Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The House of Tikkun and Spiritual Progressivism

For about 13 months, my spritual and religious development has been profoundly influenced by the musings and movements of the Network of Spiritual Progressives, as embodied by Tikkun magazine and as expressed during High Holiday services at Beyt Tikkun. This celebration of the New Year has been the culmination of my attempts to reconcile organized religion with my renegade philosophies. I've found that my views are compatible with a certain format of religious discourse and interconnectedness. As the esteemed Rabbi Lerner interjected, "This ain't your Grandma's shul!" Sure isn't. This hippie religion is way too experimental and irreverent for the old guard of the Hebrew faith. But, that's how we do out here in the Bay Area. The I-Thou challenge is deconstructed into a systematically alternative concept of how to believe. Belief becomes the acceptance of all disbelief as an integral part of its all-encompassing framework. How can this be? The emphasis on social wellbeing, ecological sanity, and pantheistic philosophy coheres into a rather holistic way to form the principles of the Tikkun movement.

So, how exactly do belief systems expand to include those who are fundamentally nonbelievers? How do you bring nonbelievers in from the coldness of nihilism, persuading them that their nonbelief is inherently some sort of belief - one that has not yet been defined or articulated? This is apparently the undertaking that the Tikkun movement has embraced, by opening the floodgates primarily to the masses of skeptical atheists, young urban professionals, and progressive-minded activists who formerly could not properly fit into a traditional faith niche.

This movement is attractive for people who seek to inject a sense of purpose into political and social realms where there is a dearth of teleological justification. The intangible wealth that comes with the open embrace of spiritual oneness cannot be ignored. This society's enthusiasm for logical systems that lack spiritual grounding can only contribute so much to the health of humankind. We must continually seek to enrich our lives from a different sort of metaphysical perspective, thereby providing ourselves with a balance between the aggressively expansionist mentality of capitalist life and the sanctity of inner calm. Righteous folks may attain such a state through a reconciliation of their own psychological and spiritual proclivities with a broader understanding of the implications of political and social relations. Tikkun works towards accomplishing these two simultaneous objectives: honing one's own spiritual growth and sharing one's productive sense of purpose with the polity in the interests of building a more fulfilling civic and communal arrangement.

Progressive political power is on the rise. The spiritual progressives are avant-gardistes who are rightfully taking the godhead back from the religious right and instilling humanity, rather than a mere handful of chosen people, with the energy to launch the Progressive Revolution.

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