The First Liberal

A Secular Look at Jesus' Socio-Political Ideas and How They Became the Basis of Modern Liberalism

This book traces the development of the Liberal tradition that began with “Love Thy Neighbor”. Although pronouncements attributed to Jesus are the philosophical building blocks of this progression, the book does not deal with the reverential aspects of the subject.

Indeed, it is felt that the absence of piety permits an objectivity that transcends parochial interests, and thus may qualify for acceptance by all people, regardless of religious inclinations.

A chapter-by-chapter recap of what’s covered in the book.

Chapter 1 – The Roots of Liberalism

For the practical Egyptians, liberalized opportunity was the key to innovation, as their society created the first truly national government. Two thousand five hundred years later, the ancient Greeks invented science and participatory government.

Chapter 2 – Under Two Swords

Living in Jerusalem during the coordinated siege of the Roman army and the high priest was dangerous and could be very expensive. Jesus offered light and reason to this world of cruelty, coercion, and institutionalized greed.

Chapter 3 – The Rabbi’s Rebellion

At a time when new ideas were certain to be rewarded with either execution or excommunication, only Jesus’ enormous courage enabled him to continue denouncing the evils of commercialized religion.

Chapter 4 – The Liberal Spirit of America’s Founders

Thomas Jefferson separated Jesus’ Liberal principles from religious practice and adopted them as ideals for the new republic, which George Mason and James Madison expressed as the Bill of Rights. He expanded on his idealized view of Jesus’ philosophy when he later created “The Jefferson Bible,” with a New Testament, a straight razor, and a pot of glue.

Chapter 5 — The Dawn of Modern Liberalism

British Liberals prepared the Western world for the Industrial revolution, andRoosevelt’s liberal New Deal saved America from the depths of the Great Depression.

Chapter 6 – Liberalism’s Heroes

Liberals of today stand on the shoulders of many who had the courage not to go along with what they were told about life, societies, or the way things ought to be. Liberalism’s heroes were the great clarifiers of history, among whom were Copernicus, Galileo, Spinoza, Locke, Malthus, Darwin, Voltaire, Franklin, Lafayette, Tubman, Debs, Sanger, Capra, Houston, Marshall, and Salk.

Chapter 7 – The Liberal Code of Jesus Christ

“Love thy neighbor” was the Big Bang of the Liberal tradition and the DNA of the Golden Rule. Here’s a point-by-point checklist of how Jesus’ words influenced Liberal attitudes about our obligations to each other, the dangers of greed, the power of non-violence, government power, peace, taxes, fairness, civility, tolerance, the meaning of love, and equality.

Chapter 8 – What Liberals Want for America

The issues most important to Liberals are health care, education, women’s health issues, security without war, gun control, the Equal Rights Amendment, political awareness, campaign finance, and the environment.

Chapter 9 – The Un-Liberals

This is a Liberal’s view of the Right Wing, including why poor people vote for Republicans, the oxymoron of Christian Conservatives, the Cowboy Mentality, seven kinds of Conservatives, and how Republicans pander to rural Southerners to win national elections.

Chapter 10 – The Rise of the New Christian Left

Churches, organizations, and individuals of the Christian Left (CL) are growing in number and influence. Here is what they are doing and how they can be contacted.

Chapter 11 – Jesus’ Secular Legacy

Jesus’ heirs include Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Jews, agnostics and atheists. Was a Hindu named Gandhi the truest Christian of modern times? Jesus’ secular legacy benefits the dignity of women, his positivism is a model for all who teach and empower others, and provides guidance for the earthiest of problems.

Dennis Altman frames a fascinating discussion for both conservatives and liberals. Using Jesus’ teachings as logical arguments unadorned by religious overtones, Altman challenges established notions with eye-opening impact. Altman highlights how Jesus brought humanist values to the Roman world of cruelty and greed. He shows how Jesus was the first liberal voice among religious and political establishments, and the first major advocate for women’s and minorities’ rights. Altman examines Jesus’ teachings in a modern context: our obligations to one another, the dangers of greed, the effective power of nonviolence, and the importance of liberal values in shaping the world for our children. Regardless of your political or religious orientation, this exciting book will open new doors for you.

Review & Commentary

3 thoughts on “The First Liberal

  1. Review

    Personally, I don’t think anyone should vote this year until they read this book. The information — enlightening to both liberals and conservatives — is too important to overlook. And, surprisingly, this fact-packed narrative is fun to read!

    Altman has written this in a way that gives the reader the feeling that he/she is discovering something at the same time the author did. Quite a coup, really, and probably unintentional. In fact, as a writer, I think that if anyone who starts out trying to achieve such a result will fail. Another coup — and this one I believe was part of the reason he conceived the book — was to give the word, “liberal,” its rightful interpretation, connotations and nuances.

    For the past 40 or so years, “liberal” has been a dirty word in politics. And ironically, as Altman makes abundantly clear, the right-wingers and arch-conservatives most set against liberal policies are those who suffer the most by voting against them!

    I happen to be one who rarely reads non-fiction. My favorite genre is the espionage novel or courtroom thriller. However, this is one book I could not put down. And it’s certainly one that everyone should pick up. The history is fascinating, the point of view convincing, and the insights eye-opening.

  2. Review

    Altman has picked up on things that a good portion of the population has not yet discovered The First Liberal is a timely book, and one I think will get more than a few people talking. It is the kind of talk that has been needed for a long time.

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