Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Occupied

So it's now week 3 here and I'm pretty much settled in on my new place of inspiration. The final push has been made this morning as I finally succumbed to the chocolate croissant...exceedingly good plan. My intent for these next several weeks is actually to simply post things from the past as I wander through my archives and edit along the way for an attempt at a book during 2012. However, the spirit of the season has begun to mesh with the spirit of protest and I'm beginning to get more and more unsettled about how this is all beginning to be played out in the realm of influence that I have, that being pastoral artist.
Since I live in a city where the occupy movement has had a significant presence, I am perhaps more enmeshed in these thoughts than others of my profession in other areas of the country. The best way that I can process is to write, and so I've set out to write down some of my thoughts. Many are not going to like and or agree with me and that's entirely ok. We can still be friends.
Here's the basic conflict for me. I am having an increasing number of conversations with people of my faith persuasion who are trying to get me to identify with the movement because, in their opinion, if Jesus were here he would be marching with the protesters. I'm sorry, but some well thought out people have tried to sway me that way but I just don't buy it. I have no doubt that Jesus would be amongst the people serving and loving them in some way, but the Jesus that I read about in the Book of Books was not the one to join in protests. He was not the political subversive that many liberal scholars would have us believe. In fact, his general opinion that's recorded for us is that, in the realm of government, you have to play the cards you've been dealt. That's my interpretation of "give to Caesar what is Caesars". That same sentement is supported throughout the rest of the story as well. The reason that so many have come to this Jesus as political/social subversive ideology is that they read scholars who have that ideology and naturally convey it through some very talented and convincing writing. My encouragement...go back to The Book. The only institution Jesus was concerned with subverting is the religious institution. Don't accuse me of being anti scholar or oversimplifying. If I thought that way I wouldn't have spent thousands of dollars and years of my life on graduate seminary studying these and other writers. I'm sorry but the reality of it all is at it just isn't there. Jesus yielded to the ruling systems of the day, hence a crucifixion.
Now don't get me wrong on this. God and therefore Jesus are absolutely concerned about poverty, oppression, and justice. He absolutely wants us to speak for those without a voice. I believe that this passionate belief on this subject, which I also share, is what leads many down the road of spiritualizing the protest process. Here's the thing though, and this is where I fall at this point in my journey. He is so desperately opposed to that for those who are created in His image that he wants the others of us, created in the same image, to stop talking, stop marching, stop whining, and do something about it. I mean really physically go and do something about it. Stop deconstructing and start reconstructing. People of my faith are so good at observing all that is wrong with the established communities of faith, but they are terrible at being part of the rightness. They would rather stand on the outside and find fault when what we really need is that same passion engaged in the solutions. Yelling loud enough to convince someone else to do it for you is getting us nowhere fast. I think the same thing is happening here in the occupy process. We want to yell and block and march and occupy. The motives are pure but the methods are not really helping those who we claim that we are fighting for. Don't believe me? My challenge is that if the very same people, expended the very same energy, not to mention the economic demands that these protests have incurred, on the very real people really living very real stories of poverty and want, then you would see change in those people's lives. But know this...it is change that happens one life at a time. We want sweeping, instant change to processes that are hundreds of years in the making. I am obviously biased. I am in the fight for clean water access for all people. Do you know what I see in the Occupy movement? I see millions of dollars that could really be invested in the fight against poverty being needed for crowd control, law enforcement, sanitation and everything else. I see resources that could flow to people dying of water born diseases being flushed down the toilet to uphold people's right to free speech. So in the end, our free speech is upheld, but very few have bothered to personally connect and use our own speech and presence to serve these people. You want to find Jesus in this? It just might be that he's been left behind to care for the "least of these" because the rest of us are pre"occupied".

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