Spiritual Progressives - Vlog Mutual Interviews with Rabbi Michael Lerner and Rev. Tony Campolo

Besides hearing Michelle Obama, the best part of my Monday was attending a meeting sponsored by the Network of Spiritual Progressives. They were presenting The Global Marshall Plan, a proposal for the G-8 nations to end poverty and war around the world within 20 years.

Sound far fetched? It sounds real good to me.

In fact, I thought they presented a compelling argument that this idea would be a compelling political platform. I think it's an idea that would resonate with lots of young people.

However, they're going to have a hard time engaging young people in their movement. Why? Watch the videos.

Here's Rabbi Michael Lerner:

And here's the Rev. Tony Campolo:

Isn't it clear that Rabbi Lerner really has no clue about why more young people aren't there? When I suggest that they need to involve young people in leadership, he responds by saying that the event was open to everyone.

And Rev. Campolo's attack on rap music is the most classic faux pas any activist can make if they want to engage young people. I mean, writing off a whole genre of music and art?

And why do people always ask me about college students when they talk about young people? It's easier to engage college students than it is to get people in their post-collegiate years.

I really hope that North Carolinians will understand the importance of a spiritual progressive movement. Perhaps we can help make The Global Marshall Plan a reality. To date, no members of our congressional delegation are among the 20+ House members who have co-sponsored the bill.


Great Rev. Campolo story

Rev. Campolo told a great story about speaking at Wheaton College ("The Citadel of the Christian Conservative Movement"). Students there have to go to chapel every day, so there weren't paying much attention to him.

He said that 45,000 children die every day of hunger and disease. The students didn't perk up.

He said "You know what's worth than that, is that you don't give a shit!" They started murmuring ton one another.

He spoke again "And what's really wrong is that you're more upset that I said 'shit' in a chapel than that those kids are dying.

That's the real problem with the Christian Conservative movement.

Terrific Interviews

Thanks for your mutual interviews with Rabbi Lerner and Rev. Campolo. Especially for your willingness to critique their talking at or to you(th) rather than with you(th). I have found Ross Kinsler and Gloria Kinsler's analysis of global impoverishment and their recommendations about how to respond (The Biblical Jubilee and the Struggle for Life) to be much more helpful and have much more potential for success than the Global Marshal Plan. Keep up the great work.

I would have interviewed you!

Hey Ogie! Great to hear from you. Had you been in DC, I would have interviewed you!
I'll have to look up the Kinslers.

Another wow.

Great reporting, Graig. What a chasm we all have to cross!

The NC Family Policy Council doesn't speak for my family

Its all about the preposition

Both gentlemen spend a lot time talking TO young people. I dont get the feeling that they spend much time talking WITH young people.

You say, "Give them ownership, help them grow, make sure their voice is heard." And the response is, "But we invited them to listen to us pontificate."

Both gentlemen have an amazing amount of knowledge, I just wish they would spend more time mentoring and teaching, and less time lecturing.

"Keep the Faith"

"Keep the Faith"

Foolish Plan

The Global Marshall Plan is not realistic. The reason why third world nations are riddled with poverty, hunger, and disease is because they are ruled by dictators, tyrants, and thugs that don't give a rat's ass about their people. We've been sending money to Africa for 30 years and what's the result? Africa is still one big shit hole. All the money going there ends up in the hands of those same dictators, tyrants, and thugs who have caused the problems in the first place. The people don't see a dime of it.

The goal of The Global Marshall Plan is a noble one, but dripping with naiveté from one end to the other.

Carolina Politics Online

And your plan?

And your plan is to keep voting for the same people who prop up those dictators and dont do anything.

Fine, their plan is naive. But what is your plan, other than invading an entire continent under the banner of regime change?

"Keep the Faith"

"Keep the Faith"

They have a response to this.

They want to set up faith-based NGO's to distribute the aid. I think that's a very complex idea, and I haven't heard enough nor put enough thought into it to dissect it. But it's part of the plan.

If they keep it out of the

If they keep it out of the hands of the corrupt governments then it might work, but I'm skeptical that in the long run they'll be able to keep them away. Ultimately, the style of government these countries have is going to have to change in order to sustain any kind of long term prosperity. Nevertheless, it's an interesting idea.

Carolina Politics Online

The Global Marshall Plan

Hey, Graig - Blogging at 3:45 am huh! I think that we should not underestimate the amazing effect that NGO's can have - Once people get even a glimpse of what the world and their lives might be like without the thugs in charge, it becomes very very hard to keep them down anymore....Ie...the Chinese may become very insistent that their own power structure figure out how to keep the skies over Beijing blue since they managed to do it when the eyes of the world were turned on them....And besides, the Global Marshall Plan will encourage positive steps in the right direction, no matter how small -

They have a response to this.

They want to set up faith-based NGO's to distribute the aid. I think that's a very complex idea, and I haven't heard enough nor put enough thought into it to dissect it. But it's part of the plan.

Huffington Post wrote me up about this!

Here's the link.

Here's the story:

Obama Move To Center Lamented By Spiritual Progressives

DENVER -- Clinton supporters aren't the only Democrats who aren't thrilled with the presumptive nominee. At a gathering today of Spiritual Progressives, a priest, a rabbi, a Muslim, and an evangelical Christian lamented Barack Obama's move toward the center.
"McGovern told me it was the same thing that happened to him," said Rabbi Michael Lerner, the editor of Tikkun magazine. After the primary, the pros come in and advise the candidate to appear more like what people expect, a strategy Lerner believes is not only disingenuous but ineffective. "'Hey, I'm not really black. I'm just one of the good ol' boys from Arkansas.' People know they're being lied to," said Lerner.

