Another "Bad People doing Bad Things" book. It is sub-titled
"The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy".
C1 Stark, Dreadful, Inescapable
"We must apply to ourselves as we do to others."
Documentation of how Bush violates his promises. Both Bush
and Clinton played fast and loose with global catastrophe. Global
defense and warning systems are prone to error and attack. Global
environmental catastrophe is sending out warning signals which are
being ignored. Iraq is a generator of Moslem terrorism.
When Iraq was invaded the energy (oil) and security ministries
were protected, military supplies, cultural artifacts, infrastructure,
etc. were not secured. And we wonder what the motive was for
C2 Outlaw States
Starts with a description of the Geneva Conventions and the
Nuremberg principles and spends the rest of the chapter describing how
the US and it's partners violated them.
C3 Illegal but Legitimate
A discussion of American expansionist foreign policy. He
bounces around a lot but the main topics discussed are policy with
regard to the Middle East - primarily Iraq, positioning of bombers in
the Pacific before WWII, the Indonesian invasion of East Timor in the
1970's - 1990's, American policy following the War of 1812, the
conquest of Spanish Florida in 1818, and the Monroe Doctrine , and the
bombing of Serbia in 1999.
C4 Democracy Promotion Abroad
"Promoting democracy abroad" has been a primary goal of US
Foreign policy wince Woodrow Wilson, and an excuse for military force.
This is very common, Japan and Germany both used it as an excuse
before WWII. When this doesn't work, a "War on Drugs" can always
be invented. Discusses Chile, Cuba, Russia, Vietnam, and WWII.
He then jumps back and forth between Iraq, Central and South
America, and the Middle East.
C5 Supporting Evidence: The Middle East An extended discussion of Israeli-Palestinian problems.
C6 Democracy Promotion at Home
What are some of the problems with American Democracy.
Chomsky starts out with theoretical problems, then economic
problems, and then on to the election of 2004. Extensive
discussion of the conservative policies at that time (as he sees them).
Afterward A description of
what Chomsky sees as the problems which are important to Bush between
2004 and early 2006 and a short historical description of them. A
common complaint about critics is that they complain about what is
wrong but they don't offer solutions. He translates this as,
"They present solutions, but I don't like them." He ends the
chapter with seven suggestions:
He ends the book with 35 pages of Notes and 11 pages of Index. As
I have commented before, this is a book about (bad?) people doing bad
things. Yes, I know - tell me something new. Or at least
say so in a new way (see Kevin Phillips American Theocracy).
Give me something more than, "Don't let bad people make bad
decisions.", that doesn't help much. For this kind of a book, as
I have suggested before, produce a data base with all of the relevant
information, who, what, why, where, when, etc. and document it well
enough so that a lawyer presenting the case would consider it an
invaluable source. Hopefully numerous authors (researchers) could
collaborate in such an endeavor and make it a truly useful tool instead
of being buried in numerous rather dull books that are likely to be
read only by partisans. Such a data base can be "data mined" to
potentially discover relationships which are not obvious when presented
in a narrative form.
- Accept the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court and the World Court.
- Sign and abide by the Kyoto Protocols.
- Let the UN take the lead in international crises.
- Rely on diplomatic and economic measures rather than military ones.
- Keep to the traditional interpretation of the UN Charter.
- Give up the Security Council veto and have "a decent respect for
the opinion of mankind," as the Declaration of Independence advises,
even if power centers disagree.
- Cut back sharply on military spending and sharply increase social spending.
Thinking Points George Lakoff Nov 2006
Subtitled: Communicating our American Values and Vision
Preface: American values
are inherently progressive, but progressives have lost their way.
We have taken these values for granted and we have lost our
ability to articulate a progressive vision. The radical right
understands its values and knows its
agenda. Progressive leaders have all they can do just to maintain
themselves and fight a delaying action on the agendas of the radical
right. If the fight is to be won it will be won by many voices
outside of the Beltway.
Introduction: Why We Write
Our country has a long history of progressivism. This is
based on the words and actions of our greatest patriots like George
Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Fredrick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln,
Harriet Tubman, Susan B. Anthony, Martin Luther King, Jr., John Muir
and many others. They are no longer with us. Today we must
face a radical right that is dedicated to overturning the legacy that
these patriots left behind. Our job today is to recover the
freedoms and rights that these patriots fought for and ad to their
C1 Winning and Loosing
In 1980, Reagan's chief strategist made an amazing discovery.
Voters who disagreed with Reagan on the issues would still vote
for him. Reagan was talking about values, not issues.
Voters didn't necessarily agree with all of his values, but they
agreed with enough and they trusted Reagan. They trusted him to
do what was right. One misunderstanding, common among
progressives, is that the Reagan and George W. Bush elections was that
they were about "personality" rather than anything substantive.
Nothing is more substantive than a candidate's moral worldview,
and whether he authentically abides by it. This book is not about
winning and losing elections - it is about winning and lowing hearts
and minds. Progressives have failed to understand that elections
are based on values and they have failed to understand recent advances
in cognitive science so they fail to understand the traps that they can
Twelve Traps to Avoid
Have we dug ourselves in too far? No! America was founded
as a progressive nation and most of our heroes have expressed their
ideas in progressive frames. We just need to avoid following into
these traps and get our values out there. The ground is tilled
and the seeds are planted, we just need a little water and fertilizer
to grow a bumper crop.
- The Issue Trap It
is said all the time, progressives don't unite behind any one set of
ideas (issues). This is largely true. Progressives agree at
the level of values, they just argue issues. Conservative argue
conservatism no matter what the issue. We need to follow their
lead. We need to respect our diversity on the issues but never
loose tract of our Nurturant Parent values.
- The Poll Trap Many
slavishly follow pools. The job of leaders is to lead, not
follow. Polls are only as accurate as the framing of their
questions. Real leaders don't use pools to find out what
positions to take; they lead people to new positions.
- The Laundry List Trap
Progressives tend to believe that people vote on the basis of
lists of programs and policies. In fact, people vote based on
values, connection, authenticity, trust, and identity.
- The Rationalism Trap
There is a commonplace - and false - theory that reason is
completely conscious, literal, logical, universal, and unemotional.
Cognitive science has shown that everyone of these assumptions is
false. Failure to understand this has led progressives to assume
that logical arguments alone will convince voters to support a
candidate. This is just not true; you need values, trust, etc.
- The No-Framing-Necessary Trap
Progressives often argue that "facts speak for themselves."
False - facts are interpreted by deeper frames. Facts need
to be framed appropriately to be seen as truths.
