Magazine article Tikkun


Magazine article Tikkun


Article excerpt

To the Editor:

The Summit on Ethics and Meaning was three days in which I felt that the other 1,500 people in attendance shared with me a deeper truth and yearning for a way of life than might be supposed from our various professional titles or multitudinous places of self-identification. It was so wonderful to experiment with what it might be like to live our lives concerned with an expanded bottom line.

The talks given by Rabbi Lerner, Sister Chittister, and the Reverend Campolo, among others religious, were undeniably among the best, most inspirational I have ever heard. Yet as one who can allow only the most tenuous use of the word, God, I felt a little unsure of my place and connection to a politics of meaning. As one who believes that we would be better off without a Bible that reserves its acknowledgment of the immanence of the image of God to only one species, I question the benefit of bringing in God to facilitate the creation of a better world.

As opposed to many if not most Americans brought up in the Fifties, Sixties, Seventies, and Eighties, I was raised in a very religious atmosphere. Everyone around me was of like religious practice. I am one of those people, be it for neurological, psychological, or dispositional reasons, who do not require, and in fact prefer not to require, God to realize that I have a personal connection with the system we call the universe. I think of myself as religious, but definitely not Religious.

The politics of meaning resonates with such a diverse crowd because it makes sense experientially. If the Golden Rule makes sense, so does the politics of meaning. Feminism has made profound changes because it made sense to people's experiences. It does not take a brain surgeon to know that an excess of justice without caring, or an excess of liberty without community has a few problems.

What excites me most about the politics of meaning is its systematic applicability. It makes sense certainly in the public spheres of work and politics, but it also explains family, friendship, and erotic relationships, and how they have become unstable and humanly unfulfilling. Living in Los Angeles, where image too often trumps substance, it is all too apparent how the "what have you done for me lately?" bottom line has pervaded business, politics, and personal spheres. One need not understand the world as the domain of God to know through one's own experience that certain forms of relation are in the long run better than others. One does not need to hold to the notion of divine grace to appreciate that human decency is a two-way street. Harlan Levinson West Hollywood, California

Editor responds:

Our goal is to include equally people from established religious communities and equally those like Harlan Levinson. But given the hostility of Left and liberal communities to religion, we have tried to underline our respect for and openness to people who do find it easier to articulate the politics of meaning within the language of traditional religions. We are equally open, however, to those who do not believe in God or do not feel comfortable with religious language.

To the Editor:

As the politics of meaning continues to grow, many intelligent and creative people will find new ways to strengthen and improve its implementation. The trick is improving the movement in a way that doesn't attack the movement or leaders.

Divergent opinions in any group are essential. Without them you have the kind of "groupthink." Yet, our desire to improve a situation based on our unique experience and understanding can backfire if we are not thoughtful. Criticism and polarization often paralyze people.

At Tuesday's luncheon at the National Summit on Ethics and Meaning, a group of students from Vassar made a speech. Their willingness to speak out about the ways they saw the movement was failing and the ways they could make it better was admirable. …

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