Customer Reviews


48 Reviews
5 star:
 (30)
4 star:
 (5)
3 star:
 (5)
2 star:
 (4)
1 star:
 (4)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


165 of 182 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Slams Left for Unilaterally Disarming and Fearing its Compassionate Side
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...
Published on March 29, 2006 by Robert David STEELE Vivas

versus
17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Great Society Plus a Smile
I based my decision to buy and read The Left Hand of God on reviews praising Michael Lerner and his book. I should have paid more attention to some of the more critical reviews. The Left Hand of God is a rambling, repetitive and wordy opinion piece. It should have had a 120 page limit. Lerner's thinking is not original and his conclusions are usually not based on...
Published on June 23, 2006 by Dean Smith


‹ Previous | 1 25 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

165 of 182 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Slams Left for Unilaterally Disarming and Fearing its Compassionate Side, March 29, 2006
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
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.

He goes on to note that in later years, as black activists excluded whites, feminists excluded men and alienated normal moms, and anti-war and environmental activists became angry and critical rather than loving and embracive, it all went down hill. The Left disintegrated as a socially and politically relevant force.

Among his strongest points is his assertion that the Left has "unilaterally disarmed" and given up its most powerful weapon, a spiritual vision of a world in which the Golden Rule prevails, and America stands for morality, generosity, and non-intrusive nurturing.

He lambastes the Left for being afraid of its softer feminine side, fearing to appear weak when that strong feminism or the generous side is precisely what is required to confront the radical "rational" right (rational in this case means de-humanizing, for people are treated as "trade goods" not as humans with spiritual and minimal mandatory quality of life needs). Indeed, the author cites Kant's statement that true rationality must be universalized, i.e. American "exceptionalism" is NOT rational, simply imposed.

Other books have talked about the need to add environmental and social bottom lines to the economic bottom line; this author integrates those ideas here.

His bottom line is that love and kindness and championing both a spiritual vision and the primacy of human rights and dignity are an intangible value that should not be restricted to church or family, but should characterize all aspects of the economy and the political decision process.

He demands--and I buy into this completely--that the Left, armed with faith (not nutty faith, but community-oriented faith) must refuse to accept the "collateral damage" that comes from predatory immoral capitalism or unilateral imperialist militarism.

He touches on the difference between science and scientism; the latter devoid of any sense of the humanities or faith (see my review of E. O. Wilson's Consilience for that great author's discussion of why the sciences need the humanities).

A few unique observations from the author before summarizing his public policy goals:

1) Bill Clinton got it, Hillary Clinton tried it as a spouse and abandoned it as a Senator (why she will not win as a Presidential or Vice Presidential candidate), and Al Gore, ubber secularist, never got it at all. Left unsaid, but clear to me, is that Senator John Edwards does get it, and his current focus on poverty is perfectly matched to this book's vision for a caring new left that is embrasive of the bottom and the center.

2) Marx had more spiritual wisdom in his early writings than most people realize, and was originally founded in a moral revulsion against the costs of capitalism on the commoditization of humans (see my review of Lionel Tiger, Manufacture of Evil: Ethics, Evolution, and the Industrial System). Where Marx went wrong, and where the post World War II Left went wrong, was in secularizing itself and failing to use religious faith as a catalyst and sustaining element for activism.

The author ends with some very specific prescriptions that I consider to be sensible, implantable, affordable, essential, and-and-contrary to those reviewers who demean the author-to be a absolutely vital to those seeking to restore balance and sanity to this country in the 2006 and 2008 elections. Any candidate who fails to integrate this book and its vision into their campaign is going to be fighting blind in one eye, with at least one arm tied behind their back. The varied covenants, the separation of church, state, and science (see my review of the The Republican War on Science), the Global Marshall Plan, the Nonviolent Peace Force, these are all ideas that are validated by just about every one of the 600+ books on national security that I have reviewed for Amazon these past six years.

