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“Cautious Affirmation” of Augustine (toward a “Theology of Occupy) #occuppytheology cc: @james_ka_smith

December 04, 2012 By: Theoblogical Category: Occupy Theology, OWS

I was just in a mini-stream on Twitter with
@james_ka_smith ,  where I tried to re-open the topic re: the church and the Occupy movement.   I had tweeted a while back to JKA on this,  but it didn’t seem to spark much interest on his part.  He and I had done a bit of back and forth back in 2005-06  over his sense about Jim Wallis and “God’s Politics”,  and I didn’t really know of his approach,  which slowly worked on me to the point that I became a big fan of Jamie’s (James K.A. Smith’s)  theological sensibilities here.  When I read his article ,  “Reforming Public Theology: Two Kingdoms or Two Cities”,  I thought this was an excellent positioning on the perceived relationship that the church can/should/can’t/shouldn’t  with “political movements”,  but in particular in the case of OWS,  a “People’s Movement” that widely eschews the political assumptions of American politics.

So I saw the connections; those “affinities”;  those values that naturally elicit the comradery of many Christians who have known that this economy of ours is nowhere near “adequate” as an ideal;  questioning  that “the American dream” visa vi the National dogma is ,  “the greatest idea” or “greatest country on earth” (or that the very phrase “American dream” absolutizes the ultimacy of the American  form of nationalism.

When Jamie writes:

The citizen of the city of God-which is itself political in some significant sense-will always already find herself thrown into a situation of being a resident alien taking up residence in some outpost of the earthly city. Contra two-kingdom readings of Augustine, this does not necessarily translate into a basically positive or sanguine stance vis-a-vis the earthly city; rather, the first political impetus is one of suspicion, which is then tempered by ad hoc evaluations about legitimate selective collaborations for the common good. The correlate of this suspicion is, of course, a tempered evaluation of the ecclesia.

I determined that I must try to draw him into a more robust exploration of the significance of Occupy Wall Street; to be one of the contributors to whom I can turn in exploring a Theology of Occupy Wall Street.

 

The tweets this morning

——————————————

.@james_ka_smith Mention of your book in opening of Bell’s Economy of Desire re-kindles my curiosity re: how you might see#OWS ….1 of 2

 

.@james_ka_smith see #OWS in similar “conversation” as you have with postmodernism and the church; as “view on the world” (2 of 2)

.@james_ka_smith I wondered a while back how #OWS might be a case for the limited/partial participation you talk about in 2 Kingdoms article

.@james_ka_smith wish I had asked you about this when I saw you in Nashville at C3 in March…you left b4 it was over, so I waited too late

@dlature As I think I’ve said before, I appreciate some of #OWS‘s concerns, but I think “they” have a simplistic account of economic reality

.@james_ka_smith as in?

 

.@james_ka_smith also, as you rightly put “they” in quotes, it wholly depends on who you identify as “they”. Multitudes of keen analyses

.@james_ka_smith and as I’ve said b4, your analyses of i.e. “God’s Politics” which we debated 7-8 years ago was ultimately convincing to me

.@james_ka_smith I think #OWS thought adds dimension of rejecting assumptions of US politics, which you employ via theological issues

.@james_ka_smith I belabor this b/c you are first one I wonder “what would JKA say about this”? You helped shape my questioning stance here.

.@james_ka_smith Want to press you on utilizing some things you say the 2 Kingdoms article & “cautious affirmation” of which you write

@dlature Yes, “cautious affirmation”: Augustinian cultural analysis will always be “Yes, BUT…” and “No, BUT…” As true of #OWS as Walmart

@dlature But seriously: Twitter is not the medium for this. I don’t have pithy evaluations, nor do I probably have adequate knowledge.

@james_ka_smith I’m game. Actually, I’d love to get on this , esp. to garner your insights. I have my own URL: http://occupytheology.org 

@james_ka_smith I’m going to put this stream of tweets in a blog post and invite comments. When you can, I will deeply desire your input.

@james_ka_smith I know you’re a busy guy. But I think you would like this, bigtime. I see you contributing to this analysis big time.

.@james_ka_smith in fact, I think occupytheology is deficient without your input as helping us frame this theologically

@james_ka_smith and seriously, I’d love to have a 5 minute conversation via phone to just say a few things about where I’m going with this

@james_ka_smith doesnt have to be now…but could be …..hope we can

From CNN: The Gospel according to Obama #OWS #PublicTheology #OccupyChurch

October 22, 2012 By: Theoblogical Category: Occupy Theology, OWS

The CNN blog post destined to draw tons of comments:

http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/10/21/to-some-obama-is-the-wrong-kind-of-christian/

I just did a Google Search on that title and the number two result is frlom godlikeproductions where the author simply reacts aloud:  “Is CNN Serious?”  obviously addressing the choir of folks who consider Obama to be ,  like the author his/herself says,  an “AntiChrist”.

The Christian Right is all over this,   proclaiming how “unBiblical” Obama is,  as they merrily strip the Bible of it’s “communal” and “peaceful” content and turn into a Right wing , Nationalistic treatise,  complete with the bliessing of the “Christian forefathers” (whom,  if they bothered to read them,  would draw the same “anti-Biblical” accusations rage from these same folks.  The “Founders” did not come close to speaking their language.  And Obama does it better than W. ever did.  W. Bush was often dodging theological quesitons,  a far cry from the dogmatic, self-assured claims of many who call themselves “Bible-believing Christians”.

