Tag Archives: rant

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.

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Etiquette and its Antecedents

It’s a fair expectation that people should be appropriately quiet and respectful of other people in a place like the library. After all, many of us were taught at an early age the library is a place of silence and study. Images of the thin-lipped, horn-rimmed spectacled librarian come to mind shushing and glaring at any double-decibal aspiring elementary kid. It’s a permanent imprint of how to behave in a library really and not a bad imprint at all. It is proper etiquette.

Alexandra Wallace, a former UCLA undergrad student, made a YouTube video that began by innocently critiquing Asian obsessive parenting and then spun wildly out of control to discuss the improper library etiquette of Asians. I don’t think she had any idea what kind of repercussions this little video would have. No idea.

I found it fascinating to watch because of its impromptu, clearly unpremeditated nature. Here’s a clip if you haven’t seen it already:

It’s caused quite a stir.

She has been blitzed, absolutely flooded with video responses and nasty comments, to the point that she has decided to withdraw from UCLA. The chancellor of UCLA even issued a video response stating how appalled he was.

James Choung, the national director of Asian American Ministries with InterVarsity eloquently articulated the issue for various parties and appealed to our higher sensibilities in this video:

My two cents: My fear is that much damage has been done, and it will be difficult,if not impossible, to repair. And this is why reconciliation is such painful work. It takes years and decades to build up relationships and seconds to bring them crashing down. The irony here is that Alexandra’s points about library etiquette are valid, but her own video etiquette foiled her. And then Asians, as we have been raised, mercilessly trained to do, heaped shame upon her with scores of video responses, parodies, and even threats. How will a Christian response such as James’ be heard amidst all this noise? How will reconciliation be made amidst all the rubble?

The beauty of the initial video by Wallace was that it was so brazenly honest, so real, and actually innocent.

But as much as the interwebs enable us to be so honest in the comfort and solitude of our own dorm rooms, there is an audience of potentially millions who will take you to task on your honesty.

My fear is that honesty will hide its face, even an honest hatred can be changed by love, but when an honest resentment refuses to surface, what happens then?