Progressive Reconstructionism

Progressive Reconstructionism is a loosely-knit interfaith community found primarily in the developed world. It comprises activist adherents of Reconstructionist Judaism (and of some other Jewish traditions), the Christian left, progressive Hindus, Buddhists. Muslims, left-leaning Neopagans, Wiccans, and members of other faiths. This community also includes progressives who follow a spiritual practice but adhere to no particular religion or tradition, considering themselves to be “spiritual but not religious”, as well as agnostics, non-theists, and secular humanists. Some of the key current proponents are Michael Lerner, Starhawk, and Matthew Fox.

Among the seminal ideas leading to Progressive Reconstructionism have been Jewish Renewal, the Social Gospel and Liberation Theology, Reclaiming Wicca, and Creation Spirituality. Some of the main centers of study and organizing in this movement are the Network of Spiritual Progressives, Wisdom University, Naropa University, The Chaplaincy Institute, California Institute of Integral Studies, the Institute of Noetic Sciences, Reclaiming, Muslim WakeUp! magazine, and the Yahoo!  independent catholic Blog (called, “The Old-Catholic Churches”).

As an interfaith and progressive movement, it is not to be confused with Dominion Theology, the so-called “Christian Reconstructionism” and Theonomy of such right-wing millennialists as R.J. Rushdooney and his colleagues, North, Bahnsen, et al. Progressive Reconstructionism is also different from the Polytheistic Reconstructionist religions, though both movements include individuals and groups who identify as Polytheists or Pagans, and the Polytheists and the Progressives have more in common with one another than does either group with the “Christian Reconstructionists”.

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Basic tenets

  • It is an interfaith movement.
  • It is ecological/environmentalist and progressive.
  • It is grounded in the prophetic and mystical traditions of the world’s religions.
  • It seeks to carry out the individual’s experience of a spiritual new way of being (metanoia) onto a broad community level through a basic program of spirituality-in-action.
  • It carries forward what it views as spirituality’s perpetual process of renewal.
  • It seeks to bring creativity, relevance, joy, and an all-embracing awareness to spiritual practice, as a path to healing human hearts and minds, and to finding balance and wholeness (holiness).
  • It seeks to revive and renew spiritual practice, ritual, ceremony, and language to enhance the inspiration of awe, inter-connection, and empowerment in both the individual and the community.
  • It acts to be inclusive and welcoming and to respect all peoples.
  • It seeks to help to heal the world by promoting justice, freedom, responsibility, caring for all life and for the Earth that sustains life.

Basic program of spirituality-in-action

Progressive Reconstructionists note that, in the developed world — especially in the United States, institutions and social practices are judged efficient, rational and productive to the extent that they maximize money and power. Progressive Reconstructionists advocate a new “bottom line” that these things should be judged rational, efficient and productive not only to the extent that they maximize money and power, but also to the extent that they maximize caring, ethical and ecological sensitivity and behavior, kindness and generosity, non-violence and peace, and to the extent that they enhance human capacities to respond to other human beings in a way that honors them as embodiments of the sacred, and enhances their capacities to respond to the Earth and the whole universe with awe, wonder and radical amazement — and to the extent that they maximize love.

They propose and engage in a process of challenging what they perceive to be the misuse of religion, God and spirit by the Religious Right. This includes educating people of faith to the understanding that a serious commitment to God, religion and spirit should manifest in social activism aimed at peace, universal disarmament, social justice with a preferential option for the needs of the poor and the oppressed, a commitment to end poverty, hunger, homelessness, inadequate education and inadequate health care all around the world, and a commitment to nuclear non-proliferation, environmental protection and repair of the damage done to the planet by 150 years of environmentally irresponsible behavior in industrializing societies.

They propose and engage in challenging the many anti-religious and anti-spiritual assumptions and behaviors that have increasingly become part of the liberal culture, while challenging as well the extremist individualism and “me-first-ism” that Progressive Reconstructionists believe permeates all parts of the global market culture. They seek to educate people in social change movements to carefully distinguish between their legitimate critiques of the Religious Right and their illegitimate generalizing of those criticisms to all religious or spiritual beliefs and practices. They endeavor to help social change activists and others in the liberal and progressive culture become more conscious of and less afraid to affirm their own inner spiritual yearnings and to reconstitute a visionary progressive social movement that incorporates the spiritual dimension, of which the loving, spiritually elevating and connecting aspects of religion has been one expression (but so has the group-in-fusion experience of the movements of the 1930s and the 60s and the communitarian aspirations of many other efforts—social healing and health care, progressive summer camps, the wide appeal of service and service learning, the women’s spirituality movement etc.).

Adapted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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