A collection of essays that demonstrate the vitality of current liberal religious thought


Voices of the Religious Left

A Contemporary Sourcebook

edited by Rebecca T. Alpert

paper EAN: 978-1-56639-757-5 (ISBN: 1-56639-757-X)
$38.95, May 00, Available
cloth EAN: 978-1-56639-756-8 (ISBN: 1-56639-756-1)
$90.50, Apr 00, Out of Stock Unavailable
Electronic Book EAN: 978-1-43990-101-4 (ISBN: 1-43990-101-5)
304 pp 7x10

"[These essays] represent the power of the written word as a vehicle for advocacy and social change …. It is my hope that the readers of these essays will themselves feel compelled to think more about the importance of taking a stand on issues from religious perspectives, and to act on something that compels them."
Rabbi Rebecca 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 heard—teaching 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.


Excerpt available at www.temple.edu/tempress

"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 time—the movement for women's liberation, the gay and lesbian rights movement, and the black power movement—had 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 inspiration—just what we'll need along the way."
Danya Rutttenberg, LILITH

"Alpert's collection is of genuine service for understanding and engaging with contemporary perspectives of 'the religious left'..."
Nova Religio

"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."
Journal of Church and State



Part I: Making Progressive Religious Theology: Warrant for Progressive Religious Thought and Action
1. Renewing the Heart of Faith: A Prophetic Convergence of the People of God – Jim Wallis
2. Womanist Theology: Black Women's Voices – Delores S. Williams
3. Theology as a Public Responsibility – Richard A. McCormic, S.J., and Richard P. McBrien
4. Reflections from a Latin American Theologian – Gustavo Gutierrez
5. Canaanites, Cowboys, and Indians: Deliverance, Conquest, and Liberation Theology Today – Robert Allan Warrior
6. Re-imagining God: Reflections on Mirrors, Motheroot, and Memory – Rita Nakashima Brock
7. Martin Luther King and the Future of America – Vincent Harding

Part II: Focusing on the Issues

8. The Skewing of America: Disparities in Wealth and Income – Ronald D. Pasquariello
9. Poverty, Women, and Reproduction: Welfare Reform and Social Justice – A position paper of Catholics for a Free Choice
10. Jews, Money, and Social Responsibility – Lawrence Bush and Jeffrey Dekro
11. Option for the Poor: Preference or Platitude? – Thomas J. Paprocki

12. The Greening of Buddhist Practice – Kenneth Kraft
13. The Theological Basis of Animal Rights – Andrew Linzey
14. From Compassion to Jubilee – Arthur Waskow

15. Apartheid as Idolatry – James H. Evans
16. Pesach and the Palestinians – Arthur Waskow
17. The Martyrs' Living Witness: A Call to Honor and Challenge – Daniel Berrigan
18. Back to the Dust: How I Rediscovered the Power of Scripture – Barbara Holmes
19. Catholics and Colonialism: The Church's Failure in Rwanda – Todd Salzman

20. The Full Circle of Liberation: An American Indian Theology of Place – George Tinker
21. The Upward Mobility of the Gospel – Helen Prejean
22. Between Brick and Steel – Mumia Abu-Jamal
23. Release the Prisoners! – Eliezer Valentín-Castañón
24. Free Speech in Pauline Political Theology – David Fredrickson

25. The Worth of a Woman – Laila Al-Marayati
26. Violence against Women: The Theological Dimension – Mary Pellauer
27. In God's Image: Coming to Terms with Leviticus – Rebecca T. Alpert
28. Homosexuality: Challenging the Church to Grow – John J. McNeill
29. Searching Scripture for a Model of the Family – Rosemary Radford Ruether
30. The New York Times Ad: A Case Study in Religious Feminism – Mary E. Hunt and Frances Kissling
31. Antiabortion / Prochoice: Taking Both Sides – Helen Tworkov

Part III: Building Bridges: Know One Another
32. Difference Is No Excuse for Hatred – Diana Eck
33. A Case Study: American Christians, Jews, and Muslims Working Together for Middle East Peace – Ronald J. Young
34. Reconsidering Christopher Columbus and the Recovery of a Biblical Theology of Mission – Wi Jo Kang
35. The Church's False Witness against Jews – Carl D. Evans
36. Arena for Interaction – Lee Ranck

About the Contributors


About the Author(s)

Rebecca T. Alpert is Assistant Professor of Religion and Women's Studies, Temple University. She is the author of Like Bread on the Seder Plate: Jewish Lesbians and the Transformation of Tradition, and the co-author of Exploring Judaism: A Reconstructionist Approach.

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.

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