- The Policies-Are-Values Trap
Progressives regularly confuse policies and values.
Policies are not values but they should be based on values.
Example: Social Security and universal health care are
policies meant to reflect and codify the values of human dignity, the
common good, fairness, and equality.
- The Centrist Trap Many believe that there is an ideological center. This is false, there are many biconceptuals
- people who are conservative in some aspects and progressive in other
aspects. If candidates "move to the right" to get more votes they
just activates the right's values and give up their own. In the
process, they alienate their base.
- The "Misunderestimating" Trap
Many progressives think that people who vote for conservatives
are just stupid when they vote against their economic self-interest.
False: they are voting for their values, conservative
populism is cultural - not economic - in nature. Progressives
paint conservative leaders as incompetent and not very smart, based on
a misunderstanding of the conservative agenda. To truly
understand conservative goals you must look at them through
- The Reactive Trap
By and large progressives have been letting conservatives frame
the debate. Mostly progressives have been reactive and often
using conservative frames to do so. We need a collection of
proactive policies and communication techniques to get our own values
out on our own terms. We must change frames, not reinforce
conservative frames. And we must do this on a daily basis for
perhaps years to change the frames of biconceptuals.
- The Spin Trap Some
progressives believe that the key to winning is clever spin and catchy
slogans - what cognitive scientists call "surface frames".
Surface framing doesn't work without established deep frames -
our deepest moral convictions. Spin is the dishonest use of
surface linguistic frames to hide the truth. Progressive values
and deep frames must be in place before slogans can have an effect.
Conservative slogans work because they have been communicating
their deep frames for decades.
- The Policyspeak Trap
Progressives often use legislative jargon and bureaucratic
solutions like "Medicare prescription drug benefits". They should
speak in terms the actual concerns of voters, like how a policy will
make college available to their children or reduce the cost of medicine.
- The Blame Game Trap
It is convenient to blame our problems on the media and
conservative lies. Yes, conservatives have lied and distorted the
truth and the media has repeated the conservative frames. We have
no control over this - but we can control what we communicate. We
must reframe from our moral perspective and get our deep frames into
public discourse. And if we get our frames out there, the media
will be much more likely to adopt our frames.
C2 Biconceptualism We
are all biconceptuals. If you are a progressive but can
understand a Rambo movie you have a passive conservative worldview.
If you are a conservative but can enjoy The Cosby Show
you have a passive progressive worldview. What we are interested
in is people who are active biconceptuals, those who use one moral
system in one area and another in another area. Examples are
those who are fiscally conservative and socially progressive or those
who support a liberal domestic policy and conservative foreign policy.
An example of a partial conservative would be Senator Joe
Lieberman of Connecticut. He is progressive with regard to
environmental protection, abortion rights, and workers' rights.
He is conservative with respect to faith-based initiatives,
school vouchers, and Bush's policy on Iraq. Examples of
conservative partial liberals would be those who love the land like
hunters, fisherman, cyclists, hikers, campers, farmers, etc.
For many years many people have been discussing the proverbial
ideological "center". This is a totally worthless effort, based
on the ability to create labels and assign people to these labels.
The labels are not predictive of any behavior. They are
more likely to predict the relative popularity of the various labels.
They are sort of like the mythical family with 2.3 children.
This is merely one number divided by another number. Real
families have either 0, 1, 2, 3, ... children. Swing voters are
typically composed of a biconceptual "center" that includes partial
conservatives, partial progressives, and undecideds (biconceptuals in
nonpolitical areas of life with no fixed moral views governing their
politics). Conservatives have been talking to them for years,
using conservative language to activate conservative frames and using
antiliberal language to inhibit progressive values. They can do
this by talking to biconceptuals using the same language they use for
their base without compromising their values. Progressives can do
the same, they just have to do it, and often.
In all of this you need to be authentic. You must stick to what
you believe. If you try to support values that you do not believe
in you will eventually be found out. Lincoln said it very well,
"You can fool some of the people some of the time, but not all of the
people all of the time."
C3 Frames and Brains
"Framing" is not primarily about politics or political messaging
or communication. Frames are the mental structures that allow
humans to understand reality. Political framing is applied
cognitive science. Our use of frames is mostly unconscious and
automatic. The sociologist, Irving Goffman, was one of the first
to notice frames and how they structure our interactions with the
world. The linguist, Charles Fillmore, studied frames at the
level of the sentence. The rest of the chapter is devoted to
frames. He discusses deep frames using "The War on Terror" as an
example, how the term was selected and what the frames surrounding it
imply. Issue-defining frames characterize the problem, assigns
blame, and constrains possible solutions. The issues of Iraq and
immigration are used as examples. Messaging frames are very
commonly used in political debate.
Lessons from Cognitive Science
The concept of rationalism is both a boon and a limitation.
Rationalism came out of the Enlightenment about 350 years ago.
It says that reason makes us human and all humans are equally
rational. Therefore we can govern ourselves and do not need a
king or a pope to govern us and since we are all rational the best form
of government is a democracy. The problem is that rationalism is
an ideal that only works well in specialized fields like mathematics
and science, in order for it to work well there needs to be specific
set of ground rules that everyone follows. This is not often the
case in human discourse.
- The use of frames is largely unconscious.
- Frames define common sense. Common sense has been defined elsewhere as, "What you learned before the age of 12."
- Repetition can embed frames in the brain.
- Activations links surface frames to deep frames and inhibits opposition frames.
- Existing deep frames don't change overnight.
- Speak to biconceptuals as you speak to your base.
- The facts alone will not set you free.
- Simply negating the other side's frames only reinforces them.
A major problem for progressives is to quantify and describe our values
and the policies based on them. Since our conceptual systems are
largely unconscious it is difficult to provide morally based arguments.
Cognitive science can help in this regard. The chapter ends
with a list of words (concepts) that conservatives have redefined.
It gives the conservative terms and the frames for these terms
and how progressives must reclaim them back. These terms are
liberal, patriotism, rule of law, national security, family values, and
C4 The Nation as Family
Our political beliefs are structured by our idealizations of the
family. We grow up in families and we transfer our frames from
family to the nation. Since our family frames are so important
this transfer to nation-as-family metaphor structures entire
worldviews. Americans have two very different idealized models of
the family, the "strict father" family and the "nurturant parent"
family. All people are personally biconceptual, we all understand
both and use both for different aspects of our life. However
these models are contradictory, they cannot be applied in the same
situation at the same time by the same person - they are mutually
inhibitory: activating one inhibits the other.
