Tag Archives: Occupy Wall Street

#OWS Now in Color!

Occupy Wall Street just got a taste of Colored People Time!

100 days after the movement started, Black churches just announced joining the Occupy Movement, calling it, “Occupy the Dream.” Over “1,000 concerned African American clergy, business owners, entertainers, and professional athletes have signed on to Occupy the Dream, the title of which referring back to MLK’s speech. So, does it take almost 3 months for this to become a priority for Blacks in America? Or do we just like to arrive casually late to the party?

While it’s true that I thought Occupy Wall Street was characterized by a predominantly White crowd, with the lowest poverty rates of any racial demographic, this is a welcome surprise. African American Christians do need to know that economic justice is not a complete justice. You can occupy all you want, but you do have to make sure  not to sell your soul to pay the bills.

So honestly, I’m just a little curious as to why now? Is there are game now? What is the full meaning if OWS begins to have diverse representation in its protesting body? And what does it mean that it’s the black church and not “other” churches? Do you think this will spread?

Occupy Protests, Part Deux

Ok, now I must rant.   I might get in trouble with some peeps who follow this blog, but you’ve been wrong before (ha!)   As I stated earlier this month about the occupy protests I do not think they are a bunch of kooks and their concerns have merit.  I do not dismiss them outright, but I do not put much hope in them changing the world as we know it either.  There is no organic moral fabric to hold them together like the Civil Rights or Arab Spring movements.

Now comes maybe one of the most over the top statements about it to date, emanating from within Christian circles.  You should know that I like Sojourners and the material they produce.  Jim Wallis is a fellow Trinity International University graduate, and a good buddy of mine is very connected to them.  I’m not a hater.  In short I love what they do.  But this recent blog entry has me scratchin’ my head.

All ways in which human governments handle wealth are inadequate.   Socialism, Capitalism, Communism – all of them are fallen in nature.   Jesus was not for any of them.  He had his own system, as money is one of the things he talked about most in Scripture.  All of the ‘isms are brutal to the human condition in some shape, form, or fashion.  The Occupy Protests are a welcome response to try to speak into some blind spots of Capitalism.

However Anne Marie Roderick goes a bit too far when she compares the protests to a “Holy Spirit moment” and calls this a “spiritual movement.”  Is it an important moment?  Is it a movement the church should pay attention to?  Should the church speak into the present inequitable income distribution?  Yes, yes, and yes.  But is it a Holy Spirit, spiritual movement?  Au contraire, my sister.

If by “spiritual movement” Roderick was echoing Paul Tillich’s “ultimate concerns,” i.e. the concern to overcome death with life, the concern to overcome emptiness and meaningless with meaning, and the concern to overcome guilt and condemnation with forgiveness and reconciliation, maybe.   What is striking about Tillich’s notion is that all of us — whether black or white or brown or yellow, whether male or female, whether straight of gay, and regardless of nationality — all of us share these same ultimate concerns simply because they are so deeply rooted in what it means to be human.

I’m not sure it is even spiritual in that limited human sense.  But this isn’t a question of semantics.  I am going to take the author at her word.  She seems to be comparing these protests to an actual move of the Holy Spirit akin to what we see in the Scriptures.

F0r starters, is there any suffering for Christ?  Is anybody repenting of sins?  Is Christ being preached?   By the author’s own admission the movement isn’t even church centric.   A Holy Spirit moment?  A spiritual movement?   As they say on ESPN Monday Night Live “C’mon, man!”  Let’s refrain from lowering our ecclesiology to inspirational historical moments.

What I Think About the Occupy Protests

Let’s just say that it’s not Bull Conner and Birmingham.   And it’s definitely not the recent “Arab Spring.”   Pundits and protestors alike need to stop comparing this to those historic social movements because its an insult.  There is no absolute, hopeless desperation connected to this.  Yes we are in hard economic times but most of us still eat and our lives are not at stake.  Most in America will go on living and not even give this a second thought.  On the other hand it’s not exactly something to be flippantly blown off like this photo:

Funny, truthful, and perhaps ironic.  But the photo misses the point.   It attempts to write off  this phenomena as just a bunch of people with too much time on their hands.  Maybe, but I’ll chose to take them at their word.  From my scan of the landscape here is the gist of  it.    The country’s richest 1% control 25% of the wealth.   This is up from the 1970’s, where the ratio was 1% to 9%.  Folks are upset with this ratio and finger the Wall Street/Washington relationship as the cause of it.

Here’s the primary problem as I see it.   It doesn’t matter whether the politician is Democratic or Republican, if they reach office they will be loyal to the interests of the 1% because the 1% is what provides their financial support.  In fact many in Congress are the the 1%.   Both Repubs and Dems carry their water.  Why would they fight against their own personal interests?   Only when it is politically expedient to do so.

Therefore that is the possible significance of these protests, and when I say possible I mean slight chance.   It may move from nice political theater to full populist outrage.   If it reaches that level politicians will pay attention and respond in some fashion.  It won’t be a revolutionary change because everybody loves change as long as it is happening to someone else.  So the 1%, if it becomes politically expedient to do so, will give in a little if it means more votes.  We’ve seen that movie before during the Great Depression, where about 4 years in people took to the streets.   It will be interesting to watch what develops, if anything.