Instead, Lerner urged Obama to embrace a strategy of "deep ethical and spiritual truth."

"Not, 'I can fight the war better than McCain,' but 'no more wars,'" said Lerner.

Among the dark suits, power brokering, and horse-race campaign talk that dominate the convention centers in downtown Denver, the gathering of Spiritual Progressives appeared a bit unlikely. About two hundred people settled into plastic chairs in a fluorescent-lit, wall-to-wall carpeted hotel meeting room. A third--if that--wore delegate credentials; I didn't see any other press there. In contrast, the Democratic Governors Association briefing I'd attended an hour earlier attracted about fifty media.

A man in a bandana played the guitar and led the group in a song, and the charmingly-named Father Dear began the meeting with a prayer.

Graig Mayer, a delegate from North Carolina, admitted later that he was initially put off by the scene. "I saw the guy with the guitar come out and thought, 'no wonder there aren't a lot of young people here.'" Indeed, most of the crowd was closer to John McCain's age than Obama's.

As the afternoon progressed, however, both Mayer and I settled into the scene, which turned out to be equal parts theology and politics. Lerner, the lynch pin of the event, outlined his vision for a Global Marshall Plan: to change trade agreements so people in other countries could sustain themselves and not flock to the U.S. as immigrants; to dedicate 1-2% of the gross domestic product to organizations with proven track records of providing aid, especially to women; and to institute a 'new bottom line,' in which money and technological development are not the
sole criteria for success, but considered in light of spirituality, ethics, and human relationships.

As Lerner sees it, there are two world views. The rational world view holds that we are born alone and others will dominate us unless we dominate them first. This, Lerner says, is the common view of politics in the contemporary world--an interpretation corroborated by the Democratic Governors Association, where most of the briefing was dedicated to how many seats the Dems could maintain and pick up in November. Any larger vision was confined to whether coal-gasification or wind, solar, and water would be a more worthy alternative energy source. (Not surprisingly, Joe Manchin of West Virginia put in a few plugs for coal, and Brian Schweitzer
of Montana claimed, "The Rocky Mountain West is the most important energy corridor in the world right now.)

In contrast, Lerner offered a world view based on caring. We come into this world through a mother, he said, and that initial "loving other" establishes human relationships of hope, love, and generosity.

"The fundamental truth of the 21st century is that we're all dependent on everyone else," he said. "Domination is not the way--it has not worked and it cannot work."

The Spiritual Progressives contend that Obama's departure from some of his earlier positions, such as negotiating with America's enemies without preconditions and not drilling off-shore, is costing him.

"It was so exciting at the beginning," said Lerner. "He was attracting all those Republicans. That has to be reignited now. Using language that affirms hope and possibility, rather than moving toward the center, is not just morally right, but the way to win."

The governors would perhaps disagree: earlier, Joe Manchin of West Virginia said, "You can't govern from the left of the right. Governors bring everybody to the middle."

And Obama himself appears to be on the fence. In a private meeting with Lerner, whose magazine Obama has read for a decade, Lerner said that the candidate conceded he agreed with the Global Marshall Plan. "'I'm 100% behind it,'" Lerner quoted Obama as saying. "'But it will never fly in Washington.'"

Tremendously interesting

This is awesome, Graig. I'm still making my way through your VLogs but this was the one I was most interested in by far, as a progressive person of faith.

A couple of quick reactions: we have to get people past the idea that these aren't things we talk about in church. Poverty is uncomfortable, and preaching on the strong Biblical injunctions to minister to the world's poor and the strangers in our midst requires pastors and congregations to move outside their comfort zone. That is going to take a lot of work to empower individual church members as well as clergy. The discourse is beginning among evangelicals but it needs a push.

And we have to create alternative networks for progressive people of faith. The national and regional efforts at this are in their infancy. National figures like Rabbi Lerner and Rev. Campolo, who have enormous credibility, have much to do to help build these networks.

You've really found a great form of journalism

These are amazing pieces, Graig. As I told you in an email - I am forwarding these to lots of my friends who are not regular readers of BlueNC, many of whom who are republicans or independents. While they may not convert to progressivism, they are certainly hooked on your mutual interviews.

My sister-in-law wants to know if you're going to keep doing this now that the convention is over.

Here hear!

You said it. I love this stuff. Endless possibilities.

Now if we can just think of a snappy name for this wonderful technique that doesn't make me think of sex.



Jesus Swept, so you can come clean.

I think that we might use these in various ways.

This is certainly something that could be used by any citizen journalist. I think the format needs to be tweaked some. I'm going to put a few ideas into another post. But I think that it would be interesting to set up these types of interviews between various pairs of people, and not have the same interviewer featured every time. I also think that one of the questions could be "What do you want people to discuss online after they hear this?"

In any case, it's been fun.

As for James's name challenge. I have to say that the name hasn't conjured up any sex allusions to me. But I'm open to something snappy.

Very good ideas.

It's been great fun ... and very inspiring. Don't worry about something snappy. That's just my 30 years of marketing madness kicking in. Somethings should just be what they are.


Jesus Swept, so you can come clean.

Choosing to interview the Rev. Tony Campolo was great

The Reverend Campolo is a great preacher and a caring human being who goes out and does, rather than simply going out to say. Great post. I mean it.

Marshall Adame
2014 U.S. Congress Candidate NC-03