“We build on foundations we did not lay.
We warm ourselves at fires we did not light.
We sit in the shade of trees we did not plant.
We drink from wells we did not dig.
We profit from persons we did not know.
We are ever bound in community."

Rev. Peter Raible (paraphrased from Deuteronomy 6:10-12)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

What Would Jesus Occupy? (Thoughts on #occupywallstreet and the faith community's response)

(NOTE: For a look at the values and principles behind this movement, check out this article from Yes! Magazine. I'll post other articles soon and will do a "Part 2" to this post soon, as well. Thanks for reading.)

Today, I found myself wondering "what would Jesus occupy?"

I'm not really comfortable speaking on behalf of Jesus, but I can easily imagine him in Zuccotti Park in New York City's Financial District.. 

I can imagine him saying "Mic Check!" And people around him saying "Mic Check!" And if you don't know what I'm talking about, here's the deal: There's an ordinance in Zuccotti Park that prohibits amplified sound, so the people who have been meeting there are conducting their meetings and communication without bullhorns or sound systems. They're using a "the people's mic," or the "human mic." Whenever someone has the floor, he or she speaks in 4 to 6 word sentences, then pauses. Those gathered around the speaker repeat what they've just heard, so those further back can hear what's been said, and so on.(This article explains how the human mic works.) It takes a long time to communicate, but everyone hears the message. And there's something about the "people's mic" that really moves me. 

Here's what I think it is: People are speaking up, lifting their voices and putting their bodies in the public square in a way that demands attention. They're doing it in creative, life giving, community supporting ways, it seems. And those occupying Wall Street, Boston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis (starting Friday), and dozens of other places, are hitting a chord that's resonating deeply with all sorts of Americans. In fact, these gatherings include union members, grandmas, professors, the unemployed, the employed, military veterans and so many others.  

People are speaking out against a financial system that has essentially wrecked the American economy, destroyed the pensions of countless Americans, and decimated the American Dream (not to mention much of the middle class). They are speaking out against the corporate hijacking of our government and how corporate money has poisoned our political process.

People are speaking out on behalf of the planet, on behalf of a just and fair legal system that ensures that corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes. People are speaking out on behalf of their neighbors...on behalf of a living wage, affordable health care and housing for all, and for a new economy that works for everyone.

Since this all started on September 17, no one is using much religious language that I've heard yet (and that's not a criticism), but it feels pretty clear to me that this movement is about two choices: either turning toward the creation of the beloved community, the community of justice, equality, and mutuality ("Love's Kingdom," if you will), or turning our back on God's vision (or Love's vision) and returning to the land of the broken American dream, where a few prosper, and the majority suffer. 

I realize this movement is just emerging, and the mainstream media has been slow to pick it up, and that there are lots of differing opinions about all of this, but none the less, my question is: where are the faith communities in this conversation? What is a faithful response to this growing movement, institutionally and personally? What is your faith calling you to?

And Twin Cities folks, there's an occupymn, which starts on Friday. Who's interested in going to learn more, see what it's all about, and explore what role faith communities might play?


Jessica Wicks said...

Health willing, I plan to be there Friday. How many more votes against our interests will take place because big money sways everything? How many more of us will lose our jobs in the name of corporate greed? How can communities of faith continue to sit back and watch the growing number of poor, the rising rates of childhood malnutrition, plummeting educational opportunities, all in the name of greed? How can we not act?

Pamela Adams said...

Thank you Reverend Schroeder. Well said. I am planning to be there.

Arif Mamdani said...

Well, at least in New York, some faith communities are at #occupywallstreet: More than 1000 folks at Yom Kippur services http://yfrog.com/nv78caj

made me indescribably happy to see this picture and story behind it

Anonymous said...

I absolutely love this. I am joining the Occupy Houston group this afternoon, and plan to discuss the religious perspective

Justin Schroeder said...

Thanks, all, for thoughts and comments. I'm planning to spend some time at the OccupyMN gathering sometime this week, to learn more and talk with those gathered. I'll post here when I'll be there - so if folks want to join me, they can. - Justin