’s piece, “The Death of Christianity,” which started this lively debate: subscribe now to read them on the web (explore the table of contents) or order a single copy in the mail. A Call for Redemptive Rhetoric
by Mary Albert Darling
Legacies of the Cross and the Lynching Tree
by James Cone
Could the Christian Church Contend with a Living Jesus? by John Conger
Moving Beyond a Cross Fetish: The Empty Tomb and Creation Spirituality
by Matthew Fox
A New Symbol for Christianity
by Barbara Darling
Crucifixion and the Blues
by Lynice Pinkard
An Evolutionary Integral Understanding of the Cross
by Paul Smith
I am writing this by the bedside of my ninety-eight-year old mother, watching the life forces slowly ebb. It is a strange privilege, the fear of the inevitable and the sorrow of anticipated loss mingled with gratitude for so many years of presence and a minimum of pain in this twilight time. On the table beside the hospital bed on which Mom lies, rests Eitan Fishbane’s Shadows in Winter: a Memoir of Love and Loss. Eitan is my nephew and Mom’s grandson. In 2007, his wife, Leah, was two months pregnant when she died suddenly at the age of thirty-two of an undetected brain tumor, leaving her husband and a four-year-old daughter.
Michael Lerner: So you’re running for president. Could you tell me a little bit about who you are and how you came to run on the Green Party platform?
I know we’re not supposed to say such things, but I have lost faith in national politics. Yes, I’ll vote in the coming elections and do my part to get the less sold-out, less anti-communitarian candidate in office. But I no longer look to the top tier of centralized government to solve our problems or help us grope toward conclusions together.
For me, big government has become as abstract as the corporations that made it possible. The more I study the emergence of corporate capitalism, the more I see central government as the other side of the same coin: a booming peer-to-peer society was intentionally dismantled during the Renaissance in order to reassert the authority of the aristocracy.
Truth be told, we live in an era of deepening stagnation and political stalemate. With the labor movement—the traditional countervailing power that drives progressive politics—at its historic nadir, we cannot expect the kind of systemic transformation we need to come from Washington.
America’s political dysfunction is a symptom of a national identity crisis. Americans are drawn to incompatible views of human purpose. I appreciate how Gary Dorrien (writing in both this issue of Tikkun and in The Obama Question) frames the broken mirror of national identity in two panes. In one is yearning for unrestricted liberty to acquire wealth; in the other is yearning for self-government—that is, a desire for rightful power to apply core values in the creation of public policies and practices, including those that pertain to wealth. Not only do large blocs form around these two yearnings, but many individuals seem internally split by the competing desires. They want leadership, but no clarity comes from political or religious leaders. If this crisis goes unsettled for much longer, the system will founder. That fact should cheer no one, for in the present state of affairs, tyranny, not revolution and reconstruction, will follow.
It is time for progressives and others to shift the critique of Obama away from an exclusive focus on the policies and practices of his administration and instead develop a new language for politics—one with a longer historical purview and a deeper understanding of the ominous forces that now threaten any credible notion of the United States as an aspiring democracy.
Election year is different from all other years. The media will invite progressives into the fray. They’ll goad us, for ratings’ sake: Do you love Obama? Hate him? Are your politics pure?
Yes, Obama was moderate, and still the lofty sounding rhetoric made us feel that change really was possible. Hope was in the air. With time, we didn’t so much argue about the policies of his administration, many of which seemed fair and forward-looking. Rather, we took issue with the unwillingness to fight, the folding of the hand before the cards were played, the untoward interest in compromise with those who sought his political demise, and the combination of heady discourse with reliance on advisers peddling conventional economic wisdom geared toward the rich.