Saturday, February 16, 2019

Carl Anderson's Judas: “A Two-Dimensional Popular Villain Turned Into a Complex Human Being”



The Wild Reed’s celebration of singer and actor Carl Anderson continues!

It’s actually a month-long celebration, as February is the month of both Carl’s birth (in 1945) and death (in 2004, at age 58).

In this fourth installment of The Wild Reed’s celebration of Carl, I share (with added images) a second excerpt from P. Djeli Clark’s insightful article, “My Own Personal Judas: Revisiting Jesus Christ Superstar.” (For the first excerpt, click here.)

This second excerpt focuses on Carl’s groundbreaking portrayal of Judas Iscariot, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, in the 1973 film adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's celebrated rock opera.

As Clark notes: “In the end, we realize [Jesus Christ Superstar] isn’t really about Jesus. It’s about Judas. He is at the heart of the story. . . . It is the Passion of the Christ told from Judas’s perspective.”

___________________________



The film begins with Judas (Carl Anderson) breaking away from the others – a continual loner set apart; in some ways, much like Jesus.

Dressed in all red with his chest out, he sits atop a crag of rock surveying Jesus and the other disciples. And he isn’t happy. In a lengthy heartfelt soliloquy set to an ominous guitar string, he sings, My mind is clearer now . . . at last all too well, I can see where we all soon will be.

Jesus, he believes, has become reckless. He’s let all this “son of God” talk in the streets go to his head, and has put himself above his ideals. This, Judas laments, the Romans will not take lightly. Has Jesus forgotten how put down his people are by the Romans? Has he forgotten that at any moment the Empire could crush them, ending all the good they’ve accomplished?

Nor does Judas buy into the adoration of the crowds. Super stardom is fleeting, he says critically. You have set them all on fire, they think they’ve found the new Messiah. [But] they’ll hurt you when they find they’re wrong.

More than anything, Judas wants to be heard. He wants Jesus to listen, before it’s too late. The rest of the disciples are blind, he wails in disgust, “too much heaven on their minds.” He begs Jesus to abandon the super stardom and return to the simple days, for his sake, their sake and the sake of his nation. But Judas’s cries come from far away, atop a hilltop that sits as a metaphor for the distance that has grown up between the two men. And his words are wasted on the wind, never reaching his leader’s ears.





That scene alone establishes Anderson’s powerful delivery of a Judas we aren’t at all familiar with.

This Judas is tormented, angry and scornful – but with reason. He is disgusted not only with the popularity he sees swirling about Jesus, but that Jesus as well buys into it – even seems to promote it.

He questions the claims of divinity and sees Jesus instead as just a man, who in the end will lead both his followers and his people into a destructive confrontation with the Romans. After Jesus angrily attacks the money lenders in the temple (who sell everything from sex to military artillery) Judas comes to believe his leader has lost his mind.

Sitting in contemplation, he watches a set of Roman tanks. Seeming to visualize what could happen were the full might of the Roman Empire brought to bear upon them, he decides Jesus has to be stopped. What he does is for the good of all, not “blood money.” He only asks that for his actions, he not be “damned for all time.”




The climax in the conflict between both men is intense. When Jesus announces that one of his followers will betray him, a fed up Judas jumps up and declares “cut the dramatics you know very well who!” His anger has boiled over into seething hatred. “To think I’d admired you,” he spits. “Well now I despise you!”




Jesus angrily denounces him as a liar and tells him to go, not wanting to hear his excuses. For a brief moment, the two men clasp, and you remember they were once companions, a teacher and a pupil, comrades in a struggle. In both their faces there’s a moment of pain and regret. “Every time I look at you,” a frustrated Judas moans, “I don’t understand, why you let the things you did get so out of hand.” He flees to complete his deed. It’s the last time the two will speak.




