January 15, 2007

Christian Progressives and Left Politics I've been thinking about Old's mentioning of Jim Wallis. So, I posted some reflections on a 2005 interview with him that appeared in Mother Jones over at Long Sunday. Here is an excerpt from the interview: I think people who are religious or, say, even spiritual, have not felt like there’s much of a home on the Left. That’s at least a huge political concern. Even those who aren’t religious need to respect people of faith. The connection the world’s waiting for is to connect the hunger for spirituality with passion for social change. Because spirituality, when it isn’t disciplined by social justice, in an affluent society, becomes narcissistic. We buy the books, we buy the tapes. We hear the guru speaker. Barnes & Noble has a whole wall of how to be spiritual, balanced, healed, whole. Spirituality becomes a commodity to be bought and sold. So spirituality has to be disciplined by social justice. Are progressive Christians allies of the Left? I'll write this as if the term 'radical left' makes sense used in the context of politics in the US; in other words, I'll use the term 'radical left' aspirationally, wondering about the possibility of a left that could exist, that could be called into being. One caveat--in the US, to speak of 'excluding' Christian progressives from politics is pretty nonsensical. They have been active in US history, are active now, and are likely to be active in the future. My reflections, then, are of the character of...
Bush Administration "Aggressively" Expanding Domestic Spying Link: Bush Administration "Aggressively" Expanding Domestic Spying. Washington - The Pentagon has been using a little-known power to obtain banking and credit records of hundreds of Americans and others suspected of terrorism or espionage inside the United States, part of an aggressive expansion by the military into domestic intelligence gathering. The C.I.A. has also been issuing what are known as national security letters to gain access to financial records from American companies, though it has done so only rarely, intelligence officials say. Banks, credit card companies and other financial institutions receiving the letters usually have turned over documents voluntarily, allowing investigators to examine the financial assets and transactions of American military personnel and civilians, officials say. The F.B.I., the lead agency on domestic counterterrorism and espionage, has issued thousands of national security letters since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, provoking criticism and court challenges from civil liberties advocates who see them as unjustified intrusions into Americans' private lives. But it was not previously known, even to some senior counterterrorism officials, that the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency have been using their own "noncompulsory" versions of the letters. Congress has rejected several attempts by the two agencies since 2001 for authority to issue mandatory letters, in part because of concerns about the dangers of expanding their role in domestic spying. The military and the C.I.A. have long been restricted in their domestic intelligence operations, and both are barred from conducting traditional domestic law enforcement work.

Jodi Dean

Jodi Dean is a political theorist.

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