A collection of essays that demonstrate the vitality of current liberal religious thought
Voices of the Religious Left
A Contemporary Sourcebook
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edited by Rebecca T. Alpert
What has happened to the religious left? If there is a religious left, why don't we hear more about it?
The academics and activists who write this rich volume, edited by Rebecca Alpert, argue passionately on topics that concern all of us. Quoting from the Bible, the Torah, the Qur'an, the teachings of Buddha, as well as Native American folklore, they make the voices of the religious left heardteaching lessons of peace and liberation.
As this invaluable sourcebook shows, the religious left is committed to issues of human rights and dignity. Answering questions of identity and ideology, the essays included here stem from the "culture wars" that have divided orthodox and liberal believers. Responding to the needs of and raised by marginalized social groups, the writers discuss economic issues and religious politics as they champion equal rights, and promote the teaching of progressive vision.
Containing insightful perspectives of adherents to many faiths, Voices of the Religious Left makes it clear that there is a group dedicated to instilling the values of justice and freedom. They are far from silent.
"The religious left provides a possible framework for meaning in a secular society. As part of that search for meaning, the religious left has consciously tried to incorporate certain secular insights in the creation of new religious expressions. By its willingness to respond to black, feminist, and gay critiques and to create theological versions of those critiques, the religious left has transformed itself.
"The civil rights and antiwar movements of the 1960s had great religious leadership and clear support from the liberal religious establishment. But the social movements that were born out of that timethe movement for women's liberation, the gay and lesbian rights movement, and the black power movementhad little or no religious leadership and a strong critique by the religious establishment. One of the main contributions of the religious left was to respond to the arguments of these groups and find ways to address their concerns, for these movements were not only a critique of society but of American religious groups as well. Through serious consideration of the demands of feminists, people of color, and gays and lesbians, and by inclusion of the perspectives of those who have felt excluded and marginalized by the religious mainstream, some on the religious left made a commitment to model those values that they espoused for the rest of the world. It is important to note here that these struggles were not only about identity, but also about ideology. The black church has remained fairly conservative on matters of gender and sexuality. There are many women who are active members of right-wing religious groups who call themselves anti-feminist. And there are homosexuals who do not challenge their church's understanding that they are sinners, and continue to hide or seek to change their sexuality. It is the ideas (for example, women religious leaders, African roots, or gay marriage) of these groups rather than simply their identities that the religious left has incorporated."
From the Introduction
"...chock-full of politically engaged, theologically and textually grounded essays.... Many of the essays also provide serious spiritual ammunition.... Voices illuminates the ways some people have taken their sense of religious duty out into a broken world and infused their in-the-trenches tikkun olam with a relationship to the bigger picture. The magic here is both in the details and in the sweeping sense that we are all, in fact, working toward the same goals from, as somebody once said, a thousand points of light. Until we can get there, Voices of the Religious Left offers indispensable, high-octane edification and inspirationjust what we'll need along the way."
"Alpert's collection is of genuine service for understanding and engaging with contemporary perspectives of 'the religious left'..."
"This book does a fine job of showing how the religious left can be part of religious belief, including for those who, for the most part, adhere to fairly traditional religious beliefs."
Part I: Making Progressive Religious Theology: Warrant for Progressive Religious Thought and Action
Part II: Focusing on the Issues
ALTHOUGH SUFFERING IS LIMITLESS, I VOW TO END IT (The Boddhisatva Vow)
THE EARTH IS THE LORD’S (Psalm 24:1)
AM I MY BROTHER’S KEEPER (Genesis 4:9)
PROCLAIM LIBERTY THROUGHOUT THE LAND (Leviticus 25:10)
THERE IS NEITHER MALE NOR FEMALE FOR YOU ARE ALL ONE (Galatians 3:28)
Part III: Building Bridges: Know One Another
About the Contributors
Contributors: Jim Wallis, Delores S. Williams, Richard A. McCormick, S. J., Richard P. McBrien, Gustavo Gutierrez, Robert Allan Warrior, Rita Nakashima Brock, Vincent Harding, Ronald D. Pasquariello, Catholics for a Free Choice, Lawrence Bush, Jeffrey Dekro, Thomas J. Paprocki, Kenneth Kraft, Andrew Linzey, James H. Evans, Arthur Waskow, Daniel Berrigan, Barbara Holmes, Todd Salzman, George Tinker, Helen Prejean, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Eliezer Valentín-Castoñón, David Fredrickson, Laila Al-Marayati, Mary Pellauer, John J. McNeill, Rosemary Radford Ruether, Mary E. Hunt, Frances Kissling, Helen Tworkov, Diana Eck, Ronald T. Young, Wi Jo Kang, Carl D. Evans, Lee Ranck, and the editor.