[Marxism] Robert Fitch on leftist piety (priceless)
lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Apr 12 07:36:54 MDT 2006
Vetting God's Politics
by Robert Fitch
Michael Lerner, The Left Hand of God: Taking Back Our Country from the
Religious Right (HarperSanFrancisco, 2006).
Jim Wallis, God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left
Doesn't Get It (HarperSanFrancisco, 2005).
Dearly beloved leftists and friends. It's 2006 and we're gathered here
together uncomfortably discussing why so few of us are gathered here
together. The "End of History" -- which began in '89 with the collapse of
Communism -- looms as the most popular reason for Leftist decline. The
demise of the Soviet Union meant capitalism was the only game in town,
stripping the Left of its "agency" -- something to fight for.
More recently, though, TINA ("there is no alternative") has gained a
formidable rival. The Left is in decline, it's said, because we live in
times when concern about moral values trumps material concerns. Millions
still support the Left's economic agenda, but policy issues -- health
insurance coverage, rising job insecurity, falling wages, overwork,
disappearing pensions -- don't cut as deeply as they used to. Nowadays,
it's the hunger for transcendent values that counts, explaining why the
Religious Right drives the national agenda and why the Left can't
compete. We've neglected God, spirituality, and prophetic religion.
We're primed to pay attention to this diagnosis because it's widely
believed that America represents an exception to the secularization
thesis. The pews may have emptied out long ago in Europe, but Americans,
it's claimed, need to see God through those high windows every week.
Where do these impressions come from? Not from any rigorous opinion
research. Recent Harris, Pew, Barna and CUNY's ARIS and NSRI studies all
report pretty much the same story: although it started later and has
further to go, secularization is spreading here too. In simple numerical
terms (as a share of the population) the two largest Protestant
denominations -- the Baptists and the Methodists -- are actually
shrinking. Jews have shrunk to only 1%. The Catholics -- the largest
single block of Christians -- who greatly benefit from immigration are
growing at a rate slower than the population. And there's little evidence
of a spurt by evangelicals: their share of the population has remained
pretty constant over the last decade -- at about 7%.
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