The author ends on a reflective note, stating that no candidate, no elected President, can achieve the needed change on their own. There must be a considerable body of public opinion that stands up and demands the change, that holds the Wall Street and Enrons and Exxons of the world accountable, that holds Congress accountable for bribery and holds Dick Cheney accountable for lying and for no-bid multi-billion awards to Halliburton.

See Conspiracy of Fools: A True Story and Vice: Dick Cheney and the Hijacking of the American Presidency

While there are other books that are meaning to me with respect to the future of this country, this is the one single book that I do not believe can be ignored by any candidate hoping to restore democracy and morality to America.

On the failure of fundamentalist religion, see
American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War On America
American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21stCentury
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


114 of 129 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Commendable, February 19, 2006
By 
Susan Fong (Las Vegas, NV USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars hope is on the way, February 10, 2006
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


51 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just what we need, February 10, 2006
By 
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!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful, substantive, inspiring, February 15, 2006
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Create a book club to discuss this book, February 20, 2006
I have read Lerner before and was looking forward to this book. A friend and I suggested a book discussion about it at our Unitarian Universalist congregation. I ordered ten copies and then another ten with some trepidation. I expected 8 - 10 people to show up. More than 20 came and I had to order a third lot of ten.

Why the excitement? The subtitle says it, and the title is intriguing. You would think by now that all the people who think that it is actually unChristian to wage preemptive war, justify torture, ignore habeas corpus, and transfer wealth in vast amounts to the super rich would have found their voices in a big way. But they are still cowed, both by the religious right and by the secular left, and by their desire to resolve conflicts rather than engage in them. Lerner is a wise writer, the best that I have come across not just for explaining why so many good people have gone with the authoritarian fundamentalist approach (in Christainity, Judaism and Islam), but for outlining what the interfaith alternative is and can be: the left hand of God.

I am an agnostic, but I appreciate what innumerable compassionate and humble believers have accomplished for justice and for service of their fellow humans. I like that Lerner sees the possibility of an alliance between secular, "spiritual but not religious" and religious liberal people to make values of justice, compassion, and environmental interdependence prevail politically. There is hope here and I don't see anyone else providing it so convincingly.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Manifesto for spiritual progressives, April 16, 2006
By 
Autonomeus (a world ruled by fossil fuels and fossil minds) - See all my reviews
Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of Tikkun Magazine, staked out a position many years ago that I have only recently embraced -- though there is much that we do not and cannot know about the ultimate Mystery, it is nonetheless vitally important to connect with the Spirit. This book is the latest in Lerner's life project to address the spiritual crisis in society and reclaim the Spirit of Love from the right wing which seems to worship instead a god of hate and war. Lerner and Tikkun have initiated a Network of Spiritual Progressives, and this book is that movement's manifesto. While very much a product of the Berkeley/NYC "Pure Blue" sector, and in need of much creative adaptation out here in the Red States, THE LEFT HAND OF GOD nonetheless adds considerably to the progressive religious agenda recently articulated by Jim Wallis, Jimmy Carter and others.

Central to Rabbi Lerner's analysis is the psychological insight that the right's appeal is based on fear, while the left's appeal is based on hope. While there are many details I might take issue with in Lerner's brief history of the Left since the 1960s and his specific program of action, I am convinced on this point, and THE LEFT HAND OF GOD is well worth reading because it rings true in its most basic argument. It is all too easy for those of us in the Beloved Community, the peace and justice movement, to become cynical and disempowered, and then we cede the terrain to those who are committed to greed, intolerance and war. The call for spiritual progressives to be active, to get organized and spread hope could not be more timely. Innumerable sentient beings need us!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You don't need to be left to know this book is right...., February 13, 2006
Why read this book? Because it is a smart, fresh perspective that offers real solutions to all of the radical changes that have taken place in our country. It combines an incisive analysis of contemporary American politics with a vision and strategy of how we can go forward in a positive and hopeful manner. So many of the people I know, on the left and right, are scared about our future. We need to map out a new direction that is more than a reaction to the "religious right". Americans need a vision that captures the essence of who we are as a people and what really matters in our hearts. We need to move away from the black and white, blue and red polarities to build rather than divide this country.

