What Marianne Williamson Might Mean for us
Marianne Williamson is a recognizable voice and face in the modern New Thought spiritual community. She writes best-selling books and is part of Oprah’s cadre of spiritual masters. I imagine Marianne Williamson’s teachings would be rolled into the future religion of “Oprahism” as prognosticated by the writers of the cartoon series “Futurama.”
Marianne Williamson has officially announced her candidacy for election to the U.S. House of Representatives from California’s Congressional District 33. Her campaign slogan is “Create Anew.”
We are used to religious figures running for political office; but not this kind of religion. From Williamson’s candidacy announcement on her webpage, we read this.
“While many seekers have turned away from politics, viewing spiritual and political pursuits as mutually exclusive, I agree with Mahatma Gandhi that “Anyone who thinks religion doesn’t have anything to do with politics doesn’t understand religion.” I don’t believe we can afford to be “selectively conscious,” applying more enlightened principles to only some aspects of human endeavor.”
Some people believe that the unprecedented current political divisions in our country are related to the entrance of right-wing born-again Christianity to the political forum. Arch-conservative Barry Goldwater warned us about this possibility in 1994 with these prophetic words.
“Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they're sure trying to do so, it's going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can't and won't compromise. I know, I've tried to deal with them.”
Christian extremists worked together over decades to garner support and take control of the Republican Party. While many of their assertions are laughable (a raped woman can’t get pregnant, for instance) some of these religious politicians make their dangerously erroneous statements as duly elected members of Congress.
While the political left in our country has always had the backing of many socially conscious Christians, the United Church of Christ doesn’t have mega-churches or a prosperity doctrine. It would be impossible for a UCC or New Thought preacher to raise the kind of funds and fervor that the right-wing extremists do.
But what about a candidate like Marianne Williamson? She is using her spiritual message in her campaign, just as the Christian extremists do. She is well-funded, well-known, well-loved and well-connected. She might even appeal to the socially-conscious lefty Christians. If Unity Church and the Universalist Unitarians vote as a block she’s got a good chance at victory.
I am not naïve enough to think that one spiritually conscious person in the House of Representatives could make a lot of difference. But what if she is the first of a wave? What if the “spiritually conscious” could do what the Christian extremists have done? What would happen then?
I could see a number of possibilities, some of them as laughable as the right-wing-nuts forbidding schools to teach actual science. While I might personally believe that tarot cards could help create a balanced budget I can’t condone their actual use as part of our nation’s decision-making process.
I having a feeling, though, that the New Thought and New Age politicians might be a little more even-handed than the Christian extremists. I think the New Thought folks might even try to govern with love rather than with fear.
One question is, can the spiritual community mobilize voters the way the born-again Christians can? It will be interesting to see what happens. Will churches who need to constantly fundraise to keep their doors open be willing to encourage their congregation to hold fundraisers for Marianne?
If Marianne Williamson is successful, and if she is the first of a wave, it will be interesting to see if there is less hypocrisy and more honesty in one brand of spiritual politics than another.
Typically, those who rule with religion rule with cruelty. Will Williamson and those like her be any different? I hope we get a chance to find out.
Photo: Marianne Williamson Miami Book Fair International, 1993
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