Spirituality and the Left

I want to give a huge shout out to some talented writers and gifted leaders for their pieces on faith, liberal politics, and what it means to be Christian and progressive in Texas.

I know. When the word Christian pops up, people of liberal persuasions often shut down. I’ve been that person that hears talk of god or Jesus and immediately clenches up inside. There has been a great amount of damage done in the name of God to people of color, to the queer, to women, to children.

Which is why when I find people who identify as liberal, radical and progressive Christians, I get curious.

And I get more actually. I’ve been coming out as a spiritual person for the last few years, which I’ve written about here and here and here and while I can’t say that I’m 100% American Christian, I’m pretty much inline with a kind of wild, radical, natural spirituality and I can fit some Christianity in there. Well, I have this feeling Jesus was a huge radical.

Hey, there are lots of Bodhisattvas out there. Oak trees. Rivers. Canyons. Babies. Elephants. Take your pick, cause there are oodles of places to seek and find, from the secular to the starry.

But back to the wonderful pieces I found today from people I know!

Here is Mary Ann Kaiser talking about being a person of faith in Texas. She’s just marvelous and I can’t say enough wonderful things about her.

“Sometimes it’s hard to be a person of faith in Texas. It’s painful when it feels like the voice of faith is only used for harm in policy making. But then there are days when the false rhetoric and the co-opting of the religious voices are sidelined. On those days, a faith which lives on the streets where people of many backgrounds rally every day for a more just society is actually heard. They are days where a faith that is working to move Texas up on all those ugly lists of statistics is put to action. And they are days, where instead of shame or embarrassment, I carry pride – I am a religious leader in Texas among an incredible group of others.”

And this Observer piece, by Robyn Ross, is amazing in it’s scope but how it drills down to core issues of justice and how spirituality can actually be a cornerstone of that justice.

“In the shade of the Confederate Soldiers monument, a woman stopped midsentence and turned to her friend. “Did they just say he’s a minister?” Behind her someone muttered, “Why would a Christian be speaking here?”

Why was it so hard to believe? Rigby is one of the most outspoken progressive pastors in Texas, but he’s not the only one. Last fall more than 350 religious leaders, most of them Christian, signed a Texas Freedom Network (TFN) pledge supporting women’s access to contraception. Some of the same clergy, and their congregants, advocate policies supporting the poor, immigrants, and gays and lesbians; oppose the death penalty; and draw clear connections between their faith and protection for the environment.”

Rigby, mentioned above is Jim Rigby, and he’s pretty damn awesome.

Finally, just read this quote by Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopalian Church, noted in Ross’s article.

“The church has been really good about jumping in the river and pulling drowning people out. What we have not been so good at is going up the river and finding out who’s throwing all those people in it in the first place.”

And to me, no matter the name of the faith or if you have no faith at all, that is the crux. Who is throwing all the people in the river, and how do we stop it? That’s justice and that’s what calls me, personally.

And it calls me to the intersection of sex, spirituality, and social justice. I never ever in a million moments thought I’d find myself here, right here holding those three things in my heart and work.

Two of them sure, I’ve been focused on social justice and sexuality education and rights for a long time. But the third? GOD???

How the other two connect to spiritually? Yeah, no, I didn’t suspect that. But thinking of it, how people in this country are denied access to reproductive rights, about how marriage rights are human rights, how violence and assault are spiritual crimes against love itself, yeah it kind of makes sense. And I’m finding myself not only among the honored company of Social Justice activists and the Sex Positive leaders, but of radical Ministers and Reverends as well.

I have to say, it’s a beautiful, if not odd, place to be.

Read the pieces, and think about their impact. Regardless of where you stand in terms of “God” it’s good to know that people of many faiths (even agnostics!) across this Red State are working to turn it Blue and to keep people from being thrown in the river to begin with.

What a concept, yeah?



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3 responses to “Spirituality and the Left

  1. I greatly admire your ability to find the good in just about anything, Julie. I’m looking for that good in religion, and while I have ample evidence that it is there, the capacity of any organized dogma is still too great for me to ignore. I was raised in the Episcopal Church, and “came out” as atheist about 6 years ago, although it was a long deconversion process. A common misconception, usually inadvertent but I suspect sometimes deliberate, that many theists have about atheists is that we are mad at God. I am no more angry at God than I am at Voldemort. I have, however, been angry at religious institutions, both in overt and subtle ways. In talking with theist friends (Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, and more), I have come to realize that I believe many of the same principles that they do, only (a) I call them by a different name, and (b) I do not ascribe supernatural provenance to them. I believe in and support much of what Jesus said in the Gospels, but believe that these are essential maxims of human behavior, not commands from on high.

    My point being, I’m not angry anymore. I mean, I am extremely angry at what people do in the name of their religion, but religion is just a tool. The difference is in how it is wielded. At this stage in my life, I am ready to be done with anger and find the common ground that will make us all better people and make the world a better place. If you are doing the right thing, it is less important to me why you are doing it than the mere fact that you are doing it.

    • “I have come to realize that I believe many of the same principles that they do, only (a) I call them by a different name, and (b) I do not ascribe supernatural provenance to them. I believe in and support much of what Jesus said in the Gospels, but believe that these are essential maxims of human behavior, not commands from on high.”

      This is me all over. And yet I still understand the draw to community and “church” of which I consider Bedpost Confessions to be one. Humans love and need (it seems at least) groups and rituals esp for birth and death and transitions.

      I don’t believe all atheists are angry with god, any more than I believe all MRA are angry at women or some feminists at men. But I do believe some are.

      If there is a “god” it’s beyond us and our comprehension. I like to think that we mirror the god we see in ourselves. Those who are angry and controlling often long for those types of gods. And wind up in power more often than not, guiding the fearful and wanting to be controlled. This is ancient stuff.

      Not sure that religion is the cause so much as a symptom.

  2. Pingback: How Do We Make Sense Of This? Steubenville, Texts, Rape | Julie Gillis

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