. . . After bearing witness to Jesus being scourged, [Judas] runs back to the Pharisees to say this isn’t what he had agreed to. He cries out he would save Jesus if he could and seems overwrought by guilt. But the priests scornfully mock his remorse, reminding him of his willful role. In the end Judas realizes he’s been duped. But it’s not the Pharisees he blames. It’s not Jesus. It’s not even the Romans. In a final moment of clarity he looks up to the heavens, and he realizes that this was planned all along. Not by any men. This was planned by God. The one character who never makes an appearance in Jesus Christ Superstar but has been there all along.

God as ultimately responsible for this tragedy has been alluded to all along. Jesus says wearily earlier that the path he is on was started by God. Pontius Pilate calls Jesus a puppet. But who is pulling the strings?

“I’m sick!” Judas declares at his new-found revelation. “I’ve been used!” He runs about the desert aimlessly – as if trying to futilely escape the omnipresent Almighty. “You knew all the time,” he accuses. “God . . . I’ll never know why you chose me for YOUR crime!” Declaring God his murderer with his last breath, Judas hangs himself.




In a final sequence he returns as a spirit surrounded by what appear to be angels, or perhaps demons, and continues his philosophical questions while in other scenes Jesus is marched to his crucifixion. Who is Jesus? What has he sacrificed? Does he truly think he’s who the stories claim him to be? How do you separate the myth from the man? His questions go unanswered, echoed seemingly throughout eternity.




In the end, we realize this play isn’t really about Jesus. It’s about Judas. He is at the heart of the story. Though we get other perspectives, it is Judas we’re always drawn back to. It is the Passion of the Christ told from Judas’s perspective.

It ends much as we expect. But the motives and reasoning are given new depth and contours. Judas isn’t just the black betrayer in the Webber/Rice retelling, he is the black anti-hero. He is a two-dimensional popular villain now turned into a complex human being. Even if you don’t take his side in the end, you certainly understand it.

– P. Djeli Clark
Excerpted from "My Own Personal Judas:
Revisiting Jesus Christ Superstar
"
Phenderson Djèlí Clark
April 18, 2014





Related Off-site Link:
Controversial Judas – Caroline Blyth (Auckland Theology & Religious Studies, December 20, 2016).

For more of Carl Anderson at The Wild Reed, see:
Remembering and Celebrating Carl Anderson
Carl Anderson: “Pure Quality”
Carl Anderson's Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar: “The Gold Standard”
Carl Anderson: “One of the Most Enjoyable Male Vocalists of His Era”
With Love Inside
Carl Anderson
Acts of Love . . . Carl's and Mine
Introducing . . . the Carl Anderson Appreciation Group
Forbidden Lover
Revisiting a Groovy Jesus (and a Dysfunctional Theology)


Friday, February 15, 2019

Daniel Hochman on What Causes Addiction

I recently launched a series at The Wild Reed in which I've been sharing some of the writings I’ve found helpful as I accompany a friend through his ongoing struggle with addiction.

I continue this series today with an article by Dr. Daniel Hochman on what causes addiction. This article was first published by SelfRecovery.org, a private, online addiction recovery program. Hochman is a psychiatrist in the field of addiction and mood disorders, and the founder of SelfRecovery.org.

__________________________


What Causes Addiction?

By Dr. Daniel Hochman

Suffering.

Suffering.

Suffering.

Is that clear enough? Addiction is the story of human suffering. We simply do not cause harm to ourselves with our behavior unless there is some serious hurt to cope with. That hurt could come in a variety of forms (trauma, a difficult childhood, sadness, grief, worry, panic, fear, dread, anger, frustration . . .).

People are far too focused on “biological causes” for addiction. But the answer to addiction is right beneath our noses.


The ACEs Study

The ACEs study is something everyone needs to know about. It was a large study that looked at how ten types of childhood trauma were correlated with long term health. Those traumas include: physical, emotional and sexual abuse; physical and emotional neglect; having a family that wasn’t loving or felt you were important; living with a family member who’s addicted to alcohol or other substances, or who’s depressed or has other mental illnesses; experiencing parental divorce or separation; having a family member who’s incarcerated, and witnessing a mother being abused.

