First up from the God Machine this week is a look at the importance of one of the more inspirational messages delivered during the Democratic National Convention this week. NBC News reported:
In a speech that shook the walls of the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Rev. Dr. William Barber II, the President of the North Carolina NAACP, delivered one of the most riveting addresses of the Democratic National Convention.The 52-year-old pastor delivered a sermon to 20,000 seated and standing in an arena filled to the upper levels as well as in the exclusive suites.Barber’s speech was one of the strongest of either the Republican or Democratic convention as it covered a wide path of moral territory in a nation with changing demographics that will soon permanently alter the future face of U.S. politics.
I’ve posted a video excerpt, but if you missed it, you owe it to yourself to watch the whole, 10-minute address. Note the way in which Barber weaves together progressive values on so many issues – economic justice, immigration, civil rights, criminal justice, et al – in order to position the left as champions of morality and family values.
To be sure, the North Carolina preacher, perhaps best known for his Moral Mondays vigils, was one of many speakers emphasizing those same themes. But as the Washington Post’s Janell Ross explained, what Barber delivered “was evidence of a long tradition of liberal, religious patriotism. It was a call to action that, in Barber’s view, serves this cause – an articulation of a liberal and patriotic philosophy with what Barber said was the moral force to shock and resuscitate the heart of the nation.”
Talk of the nation’s “religious left,” long seen as a possible rival to the influential religious right movement, tends to come in fits and starts. When it seems as if the progressive, faith-based community is poised to breakthrough and have a larger cultural footprint, too often its moment passes.
But Vox noted yesterday that at the Democratic gathering in Philadelphia this week, the religious left appeared to be “waking up.” The piece added, “Religion was everywhere at the DNC, but it rarely felt overpowering, or even explicitly Christian.”
It’s a key detail: the religious left is diverse in ways the religious right is not, a characteristic that brings with it benefits and challenges. Nevertheless, if this week’s Democratic convention is any indication, this remains a burgeoning movement in its own right, and with faith leaders like Barber helping lead the way, the religious left’s capacity to make a difference is enormous.
Also from the God Machine this week:
* Speaking of the Democratic convention, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), a devout Roman Catholic, would be only the second Catholic vice president in American history if Hillary Clinton prevails in November. The first: current Vice President Joe Biden.
* This was a powerful visit: “Hunched on a bench near the gate to the Auschwitz death camp site in Poland, Pope Francis prayed silently on Friday in tribute to 1.5 million people, most of them Jews, gassed there by Nazi occupiers during World War Two. Marking the third day of his trip to Poland for an international gathering of Catholic youth, Francis spent a few minutes speaking quietly and exchanging gifts with about 12 Auschwitz survivors, including a 101-year-old woman.”
* Christian leader Tim LaHaye, “whose 16 blockbuster ‘Left Behind’ novels sold 80 million copies worldwide, died Monday at a San Diego-area hospital after a stroke. He was 90. The exceptional reach of his writings, fiction and nonfiction, made him one of the most influential evangelical Christians in America.”