Faith, values and spirituality

Understanding America’s religious landscape is the most important challenge facing us today…A New Religious America — How a “Christian Country” Has Become the World’s Most Religiously Diverse Nation by Diana L. Eck

Pope Francis [has] been particularly critical of right-wing Christian fundamentalism. Pope Francis has shifted the focus of the Catholic Church to issues facing the poor and the sick. He has railed against economic inequality and has criticized the anti-gay and anti-abortion strains that have come to dominate the Christian Right here in America. Such ideological extremism is dangerous, not only to Christianity, but to the world. And Pope Francis said as much last Thursday. Pope Francis called right-wing Christian fundamentalism a sickness. Stephen D. Foster Jr. October 21, 2013

Holy Book Learning — Americans are shockingly illiterate when it comes to religions

What Money Can’t Buy and why eco­nom­ics needs to be seen not as a sci­ence but a moral phi­los­o­phy by Michael Sandel, polit­i­cal phi­los­o­phy pro­fes­sor - excerpt from a book review by Decca Aitken­head, guardian.co.uk, May 27, 2012
…We need to rea­son about how to value our bod­ies, human dig­nity, teach­ing and learning…

Global economic crisis also values crisis - Davos poll – by Tom Henegan, Religion Editor, New Frontiers  |  Davos – PARIS, Reuters, January 27, 2010 –Two-thirds of people around the world think the global economic crisis is also a crisis of ethical values that calls for more honesty, transparency and respect for others, according to a World Economic Forum poll.
Almost as many name business as the sector that should stress values more to foster a better world, said the poll for the Forum’s annual Davos summit that opened on Wednesday

Religion and the Constitution: The Triumph of Practical Politics by Mar­tin E. Marty, Religion-Online.org,The Chris­t­ian Cen­tury March 23–30, l994- “It is one of the strik­ing facts of Amer­i­can his­tory that the Amer­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion was led by men who were not very reli­gious,” wrote Gor­don Wood in New York His­tory. “At the best the Found­ing Fathers only pas­sively believed in orga­nized Chris­tian­ity and at worst they scorned and ridiculed it.” … assess the reli­gious and meta­phys­i­cal foun­da­tions and con­tentions of their thought. God comes up often, but almost never in bib­li­cal terms; “God,” we remem­ber, was generic for deists and the­ists, philoso­phers and believ­ers alike…… While prac­ti­cal pol­i­tics was the pre­oc­cu­pa­tion of these debaters, they were debat­ing what was deep­est in the people’s minds and hearts. … that lan­guage does not advance the case for see­ing Amer­ica as a Chris­t­ian country. .The founders were aware of what James Madi­son called “var­i­ous and irrec­on­cil­able . : . doc­trines of Reli­gion” and they were occa­sion­ally alert to world religions…One of the most seri­ous issues in con­sti­tu­tional dis­course was the virtue of the peo­ple, since con­sti­tu­tional law would be effec­tive only if cit­i­zens respected it……  the founders’ prac­ti­cal pol­i­tics dis­placed and left lit­tle room for sus­tained dis­cus­sion of the meta­phys­i­cal, metaeth­i­cal and the­o­log­i­cal back­drop to con­sti­tu­tion­al­ism. The debates occurred at a time when there was enough Enlight­en­ment talk about “Nature’s God” to com­pro­mise evan­gel­i­cal talk about the God of the Bible in the affairs of the United States. When one con­trasts out­comes in the United States with those in Europe, one is tempted. The evan­gel­i­cal­iza­tion of Amer­i­can cul­ture, then, did not derive from the con­sti­tu­tional period but from the times that fol­lowed, times of revival­ism and immi­gra­tion…The lan­guage of the con­sti­tu­tional debates was, like that of the Almighty, in Madison’s view, “ren­dered dim and doubt­ful, by the cloudy medium through which it is communicated.”…