Nurturant Parent: Parents are equally responsible for the
moral development of children. Their primary duty is to love them
and nurture them. Nurturing has two aspects: empathy and
responsibility, both for oneself and others. Parents raise
children to nurture others which requires empathy for others,
responsibility for oneself, and social responsibility. Parents
are authoritative without being authoritarian. Obedience derives
from love - not fear of punishment.
Progressive Vision: Progressive political morality is
based on two things, empathy and responsibility. When you
responsibly act on your empathy you come up with the following goals:
protection, fulfillment in life, freedom, opportunity, fairness,
equality, prosperity, equality, and community. Following from
these progressive values are four core political principles:
Strict Parent: The family has two parents, a father
and a mother. We live in a dangerous world with competition and
winners and losers. A strong father protects the family from evil and
supports it by winning competitions. The father is the moral
authority, he knows right from wrong, is inherently moral and heads the
household. Obedience to the father is moral; disobedience is
immoral. The mother supports and upholds the authority of the
father but she is not strong enough to protect the family or impose
moral order by herself. Children are born undisciplined.
The father teaches them right from wrong. When children
disobey the father must punish them so that they can develop an
internal discipline to do right.
- The Common Good Principle Citizens working together build
an infrastructure that benefits all and contributes to the pursuit of
individual goals. Examples are the highway system, the security
system, the banking system, etc. These all support the previously
mentioned progressive goals.
- The Expansion of Freedom Principle Most of the history of
our country has been related to struggles related to the expansion of
freedom: independence, slavery, voting rights, workers rights, etc.
- The Human Dignity Principle We need to fight against
torture, genocide, racism, etc. Food, shelter, education, and
health care are basic rights. We need to determine where
- The Diversity Principle Diversity implies that individuals
can set their own life goals from a wide range of possibilities.
It has become a progressive code word referring to discrimination
and the restriction of opportunity that follows. Market diversity
provides protection against shortages, biological diversity reduces the
chance of monocultures being wiped out by pestilence.
Conservative Vision: Conservative morality centers on
authority and control, both self-control and control over others.
Legitimate authority is morally good and this authority must be
obeyed, failure to obey results in punishment. Other values
follow from these fundamental components of authority and control.
Causation Theories Conservatives tend to argue on the
basis of simple, direct, individual causation while progressives tend
to argue on the basis of systemic, complex causation. Two
examples are terrorism and poverty. Conservatives tend to see
terrorism in simple terms, evil people doing evil things who deserve to
be punished. Progressives tend to see terrorists as being caught
up in a bad situation and doing evil things to resolve the situation.
Progressives would like to do something about the situation while
stopping the individuals from performing terrible acts. These
different viewpoints become very important in trying to find a
solution. Conservatives see the American dream as available to
anyone who is disciplined, moral, and ambitious. If you are poor
you are by definition lazy and immoral. Progressives see a
complex set of factors, education, cultural, racism, etc. which limit
opportunity. The same direct vs. systemic causation dichotomy
occurs in many other areas for example crime, health care, immigration,
- Discipline Self-control is essential, moral authority
requires internal discipline which is learned through punishment.
The failure of an authority to punish wrongdoing is a moral
failure. Getting something you haven't earned weakens self
discipline and social programs are therefore wrong.
- Ownership Property acquired through a market is yours to do
with as you see fit. The only valid use of common wealth is to
provide physical security. The profit motive creates efficiency,
government - lacking a profit motive is therefore inefficient and
wasteful, it should therefore be minimized.
- Hierarchy Economic, social, and political hierarchy is
natural because some people are more talented and disciplined than
others and deserve to move up the ladder to success. This is
equity - a higher position earned through merit (talent and discipline)
- not equality.
- The Moral Authority Principle Morality comes from obeying
legitimate moral authorities: God, the law, the president, parents,
teachers, coach, commanding officer, etc.
- The Individual Responsibility Principle We are all
responsible for our own destiny. If you succeed it's because you
deserve it; if you fail, it's your own fault. You are on your
own, no coddling.
- The Free-Market Principle The free market promotes
efficiency, creates wealth, is natural and moral, and rewards
individual discipline. Since wealth can provide freedoms, the
free market is a mechanism of freedom and the government should not
interfere with it. People's needs other than physical security
should be met through the market.
- The Bootstraps Principle With enough self-discipline,
everyone can pull himself or herself up by the bootstraps.
Government has no responsibility to help people who have fallen
behind because of lack of discipline and morality. Charity is an
act of individual virtue, not a responsibility of government.
Identity Issues Why should someone in a stable,
long-term, and loving heterosexual marriage be threatened if a gay or
lesbian couple were to marry? If you are a pure conservative and
your worldview is strict father in every aspect of your life this
worldview defines your very identity, your notion of right and wrong,
parenting, running a a business, and your sexual identity. From
this point of view a father must be a man, a mother must be a woman,
and you must have both to have a family. Gay marriage attacks
everything that you hold to be true. It is similar for abortion:
a father is responsible for everything about his daughter, her clothes,
her education, and her sexual activities - he must "give her away" to
her husband before she can have sex. If she should get pregnant
our of wedlock he decides whether or not to let her have an abortion.
Conservative Populism Liberals tend to think that all
they need to do is explain to poor and middle-class conservatives that
they are voting against their economic self interest if they vote for
conservative candidates. They think that lower income
conservatives are not very bright or all politically uninformed and are
being bamboozled by rich conservatives. Just tell them the truth
and they will understand. Wrong, Wrong, and Double Wrong!
It's a culture war, they have been saturated with strict father
morality and simple causation. They have been told that the
liberal elites are oppressing them. The solution: reach out to
them with the progressive values that they share and help them
understand that their values are being threatened by extreme right wing
C5 Morality and the Market
A common refrain from conservatives is: "Leave it to the market."
You hear it on almost any issue whether it be health care, Social
Security, global warming, campaign finance, or minimum wage. It
is even used in foreign policy, the Iraq war was partially about bring
a free market to Iraqis, much of our efforts in international relations
are about fostering free markets through free-trade policies. The
idea of a free market was promulgated by Adam Smith. Briefly his
idea was that everyone is trying to maximize his profit and that there
is an "invisible hand" - a law of nature, that guarantees that such a
market maximizes the profit for all sellers and buyers and so it helps
everyone - including the nation. Maybe so, but such a market
makes many assumptions that are clearly not true but conservatives have
convinced most, including liberals, that it is true.
In the strict father model the "free market" plays an important role.
The free market is the competitive system that rewards the
disciplined and punishes the undisciplined. The market is th
fundamentalist economics what God is to fundamentalist religion.