The more adversity someone has, the higher their chance of addiction. It is so clear. Having a score of 4/10 means a 700% higher risk of becoming an alcoholic, for example. Since the original study, we now see that other hardships like an unsafe environment, being teased, frequent moves, and poverty are also major factors in developing an addiction.


Addiction in Displaced People

This matches up with what we see in population studies, where groups who suffer collectively have much higher rates of addiction. Native Americans are often cited as having some sort of genetic tendency to drink. But a closer look reveals that’s just not the case. Alcoholism only came about after their culture went through a series of multi-generational trauma. This is also the case with other groups of people with hardships, such as African Americans, veterans, people in poverty . . . you name it.

And if you think about it, being adopted or fostered is a form of individual displacement (and sure enough, being adopted is highly correlated with substance use).

We also see proof of this concept in the other direction. When Vietnam soldiers with heroin addiction returned home from the trauma of war, 95% of them were cured just by returning from displacement to a safe environment.


“But I Don’t Have Any Trauma”

While the ACEs study looked at more clear forms of trauma, don’t forget that we can suffer in much more discrete ways. These are the instances that can be the most frustrating for people because they feel even more inept for having “no reason” to be addicted. But we forget just how much it hurts to be teased, or constantly criticized, to never feel like we’re enough, or never belong, or not live up to certain standards, etc.

If you don’t pay close enough attention, or feel too guarded to explore it, or don’t appreciate all the forms of suffering, you’ll miss it. And who is more likely to miss it than the very person who has been trained to feel wrong all the time!


Our Desire for Simplicity and Control Get in Our Way

I can’t tell you how much of human behavior is driven by fear and protectionism. Just take a look at our politics and religious wars. We love making things other people’s problems, and hate taking the time and energy to deal with the reality of situations. It’s too easy for people to blame a certain population for their addiction instead of take responsibility as a community for the suffering they go through. And it’s too easy to pretend that we can control addiction by modifying some gene. Sorry, it’s not that simple and it ain’t gonna work.

To anyone without addiction: the patients with addiction who I sit with absolutely hate when everyone makes them out to be the villain. Sure, they get that they’re responsible for themselves. But don’t make them feel like they did this to themselves. Addiction is complex, ugly, and will never be some tidy illness you can cure with a silver bullet.


What This Means

When I go through the ACEs study with patients, it’s amazing how much hope they feel when they understand (and eventually believe) that they aren’t defective, damaged, or broken. They begin to see their compulsive and destructive behaviors as fairly expected adaptations to cope with the tough shit they’ve been through. It might have been overt trauma like abuse, or more micro-traumas like teasing and lack of true affection – but there’s always some kind of suffering there.

Let’s stop taking the lazy, defensive role of blaming people for bad choices and start to meet them with respect and compassion for the shit they’ve gone through. I promise we’ll begin to see a whole lot of change when we can do that.



Related Off-site Links:
Is Addiction a Disease? What Medical Experts Think – Gregg Makuch (The Clearing, July 19, 2017).
What No One Tells You About Loving Someone in Recovery From Addiction – Ashton Tupper (The Mighty, March 1, 2017).
The Mind of a Heroin Addict: The Struggle to Get Clean and Stay SoberThe Guardian (February 11, 2014).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Thoughts on the Disease of Addiction
“Wholeness Is Never Lost, It Is Only Forgotten”
Interfaith Chaplaincy: Meeting People Where They're At
A Longing and a Prayer
For a Loved One Struggling With Addiction


Thursday, February 14, 2019

In the Abode of the Heart



Love is not about finding a soul mate. If it seems to be in the beginning, the feeling starts to dissipate the moment you and your soul mate discover how different your toothpaste habits are. Rather, love is about exploring vulnerability, about exploring degrees of acceptance of and resistance to each other. On the spiritual level, it is about continuously reaching for deeper and deeper levels of trust in God.

