Emancipatory Spirituality

One of the most interesting discussions during this fall's presidential campaign has been the controversy over faith and politics, fueled by Sen. Joe Lieberman's frequent invocation of his religious beliefs. It is a continuing contradiction of contemporary society that while 95 percent of the public believe in God, 65 percent are currently members of a church or synagogue, and nearly half attend weekly services, our culture is aggressively secular. The dominant belief is that spirituality should be purely personal and have no role in public life.

Rabbi Michael Lerner believes that this culture has led to a denial and repression of our spiritual needs, but correctly argues that more and more people are beginning to take those needs seriously. His fundamental premise is that "God is the Force of healing and transformation, that which constantly allows us to transcend all that is and move towards that which can and should be....Our meaning in life comes from being embodiments of that Spirit...." In other words, Spirit Matters.

While the book often shows more of Lerner's psychological education than his theological training, it is an important practical teaching on how to live in a "spiritually deadened world" by connecting with an "emancipatory spirituality" that gives our lives and work a higher purpose. He challenges both conservatives and liberals whose beliefs "lead to the conclusion that all people really care about is their material well-being."

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Sojourners Magazine November-December 2000
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