“Radical Individualism Has Failed” Reflection on @BrianMerritt ‘s “Death of Justice” #occupychurch #OWS
Brian Merritt has written an excellent OccupyTheology sermon. The only thing I dont like about it is that there are too many great things in it I want to quote in full.
I am told by a prepackaged and consumeristic society that there are non-threatening and easy answers to societal’s ills. The reality is that recycling will not save the planet, voting for a Democrat will not stop war, a personal boycott will not stop homophobia, driving an expensive fuel efficient car will not reduce your footprint and eating expensive local produce will not help farming. These are false and unbiblical views of salvation. Sin is often seen as corporate and the solution to it is often catastrophic and radical.
That last line is key, I think. “Sin is often seen as corporate and the solution to it is often catastrophic and radical”. We in America often are led to believe that simply by “casting a vote” that we can change things. Aside from that becoming ever more UNTRUE, it has never been as simple as that. As MLK said, ” the powerful do not give up their positions of power voluntarily” And the systems they have painstakingly put into place and shaped have become ingrained, and opinions have been molded to support these structures. They don’t crumble without hell to pay. This is why Occupy hasn’t “failed”. It’s only just begun. It may well be that this “lull” is stepping back to take stock of the strength of the system against which they have dared to question. It truly isnt going to be easy. And it will take a much more widespread and localized building of communities of resistance. the Civil Rights movement learned this. They built, over many years, a massive landscape of “Beloved Communities”. But it seems the key here is “many years”. That’s what it often takes. Community takes years. Community doesn’t have an incubation period. It is always in the process of being born.
A few other gems from Brian’s sermon:
Believing that we can individually change the world is truly unbiblical
individual salvation … plays well in a consumeristic culture
Amen to that. Individual salvation is the gnostic heresy of our day. It truly takes the embodiment out of the picture, and buries it “inside”, where it can be shielded and uninformed by the flesh and blood struggles, as if the two can be separated. And the consumerisitc culture likes it this way. This individualistic spirituality makes for good citizens, especially if it can be recast ithe image of the dominant values of our culture, and deemed “Christian America”. And those who speak the language can , by their words, forward the dominant values in the guise of Christian values. This is the Religious Right.
[Justice] won’t come from the right or left, but from people who are forging their commitments to each other
It took me years to really let this realization sink in. James KA Smith wrote (writes) about it in his books . Stanley Hauerwas became my ecclesia-priest, speaking and writing of the church as that body which contains us “resident aliens”, and that no true spirituality can incubate apart from it.
It is high time for those of us in the church to proclaim that radical individualism has failed
And this is a primary Occupy Theology dogma (yes, I insist upon it) . The Occupy movement even recognizes the indispensability of the community. It is the incubator of resistance. And the secular Occupy movement has trumped most of American spirituality in this way. There are invaluable insights on what we have missed in the American church. As Brian says, “it is high time for the church to proclaim that radical individualism has failed”. Before I secured the domain, occupytheology, I had sought occupychurch. Because for me, this is my focus. Radical individualism has failed. Has been failing. Has always failed. This is why, from the beginning, God calls apart a people.