Idealism, Conscience And The Spiritual Left by William Horden, Huffington Post, March 1, 2010  …Spiritual Left did not, of course, originate with the 60s….it dates back at least to 1838, when Emerson and other Transcendentalists began their quest for a path “away from the old ‘religions of authority’ into a new ‘religion of the spirit.’”…sought a first-hand experience of the divine grounded in nature and community rather than institutionalized dogma. Rooted deep in the grain of American culture, the Spiritual Left has long acted as the progressive conscience of the nation, championing as it did from its very beginning unpopular causes like abolition and women’s rights…
While many in the Spiritual Left are politically active, many others eschew direct participation in the Political Left because it remains locked in a destructive cycle of conflict with the Political Right…
Amorphous and anti-authoritarian, the Spiritual Left is perhaps best defined as a borderless association of leaders. Free thinkers and independent seekers of spirituality beyond dogma, its members engage in–and disengage from–political activism as a matter of personal conviction, not ordained groupthink…The Political Left will need to return to the moral high ground of progressive American thought and give voice to the American conscience of compassion if it is to recapture the imagination and heart of its spiritual counterpart. It has to want to change the world for the better, not just get elected…

Crimes Against the Soul of America by Caroline Myss, Huffington Post, September 5, 2009  There is such a thing as a crime against the soul of a nation. A person or a political party can deliberately incite actions that diminish the strength, the integrity, and the overall well-being of a nation’s inner core. America’s soul is in a fragile state. It has suffered severe violations over the course of this past decade and to lesser degrees, in previous decades…of all the crimes covertly and overtly committed by the Bush administration against the soul of America, none is as vile as the deliberate efforts they poured into turning American against American. We see that in the near hatred between the Republicans and Democrats, between liberals and conservatives, between free-thinkers and evangelicals that continues to fester. This crime was a strategic one, a well thought out plan to fragment the people of this nation in a type of contemporary replay of the Civil War. And sadly, the Republicans succeeded. Thank you, Karl Rove. The result is that the soul of America is exhausted, wounded, mistrusting, suspicious, fearful — and compromised. This is not a soul that can rebuild a country, not if you know anything about the laws of nature and the fundamentals of healing…Students on a path toward becoming high functioning human beings must be guided in matters of their soul, namely, how to recognize and respond to a moral crisis; how to formulate a personal ethical code and to withstand challenges to that code within a society that thrives on predator instincts; and how to form and maintain an honor code within a society in which any sense of honor is now held together by legal contracts rather than the integrity of a person’s word…we now have a public that cannot discern lies from truth…A conscious effort to “dumb down” the education of this nation qualifies as a crime against the soul of America….There comes a time when we have to just stand up to these carnies (slang for carnival barkers) and tell them to stop polluting the soul of America with their constant and endless transmission of psychic free radicals in the form of lies, negative press, ridiculous criticism, overall lack of intelligent ideas and comments, and complete absence of creative thought. We should just blast them with emails and tell them to stop polluting the soul of our nation. Just stop it. We’ve had enough. I know I have. And I deeply believe the soul of our nation can’t take much more of their strategy of deliberate division against the people of their own nation. That is a true crime — and perhaps their greatest crime — against the soul of this great nation.

A Mat­ter of Life and Debt by Mar­garet Atwood, New York Times Op-Ed, Octo­ber 22, 2008… we’re delud­ing our­selves if we assume that we can recover from the [eco­nomic] cri­sis of 2008 so quickly and easily…The wounds go deeper than that. To heal them, we must repair the bro­ken moral bal­ance that let this chaos loose… We are social crea­tures who must inter­act for mutual ben­e­fit, and — the neg­a­tive ver­sion — who har­bor grudges when we feel we’ve been treated unfairly… …Is there any bright side to this? Per­haps we’ll have some breath­ing room — a chance to re-evaluate our goals and to take stock of our rela­tion­ship to the liv­ing planet from which we derive all our nour­ish­ment, and with­out which debt finally won’t mat­ter.


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