It is something that should cause those of us who consider ourselves to be “in the church” to be simultaneously embarassed and hopeful. Embarassed because it seems to many of us that the church should be have been conscious and mobilized about these issues long ago (it’s been in motion for 30 years, and I was, of all places, in Seminary in 1980). The supremacy of the economic elites have been holding onto the levers that drive and control the system, and as they control more outcomes, it has become all the more important to speak up, and most of all , to get up and move and huddle together and insist that the country listen to the stories of what’s happening to us. @MicahBales espresses this well:
I .. believe..that God is calling the Christian community to get out of our comfort zone, to invest ourselves in the struggle for economic justice and genuine democracy. We can no longer hide behind a false neutrality that only emboldens the predatory behavior of the wealthiest and their corporations.
We are also hopeful, and grateful, that someone has stirred the masses. That someone is the people who are a part of those masses. And they are demonstrating the power of many things which it seems that the church has forgotten how to do. Again, from Micah, in that same post:
We, the ecumenical Christian Church in the United States, must take up the frightening responsibility of living and proclaiming the uncompromising love and prophetic justice of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is only by participating in his mission to liberate the poor and oppressed that we can ever hope to be his disciples.
What we’ve forgotten is the power of the conversation amongst the gathered. It is what is missing from the spirituality we have nurtured to become more individual and private. And we’ve also forgotten (or “unlearned”) how to take that power to the streets, and to confront “the powers” with that show of cooperation and dedication to nonviolent force. Occupy has shown us how to confront the powers with a different kind of power: that of the communal thing which happens when people come together to articulate a vision, and to explore how and when to do something about it.
I do not CONFLATE the church with Occupy. But I DO want to recognize the stirrings of God when they occur in what is typcially identified as “secular settings”. I sense a deep spirituality in the stirrings of the Occupy camps. And these stirrings in people, often not consciously identified with or attributed to theological issues, are quite possibly evidence of the movement of the Holy Spirit where God is moving out to bring “outsiders” into the feast, since the “insiders” are unresponsive. I want us to include in our “reasons for the hope that is within us” the distinct theology we bring to the table, but I also want us to be welcoming of and enabling of the stirrings of the Spirit that are driving the non-violent determination and vision of Occupy. There’s a “Kingdom of God” thing happening and forming and it is drawing us out from all the corners of our country (and beyond).