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A Discussion Question: What Kind of Sacred Principles Do We Need?

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I see that President Bush is entertaining the idea that America is now entering a "Third Awakening," a new revival of religious fervor such as the two historical periods of religious revival (one in the 18th century and one in the early nineteenth) that played important roles in American history.

Bush clearly has his own "crusade" in mind as the catalyst for this "Awakening." One article reports, for example: "Bush noted that some of Abraham Lincoln's strongest supporters were religious people 'who saw life in terms of good and evil' and who believed that slavery was evil. Many of his own supporters, he said, see the current conflict in similar terms."

Given all that we know about this Bushite regime, this idea is preposterous. A regime so enmeshed in evil as Bush's can hardly awaken people into aligning themselves with the sacred forces of the Good. The trance into which the Bushites have seduced their followers is the very opposite of an Awakening.

But I will agree with this: this is a time in which it is important for people to see the importance of the battle between good and evil in the human drama (see my talk, "The Concept of Evil: Why It is Intellectually Valid and Politically and Spiritually Important, at, and to awaken more deeply to the sacred stakes in that battle.

Indeed, it is Bush and his regime who have made the coming of a kind of "Third Awakening" so vital to the well-being of this nation-- albeit an Awakening in some crucial respects unlike the two that went before.

Those two were specifically Christian. This Third Awakening would, optimally, encompass good Christians but also a great many others not tied to that religious tradition.

It is possible that an awakening of sorts has been gathering among the traditionalist Christians on the right in recent decades. Something was brewing in those quarters, and it was not just about the pernicious tendencies embodied in the Bushite forces.

But whatever was the potential of such a conservative Christian groundswell, that movement has been hijacked by the forces of evil which, over the past twenty years, have been coalescing to deliver America over to the greedy, the lying, the power-hungry, the self-deceiving, the arrogant, the bullying-- in other words, hijacked by the forces represented by the Bushite regime.

That's one of the ways that Bush, and his minions and handlers, have created this need for a quickening and deepening of the spirit in America: they have turned a spirit that presumably thirsted for God and have turned it, as Darth Vader would say, toward the Dark Side, thus weakening the forces of goodness in America.

The other way that the Bushites have necessitated a Third Awakening is the other side of the same coin: that the strengthening of evil requires that the forces of Goodness become mightier than they have been.

The Awakening we need would enhance the power of Goodness in two ways.

First, it would deepen people's relationship with the Good, plugging them in to the source of power and passion to gird them for the struggle. Too much of American liberalism is detached from the numinous realm of deeply experienced meaning that empowers and enflames. (See my earlier essay, "Liberalism's Spiritual Void," which can be found at
.) Between this "spiritual void" in liberalism and the maddeningly wishy-washy way that most of the Democrats have opposed this dark regime, there is a fundamental link. An awakening to the sacred level undergirding our principles and values would help empower the forces opposing the Rule of the Lie, the Lust for Power, the insatiable Hunger for Mammon that has taken power in America.

The second way that such an Awakening would help make the forces of opposition mightier would be to provide a language of the sacred that can unite people with different worldviews. Unlike the orthodoxy that largely dominates the forces of the right in today's America --a kind of Christianity-- the belief systems among the opposition are much more diverse. There are, among the people in the opposition, believers in Christianity, and believers in other faith traditions, and people who believe in no traditional system whatever.

As a result, what would be most helpful would be a Third Awakening that rallied people to a sense of sacred principle and sacred value without those beliefs being couched in terms that exclude potential allies with different theologies and/or worldviews.

All of which leads me to pose a question for discussion here:

What are the sacred principles, and/or the sacred values, around which one would wish for Americans now to rally in an Awakening to the Good, and in mobilization to defend the Good?

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Andy Schmookler, an award-winning author, political commentator, radio talk-show host, and teacher, was the Democratic nominee for Congress from Virginia's 6th District. His new book -- written to have an impact on the central political battle of our time -- is (more...)
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