God rewards the disciplined who follow his commandments and
punishes the undisciplined who do not. They are both radically
individualistic. You and you alone are responsible for your
actions. If you are disciplined and succeed in the market you
become rich, if you are disciplined and follow His commandments you go
to heaven. The profit motive insures maximum efficiency and
government, which is wasteful and inefficient interferes with the free
market in four ways, regulation, taxes, workers' rights and unions, and
tort lawsuits. Also in conservative economics and conservative
religion the Earth is to be used by human beings for their profit.
Things that are not privately owned and being used for profit
have no value. The idea that some things could be the common
property of all men to bu used by all is explicitly rejected.
In progressive morality the market is a means to distribute goods and
services. Markets should help all people become independent and
find satisfaction in their life. Progressives focus their
energies on where markets depart from the ideal. In such cases
government has to step in an correct them. Where conservatives
see government as interfering with the market progressives see
government as protecting the market: regulation protect from harmful
products and fraud, taxation uses the common wealth to build
infrastructure so that individuals and businesses can thrive, unions
and workers' rights help balance the distribution of power in job
negotiations and promote healthful, safe, and ethical workplaces, tort
lawsuits prevent irresponsible companies from harming the public.
Businesses could not thrive without the infrastructure built by
There are numerous myths surrounding the concept of a "free market" and
conservatives know this. They are very happy to have government
support their causes and these are almost always the upward
distribution of wealth. When wealth is taken from ordinary
taxpayers and given to owners, managers, and stockholders of
businesses. Its only when the government proposes to tax the rich
and businesses to provide programs to support the needs of working
people and consumers that they scream "foul" and bring up the free
Free Market Myths:
Conservatives feel that privatization and deregulation are virtues that
lead to less government; not true. They lead to less responsible
government. The best decisions are made when all parties have a
say in the outcome. Communism has shown that strict governmental
planning does not work but the conservative right is trying to push
these decisions into corporate boardrooms for the benefit of
stockholders. This also will not work. How can we reframe
the arguments to put forward progressive ideals? Lakoff feels
that the best way is to push the progressive principles of human
dignity and the common good. Wealth has become more and more
concentrated in the richest 1 percent of people. No one can amass
a great fortune without depending on the common wealth for much of his
success. Recent computer billionaires could not have gotten
started without government sponsored research on computer technology,
without the electric power grid, and without the internet which grew
out of ARPA funded research on military communications.
Individual consumers do not have the finances to evaluate
products like drugs, paint, etc. and large corporations spend millions on confusing ad campaigns.
- A Purely "Free Market" is Ideal In a completely free
market a drug company could market untested drugs because it could not
be sued. The free markets of the industrial revolution caused
many of the problems that our current welfare system was designed to
- People are Rational Actors From psychology and cognitive science research we know that people don't act that way for most of their lives.
- There Is a Level Playing Field Employers tend to
treat laborers as a separate group and minimize their wages. If
laborers are to have living wages they need more power in their
negotiations with employers.
- A Company's Balance Sheet Reflects True Costs It
is common for businesses to externalize costs and have government or
the public pay them. Extraction industries commonly do not pay
the full open market price and dump pollutants for later clean ups by
- Everything, Even Life, Has a Fair Monetary Value
If businesses do not have to pay for something they tend not to
account for it. Many things, an endangered species, aesthetics,
etc. do not have a standard value and are ignored.
- Markets Are Outside the Scope of Moral Judgments Conservatives feel that unconstrained free markets are inherently
natural and fair and inherently moral. However business decisions
affect human health and life and the environment. These are moral
factors, and we cannot afford to ignore them.
- Everyone Can Pull Himself or Herself Up by the Bootstraps
Some people may be able to do so, however it is not true that all
people can. People vary in ability, in access to training and
education, and there are simply not sufficient positions so that all
people can have high paying jobs. Someone has to wait tables and
pick fruits and vegetables.
C6 Fundamental Values
Both conservatives and progressives talk a lot about the same set
of values, fairness, equality, responsibility, freedom, integrity, and
security. Sometimes they seem to be saying the same things but
other times, even though they start at the same point, they arrive at
startlingly different conclusions. What a British political
scientist W. B. Gallie found in the late 1950's and more recently
others is that these values, which they call contested concepts, have
in common is 1) that they all have an uncontested core that is
generally agreed on, 2) that each concept is evaluative - it expresses
certain values, and the contestation arises from value differences, 3)
each uncontested version of the concept has a complex structure, and
contested versions are variations on that structure. Lakoff
discusses the six values mentioned above in terms of the uncontested
core, the value differences, and how conservatives and progressives
Fairness is unbiased distribution. Contested values: bias, process of distributing things, things distributed, who are they distributed to.
Conservatives tend to see fairness as an open door, everyone is
free to go through if they can pass the test at the door.
Progressives tend to look at pathway leading to the door and
seeing steps say that those in wheelchairs can't even get to the door.
Freedom is being able to do what you want to do, providing you don't interfere with the freedom of others. Contested values: coercion, harm, property, opportunity, fairness, justice, rights, responsibility, nature, competition.
Conservatives tend see that the aspects of freedom are out there,
all you need is the self-discipline to work hard and get them. If
you lack property this proves that you lack the necessary
self-discipline. To give them things they haven't earned
(welfare, Social Security) makes them dependent. Progressives
would see a lack of sufficient money to be a human dignity problem and
see Social Security, welfare, and universal health care as increasing
Equality is sameness of distribution. Contested values: what
is distributed, who things are distributed to, what the process of
distribution is, what counts as the same, who does the distributing, on
what basis. Conservatives tend to see equality of
opportunity. Progressives tend to see equality of result.
In terms of college entrance, conservatives would look only at
tests given at the door. Progressives would look at the number of
graduating college seniors and ask why some groups are underrepresented.
Responsibility is ?? Contested values: ??
Conservatives tend to see responsibility by looking at the person with
a problem and blaming him for not being disciplined enough.
Progressives tend to see responsibility in terms of using the
common wealth for the common good. (I was unhappy with Lakoff's discussion.)
Integrity is saying what you believe and then acting on it
consistently. Contested values: to whom is it applied.
Conservatives tend to see integrity as the consistent application of
strictness. They tend to apply discipline to integrity which
results in unchanging actions. Progressives tend to see integrity
as the consistent application of nurturance. As circumstances
change the actions would change.
Security is providing protection through strength.
