Obama in Question: A Progressive Critique and Defense

Four years ago we seemed to take a shortcut to some kind of national redemption. The same nation that enslaved African Americans until 1865 and imposed a vicious century-long regime of segregation and everyday abuse upon them elected an African American to its presidency. The same nation that elected twelve slave masters to its presidency elected a president whose wife was a descendant of American slaves. The same nation that never would have elected a veteran of the Civil Rights Movement to national office fulfilled some of the movement’s most idealistic hymnody.

Why America Needs a Left

The United States today should be engaged in a great debate, not so much over who the next president will be, or over the role of government in economic life, but over the very identity and future orientation of the country itself. On the one hand, powerful right-wing voices argue that America is an essentially conservative country. On the other hand, other voices, led by the president, argue that “there’s not a liberal America and a conservative America—there is the United States of America!” implying that we are an essentially centrist country.

Sabbath Practice as Political Resistance: Building the Religious Counterculture

One thing Abraham Joshua Heschel and Karl Marx had in common, aside from having both been spectacularly bearded Eastern European Jews, is the shared insight that time is the ultimate form of human wealth on this earth. Without time, all other forms of wealth are meaningless. It is this insight about time—patently obvious but frequently forgotten—that makes keeping a Sabbath day both spiritually profound and politically radical.

Christianity Without the Cross?

Publishing an article that intensely criticizes an aspect of Christianity was a stretch for us here at Tikkun. Although we consider this magazine to be interfaith as well as Jewish—and have many Christian readers and writers—the idea of taking on something as sacred to the Christian world as the cross gave us pause. The last thing we want to do is convey disrespect to the Christian community and its complex internal debates. On the other hand, having already gotten ourselves into a huge amount of trouble by criticizing something sacred to many American Jews—namely Israel and its army—we thought it reasonable to take seriously our interfaith status by allowing a writer to take on a very controversial issue in the Christian world. We welcome sharp criticisms and alternative readings of the history discussed here.

Compassion for the Victims of Our Global Capitalist System

Too many liberals and progressives blame voter support for reactionary and ultra-conservative politics on the supposed mean-spiritedness, racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, or stupidity of those who vote the other way. By slipping into this easy mindset, we fail to perceive the real yearning so many of us have for a life filled with love, caring, and generosity.

The Hope of the Cross

Ignorance of major world religions comes in many forms today, but Lawrence Swaim’s particular version is still stunning. It is almost as if Swaim skimmed pop or even comic books on Christian theology and early church history and fashioned a reckless rant from their raw materials. Of the many historically and argumentatively strange things in his essay, his call for Christians to get rid of the symbol of the cross is the most bizarre. Getting rid of the cross is tantamount to getting rid of Jesus—which is to say, of Christianity itself.

The Death of Christianity

There is at the heart of Christianity a disturbing doctrine that has the uncanny ability to overwhelm cognition, and—when internalized by the believer—the ability to traumatize. I refer to the belief, held by most Christians, that Jesus Christ, the prophetic figure of Christianity, was crucified to redeem the world, and that this plan originated with God.

Religion and Equality in Human Evolution

Where did we come from? What should we do here? Where are we going? As long as human beings ask these questions, we will need metanarratives—accounts of cosmological and biological evolution that place the human species in the context of what we know about the universe as a whole.