. . . Hazrat Inayat Khan writes, "Enter unhesitatingly, Beloved, for in this abode there is naught but my longing for Thee. Do I call Thee my soul? But Thou art my spirit. Can I call Thee my life? But Thou livest forever. May I call Thee my Beloved? But Thou art Love itself. Then what must I call Thee? I must call Thee myself."

– Phillip Gowins
Excerpted from Practical Sufism:
A Guide to the Spiritual Path

pp. 162-163


See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
The Winged Heart
Be Just In My Heart
The Sacred Heart: "Mystical Symbol of Love"
What We Mean By Love
The Choice (and Risk) That Is Love
Love as "Quest and Daring and Growth"
To Know and Be Known
The Gravity of Love
The Soul of My Love
To Be Held and to Hold
Lovemaking: Pathway to Truth, Harmony and Wholeness
To Be Alive Is to Love
Meeting (and Embodying) the Lover God
"There's Light in Love, You See"
The Most Sacred and Simple Mystery of All
"Joined at the Heart": Robert Thompson on Christianity and Sufism

Image: Artist unknown.


Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Carl Anderson's Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar: “The Gold Standard”



The Wild Reed’s celebration of singer and actor Carl Anderson continues!

It’s actually a month-long celebration, as February is the month of both Carl’s birth (in 1945) and death (in 2004, at age 58).

In this third installment of The Wild Reed’s celebration of Carl, I share writer P. Djeli Clark's thoughts on Carl's role in the film version of Jesus Christ Superstar.

I've mentioned previously that it's probably fair to say that for most people, Carl Anderson is best remembered for playing Judas Iscariot in the 1973 film adaptation and numerous stage productions of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's rock opera, Jesus Christ Superstar. It's a role that I think most would agree remains owned by Carl – even now, 15 years after his death from leukemia in 2004. I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that Carl powerfully and heartbreakingly immortalized a very nuanced, very human portrayal of Judas.




Much of P. Djeli Clark's insightful article, "My Own Personal Judas: Revisiting Jesus Christ Superstar," focuses on both the controversial casting of Carl as Judas and Carl's powerful portrayal of the disciple who betrayed Jesus.

For Clark, Carl's portrayal remains the definitive version of Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar . . . Indeed, it's "the gold standard."

Following, with added images and links, is the first of two excerpts from Clark's article, one which was first published in 2014 on his blog, Phenderson Djèlí Clark.

_________________________________


The 1973 film, directed by Noman Jewison, takes place among the hot and dusty backdrop of Israel (the less populated parts) and other sites in the Middle East. Like the Webber/Rice play, it focuses on the interpersonal struggles and conflicts of Judas and Jesus during the week leading up to the Crucifixion. Act I depicts the interpersonal struggle between the two men, while Act II focuses on the Last Supper, Judas’s betrayal and the tragic ending both will ultimately face.

The role of Jesus was played in the film by singer Ted Neely. As Jesus, he mirrors the image much of the modern West has gotten used to–a bearded, blonde guy with watery blue eyes and a serene countenance. In the original play, the actor chosen to play Jesus was similarly blonde and blue-eyed. This has raised more than a few eyebrows. I’ve often wondered why Webber/Rice, and eventually Jewison, decided to go with this image for the play. One thing you notice in both the Broadway production and the film is its diversity, reflecting the afterglow of the social transformations of the late 1960s. Yet this Jesus remains startlingly similar to something out of a Baroque painting. It could simply be that this was an accepted image of Jesus of the day. Rice after all famously said Neely, “just looked the part.”


Indeed, the Jesus we are presented with is the one that adorns our popular art, books and churches. It’s the one most people expect. It’s the one we’ve gotten used to. The one that “looked the part,” that puts many minds at ease. But as we continue to watch, we realize the Jesus of this play isn’t perhaps who we think he is.

