Spiritual Activism Conference

Starting Date: 05-17-2006
Ending Date: 05-20-2006

Washington, District of Columbia 20001
United States
Building on the July,2006 conference in Berkeley, this will be the National conference to launch a prophetic spiritual politics agenda to the media and the politicians in D.C. and to train organizers who will take the agenda into their communities. The conference will also celebrate the release of Rabbi Michael Lerner's new book The Left Hand of God, with its proposed Spiritual Covenant for America and the release of the paper back version of Jim Wallis' God's Politics.

We will bring the Spiritual Covenant for America (based in part on the conversations that took place at the July 2005 conference and developed into a platform in Rabbi Lerner's The Left Hand of God) to the attention of the U.S. Congress and the liberal and progressive forces headquartered in D.C.

The Religious Right has dominated public discourse because it has managed to portray itself as the force that genuinely cares about the spiritual crisis that permeates American life. Yet the Religious Right uses the legitimacy it gets from articulating spiritual needs to support a political program that includes militarism and the war in Iraq, reducing the taxes on rich people while eliminating badly needed social programs for the poor, rejecting international agreements to combat global warming (thereby contributing to a series of environmental disasters like the increased ferocity and frequency of destructive hurricanes), and divisive assaults on the rights of women and homosexuals.

Unfortunately, liberals and progressives, even when they try to articulate an alternative program, too often revert to a technocratic and economistic alternatives that miss the spiritual dimension of human needs. That is why we are building a movement of spiritual progressives that is both a challenge to the Right and to the anti-religious and anti-spiritual tendencies within some parts of the Left.

Our conference is part of that process, and we will be highlighting a Spiritual Covenant with America that is as much an alternative to the tepid and visionless rhetoric of some sections of establishment liberals as it is to the moral insensitivity of some sections of the Right. Our perspective is unabashedly visionary and "unrealistic" in the sense that it challenges the contemporary denizens of political realism and insists that the challenges facing the human race today require a major jump in consciousness and poltiical courage. We are honored to be working with All Souls Church, which has a rich history of social justice ministry.

The full agenda of the conference will not be ready till March, but our experience at our first conference in July of 2005 indicates that we will fill up on the available spaces very quickly, so we urge people to register as soon as they can, and to spread the word to friends and others around the country who they think ought to be here, particularly their religious or spiritual leaders, their political leaders and elected representatives, and social change activists and spiritual activists.

Important note on process: At the last conference we sought to democratically empower work groups to come up with a platform. A few of them worked to make some important contributions, many others did not. The concensus of the feedback we got was that this would not be a workable way to develop a platform. So, we've decided instead to use the time betweeen now and our third conference (one tentatively scheduled for the fall of 2007), to do two things; a. Use the Spiritual Covenant with America that appears in the book The Left Hand of God (and which was compiled in part in response to the discussions that took place at the first conference) as the tentative platform and to use it as the foundation both for our initial educating of Congress and the liberal and progressive forces that we hope to do in our conference in DC May 17-20, 2006 and as the foundation for subsequent discussion in local NSP and Tikkun Community chapters over the course of the next 20 months leading up to the Fall of 2007, at which time we hope to have our national office consolidate all the feedback we've received, integrate it into a slightly revised platform agenda, and have that discussed at the national conference, then re-discussed at the local level in chapters, and then finally a draft based on all this feedback submitted for vote by the membership through a mail or email ballot. In the meantime, and till the beginning of 2008, the Spiritual Covenant with America will function as our public platform, and the book The Left Hand of God: Taking Back our Country from the Religious Right will serve as the intepretive frame for understanding the full dimensions explicit and imp[icit in the Spiritual Covenant.

Agenda for the interfaith Network of Spiritual Progressivesí Conference on Spiritual Activism,

May 17-20, 2006 All Souls Church, Washington D.C.

Wednesday, May 17

8 a.m.- Registration
9 a.m. Opening Religious/Spiritual Rituals.
10 a.m. Introduction to the Conference: Robyn Thomas and Rev. Robert Hardies
10:30-12:00 Understanding Spiritual Politics Sister Joan Chittister, national co-chair, The Tikkun Community and NSP (a Benedictine nun who is past president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and the author of many books including Becoming Fully Human: The Greatest Glory of God, «alled to Question: A Spiritual Memoir, and The Wisdom of the Benedictine Elders ), Peter Gabel (associate editor of Tikkun and chair of the program on Spirituality and Politics at New College of California and author of The Bank Teller and Other Essays on the Politics of Meaning) and Harvey Cox (professor of Theology at Harvard University School of Divinity and author of When Jesus Came to Harvard and of Fire from Heaven: The Rise of Pentecostal Spirituality and the Reshaping of Religion in the 21st Century)
12:00-12:30 Small Groups
12;30-1:30 Lunch
1:30-3:15 Keynote Plenary: Rabbi Michael Lerner and U.S. Senator Barack Obama (invited)
3:15-3:30 First meetings with small groups
3:30 5:15 Trainings focused on the Spiritual Covenant with America to prepare participants for presenting these ideas to their elected representatives:
1. Covenant with Ňmerican Families
2. Covenant of Peronsal Responsibility
3. Covenant of Social Responsibility
4. Covenant for a Values-Based Education
5. Covenant for Health Care
6. Covenant of Environmental Stewardship
7. Covenant for Building a Safer World and the Strategy of Generosity and Non-Violence in Foreign Policy
8. Covenant to Separate Church, State and Science

