Progressive Islam is purely an academic exercise. It’s not creating a culture. It’s professors talking to each other.
Thank you, Michael Muhammad Knight. You can only create a culture out of practice, not out of ideology or ideas. If you try to create a culture out of ideas, then the culture will be based on what practice you're actually doing and trying not to think about.
Brother Michael is referring to "Progressive Islam" meaning smug liberal upper-middle-class Westernised academics who happen to be from a Muslim background or culture trying to package upper-middle-class liberalism (the lifestyle they actually follow, being the consumer lifestyle plus libertarian sexual/gender ethics) in a pseudo-Islamic flavouring. Funnily enough, it has exactly the same content as the "socialism" or "Marxism" which comes out of academia or out of the lumpen-academia known as "the activist communities" - nothing but pieties, symbols and rituals over the top of a content of the privileged behaviour of those who have cultural capital recognized by the Black Iron Prison. Nothing more than native informants, or the left-wing of Empire.
"Progressive Islam" of this sort, and "socialism" which means nothing more than the ritualised behaviour of a lumpen-intelligensia subculture, offers absolutely nothing to your average person living in an Islamabad slum or under a pile of rubble in Gaza, or even in the working-class area of London or Paris or [FILL IN WHERE YOU LIVE RIGHT NOW]. The people are already creating the New World on the ashes of the old, and the honest intellectuals are those who can be like Orwell in Barcelona in 1936, and realise that just because you don't really like what is happening doesn't mean it's not something worth fighting for. If you don't like it the answer is to create your own new culture where you are right now, and then seek to become allies.
Actually, I think Brother Michael might have something in common with Chaos Marxism, since he certainly takes a historical-materialist approach to faith:
Once you recognize how much of your tradition is a product of historical forces, it empowers you to be an historical force yourself.
Too many Marxists, for example, seem to believe that they are the Chosen Ones on account of the unblemished ideology passed down to them from the Holy Prophet Karl and His Noble Imams Fred, Vlad, and (Josef and Mao if you're a Sunni, Leon if you're a Shi'ite). They don't look at the historical reality of where they are, where they came from and where they might go, they only act as if they had abstracted their egos from reality and were nothing less than the living incarnation of The Most Holy Tradition. And of course in that situation the ego is left free to run rampant and ruin everything in support of its own continued existence.
If more Marxist groups honestly socially looked at themselves, they might see how their own actions continually sabotage what they claim to want. Hell, substitute "Marxist groups" with "human beings". The only people who really think ideology matters in and of itself are those trained to be ideological technicians under capitalism, and that's why they either sell out or create little "toy" versions of the churches and universities which they would be running if they'd made it in the big wide world.