This Jesus is sown with doubt and struggles with the popularity (the super stardom) into which he has been thrust. He feels misunderstood by his followers, who badger him incessantly. When in a dream the blind, the lame and lepers surround him, begging for aid, he has a panic attack. “Don’t crowd me!” he yells. “You’re too many!” He loses his temper often with Judas, who challenges his authority and his decisions. Once inspired, he now claims to simply be tired and uncertain of the path he’s been placed upon. At his lowest he reveals his loss of faith to God, asking if there’s a way perhaps to survive his fate. If he has to die, he begs (perhaps even demands) that God show him why. What will be his reward? Will his death be in vain he asks fearfully? Will his legacy (his super stardom) be assured? His greatest fear seems to be that after all this sacrifice, he might be forgotten. Near spiritual exhaustion, he tells God to get on with it then, before he changes his mind.

But if the casting of Jesus in the film raised eyebrows, the actor playing Judas stoked its own controversy. In the film, black theater actor and singer Carl Anderson played the role of Judas. Yeah. You heard that right. Jesus in this flick is a blonde haired and blue-eyed dude. Judas is black. With a fro. In the original Broadway play in fact, Judas was originally played by actor/singer/dancer Ben Vereen. Blonde Jesus, Black Judas. Say that five times fast. Bet you can’t.


Needless to say, this has not helped me win over fellow black folks to this play. I tend to usually get a “No, No, and HELL NAW!”

More than a few film critics noticed as much in the early 1970s. A TIME magazine article in 1971 gave an appropriate title of the cast: “Jesus Will be Blond; Judas Black.” The glaring visual racial imagery was enough so that even Roger Ebert had to at least address it in a review. And there were outcries from several that the play, and the film that followed, was “anti-black” and filled with blatant racial coding. When a group of African-American Baptists charged racism over the casting of Anderson as Judas, studio producers insisted it was not a matter of race but aesthetics. The Baptists countered if it was not race, then why couldn’t Jesus have been black?

Uhhh . . . touché.

Not all productions of the play portray Judas as a black man. The original album in fact used white English singer/actor Murray Head to voice Judas. And numerous plays have been made worldwide where he is played by non-black people. But there’s no denying that Carl Anderson (who took over for Ben Vereen on stage and remained on for the film) remains the definitive version of Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar. He is the gold standard.

And you ain’t ever seen a Judas like this.

– P. Djeli Clark
Excerpted from "My Own Personal Judas:
Revisiting Jesus Christ Superstar
"
Phenderson Djèlí Clark
April 18, 2014





NEXT: Carl Anderson's Judas: “A Two-Dimensional
Popular Villain Turned Into a Complex Human Being”



For more of Carl Anderson at The Wild Reed, see:
Remembering and Celebrating Carl Anderson
Carl Anderson: “Pure Quality”
Carl Anderson: “One of the Most Enjoyable Male Vocalists of His Era”
With Love Inside
Carl Anderson
Acts of Love . . . Carl's and Mine
Introducing . . . the Carl Anderson Appreciation Group
Forbidden Lover
Revisiting a Groovy Jesus (and a Dysfunctional Theology)


Monday, February 11, 2019

Quote of the Day

Ilhan Omar (D-MN) has stirred controversy by replying to scurrilous statements of her Republican opponents in Congress by suggesting that they are shilling for anti-Palestinian and anti-Muslim lobbies that back the right wing Likud government of Israel to the hilt because they receive campaign contributions from the Israel lobbies. . . . It certainly is the case that many American politicians are funded by the Israel lobbies, coordinated by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), and the shocked protests to the contrary by the Washington elite are disingenuous or propaganda.

