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Life Arts    H4'ed 3/31/19

Why I'm Supporting Marianne Williamson's Run for President

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Readings for Fourth Sunday in Lent: Jos. 5:9A, 10-12; Ps. 34:2-7; 2 Cor. 5: 17-21; Lk. 15: 1-3, 11 32.

Recently, two very good friends challenged me about supporting Marianne Williamson's run for president. "She has no chance," they objected. "You should be supporting Bernie instead."

Their remarks coupled with today's familiar Gospel account of Jesus' Parable of the Prodigal Son have prompted me to explain myself. The parable particularly as re-created by the French Nobel laureate, Andre Gide, is about a person like Marianne Williamson who eventually identified and escaped the oppressive reality we all take as normal. In Gide's interpretation, Jesus' parable is like Plato's Allegory of the Cave.

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So, today I want to describe what we might call the "deep politics" of Marianne Williamson. After all, it's her spirituality (her deep politics) that first drew me to support her candidacy. Because of her more than 30 years of work as a spiritual teacher, we can know her more deeply than any other presidential candidate. And that's important. Our interior lives our thoughts and values are finally shaped by our relationship with what we consider ultimately important. They are shaped by what some of us term "God."

So, let me first talk about Marianne's deep politics and then connect it with Gide's interpretation of the Prodigal Son.

To begin with, I'm supporting Marianne Williamson because she represents the most radical candidate in the field "of thousands," as she often jokes. Using the term "radical" here, I'm referring to its etymological meaning which derives from the Latin word radix meaning "root."

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Alone in the crowded field of Democratic candidates Marianne puts her finger on what's really ailing our nation. It's not primarily an economic or military problem. No, at root, it's a deeply spiritual malady. Yes, ours is a spiritual problem!

The problem is that rather than "free and brave," we're all scared out of our wits. We subscribe to values that are 180 degrees opposed to those identified as ultimate by all the world's great wisdom traditions be they Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist or atheistic. At their deepest level, all of those traditions converge identifying compassion rather than fear as the supreme human value.

Ms. Williamson says it clearly: fear (which is the opposite of compassion) has us captive. Fear has us identifying Russians, Chinese, Muslims, immigrants, refugees, LGBT community members, poor people in general, and even (at our borders) children and babies as somehow our enemies fundamentally unlike us and threatening us at every turn.

None of that is true, Marianne says. It's quite the opposite. All of us have far more in common than anything that can possibly separate us. In fact as she puts it "There is really only one of us here." We are not only sisters and brothers, we are really a single person. What I do to you, I do to myself.

That's really the authentic teaching of Jesus, isn't it? That's the meaning of his words, "Love your neighbor as yourself." We must love our neighbor because our neighbor is our self.

As Williamson explains, that conviction is what moved the abolitionists, the suffragettes, the civil rights campaigners and many who brought the Vietnam War to an end. It's no accident, she says, that so many of the abolitionists and suffragettes were Quakers, that Martin Luther King was a Baptist preacher, and that anti-war activists like the Berrigan brothers were Catholic priests. Those are the great heroes of the land we call "America." Like Marianne herself, they all recognized our fundamentally spiritual nature.

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So, none of us should say all of this is too idealistic. Instead, we should realize that, in effect, Marianne Williamson is challenging Americans to live up to their faith claims. After all, 70% of us claim to be Christian. Then there are the Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists I already mentioned, as well as atheists and those claiming to be "spiritual but not religious." As I said, all of those traditions, at their most profound level, converge in calls to liberty, equality, and fraternity.

And that brings me to Jesus' Parable of the Prodigal Son and its connection with Marianne Williamson's deep politics. In what I'm about to say, I'm taking my cue from John Dominic Crossan's book The Power of Parable: how fiction by Jesus became fiction about Jesus. There, Crossan suggests challenging Luke's parable as excessively patriarchal. After all, the story is about a bad boy who realizes the error of his ways and returns home to daddy and daddy's patriarchy with its familiar rules, prohibitions, and tried and true ways of doing things.

Crossan asks, what if the prodigal left home and never looked back? Would he have been better off? Would we be better off by not following his example as described today by Luke by instead separating from the patriarchy and leaving home for good?

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Mike Rivage-Seul is a liberation theologian and former Roman Catholic priest. Retired in 2014, he taught at Berea College in Kentucky for 40 years where he directed Berea's Peace and Social Justice Studies Program.Mike blogs (more...)
 

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Mike Rivage-Seul

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If she gets enough contributors, Marianne will enormously raise the level of conversation at the debates.

Submitted on Sunday, Mar 31, 2019 at 12:29:27 PM

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Phat Khat

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I agree with your friends - she doesn't have a chance. Virtually no name recognition outside of a narrow circle of spiritual seekers. I had to look her up, myself. And, IMHO, a lot of her spiritual "baggage" if you will, seems to be New Age "woo". Which is fine, but probably won't play in Peoria.

Nevertheless, I will send a small donation, as I have to many others, because I think they ALL deserve a chance to at least be heard and put their ideas out there. Perhaps she can be a "Bernie" for 2020, and push the conversation even further in a compassionate direction. I think she is up against a brick wall in the form of the DNC, though, just like Bernie.

Submitted on Sunday, Mar 31, 2019 at 1:28:53 PM

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The DNC is toast. The dialogue has shifted way way to the Left this time out. The solutions range from outright revolution to a radical re-thinking of government to a return to FDR level democratic socialism. the corporate Dems are now exposed and despised. they are done.