I believe Michael Lerner has offered us a diagnosis and prescription that can set the stage for the new leadership we need to get us out of this mess.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Spiritual Hunger and the Left, March 11, 2006
Lerner is hoping to create new political alliances between militantly secular leftists; people who define themselves as spiritual, but not religious; and progressive religious folk.

He is building these alliances upon the Left Hand of God worldview. In this view, God is the force of the universe that makes possible transformation from a world based on pain and cruelty to a world based on love and generosity. God is the power that moves humanity to transcend the Freudian repetition compulsion: repeating the abuses suffered in one's life onto others. The Left Hand of God is the force of non-violence, peace and social justice in the world: it is what makes hope possible in radically changing what is, into what should be. It is an all-pervasive attitude of awe, wonder and reverence for life.

It is an alternative to the domination-as-the-path-to-security model of the politics of militarism, xenophobic nationalism, US global hegemony, and religious triumphalism of the Right Hand of God...which is the worldview that mobilizes much of the Religious Right. This Right Hand of God, in turn, provides theological support and religious sanctification for the Political Right.

Lerner tries to persuade Democrats to boldly embrace their highest visions of what America can become; to name these values and develop policies that reflect them. Their mistake is in abandoning generosity and love, out of fear, and thinking that a more militarist and "realistic" approach to government will attract American voters. On the contrary, it shows a Democratic party that looks as though it believes in nothing, except that which will get it elected.

Lerner challenges leftist and progressive atheists to take seriously the spiritual crisis that plagues America. America "turns right", not because they are idiots, unable to see how they are embracing social and economic policies that are inimical to their interests. They are rejecting a Left that is deaf to their hunger for a life of meaning and purpose that transcends mere economic and political concerns. Americans are trapped in an economic system that creates an all-pervasive selfish attitude and bottom line that turns persons into objects for my individual gain. This eats away at social structures that support nurturing, caring, solidarity and love. Americans, like most humans, require something more: existentially and spiritually they are attuned to messages that speak to identity, community, meaning and purpose in life. Until the Left and Progressive politics understands this, they will lose Americans to the Political Right that fully embraces a Religious Right that has a message primed for such hunger.

This book is unabashedly utopian, and it is contagious in its hopefulness. Lerner's "Spiritual Covenant with America" is light on specifics (especially how to get from now to the ideal); but it is an important guide for naming the values a Left Hand of God political agenda would require. The book should inspire any Progressive with ideas and provocations to decide what their highest visions and deepest hopes will be for this Nation. I think it is best in its attempt to humanize the Religious and Political Right in America. Lerner makes great effort to understand the economic pressures, familial crises, emotional struggle, and existential angst that mobilizes Americans rightward.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Writing with The Left Hand of God, March 19, 2006
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
As a somewhat hard-nosed venture capitalist and Christian, I surprised myself two years ago when I started reading Tikkun, a bimonthly Jewish newsletter that critiques politics, culture and society, and is edited by Rabbi Michael Lerner. Then, while researching material for my forthcoming book on transforming the U.S. government into one that serves its people rather than Big Money and the selfish element of certain special interest groups, I found The Left Hand of God to be a beautifully written, even-handed, description of what is going on in American and international society. "Left Hand" is an invaluable resource for understanding how we all fit together and can achieve the destiny that God wants us to attain. There is a goodness and sincerity to his writing that we all would do well to adopt and emulate.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 25 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

The Left Hand of God: Taking Back Our Country from the Religious Right
The Left Hand of God: Taking Back Our Country from the Religious Right by Michael Lerner (Hardcover - February 1, 2006)
Used & New from: $1.61
Add to wishlist See buying options
Search these reviews only
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.