Presbyterian Voices for Justice 

A union of The Witherspoon Society and Voices of Sophia

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Our reports about the 219th General Assembly, July 2010

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Democrats, the War,
and faith-based judgments

Democrats, the War, and moral judgments   [5-27-07]

The recent Congressional votes, allowing continued funding for the US war in Iraq (etc., etc.) have raised many concerns and complaints.  Here are four varied responses for your consideration:

Pat Buchanan says the Democrats "caved" because the didn't have the courage to risk their political fortunes.

Rabbi Michael Lerner says they gave in because they can't offer a morally grounded responses to Bush's push for the war.  And more war.  And more war ....

The Network of Spiritual Progressives (of which Lerner is a founder and major leader) offers what we might call faith-based "talking points" on some of the major social-political issues today:  foreign policy, health,

Finally, Gary Dorrien, the new Reinhold Niebuhr professor of social ethics at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, discusses the apparent tension between Niebuhr’s "Christian realism" and current value-centered approaches to social issues.

What do you think? 
How do you balance political "realism" and moral values?  This is certainly something worth talking about, so please send a note and your voice to the conversation.

Why Congress Caved to Bush

The antiwar Democrats are crying betrayal – and justifiably so.

Patrick J. Buchanan, of all people, goes after the Democrats in Congress for letting George W. Bush continue his war in Iraq. He asks "Why did the Democrats capitulate?"

And he answers: "Because they lack the courage of their convictions. Because they fear the consequences if they put their antiwar beliefs into practice. Because they are afraid if they defund the war and force President Bush to withdraw U.S. troops, the calamity he predicts will come to pass and they will be held accountable for losing Iraq and the strategic disaster that might well ensue."

Read his article >>

In case you’re wondering, this is the Patrick J. Buchanan who has served as a senior advisor to three American presidents: Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and (as White House Communications Director) Ronald Reagan.

Funding and Crying: Why the Dems Capitulated

Rabbi Michael Lerner, founder of the Network of Spiritual Progressives, sees the failure of the Democrats in Congress to stand up against Pres. Bush’s pressure to let his war continue unhindered not as a failure of nerve, but as (in a way) a failure of faith.

They gave in, he says, because "the Dems lack a coherent vision and ideology from which they could derive strength of purpose that would provide the foundation on which they could easily develop a moral backbone to fight for what they believe in. Thus, for example in relationship to the war in Iraq, they talk about the inability to win, rather than about the moral failure of the paradigm of trying to bring about safety and security by military or political domination of other countries."

His article >>

Faith-based perspectives on today’s issues

The Network of Spiritual Progressives has posted a number of one-page flyers of talking points on issues of current interest.

The topics (with links to the flier for each topic)

[Note: Clicking on this link will take you to a page listing that paper; then click on the title of the document to download it. Don’t ask me why!]

bullet immigration
bullet environment
bullet poverty
bullet foreign policy
bullet healthcare

These are also all listed on the NSP website under the Guiding Ideas page >>    [You’ll have to scroll down a bit, but they’re there!]

Do you have comments? You might share them with Nichola Torbett, Director of National Programs for the Network of Spiritual Progressives

Phone 510-644-1200

Spiritual values today? What would Reinhold Niebuhr say??

Gary Dorrien, the new Reinhold Niebuhr professor of social ethics at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, was interviewed by Peter Steinfels of the New York Times about the apparent tension between Niebuhr’s "Christian realism" and current value-centered approaches to social issues.

Dorrien does an interesting job of taking the "realistic" approach seriously, while also affirming the importance of the values affirmed by Social Gospel liberalism and by more recent liberation theologies. He might help us, too, in balancing the valuable insights of all three traditions, especially as he comments on the Iraq war.

The article >>


GA actions ratified (or not) by  the presbyteries   

A number of the most important actions of the 219th General Assembly are now being sent to the presbyteries for their action, to confirm or reject them as amendments to the PC(USA) Book of Order.

We're providing resources to help inform the reflection and debate, along with updates on the voting.

Our three areas of primary interest are:

bullet Amendment 10-A, which would remove the current ban on lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender persons being considered as possible candidates for ordination as elder or ministers.

bullet Amendment 10-2, which would add the Belhar Confession to our Book of Confessions.

bullet Amendment 10-1, which would adopt the new Form of Government that was approved by the Assembly.

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Some blogs worth visiting

PVJ's Facebook page

Mitch Trigger, PVJ's Secretary/Communicator, has created a Facebook page where Witherspoon members and others can gather to exchange news and views. Mitch and a few others have posted bits of news, both personal and organizational. But there’s room for more!

You can post your own news and views, or initiate a conversation about a topic of interest to you.


Voices of Sophia blog

Heather Reichgott, who has created this new blog for Voices of Sophia, introduces it:

After fifteen years of scholarship and activism, Voices of Sophia presents a blog. Here, we present the voices of feminist theologians of all stripes: scholars, clergy, students, exiles, missionaries, workers, thinkers, artists, lovers and devotees, from many parts of the world, all children of the God in whose image women are made. .... This blog seeks to glorify God through prayer, work, art, and intellectual reflection. Through articles and ensuing discussion we hope to become an active and thoughtful community.


John Harris’ Summit to Shore blogspot

Theological and philosophical reflections on everything between summit to shore, including kayaking, climbing, religion, spirituality, philosophy, theology, politics, culture, travel, The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), New York City and the Queens neighborhood of Ridgewood by a progressive New York City Presbyterian Pastor. John is a former member of the Witherspoon board, and is designated pastor of North Presbyterian Church in Flushing, NY.


John Shuck’s Shuck and Jive

A Presbyterian minister, currently serving as pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethton, Tenn., blogs about spirituality, culture, religion (both organized and disorganized), life, evolution, literature, Jesus, and lightening up.


Got more blogs to recommend?

Please send a note, and we'll see what we can do!


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