Chelsea Clinton piped up, but her own mother exemplifies the syndrome. Hillary Clinton was once a level-headed, smart analyst of Middle East affairs, in the 1990s. And she pointed out that the Palestinians deserve their own state. The Israel lobbies came after her viciously and silenced her. And then gradually she started giving these robotic speeches that seem to have been written for her by AIPAC. . . . She started saying things she must know to be untrue and blaming the Palestinians for their own plight, which was imposed on them by the Israeli military.

. . . Because of the long and horrific tradition of European anti-Jewish bigotry, it is difficult to speak of the power of the Israel lobbies, and bringing the subject up often attracts charges of anti-Semitism. That is because European Christians created false and outrageous accusations against Jews of stealing Christian babies and using their blood in rituals, or of being unduly influential in banking, or of secretly forming a cabal to control governments. These anti-Semitic tropes (which led to the Nazi genocide of 6 million Jews) are hurtful, false and ultimately murderous.

But this history of Christian irrational bigotry is no excuse to deny that Jewish nationalists or Zionists have indeed organized themselves to fund political campaigns at a much higher level than average Americans, and to strategize influence in the US government.

It is important to underline that relatively few American Jews support the tenets of the Israel lobbies, such as the right of Israel to annex permanently and colonize with its own people the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza.

. . . AIPAC and the Israel lobbies are enormously influential in American politics and putting discussion of them off limits, as the lobbies would like to do, is a diminution of our democratic discourse and a sort of totalitarianism.

To that extent, whatever one thinks of one tweet by a first-term congresswoman, she is doing us a favor to provoke the forbidden discussion.

– Juan Cole
Excerpted from “Senate Guts First Amendment to Guard Israel
from Boycott, But Ilhan Omar Can’t Bring Up AIPAC?

Common Dreams
February 11, 2019


Related Off-site Links:
Freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar Draws Ire for "Accurately Describing How the Israel Lobby Works" – Julia Conley (Common Dreams, February 11, 2019).
No, Ilhan Omar Is Not Anti-Semitic for Calling Out AIPAC – Peter Felds (Forward, February 11, 2019).
Ilhan Omar Apologizes for Statements Condemned as Anti-SemiticThe New York Times, February 11, 2019).
As Omar "Unequivocally" Apologizes, Critics Rip Democratic Leaders for Trying to "Silence Criticism" of AIPAC – Jon Queally (Common Dreamst, February 11, 2017).
Sorry, Democrats: Your NRA Is Spelled AIPAC – MJ Rosenberg (The Huffington Post, October 5, 2017).
Democrats Forced to Confront Growing Divide Over Israel Heading Into 2020 – Gregory Krieg and Eric Bradner (CNN, February 11, 2017).

UPDATES: Who's Afraid of Ilhan Omar? – Hunter DeRensis (The National Interest via Yahoo! News, February 12, 2017).
Anti-Semitism and Hypocrisy at the Top: A Jewish Response – Wes Howard-Brook (Radical Discipleship, February 12, 2017).
There Is a Taboo Against Criticizing AIPAC – and Ilhan Omar Just Destroyed It – Mehdi Hasan (The Intercept, February 12, 2019).
Rep. Ilhan Omar Claps Back at the Bigot In Chief: "You Have Trafficked in Hate Your Whole Life" – Stephen A. Crockett Jr. (The Root, February 13, 2019).
Rep. Ilhan Omar Applauded for Grilling Elliott Abrams Over Role in US-Backed Genocide, Massacres, and Death Squads in Latin America – Jake Johnson (Common Dreams, February 13, 2019).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Israeli Policy, Not Anti-Semitism, at the Root of Disruption at Creating Change 2016 Conference
For Some Jews, Israel's Treatment of Palestinians is Yet Another Jewish Tragedy
Quote of the Day – August 12, 2014
Thoughts on Prayer in a "Summer of Strife"
"We Will Come Together in Our Pain"
In Search of a "Global Ethic"

Image: Photographer unknown.