Contested values: how force is applied. Conservatives would
tend to use force to stop external threats before the threat turns into
a present danger, security through use of force. Progressives
would tend to build a larger wall to keep the threat out, security
C7 Strategic Initiatives
Strategic initiatives are policy proposals in one area that have
an impact far beyond the explicit change promoted. They can be
classified into two types. One is a multifaceted initiative,
where a targeted policy change has far-reaching effects across many
areas. it advances a range of goals through one change. The
second is the domino initiative. Such policy changes are meant as
a first step toward a broader goal, where the net steps are easier or
inevitable. Examples from the conservative side are tax cuts and
tort reform for the multifaceted initiatives. Tax cuts lower
taxes and also make it impossible to fund social programs or regulatory
oversight. Examples for domino initiatives are school vouchers
which makes it easier to transfer money from public to religious
schools and the veto of stem cell research because Bush saw it as a
first step towards legalizing abortion. These proposals are
confusing because they are designed to hide the true goals of
conservatives. Progressives should see this as positive because
it shows that the American people are too sophisticated to fall for the
real reasons, they must be hidden.
Lakoff goes over the Iraq war in detail, specifying the original
publicized objectives and then the (covert) strategic goals of the Iraq
invasion. It is highly unlikely that the Iraq war would have been
approved if the strategic goals would have been expressed or understood
by the American people. The war passed Congress because the
Republicans hid their true goals and the Democrats did not examine the
Presidents proposal in detail. He goes onto discuss four possible
strategic initiatives, clean elections, health food, ethical business,
and transportation-for-all, and show how these could be used to serve
several progressive values. These are not meant as specific
policy initiatives but as technical studies. Instead of covering
each in detail these should be evaluated anew for each policy proposal.
C8 The Art of Arguments
The final chapter brings together a number of topics. He
starts out with a number of characteristics of effective and successful
He next evaluates some comments made by Senator Barack Obama of
Illinois on the proposed repeal of the estate tax, posted on his Web
site on June 7, 2006. Again, this is too long and detailed to
- They have moral premises, that is, they are about what is right.
- They use versions of contested values taken from a particular moral worldview.
- They have an implicit or explicit narrative structure, i.e., they
all tell stories with heroes, villains, victims, common themes, etc.
- They also serve as counterarguments: They undermine arguments on the other side.
- They have issue-defining frames that set up the problem and the solution.
- They use commonplace frames--frames known so widely that they resonate immediately, whether true or not.
- They use language with surface frames that evoke deeper frames.
Lakoff next discusses the general format of an argument frame. He
says that the general argument frame is composed of five parts:
Moral values, Fundamental principles, Issue-defining frame,
Commonplace frame, and Inference. The first three and the last
are usually unique to the specific argument but the fourth, the
commonplace frame, is used to link the others to frames already
existing in the listener (reader). Some of these are as follows:
He discusses the four types of stories that Robert Reich identified,
"The Triumphant Individual" - the story of the self-made man, "The
Benevolent Society" - how a collective set of heroes makes a better
community, "The Mob at the Gates" - where America must be defended
against threats from other nations and peoples, and "Rot at the Top" -
warns of powerful elites who abuse their power to the detriment of the
- Bad apple frame - A bad apple spoils the barrel.
If you remove the rotten apple the rest will not be infected.
Used by Bush to limit inquiry into the Abu Ghraib scandal.
- Tradition is right frame - If an idea or institution
has "passed the test of time," then it is right. Used against gay
marriage - traditional marriage has been between a man and a woman,
therefore this is the only option.
- Teenage minimum wage frame - Very specific, supposedly
most people working at the minimum wage are teenagers in their first
jobs. They are supported by their parents so they don't need
higher wages. False but it confuses the issue.
- Adaptation frame - People will do it anyway so live
with it. People will have sex anyway so the best thing to do is
to educate them on safe practices and birth control methods.
- Slippery slope frame - Even though the activity under
discussion is not inherently bad it is the first step in the process
which will inevitably result in something bad. If gays are
allowed to marry the next thing will be people wanting to marry dogs,
Tony Snow, the White House press secretary, reported that Bush vetoed
the stem cell research bill because it was a slippery slope resulting
in killing living human beings.
- Prototype frames - The use of a stereotype to
characterize a category. Both sides use them, the conservative
use is the term, "illegal immigrant," while the progressives use the
term, "undocumented worker." In this "illegal" implies don't
speak English, are uneducated, take jobs away from Americans, use
social welfare funds, and are criminals. " Undocumented" implies
honest, hardworking, doing essential work that most Americans won't,
and seeking to find the American dream.
Finally he uses the parts of the argument frame to discuss arguments
regarding crime-and-punishment, safety-net, political stories, the use
of photos, and net neutrality.
Epilogue The book is called Thinking Points
- because thinking is the activity that has to come first in any
movement. It is about teaching the progressive community a new
method of thinking about how to win the battle with conservatives.
Thinking points are the opposite of talking points, slogans,
bumper stickers, T-shirt mottos, and ad copy. These are OK, but
they are not what this book is about. Today's issues may be
forgotten tomorrow. But the principles and values behind those
issues will last.
Introduction: Why Can't We
Talk about Religion and Politics? Why can't you bring up these
two topics in polite company? Abraham Lincoln had it right.
Out task is not to invoke religion and the name of God by
claiming God's blessing and endorsement for our national policies and
practices - to say that God is on our side. Lincoln said that we
should pray and worry earnestly whether we are on God's side. To
claim that God is on our side leads to triumphalism,
self-righteousness, bad theology and dangerous foreign policy.
Asking if we are on God's side leads to repentance, humility, and
accountability. God's politics is never partisan or ideological,
it challenges our politics to respond to the real needs of out country
and our world. Many polls and journalists talk about values as
though they only consisted of abortion and gay marriage, when people
are given the option of responding to other values these become much
Many Democrats want to restrict religion to the private sphere and are
uncomfortable with the language of faith and values even when applied
to their own agenda. Many Republicans want to narrowly restrict
religion to a short list of hot-button social issues and obstruct its
application to other matters that would threaten their agenda.
Sojourners led a petition and ad campaign titled "God Is Not a
Republican. Or a Democrat." Wallis feels that soon
Republicans will begin questioning their leaders about the morality of
poverty, war, etc. and that Democrats will start to realize that being
liberal need not mean rejecting religion. The Sojourners ad
rejects the Religious Right claim that God sides with only the
Republicans and George W. Bush. It states that religious people
are not single-issue voters. He repeats the ad's statements that
refer to several political issues are actually religious issues and
provides Biblical references for each. These are that poverty
the environment( Genesis 2:15, Psalm 24:1), war (Matthew 5:9),
truth-telling (John 8:32), human rights (Genesis 1:27), response to
terrorism (Matthew 6:33, Proverbs 8:12-13), and a consistent ethic of
human life (Deuteronomy 30:19) are religious issues.