5:30-6:30 Workshops on spiritual politics
6:30-8:00 Dinner break
8:00-11 Concert and speakers on the Role of Spirit and Religion in Politics Bishop Thomas Gumbleton of Detroit, William Sinkford (national president of the Unitarian Universalists Association, Rev. Joan Brown Campbell (former General Secretary of the National Council of Churches of Christ and now director of Religion at the Chautauqua Institute, Rabbi Brian Walt (executive director, Rabbis for Human Rights), Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey, Abdul Aziz Said (Director, International Peace and Conflict Resolution, School of International Service, American University)

Thursday, May 18

7:30 a.m.-9 a.m. Spiritual and religious practices at the Senate or House Office Buildings
9 a.m.-1 p.m. Teach-in to Congress on Spiritual Poltiics at the Capitol Building
9 a.m.-1 p.m. Individual meetings with elected representatives by participants
1-2 p.m. Return to Conference site
2 p.m. Workshops focused on the Spiritual Covenant with Americans
3:30 Workshops on spiritual politics
5 p.m.-5:30 Cindy Sheehan on The War in Iraq
5:30-6:30 Afternoon Plenary: How the Network of Spiritual Politics Can Intersect with the Struggle for the Heart of Traditional Religious Communities, Rev. Paul Sherry (former national chair, United Church of Christ), Rev. Jim Winkler (Chair, Board of Church and Society, United Methodists), Rev. Tony Campolo,
6:30-7:30 Dinner break with small groups,
7:30-8:15 Song and Inspiration from Holly Near and All Souls Choir
8:15-10:30 Evening Plenary: How to Make the Liberal World Diverse Not Only in Race, Sex and Gender, but also in Class and Religious Orientation
10:30-midnight: Young Peopleís concert and discussions

Friday, May 19

7:30 a.m.-9 a.m. Spiritual and Religious Practices
9 a.m. Plenary on Science, Spirituality and Evolution
10:30 a.m. Plenary on Spirituality and Sexuality Rev. Ama Zenya (United Church of Christ), more to be announced.
Noon: Small group meetings and lunch
1:30 Plenary on The Democratic Party: How to Bring a Spiritual Poltiics into the Heart of the Democrats and into the Liberal and Progressive Social Change Movements. Directions for 2006, 2008 and beyond Rabbi Arthur Waskow,
3:30 Workshops focused on the Spiritual Covenant with Americans
5:00 Workshops on Spiritual Politics
6:30 Dinner Break
7:30 Shabbat Service
8:00 Evening Plenary: Spiritual Progressives Facing The Globalization of Selfishness (the globalization of capital, the environmental crisis) Charlene Spretnak (author of Missing Mary: The Queen of Heaven and Her Reemergence in the Modern Church and of The Resurgence of the Real: Body, Nature and Place in a Hypermodern World), Jonathan Granoff, and more.

Saturday, May 20

9 a.m. Spiritual Practices:
9 a.m. Shabbat Service
9 a.m.-10:30 Spiritual workshops

10:30-11:00 a.m. Small group meetings
11 a.m. Plenary: The War in Iraq and the Spiritual Contribution to an AntiWar Movement. Speaker: Cornel West (co chair of the Network of Spiritual Progressives and author of Race Matters), Arun Gandhi (grandson of the Mahatma)

THIS AND OTHER SESSIONS ON SATURDAY AFTER THE SPIRITUAL WORKSHOPS MAY BE CHANGED IF WE SUCCEED IN CONVINCING THE MAJOR DENOMINATIONS OF CHRISTIANITY, JUDAISM, ISLAM, BUDDHISHM AND HINDUISM TO HELP US CREATE A SPIRITUAL/RELIGIOUS DEMONSTRATION FOR GLOBAL PEACE AND FOR A GLOBAL MARSHALL PLAN. We will not know till April. We have two goals for such a demonstration: to provide a model for a spiritually oriented demonstration, in which genorosity of spirit and love centrally shape our rhetoric and approach; and to provide a safe context for those who have felt that the demonstrations heretofore available from the antiwar coalitions have raised all sorts of issues peripheral to the demand to bring our troops home from Iraq and our demand to replace a miiitary domination strategy with a Generosity Strategy for achieving homeland security and global peace.

The demonstration will be conducted in ways that are conducive to religious Jews participating without violating Shabbat (except to the extent mandated by the legal principle of pikuach nefesh--saving life, as an overriding Hallakhic principle).

12:15 Small groups and lunch
2:00 Summaries of discussions on the Spiritual Covenant with Americans
3:30 Strategies for the NSP in the coming year
5:30 Dinner break
7:30 Poetry
8:00 Evening Concert
Geographical Scope: National

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