Friday, February 08, 2019

Why Marianne Williamson Is a Serious and Credible Presidential Candidate



It's been over a week since spiritual teacher and author Marianne Williamson announced her candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination. Yet as Stephen Dinan* points out in his recent piece at Medium, "[t]hose who follow the major media . . . are likely unaware that [Marianne is] even in the race."

For one thing, Marianne is rarely listed in the rankings of major Democratic candidates; this, notes Dinan, despite the fact that she has "a large national base and is recognized as a powerful cultural change agent who has started nationally influential nonprofits in addition to her written and speaking work."


Political leadership, insists Dinan, "needs to emerge from natural leadership of our people." Three questions that can help us discern such leadership are: Whose voice is resonating with others? Whose wisdom do we respect? and Who is speaking to the conscience of America?

Dinan is adamant that for a significant number of people in the United States, Marianne Williamson is a name that comes naturally to mind when responding to these questions.

In a country of more than 325 million, it can be difficult to break through the noise, but I maintain that a 4-time #1 New York Times bestselling author, with 2.6M Twitter followers and a serious commitment to our political evolution, who has inspired at least hundreds of thousands to engage in service and civic responsibilities, has earned the title of a national leader.


And yet so far, so few know of Marianne's run for president. How does one account for this?

Dinan has a theory, which I'll get to shortly.

But first, here are the reasons he offers for why Marianne William is a successful civic leader and thus a serious and credible presidential candidate.

• Strong national fan base, larger than all but a few of the leading candidates

• History of influential civic service, ranging from founding The Peace Alliance to launching Sister Giant, a women’s political empowerment initiative gathering proponents including Bernie Sanders, Dennis Kucinich, Lisa Bloom, Thom Hartmann, and the Women’s Campaign School at Yale University

• Demonstrated capacity for fundraising, including over $2 million for a [2014] Congressional race

• Demonstrated ability to move people into action as a speaker including extensive major media experience (watch the 8-minute CNN interview below)





• Demonstrated service to underrepresented communities, including decades of boots-on-the-ground activism for the LGBTQ community as well as communities of color

• Serious, nuanced understanding of our history and our institutions and how they need to be reformed and evolved, which she’s demonstrated in numerous articles, speeches, and books. [Dinan contends that Marianne’s book, Healing the Soul of America, is "one of the most powerful, serious, and challenging political books ever written."]

• Well-articulated, innovative, and timely policy ideas


Given all of this, why the near-total exclusion of Marianne from media coverage of the Democratic presidential candidates?

Dinan believes the answer is simply one of worldview.

Simply put, Marianne represents a set of values that sociologist Paul Ray calls Cultural Creative values, which are not taken seriously or respected by much of the modernist-leaning press. Proponents of these values are often subtly denigrated or marginalized, sometimes unconsciously, despite the size of the Cultural Creative population (estimated at more than 45 million people by Paul Ray . . . and growing).

Cultural Creatives are committed to healthy, holistic lifestyles, personal growth, spirituality, and global citizenship. They are often positive cultural change agents. . . . For several decades, Marianne has been one of the preeminent speakers, thinkers, and writers in this growing constituency of Americans. That influence and background, more than any other factor, is why I believe she is being left off the media’s lists of serious contenders since they often look askance at this audience.


Continues Dinan:

This is damaging for our democracy, and ultimately for the public’s trust in the press. The founders of this country never wanted us to only consider professional politicians for office. Indeed, that would have been a shock to them – there was simply no such thing at the time.

. . . I think all of [the Democratic 2020 presidential] candidates have value. I’m happy to see them in the race and for us to take their positions and candidacy seriously. It’s great to see some breakthrough diversity, from the first openly gay candidate to someone of Indian descent. . . . [Yet] diversity is not just about skin color or sexual orientation. It’s also about worldviews – and Marianne offers a credible, powerful voice for a worldview that is not normally represented in our civic process. In speaking for that “hiding in plain sight” group of Cultural Creatives, she helps an important part of the Democratic base become more engaged, because they feel seen, represented, and empowered to participate in our political process.