Part I Changing the Wind
C1 Take Back the Faith Co-opted by the Right, Dismissed by the Left
Many feel that there has been an enormous public
misrepresentation of Christianity and because of this many people
around the world feel that Christianity is pro-rich, pro-war, and only
pro-American. The religious and political Right gets it mostly
wrong, focusing only on sexual and cultural issues while ignoring
matters of justice. The secular Left doesn't seem to get the
meaning of faith for politics at all - dismissing spirituality as
irrelevant to social change. But take it back from whom?
From religious right-wingers who claim to know God's political
views but ignore the subjects He cares the most about, from pedophile
priests and cover-up bishops, from television preachers, from liberal
theologians, from New Age philosophers, and politicians who claim to be
religious but ignore the values of faith. Wallis is not the
religious left, he sees the image of God in every human being and views
human rights coming from this vision. Scripture is clear that
poverty is a religious issue. Both personal and social
responsibly are necessary for overcoming poverty, if you don't see this
you have never lived or worked near poverty or poor people.
Neither religious nor secular fundamentalism can save us but a
new spiritual revival could transform our society.
Wallis discusses the religious themes of the 2004 election and later.
The right tried to anoint Bush as Savior and the left gradually
began to perceive that religion existed, but through a glass, darkly.
Many religious people are offended by the language, style, and
moral framing of abortion and gay-marriage. They would probably
support Democrats if there were concrete measures to reduce the
abortion rate by focusing on teen pregnancy, adoption reform, and real
support for low-income women and supporting marriage and family without
being anti-gay. He and others met with Bush after the 2000
election and he was impressed by Bush's faith and promises.
Unfortunately Bush failed to keep his promises and his faith was
based on bad theology, Bush seems to believe in a God of Charity but
not a God of Justice. After 9/11 Bush's theology became much
The author points out a number of issues where he finds the values of
Jesus and the Bible are diametrically opposed to the statements of the
religious Right and the views of the Republicans.
C2 A Lack of Vision Too Narrow or None at All
Wallis tells of a talk he gave in Washington DC to a group of
poor people. He told them not to waste their time, they came to
see members of Congress so they needed to recognize them quickly.
He told them that members of Congress are the people walking
around town with their fingers held high in the air, having just licked
them and put them up to see which way the wind is blowing. You
might think that by replacing them we could get what we want.
Won't happen, they all adjust to the reality of Washington.
The way to do it is by changing the wind.
He gives as an example the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Martin Luther King had just won the Nobel Peace Prize for the
Civil Rights Act of 1964 and on his way back from Oslo he stopped in
Washington DC to speak to President Johnson. King wanted a Voting
Rights act, Johnson said that he just couldn't do it, he had used up
all of his political capital and it would be another 5 to 10 years
before it would be possible. King went back to Alabama and
organized the Selma civil rights march. In 5 months the Voting
Rights Act of 1965 was passed. Johnson wanted it but he knew his
efforts would fail without political pressure. King supplied the
pressure, he changed the wind. To change the wind you need to
know where you are going and how to get there, that is vision.
A biblical proverb states, "Without a vision, the people perish."
Wallis quotes extensively from Habakkuk. The problems of
America today are either lack of vision in public life or incorrect
vision. When politicians have visions that defend wealth and
power the whole society suffers. When Wallis considers social and
economic decisions he always asks, "How are the kids doing?" What
happens to children, our own and everybody else's, is a question that
illuminates all the others.
C3 Is There a Politics of God? God Is Personal, but Never Private
Affluent countries and churches breed private disciples, perhaps
because the applications of faith to public life could become quickly
challenging. Dare we search for the politics of God? It's
much easier to use God to justify our politics. Who were the
prophets speaking to? Usually to kings, judges, landlords, and
the wealthy. And who were they usually speaking for?
Usually the dispossessed, widows and orphans (now - poor single
moms), the hungry, and the homeless.
The author was born and raised in an all-white suburb of Detroit and he
began to be bothered by the poverty and racism of central Detroit.
One day he was arguing with an elder of his church and he never
forgot what the elder said. "Christianity has nothing to do with
racism; that is a political issue, and our faith is personal." He
eventually left his church, not returning until he could reconcile the
differences between that statement and his reading of the bible.
He believes that if we restrict our religion to our private lives we
are leaving out much of the Bible and the teachings of Jesus.
Part II Moving Beyond the Politics of Complaint
C4 Protest Is Good; Alternatives are Better What Are We For?
Wallis describes his activities in the few weeks before the
beginning of the Gulf War in 2003. Church leaders from the US,
England, and around the world presented two similar plans for avoiding
war. They met with Prime Minister Blair and members of the
British Cabinet and discussed ways of preventing a war. Then a
plan was developed which was presented to the British and the
Americans. Tony Blair met with them, President Bush refused to
meet them. In brief the plans were as follows:
A: Remove Hussein and the Baath Party from power. Target him but protect the Iraqi people.
B: Pursue coercive disarmament. Increase inspections, use a multinational force to protect and support inspectors.
C: Foster a democratic Iraq. the United Nations should
administer it. An American viceroy is the wrong solution.
D: Organize a massive humanitarian effort for the people of Iraq now, do not wait.
E: Recommit to a "road map" to peace in the Middle East.
F: Refocus the world's energies to the thread of networks of suicidal terrorists.
C5 How Should Your Faith Influence Your Politics? What's a Religious Voter to Do?
"The politics of God is often not the same as the politics of the
people of God. The real question is not whether religious faith
should influence a society and it politics, but how."
Recently Republicans have been the party of the religious.
Democrats have avoided the issue and displayed ignorance.
Unfortunately the only religion mentioned turned out to be gays
and abortion. Poverty, environment, war, etc. have not been seen
as a religious issue. At the end of the 2004 election Kerry did
start mentioning religion, but only to religious bodies.
Lord Acton said, "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts
absolutely." Wallis agrees but adds the proviso, often. It
definitely increases the probability of corruption. He goes on to
give examples of churchmen being corrupted by the power of the Bush and
Clinton administrations and how they have paid the price for this
Christianity has always been a part of America. Our founders
found it so important that they put it in the Constitution that the
State could not control (sponsor) any religion and that no religion
could control the State. The question has never been will
religious values help shape our nation, but how.
He defines fundamentalism as a revolt against modernity. It
is a reaction against the fear that one will "lose one's faith."