Submitted on Sunday, Mar 31, 2019 at 2:32:48 PM

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Meryl Ann Butler

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From your mouth to the ears of the goddess!

Submitted on Wednesday, Apr 3, 2019 at 2:41:48 AM

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Reply to Phat Khat:   New Content

Phat, I appreciate your concerns. We need a "new age" though. Lila (below) is right; the DNC has so discredited itself. These people have to be voted out of office. I'm glad you're going to send your donation. It would be great to hear Marianne in debate. She's very good at answering tough questions.

Submitted on Sunday, Mar 31, 2019 at 5:20:46 PM

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"Have to" is not the same as "will be".

Submitted on Sunday, Mar 31, 2019 at 8:49:43 PM

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Anyone who actually wants to be president of this country has a major connective screw loose somewhere.

I suppose Marianne's ideas could drop valuable seeds during the debates; but Mike Pence wants to lead the US from a 'spiritual perspective,' too.

The hairs on my neck just perked up.



Submitted on Sunday, Mar 31, 2019 at 3:15:25 PM

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I think Marianne and Pence are both correct in their perception that what ails our country is spiritual in nature. Conservative forces have always tried to domesticate and reverse compassionate spirituality into its opposite. That however doesn't make wrong people like Marianne, John Brown, Susan B. Anthony, Martin Luther King, the Berrigans, Mohandas Gandhi -- or Jesus.

Submitted on Sunday, Mar 31, 2019 at 5:27:02 PM

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shad williams

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Pence is a hypocrite. He supports murders and claims to be a Christian. You think Jesus, "The light within" of Nazareth would have supported Pence's proclaimation of Juan "Random Guy" Gaido as the Venezuelan "Interim" president?

Submitted on Sunday, Mar 31, 2019 at 8:07:48 PM

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Chuck Nafziger

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This country has the morals of a meth dealer. I think elections in the American Empire are corrupt nonsense so Williamson makes far more sense than the rest of it. I gave money to Williamson, and urged friends and family to do so, and to Tulsi Gabbard. They would make this soap opera more interesting. In my book, Bernie can go a coward's hell, for his capitulation to the DNC when he had an army behind him. I cannot fathom why people are begging him for an encore performance.

Submitted on Sunday, Mar 31, 2019 at 5:51:13 PM

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I find these capitulations puzzling too -- Bernie's, Gore's, Kerry's, Obama's on public option. Why do they give up so easily?

Submitted on Sunday, Mar 31, 2019 at 6:19:04 PM

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Bernie did not capitulate.

Submitted on Sunday, Mar 31, 2019 at 8:50:38 PM

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I supposed that Chuck was referring to his not contesting the primaries where he out-polled Hillary, but was declared the loser nonetheless. Didn't that happen at least in New York?

Submitted on Monday, Apr 1, 2019 at 12:14:33 AM

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I believe that you are right. However, keeping the united front against more important danger instead of causing the rift and defeat may have been the right decision.

Not capitulation.

Submitted on Monday, Apr 1, 2019 at 2:16:27 PM

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Re: the candidate's yielding: I think it's because they do as they are told.

I won't try to guess whether it's under threat or prior arrangement/agreement. But I doubt any of them simply didn't want to win. Could it be that the fix is in before the circus begins?

Re: your earlier response to me: None of the people you listed aspired to the 'throne'. Therein lies my question mark regarding Marianne. (God save me from earthly power.)

This doesn't belie my wish for her to speak up and out. True morality and compassion seem to have gone dormant in our country's leadership.

So, yes! we need to hear; then contemplate and live the ideals of a renewed spiritual nature. I want that very much.

Meanwhile, I'll just pray that Marianne doesn't get lost on her journey. OK?

Submitted on Monday, Apr 1, 2019 at 12:28:48 AM

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Mike Rivage-Seul

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Reply to Janet Supriano:   New Content

Janet, that is my prayer as well.

Submitted on Monday, Apr 1, 2019 at 2:10:28 AM

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I agree with you about some candidates' yielding. I am absolutely sure there is much more involved in that than we are seeing, I suspect something sinister. To me it seems crazy , the number of people who loved Bernie, and then abandoned him when he did something out of character. It shouldnt take much insight to figure out that when someone does something that seems out of character, then there must be some additional insight or info that we are missing. People like Bernie don't just suddenly do a 180 for nothing.

Submitted on Wednesday, Apr 3, 2019 at 2:48:35 AM

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Reply to Mike Rivage-Seul:   New Content

I believe you know the answer to your question. They never really lost anything by giving up but instead have all gained a lot since.

Submitted on Monday, Apr 1, 2019 at 3:15:04 AM

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Meryl Ann Butler

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I donated to her twice. I would love to see her on the debate stage, she can make mincemeat pie out of anyone who comes at her.

I doubt that she will have the chance, but seeing a debate between her and Trump would be a lovely thing indeed, LOL.

I don't think she can win the presidency at this point in time, but if her presence in the debates shifts things as much as Bernie shifted them last time, then I consider that a YUGE win! ;-)

Submitted on Wednesday, Apr 3, 2019 at 2:51:53 AM

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Mike Rivage-Seul

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That's what I'm thinking as well, Meryl Ann.

Submitted on Wednesday, Apr 3, 2019 at 6:55:19 PM

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