This and That
Issue: 11.05 5/25/2010
Spiritual Progressives conference in D.C.

If there is any way you could get to our Network of Spiritual Progressives conference in D.C. June 11-14, it would really be important for me for you to be there.

If money is the problem, we could lower your registration fee to whatever you could afford (even to zero if that was the determining factor-though of course we badly need the registration fees to offset the costs, and we can't afford to pay for your transportation or hotel the way groups like AIPAC do to get their large numbers at their conferences).

And of course, if you can only come for part of the conference, that's fine too (Friday and Saturday are the most important days, though Sunday is the day we demonstrate at the White House and get to hear from the most significant progressive Evangelical thinker in the US-Rev. Brian McLaren).

As you know, we are planning to launch at our conference the ESRA-- Environmental and Social Responsibility Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which would not only overturn the Supreme Court's disgusting pro-corporate "Citizens United" decision that eliminates restraints on corporate spending during elections (and hence will move the country even further to the right), but also our ESRA will forbid most private funding and require only public funding for Congress and the presidency, and will require corporate environmental and social responsibility beyond anything currently contemplated by either Congress or many of the tame environmental organizations, (Follow the link to read the current draft  but not final, version of the ESRA).

That's not all. We'll also be having a broad discussion of how secular liberals and progressives can work together with spiritual and religious progressives to develop a coherent strategy for the Obama years. I'd like your input if at all possible.

We'll also be renewing our campaign for a Global Marshall Plan. There is now some possibility that we might try to use the Middle East as the first location for doing the GMP-we'll talk about that too. We'll also talk about our strategy for immigration reform (did you read my editorial about it in the May/June issue of Tikkun? If you aren't getting Tikkun, it means you haven't paid dues for the Network of Spiritual Progressives-why not help us out by joining now and I'll send you that article  We'll also be talking about the Kagan confirmation hearings and the Supreme Court and a progressive approach to law. We'll have a debate about Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions to influence the situation in Israel/Palestine, and on Sunday June 13 we have a demonstration planned at Lafayette Park opposite the White House.

Our central message to our elected officials will be "stop being pragmatic and realistic and start putting forward a coherent progressive message that could counter the Sara Palin Tea Party conservatives and the media cheerleaders for war, cutting taxes on the rich, and dismantling social programs for the poor." Our alternative? What we call The Caring Society.

And the people who are going to be in this discussion are some of the most significant thinkers and activists and spiritual visionaries in the country-from Bill McKibben, the leading theorist of environmental sanity to Congressman Dennis Kucinich to Congressman Keith Ellison who introduced the Global Marshall Plan into Congress to Benedictine Sister Joan Chittister, Rev. Brian McLaren, Riane Eisler, Marianne Williamson, and Rev. James Forbes and progressive economists David Korten and John Cavanagh and their Economics Study Group, and Heather Booth and Gar Alperovitz. . Plus Medea Benjamin, Riane Eisler, Robert Thurman, Peter Gabel, Jeremy Ben Ami (chair of J street), Sharon Welch, John Dear S.J., Lester Brown, Svi Shapiro, Bill Moyer, Paul Wapner, Dr. Margaret Flowers, Jonathan Granoff, David Loy, Rabbi Arthur Waskow, Sherry Shapiro, Robert McChesney, and the energizer and leader of the Board of Church and Society of the Methodists Rev. Jim Winkler. It will be chaired by Rev. Graylan Hagler, Rev. Ama Zenya, and me.

Look, I'm not going to tell you that if you are not there you can't still play an important role. I'd like you to help take the ideas of the ESRA, the GMP, and the other ideas that we develop there and get them endorsed by your local city council, your elected officials, your church or synagogue or mosques or ashram, your union or your civic organization or your professional organization. I'm hoping you'll be part of our ongoing campaign. But trust me, it makes a big difference to come together and meet others who share this vision-because otherwise it just seems like an email, and not a reality. Truth is that there are tens of thousands of people who share our vision, and millions who would if they knew about it. We expect only a few hundred of them will show up in D.C.-but that's all the more reason why we need you there to be able to bring back the energy into your own life and community.

So let me know. You can get all the details here. But if you have a financial issue, just send me a note telling me what you can afford, and a check made out to NSP conference, and that will be enough for your registration: Rabbi Lerner, c/o Tikkun Conference, 2342 Shattuck, #1200, Berkeley, Ca. 94704.

Whether or not you can make it, I really want you to know that your support makes a great deal of difference to me. My wife and I are still recovering from the attack on our home 13 days ago by right-wing Zionists, possibly inspired by Alan Dershowitz's labeling all the rabbis who supported Judge Richard Goldstone's report about Israel and Hamas' human rights violations "Rabbis for Hamas" and then went on to say "and Michael Lerner is the worst of them" (his attack, and a subsequent one appeared in Huffington Post and The Jerusalem Post). As the police said, when people attack your home the point is to let you know that you are vulnerable and they know how to get to you. But I'm not going to let them silence us at Tikkun or the NSP. I received too many notes of support to be able to answer them all, but I really appreciated the outpouring of caring!!!

Love and blessings,
Rabbi Michael Lerner

Editor, Tikkun Co-chair, with Benedictine Sister Joan Chittister and Prof. Cornel West, of the Network of Spiritual Progressives

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