Seems like coming out of hibernation is a good time for a little spring cleaning and redecorating, don’t you think? While we “slept,” we had our second birthday, and passed the 11,000 mark in our visitor counter! So I spent a few hours this afternoon fussing around testing new templates and creating the new “header” while my brain steadfastly refused to work on revisions to my thesis. (I’m sure my advisor will understand.) The header may be a work-in-progress; is the font hard to read?
My semester officially ended Friday. I wrote and defended my thesis (passed with “minor revisions”), stayed afloat in my three lecture classes and one reading course, and managed not to get fired from my 20-hour/week statistical programming job (which has nothing to do with my degree in ethics, except to make food and shelter possible). If all goes well, revisions will be finished in the next couple of weeks and I can close the books on the MA program. I’ll try to squeeze in fulltime hours at work during the summer before starting the doctoral program in the fall. I’ll let abc catch you up on her “sabbatical,” but I know she has been very busy preparing a very special event she’ll be telling you about in the next week or so.
Now, then… I can’t tell you how hard it has been to sit on my blogging hands during these four months, while the White House and GOP self-destruct and try to take us all down with them. But for the most part, I’m going to pick things up in the here and now and will indulge in historical snark only when appropriate. So here are just a few items while we get up to speed.
Religious Liberals Gain New Visibility
A Different List Of Moral Issues
By Caryle Murphy and Alan Cooperman
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, May 20, 2006; A01
The religious left is back.
Long overshadowed by the Christian right, religious liberals across a wide swath of denominations are engaged today in their most intensive bout of political organizing and alliance-building since the civil rights and anti-Vietnam War movements of the 1960s, according to scholars, politicians and clergy members.
In large part, the revival of the religious left is a reaction against conservatives’ success in the 2004 elections in equating moral values with opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage.
Religious liberals say their faith compels them to emphasize such issues as poverty, affordable health care and global warming. Disillusionment with the war in Iraq and opposition to Bush administration policies on secret prisons and torture have also fueled the movement.
“The wind is changing. Folks — not just leaders — are fed up with what is being portrayed as Christian values,” said the Rev. Tim Ahrens, senior minister of First Congregational Church of Columbus, Ohio, and a founder of We Believe Ohio, a statewide clergy group established to ensure that the religious right is “not the only one holding a megaphone” in the public square.
“As religious people we’re offended by the idea that if you’re not with the religious right, you’re not moral, you’re not religious,” said Linda Gustitus, who attends Bethesda’s River Road Unitarian Church and is a founder of the new Washington Region Religious Campaign Against Torture. “I mean there’s a whole universe out there [with views] different from the religious right. . . . People closer to the middle of the political spectrum who are religious want their voices heard.”
Recently, there has been an increase in books and Web sites by religious liberals, national and regional conferences, church-based discussion groups, and new faith-oriented political organizations. “Organizationally speaking, strategically speaking, the religious left is now in the strongest position it’s been in since the Vietnam era,” said Clemson University political scientist Laura R. Olson…
As a great power, a large heterogeneous nation like the United States goes about as far in a theocratic direction as it can when it meets the unfortunate criteria on display in George W. Bush’s Washington: an elected leader who believes himself in some way to be speaking for God; a ruling party that represents religious true believers and seeks to mobilize the nation’s churches; the conviction of many rank-and-file Republicans that government should be guided by religion and religious leaders; and White House implementation of domestic and international political agendas that seem to be driven by religious motivations and biblical worldviews.
It’s a long article, but he’s always worth it.
An aggressively annoying new phrase in America’s political lexicon is “values voters.” It is used proudly by social conservatives, and carelessly by the media to denote such conservatives.
This phrase diminishes our understanding of politics. It also is arrogant on the part of social conservatives and insulting to everyone else because it implies that only social conservatives vote to advance their values and everyone else votes to… well, it is unclear what they supposedly think they are doing with their ballots.
On Sunday a Los Angeles Times article on the possibility of a presidential run by Florida Gov. Jeb Bush reported:
“The Family Research Council, an influential evangelical activist group, has invited Gov. Bush to appear at a fall conference of ‘values voters.’ ” On Monday the Wall Street Journal quoted a pastor who is president of a Texas-based organization, Vision America, that mobilizes conservative pastors: “Values voters see their vote as a sacred trust.”
The phrase “values voters,” which has become ubiquitous, subtracts from social comity by suggesting that one group has cornered the market on moral seriousness.
It’s actually fairly even-handed.