Whether she’s likely to win the nomination or not isn’t relevant here – she has more than earned her place on the stage as a serious and credible candidate.

What she will definitely do as part of her candidacy is elevate the national conversation and raise important, out-of-the-box solutions. She’s already done so powerfully in her opening speech in discussing why reparations need to be part of our national dialogue about how we heal the legacy of slavery – and offering an innovative plan for doing so.

She can speak beyond the traditional political divides to the values and history that unite us. She can speak to people’s conscience in a way that motivates them to engage as citizens.




Dinan concludes his article with the following words of advice and encouragement:

So, every time you see a media article that excludes Marianne from the list of major declared Democratic candidates, I encourage you to write them, to share your view, and to point them to this article if you wish – and ask the editors and writers to recognize that the act of excluding Marianne from the list of major candidates is not only a form of subtle discrimination but also a profound disservice to the diversity of Democratic worldviews that need to be honored and integrated for a successful next candidate to win the White House.

Even if Marianne’s supporters do not propel her into the role of final Democratic Party nominee, her run will elevate our national conversation and ultimately contribute to the regeneration of our democracy.

Marianne is a bold truth-teller who also understands how to bridge divides. She brings important medicine for what ails our country, and she has earned her spot in the upper tier.

If major media prevent her voice and policy ideas from being given serious attention by not even including her in the list of candidates, that will be a profound loss for our country.

Let’s take her seriously and, by extension, the millions of people she already represents – and the potentially millions more that her candidacy can inspire and engage in this important election cycle.


* Stephen Dinan is the founder & CEO of The Shift Network, member of the Transformational Leadership Council, and author of Radical Spirit: Spiritual Writings from the Voices of Tomorrow (2002) and Sacred America, Sacred World: Fulfilling Our Mission in Service to All (2016).

_____________________________


Following is a January 2018 interview with Marianne Williamson on The Ed Bernstein Show. Although this interview took place a year before she announced her presidential candidacy, it nevertheless demonstrates the qualities and insights Marianne possesses and articulates that have long made her an inspiring civic leader and now today a serious and credible presidential candidate.





Related Off-site Links:
Marianne Williamson to Run for President of the United States – Associated Press via WTNH.com (January 29, 2019).
Marianne Williamson Announces Run for President – Karen Ocamb (Los Angeles Blade, January 30, 2019).
Marianne Williamson: Can A Presidential Bid Fueled by Love Transcend the Politics of Fear? – Margie Warrell (Forbes, January 29, 2019).
Marianne Williamson is Oprah’s Spiritual Adviser. She’s Also Running for President – E.J. Dickson (Vox, January 30, 2019).
The New Age of Marianne Williamson – Monica Corcoran Harel (Los Angeles Magazine (May 27, 2014).
Marianne Williamson Tells Iowa Crowd America Needs a “Moral and Spiritual Awakening” – Robin Opsahl (Des Moines Register, January 31, 2019).
Democratic Presidential Candidate Marianne Williamson Calls for $100B in Slavery Reparations – Christina Santi (Ebony, February 1, 2019).
Love, Reparations, and Fighting Back: A Marianne Williamson Iowa TourIowa Starting Line (February 3, 2019).
Who Is Marianne Williamson, 2020 Presidential Candidate and Also Oprah's Spiritual Advisor? – Amanda Mitchell (Marie Claire, February 8, 2019).
Presidential Candidate Marianne Williamson Says “Fear Harnessed for Political Purposes” – Matthew Christian (South Carolina Now, February 8, 2019).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Talkin’ ’Bout An Evolution: Marianne Williamson’s Presidential Bid
In the Garden of Spirituality – Marianne Williamson
Quote of the Day – August 29, 2017
Quote of the Day – June 28, 2017
Quote of the Day – May 4, 2017
Hope, History, and Bernie Sanders