Religious fundamentalism, whether it be Christian, Judaism, or
Islam, does not create terrorism: that takes theocracy and the reach
for power. The antidote to religious fundamentalism is not more
secularism, it is better religion. Before their disastrous
support creationism during the Scopes trial in 1925, fundamentalists
often allied themselves with the left in supporting social reforms.
Following the trial they became increasingly conservative and,
"separate from the world." Some fundamentalists from all three
religious traditions have been moving towards theocracy and away from
the true message of their religion. Secular fundamentalist make a
basic mistake, they believe that the separation of church and state
ought to mean the separation of faith from public life. Everyone,
secular or religious, should bring his ideals to public life.
C6 Prophetic Politics A New Option
"Prophecy is not future telling, but articulating moral truth."
The author sees three major political options in our current
public life. Conservatism on most issues, Liberalism on most
issues, Libertarian (liberal on cultural/moral issues and conservative
on fiscal/economic/foreign policy issues). He would propose a
fourth option, conservative on family values, sexual integrity, and
personal responsibility while being liberal on poverty, race, the
environment, and foreign policy. It stresses the link between
personal ethics and social justice. He finds support for such an
alternative among all religious and ethnic groups. He discusses
the use of religion in recent political life and suggests questions for
candidates to answer that would illuminate their honest values.
He says that politicians try to make us afraid of a problem and
then they look for someone they can blame for it. The media acts
like it believes there are only two sides to every political issue -
they want to stir up a fight between two polarized views instead of
convening a public discussion to find serious answers.
Part III Spiritual Values and International Relations When Did Jesus Become Pro-War?
C7 Be Not Afraid A Moral Response to Terrorism
In the US today we have a foreign policy based primarily on fear.
After 9/11 instead of trying to capture and punish the criminals
we responded with fear. Instead or accepting the vulnerability
that the rest of the world lives with we responded with fear and lashed
out at everything. He discusses terrorism, fear, appropriate, and
inappropriate responses. He ends with repeating a column he wrote
1. Treat the thread of terrorism as very real.
2. Avoid bad theology.
3. Listen to the different perceptions of Sept. 11 around the world.
4. Let's define terrorism the right way, and allow no double standards.
5. Attack not only the symptoms, but also the root causes of terrorism.
6. The solutions to terrorism are not primarily military.
7. It's time to move beyond the old debates of pacifism vs. just war.
8. It is time to end the era of unilateral action by any nation.
9. This is not a time for peace-loving, but rather for peacemaking.
10. Finally, the fight against terrorism is a spiritual struggle, not just a political one.
C8 Not a Just War The Mistake of Iraq Saddam
was evil, but did he directly threaten the US? Did he threaten
the world? Were his crimes enough to justify killing hundreds of
thousands of Iraqis and thousands of US and other soldiers? The
Bush government seemed to think that the only tool they possessed was
the US Army. The threat of terrorism is much different from the
threat of war. Before the war, the only church group in the world
that supported the war was the American Southern Baptists. Wallis
repeats a joint statement that a group of United Kingdom and US
religious leaders published before the war. This statement
condemned the actions of Iraq but stated that for the US and Britain to
go to war would be illegal, unwise, and immoral. After the war
broke out he published a list of 10 "Lessons of War". In May 2003
Bush landed on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln and announced,
"Mission accomplished." What mission? What was accomplished?
Who will be sacrificed? When will the occupation be over
and when will Iraq be rebuilt?
C9 Dangerous Religion The Theology of Empire
Many are starting to use the words "empire" and "Pax Americana"
to describe the relationship between the US and the World. The
religious right seems to be very comfortable with these terms.
Bush transformed himself from a sometimes Episcopal, to a
Methodist, to a messianic Calvinist. Bush increasingly sees his
presidency as part of a divine plan. The problem is not with Bush's
faith, the problem is that his biblical justifications for his actions
are either taken out of context or employed in ways quite different
from their original meaning. It is almost as though Bush has
speech-writers scanning the Bible looking for quotes that would
resonate with his supporters and then rephrasing them in such a way
that they support his own plans, irrespective of the biblical meaning
of the quotation. Wallis discusses evil, torture, and the use of
religion by presidents. He includes a text that a group of
religious educators published in 2004 and an open letter that he sent
to General Boykin following his appointment as deputy under-secretary
of defense for intelligence regarding some statements that General
C10 Blessed Are the Peacemakers Winning Without War
Jesus did not say, "Blessed are the peace lovers", he said,
"Blessed are the peacemakers." Simply putting flowers in gun
barrels is not enough. We must treat terrorists as criminals,
probably using force to restrain them but not uncontrolled violence.
We must have a definitive definition of terrorism and work within
that definition to develop suitable methods. We must all strive
to be peacemakers, not just peace lovers.
C11 Against Impossible Odds Peace in the Middle East
The chapter details many of the problems of the conflict between
the Israelis and the Palestinians. It discusses how neither side
(nor most others) are willing to take responsibility for their actions
and merely blame others.
C12 Micah's Vision for National and Global Security Cure Causes, Not Just Symptoms.
The eighth-century BC prophet has become his national security
inspiration. 9/11 should have let us joint most of the rest of
the world in the realization that violence can come and change our
lives. The world told us that they were ready for the leadership
that we could give to do something about the injustices that feed
terrorism. We came back looking for someone to kill and most of
the world condemned us. The world did not agree, and neither did
Micah. He said that the nations will come to the Lord's city on
the highest hills and they shall beat their swords into plowshares and
sit under their own vines and fig trees and no one shall make them
afraid. They asked for leadership, they got domination.
Wallis goes on to site several examples of modern day leaders
repeating the lessons of Micah.
Part IV Spiritual Values and Economic Justice When Did Jesus Become Pro-Rich
C13 The Poor You Will Always Have with You? What Does the Bible Say about Poverty?
Wallis often asks people what they think the most famous biblical
text about poverty is. They always give the same answer, "The
poor you will always have with you!" (Mark, 14:7) WRONG - the
entire text reads, "For you will always have the poor with you, and you
can show kindness to them whenever you wish; but you will not always
have me." Jesus and his disciples were at a dinner with a leper - an
outcast. A woman had just honored Jesus by pouring expensive oil
on his head, an ancient sign of great honor, and the disciples were
criticizing her for wasting expensive oil. He defends her actions
and tells them that they will always have the poor to minister to and
to be thankful when they are appreciative, but He will not always be
there for them. When Wallis was in seminary, he and a group of
students counted the references to the poor in the Bible. It is the
second most prominent theme in the Old Testament (idolatry was first)
and one of every 16 verses in the New Testament is about the poor or
money. In the first three gospels it is in 1 of 10 and in Luke it is
in 1 in 7). One of their group took an old Bible and cut out all the
references, it was a sieve. He accuses many churches in America
of using this bible.
