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The Left Hand of God: Taking Back Our Country from the Religious Right Hardcover – February 7, 2006

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne (February 7, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060842474
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060842475
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #113,162 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Named one of Utne's 100 American Visionaries, Rabbi Lerner, editor of Tikkun magazine, delivers an ambitious proposal called a "Spiritual Covenant with America." Before detailing his plan, he provides an extensive survey of American history and ideology, rife with examples of dominant and controlling attributes favored by those on the right (the "right hand of God") who believe in a frightening world replete with evil and ruled by an avenging God. This contrasts with what he considers the loving, kind and generous tendencies of those at the "left hand of God," who instead believe in a compassionate and merciful deity. These delineations occur on both sides of the political aisle—and not solely within one religion. Rabbi Lerner addresses both the "intolerant and militaristic" tactics of the political right and the "visionless... often spiritually empty" tenets of the political left with an even hand. His vision of a country devoid of poverty, homelessness, unemployment and uninsured citizens comes with an actual blueprint, in which Americans rededicate themselves to traditional values of love, kindness, respect and responsibility. Unfortunately, the rays of hope delivered in this impassioned proposal are buried in an often rambling and repetitive dialogue that may alienate those most likely to respond. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


“Just sharing these profound ideas that Lerner presents in such an accessible manner is itself a great contribution you could make to healing our country” (Cornel West, author of Democracy Matters: Winning the Fight Against Imperialism)

“The Left Hand of God is essential reading for everyone concerned about the future of this country.” (Fritjof Capra)

“[A] practical, compelling vision of a politics of generosity.” (Walter Bruggemann)

“Lerner’s spiritually based politics is just what this country needs.” (Tony Campolo)

“Lerner’s proposal is a visionary response to this urgent need …” (Richard Gere)

“A brilliant and penetrating analysis of the way religion is now used politically …. ” (John Shelby Spong)

“[T]his book pulsates with life and spirit and the passion of the prophets of old. Bravo! ” (Matthew Fox)

“Lerner is a rare voice of sanity and intelligence in a nation where our moral values have been corrupted ….” (Howard Zinn)

“An insightful, inspiring book by Rabbi Lerner that can put America back on track.” (Arun Gandhi, president, M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence)

“[T]he blueprint for transforming the conscious heart of a nation ….” (Michael Franti, Musician)

“In this important book, Lerner shows us how we can reclaim truths that we are in danger of losing. ” (Karen Armstrong)

“Spiritual commitment requires political action, or amounts to nothing. That is the fundamental truth of The Left Hand of God.” (George Lakoff, author of Don't Think of An Elephant)

“Rabbi Lerner makes sense, finds meaning and sees hope in an America many feel is spiraling downward into destructive divisions.” (Harvey Cox)

“Lerner articulates … a vision of hope that taps into the spiritual needs of all people.” (Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey, Chair of the Progressive Caucus of the U.S. House of Representatives)

“THE LEFT HAND OF GOD reclaims the common ground of peace and social justice which gird all authentic spiritualities….” (Reverend John Dear)

“A renewed politics far more profound than either the Republicans or the Democrats have been able to muster….” (Richard Upford-Chase, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA)

“Lerner’s needed voice for progressive spirituality will find resonance across many faith traditions. I’m deeply grateful for his work.” (Brian McLaren, author of A New Kind of Christian)

“An enormously important book…practical steps we can take to launch a spiritual revolution and save this beautiful planet.” (Robert Thurman)

“The blueprint for the next stage in the spiritual development of our planet.” (Deepak Chopra)

“A highly decent and challenging critique.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“A book that sends a clear call to everyone who cares about the future of America.” (Los Angeles Times Book Review)

“The Left Hand of God serves the vital purpose of articulating a progressive religious alternative.” (Washington Post Book World)

“A provocative invitation to the broad dialogue we need…” (Christian Century)

“Part social critique, part save-the-world primer, The Left Hand of God brims with hopeful proposals.” (Houston Chronicle)

“Many will find Lerner’s 8-point “Spiritual Covenant with America” revitalizing grist for discussion....” (Providence Journal)

“For those who dare to imagine a country where peace, freedom, and justice prevail....” (Spirituality and Health magazine)

“A serious critique of how both the religious right and liberals have used and abused the influence of religion ….” (America Magazine)

“A rallying cry and a theoretical and scholarly analysis of the appeal of the religious right.” (Boston Globe)

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Customer Reviews

I wish everyone would read this book!
Nichola Torbett
Michael Lerner's articulate and passionate voice provides hope and nourishment for a progressive and faithful alternative to the hard right.
Extremely powerful, well written and worth the time to read.
serenity now

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have little patience for one and two line reviews that praise (or condemn) a book without any substantive evidence that the book was actually read. My reviews are summative and evaluative, and this is a book that merits careful reading and carefully articulated reviews.

