The Common Good

Amy Sullivan: Upsetting the Apple Cart

I heard a thought-provoking commentary on "All Things Considered" last night by a woman named Caroline Langston. She talked about the fact that over the past decade or so her political views have changed, but not her religious views--and wondered whether that was acceptable to her newfound peers on the liberal end of the political spectrum.

One of the problems with the oft-used term "religious left" is that it is sometimes taken to connote people who are theologically liberal in addition to politically liberal. Those of us who are conservative (I prefer the term "orthodox") theologically but liberal politically sometimes pose problems when our religiously-informed political beliefs don't always fall neatly into the traditional liberal categories. Some of you out there may relate to Caroline, who warns her new friends:

"I'm still pro life, not because I am a tool of the patriarchy as some girl once accused me, but because it seems consistent with others who at risk, vulnerable and unwanted. I have grave concerns about stem cell research, not because I want to shove my religion on others but because I've learned to be suspicious of people who claim that philosophical objections are unimportant. And my disenchantment with the current conservative movement rests on two concepts that the great cannon of Western literature gave me - hubris and sin."

The new political and religious landscape that we'll be exploring on this blog is more complicated than the monolithic one that has been assumed in the past, during the time of what Jim Wallis refers to as the Religious Right's monologue. It will require some tough thinking by people on all sides who may have to rework ideas about who their allies are. As Caroline asks at the end of her commentary: "Is there a place for me at the table, exactly as I am?"

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