The Left Hand of God
Taking Back Our Country from the Religious Right
By Michael Lerner
HarperOne, Hardcover, 9780060842475, 416pp.
Publication Date: February 1, 2006
List Price: $24.95*
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The unholy alliance of the Political Right and the Religious Right threatens to destroy the America we love. It also threatens to generate a popular aversion to God and religion by identifying religious values with a pro-war, pro-business, pro-rich, anti-science, and anti-environmental stance.
Over the past few decades, the Republicans have achieved political dominance by forging a union with the Religious Right. This marriage has provided a sanctimonious veneer for policies that have helped the rich get richer while ignoring the needs of the middle class and the poor, dismantling environmental and civil liberties protections, and seeking global domination. The Right champions the materialism and ruthless selfishness promoted by unrestrained capitalism and then laments the moral crises of family instability and loneliness experienced by people who bring these commercial values into their homes and personal lives. In response, the Religious Right offers insular communities for the faithful and a culture that blames liberals, activist judges, homosexuals, independent women, and all secular people for the moral and spiritual emptiness so many Americans experience.
Yet, however distorted both the Right's analysis and its solutions to America's spiritual crisis may be, it wins allegiance by addressing the human hunger for a life with some higher purpose. The Left, by contrast, remains largely tone-deaf to the spiritual needs of the American people. It is the yearning for meaning in life, not just the desire for money or power, that lies at the core of American politics.
Addressing the central mystery of contemporary politics -- why so many Americans vote against their own economic interests -- The Left Hand of God provides an invaluable, timely, and blunt critique of the current state of faith in government. Lerner challenges the Left to give up its deeply held fear of religion and to distinguish between a domination-oriented, Right-Hand-of-God tradition and a more compassionate and hope-oriented Left-Hand-of-God worldview. Further, Lerner describes the ways that Democrats have misunderstood and alienated significant parts of their potential constituency. To succeed again, Lerner argues, the Democratic Party must rethink its relationship to God, champion a progressive spiritual vision, reject the old bottom line that promotes the globalization of selfishness, and deal head-on with the very real spiritual crisis that many Americans experience every day.
Lerner presents a vision that incorporates and then goes far beyond contemporary liberal and progressive politics. He argues for a new bottom line in our economy, schools, and government. This is a fundamentally fresh approach, one that takes spiritual needs seriously in our economic and political lives. Presenting an eight-point progressive spiritual covenant with America, Lerner provides a blueprint for how the Democratic Party can effectively challenge the Right and position itself to win the White House and Congress. By appealing to religious, secular, and spiritual but not necessarily religious people, The Left Hand of God blazes a trail that could change our world and reclaim America from the Religious Right.
“[A] practical, compelling vision of a politics of generosity.”
“The Left Hand of God serves the vital purpose of articulating a progressive religious alternative.”
-Washington Post Book World
“A renewed politics far more profound than either the Republicans or the Democrats have been able to muster….”
-Richard Upford-Chase, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA
“A book that sends a clear call to everyone who cares about the future of America.”
-Los Angeles Times Book Review
“Lerner’s needed voice for progressive spirituality will find resonance across many faith traditions. I’m deeply grateful for his work.”
-Brian McLaren, author of A New Kind of Christian
“An enormously important book…practical steps we can take to launch a spiritual revolution and save this beautiful planet.”
“The blueprint for the next stage in the spiritual development of our planet.”
“Just sharing these profound ideas that Lerner presents in such an accessible manner is itself a great contribution you could make to healing our country”
-Cornel West, author of Democracy Matters: Winning the Fight Against Imperialism
“A provocative invitation to the broad dialogue we need…”
“A brilliant and penetrating analysis of the way religion is now used politically …. ”
-John Shelby Spong
“[T]his book pulsates with life and spirit and the passion of the prophets of old. Bravo! ”
“Lerner is a rare voice of sanity and intelligence in a nation where our moral values have been corrupted ….”
“An insightful, inspiring book by Rabbi Lerner that can put America back on track.”
-Arun Gandhi, president, M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence
“Rabbi Lerner makes sense, finds meaning and sees hope in an America many feel is spiraling downward into destructive divisions.”
“[T]he blueprint for transforming the conscious heart of a nation ….”
-Michael Franti, Musician
“The Left Hand of God is essential reading for everyone concerned about the future of this country.”
“Lerner articulates … a vision of hope that taps into the spiritual needs of all people.”
-Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey, Chair of the Progressive Caucus of the U.S. House of Representatives
“THE LEFT HAND OF GOD reclaims the common ground of peace and social justice which gird all authentic spiritualities….”
-Reverend John Dear
“Lerner’s spiritually based politics is just what this country needs.”
“Lerner’s proposal is a visionary response to this urgent need …”
“In this important book, Lerner shows us how we can reclaim truths that we are in danger of losing. ”
“Spiritual commitment requires political action, or amounts to nothing. That is the fundamental truth of The Left Hand of God.”
-George Lakoff, author of Don't Think of An Elephant
“Many will find Lerner’s 8-point “Spiritual Covenant with America” revitalizing grist for discussion....”
“Part social critique, part save-the-world primer, The Left Hand of God brims with hopeful proposals.”
“A highly decent and challenging critique.”
“A rallying cry and a theoretical and scholarly analysis of the appeal of the religious right.”
“For those who dare to imagine a country where peace, freedom, and justice prevail....”
-Spirituality and Health magazine
“A serious critique of how both the religious right and liberals have used and abused the influence of religion ….”