C14 Poor People Are Trapped--in the Debate about Poverty Breaking the Left/Right Impasse
The chapter starts out discussing the Burger King Mom, a young
woman working at Burger King, returning to her three children sitting
in the corner doing homework every time she got a break between
Whopper, fries, and chicken nugget orders. Recent elections have
talked about the Soccer Mom, the NASCAR Dad, the Security Mom (and
don't forget the Welfare Queen), but who speaks for the Burger King
Mom? The Republicans look after their wealthy constituents, the
Democrats see themselves as champions of the Middle Class and the media
don't seem to care about the poor either. He discusses facts
about poverty, biblical quotations, stories about poverty fighting
efforts, and a few government efforts.
C15 Isiah's Platform Budgets are Moral Documents
Nearly 3000 years ago the prophet Isaiah offered us God's vision
of a good society. Wallis' suggestion, look to our federal
budgets to see where our national priorities, the poor and families
seem to have been forgotten. More description of support cuts for
families and tax cuts for the rich.
C16 Amos and Enron What Scandalizes God?
When I first saw this chapter title I said to myself. "Ok,
Amos is one of those old Bible guys, but who is this Enron person, I
don't recognize him?" My stupid, Enron is the energy company.
What are the moral lessons here. The circumstances around
the Enron and other large company collapses are discussed, why the
governmental response was totally lacking, and what we should do from a
moral viewpoint. He quotes from Amos, Isaiah (5:8), Micah (7:3),
and from Jeremiah (5:28).
C17 The Tipping Point Faith and Global Poverty
We have the information, knowledge, technology, and resources to
bring the worst of global poverty to an end. What we don't have
is the moral and political will to do so. Wallis refers to
Malcolm Gladwell's, The Tipping Point,
and asks if we are coming close to a tipping point where enough people
see the need to finally attack the global problem of poverty. He
asks a number of questions and makes several proposals to start this
Part V Spiritual Values and Social Issues When Did Jesus Become a Selective Moralist?
C18 A Consistent Ethic of Life Abortion and Capital Punishment
Political liberals often fail to comprehend how deep and
fundamental the conviction on "the sacredness of human life" is for
millions of Christians - especially Catholics and evangelicals.
Psalm 139:13 is the basis for much of this, "For it was you who
formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother's womb."
Even though the the Republicans court the evangelicals on this,
they are remarkably permissive with regard to pro-choice Republicans.
Democrats are much more rigid about being pro-choice.
Democrats need to loosen up and let people have their own moral
values. Democrats want to legalize abortion but don't do much to make
abortions less common and Republicans take a strong anti-abortion
position and then ignore it until the next election. Democratic
platform statement in 2000, "Our goal is to make abortion less
necessary and more rare . . . We must continue to support efforts to
reduce unintended pregnancies, and we call upon all Americans to take
personal responsibility to meet this important goal." Clinton ran
on a promise to make abortion "safe, legal, and rare." The 2000
platform states that the party recognizes "different views on issues of
personal conscience like abortion and capital punishment. We view
this diversity of views as a source of strength, not signs of
weakness." This was removed for the 2004 platform. They
refused to provide a link to the Democrats for Life website.
Another problem is what the Catholics would call "a consistent ethic of
life" which would include abortion, allowing people to die from
preventable diseases and hunger, and capital punishment.
C19 Truth Telling About Race America's Original Sin
"America's original sin was that it was established as a white
society, founded upon the genocide of another race and then the
enslavement of yet another." Why do we "have to be carefully
taught ... to hate all the people your relatives hate?" Howard
Dean's speech in Columbia, South Carolina on Dec. 7, 2003 is compared
to speeches by Lyndon Johnson and others.
C20 The Ties That Bond Family and Community Values He
wonders how the Fox network gets away with preaching
conservative politics and then presenting the type of "entertainment"
shows that it does. The real problem here isn't sex, it is the
commodification of everything, turning all values into market values.
Why do some people join the religious right? Perhaps partially to
protect their kids from the crass and degrading banality that pervades
much of entertainment. (Run by companies that benefit from far
right policies.) In 2004 married people supported Bush 57% to
Kerry's 42%, unmarried people supported Kerry 58% to Bush's 40%, why?
Perhaps because because when people get married and have kids
their perceptions change, they think about new things. The
Republicans have learned to exploit this, it's time that Democrats
learn that it is OK to challenge sexual exploitation without becoming a
Liberals and Conservatives, Republicans and Democrats, are all
responsible for politicizing the questions of family life. All
families are facing severe stress. The original family, the
extended family, has all but disappeared from the West. The
nuclear family is stressed, low paying jobs, schedules that are
impossible, and lack of community support. Gays and lesbians who
which to build families are under much more stress. Many
religious groups have serious problems with gay marriage but we cannot
continue to deny civil protections and benefits. As one
envangelical leader suggested, let individual churches determine their
own criteria for marriage but take away their ability to pronounce
marriage blessings "by the authority vested in me by the State of
Pennsylvania". The responsibilities and benefits of civil union
should be the responsibility of civil authorities. We need to
strengthen these functions to strengthen them. We must change our
discussion of values and morality from being strictly about sex to
include justice, health, and poverty.
Part VI Spiritual Values and Social Change
C21 The Critical Choice Hope Versus Cynicism
He tells several personal stories, his wife dancing with the
archbishop of the Church of England, his son dancing at a New Years
party, dancing at a church service led by Desmond Tutu and the
inauguration of Nelson Mandella. When he was growing up the
greatest challenge was that between the evangelical Christians and the
secular humanists, that kind of thinking led to the religious Right.
He is also critical of what he calls "secular fundamentalism"
which seems to cause an allergy to spirituality and a disdain for
anything religious. He believes that the best answer to the poor
religion of the radical Right is good religion, going back to the
prophets and Jesus. He tells several stories of the choices
several people have made that have improved their lives and the lives
of other people.
Epilogue: We Are the Ones We've Been Waiting For
A friend of his would always tell people that "We are the ones
we've been waiting for!" when people complained that we don't have any
good leaders today. If the world needs changing for the better,
we have got to be the ones who change it.
The book ends with a 10 page section of notes. There is a reading
group guide available online at www.harpercollins.com (reading groups).
There are links to Sojourners, www.sojo.net and
email@example.com and Call to Renewal, www.calltorenewal.org and
firstname.lastname@example.org. They both have periodical e-newsletters.