The author provides an absolutely top-notch discussion of how the extreme religious right was able to align with the corporate and media right to seize power and sideline the much larger middle class population. At one point the author notes that the wealthy can afford to be sanctimonious, they can afford to get their abortions in other countries. The book subtitle could be modified to say "from the Religious Right and the Immoral Politicians and Corporate Magnates that Bribed Them."

The book is most valuable for providing a common sense indictment of the Democratic leadership, labeling them corrupt and ignorant for thinking that they can only win by being "Right Lite" and failing to distinguish the Loving Left from the Rich and Religious Right.

Especially helpful to me was the author's detailed discussion of how the Left went "secular" after the 1960's, that brief moment when a critical mass of America believed that "love not war" was in fact the right guiding principle. He points out how the elite intellectual left estranged itself from the labor left while also being secularly scornful of the religious left.

He praises Martin Luther King and the original civil rights movement that welcomed white support as embodying all that was good about spiritually-bonded social activism.
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115 of 130 people found the following review helpful By Susan Fong on February 19, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
One does not need to be a "religious" person to commend and endorse Rabbi Lerner's message of love, tolerance, and respect for one another regardless of our religious, ethnic, and/or political affiliations. And Rabbi Lerner is right when he suggests that we need to be less selfish and more concerned about taking care of our planet and all those who inhabit it.

Too often we have become a self-indulgent, wasteful, or even destructive society. We drain our limited natural resources for our own pleasure instead of preserving and replenishing those resources. We should protect the quality of life and the health of our planet so that future generations will benefit as well as ourselves.

As a society it is deeply troubling that one segment of our population, namely the extreme religious right, attempts to control our politics, culture, and behavior. These extremists condemn ANYONE who does not conform to their mold. Isn't that contrary to tolerance and forgiveness as the Bible teaches?

I admire Rabbi Lerner's stand against the extreme religious right's bigotry towards non-Christians, intellectuals, homosexuals, or anyone else whom they consider "objectionable". Rabbi Lerner seeks to comfort and bring people together based on our shared humanity. The extreme religious right choses to ostracize and demonize those who are different from them. They are not true Christians. They are bullies.
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37 of 41 people found the following review helpful By seekJesus25 on February 10, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Michael Lerner's articulate and passionate voice provides hope and nourishment for a progressive and faithful alternative to the hard right. Read this book, share this vision with others and pursue the way of hope in your community. There is indeed an emerging community of interfaith voices rising up in the United States -- a community which includes Christian evangelicals, Protestants and Catholics, Jews of all sorts, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and others --- all who from within their unique tradition offer hope to a broken and hungry world. This book should be read widely by all those who long for a better way. As a young progressive Christian evangelical I am so grateful for the voice of Michael Lerner. His voice declares that hope is on the way, Lerner along with many others including passionate evangelical Christians like Jim Wallis --- are helping Americans live out their faith by caring for the environment (Creation Care), pursuing alternatives to war and violence (peacemaking), and speaking up for the poor and marginalized (justice seeking). As is written in Christian scripture "faith without works is dead" Rabbi Lerner is calling us all to a better way.
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51 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Nichola Torbett on February 10, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I've read a number of the recent books about spirituality and politics, and many of them are quite good, but _The Left Hand of God_ is the broadest and deepest analysis of the situation we are in in this country. Lerner addresses the pain many Americans are feeling that is driving them toward the right and offers a more ethical and less hypocritical alternative to the politial right. The book outlines a "spiritual covenant with America" that imagines what public policy might look like were we to strive toward a world based in love and compassion. The ideas in this book will be useful to people who are skeptical about religion as well as to those who embrace it. I wish everyone would read this book!
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Robert D. Niederman on February 15, 2006
Format: Hardcover
People in this country hunger for a politics of meaning. We don't want to distrust our leaders. We don't want to distrust the political process. We want a politics that really stands up for the values we share. These are the fundamental values of our country and of all religions. We want our leaders to truly value life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all people everywhere. We want an ethical society- not a selfish one. We don't want leaders to talk about compassionate conservatism and then set up prisons to torture people who are randomly collected off streets and are never convicted of any crime. This book addresses issues of value. It helps guide us toward a politics of compassion and a way for all of us, conservatives, liberals, religious, and non-religious to come together to demand responsible leadership at a time of great peril to our country and to the world. This is a great voice of hope, passion, vision, and sanity. I invite every person who has deep concerns for the future of our democracy and for the deepening of spirit throughout the world to buy this book and read it. Then set up a book club and read it with your friends, neighbors, and community. This is a book to be treasured, internalized, and discussed at all levels of society. It has in it the capacity to shift our way of thinking about our world, and therefore, to change the way we operate. This book could enable us to turn the page of overbearing domanence and create a world based on equality and justice.
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