I am not an Obama “supporter” at all.  I am deeply disappointedf in many ways in how politically tepid he has been,  at least in terms of what he COULD say with his bully pulpit.  I know that any of the things I might have considered to be “Obama platform circa 2008″ would suffer the same obstructionist fate at the hands of the insane GOP leadership. But there has been a lot of letting Wall Street and the banks slide,  when they could have brought some demands to them that even the financial sector leadership were expecting.  So I am not simply joining a chorus of counter strikes to defend Obama’s faith.  I simply see through the ideological motives of the Religious Right.  That they can even allow themselves to support someone who claims adherence to what most of them consider a “cult” is flag number one.  But then again,  I’ve always known this ideology is primarily political and not theological.  They are totally captured by Republican Right Wing ideology,  made stronger by a shared animosity toward liberalism, Democratic party ideology (as they portray it)  and yes,  outright racism (I’ve heard them…..it’s not unfounded to realize that there are numerous outspoiken racists who are full-throated Right wingers,  even more vocal because they can ridicule Obama. )

As the article explores,  by inlcluding thoughts of “others” such as Diana Butler-Bass,  there is a quite sizeable chunk of Christians whose thought and theology is independent of Nationalism,  and has no problem with putting their “Biblical values” over those of a syncretism of American Nationalism with a “Biblical worldview” that begins with those Nationalistic assumptions.   It’s a tendency with all nationalisms when they employ the support of the religious hearts of their citizens.  It’s happened for centuries.

It is an “OccupyTheology” issue because it raises the questions of howwe can see a ideological kinship with those supporting the Occupy Movement, and therefore be Occupy supporters ourselves.  It’s raising the quesiton of how Biblical values can and often diverge from “American values” when the latter is captured by economic interests and propagandized by use of religious rhetoric.  So it has become part of the Religius Right rhetoric to ridicule the Occupy movement as a bunch of dirty, stinky hippies who make no sense (since they refuse to hear the Occupy message that these “dirty” people bring).  And to critique the United States and it’s sacred “Free Market” is taken as some sort of blasphemy,  somehow forgetting (or never being taught) that Jesus spoke more about money and the problems of the rich than he did about abortion (of which he , in fact,  NEVER spoke).

Jesus himself promoted what the Right is claiming is “class warfare”.  Jesus would likely be treated more like they treat the Occupy movement folks (and was treated that way by the Religious leadership of his day),  except they apparently took Jesus somewhat seriously as a threat that he just might engender the tyype of change that would threaten that which they thought they were protecting.

God REALLY is neither a Democrat NOR a Republican HT @BrianMerritt #OWS #OccupyChurch

September 07, 2012 By: Theoblogical Category: Occupy Theology, OWS, Theoblogical

I totally agree with my friend Brian here:

In the end if they break ways with Christ’s teachings we are required to break with them as well and speak truth in love

http://indefinitedefiniteness.org/2012/09/07/politics/

And saying such things just scares the bejeebies out of so many of my “secular” friends.  They just can’t seem to grasp the idea that the “theocracy” ideas of the Religious Right are not what one is necessarily proposing in speaking of following Christ’s teachings rather than political parties.  I want to say something like “Be not afraid”,  but the American political ideology that says “Separation of Church and State” seems to require of them that they eschew any traces of “religious ideology” when considering politcal policy.  My attempts to steer them off of this course of thinking,  or to try to explain how such a sharp separation is not feasible (except to those who claim they have no such “religious problems”– to which I try to argue that no matter how “detached” and “rational” they claim to be,  their “politics” is also based in spiritual/social values that they will insist are not “religious” in nature  — but they ARE.  )

And so I find myself hesitating to say this often enough (things such as what Brian has said here,  and tweeted just prior to his post going up).   I’m afraid it may pigeon-hole me in  the eyes of certain political tweeters who follow me.  I can only hope that they read into just a few of the details.

I noticed just within the last hour that @james_ka_smith was having to explain to a tweeter that he was NOT Republican, assumed by that tweeter since Smith had no doubt said something “un-euphoric” about Obama.  This euphoria was all over Twitter last night,  as well as on MSNBC.   I watch MSNBC,  but it’s been immensely harder lately.  The blind spots are glaring even brighter than they usually are.

I sure wish we could talk about this in the churches.  But it is as about as TABOO to take ANY side whatsoever,  even a non-partisan one that would get up the dander of the defenders of the “beloved” (such as Obama)  being questioned.

Maybe I should try to set up such a conversation where we can talk about what the church we inhabit needs to be saying to the powers that be,  or talk about the question of just how to do that.

My title of this  post is based on a bumber sticker that I got from Sojourners back in 2004.  But I differ somewhat from the way one often hears it discussed by Sojourners writers.  While I find much , much more in common in terms of what we see the Gospels telling us about the merits of political platforms and discourse,  I am somewhat less enamored with the political process as it exists in America than I find in m any (but not all) Sojourners articles/speeches.

 

New Video Posted from #wildgoose12 #occupyChurch #occupytheology

June 27, 2012 By: Theoblogical Category: Occupy Theology, OWS

Social Media and Movements; Social Media and Churches

June 08, 2012 By: Theoblogical Category: Occupy Theology, OWS

The issue of the  role of social media in movements dovetails nicely into a lot of my thinking about “online church”.  I have long said  that there are several avenues INTO Church from online spaces that can and do happen.  But the “virtual space” becomes inhabited by the “physical space” as veterans from the physical spaces and events come back in via virtual spaces.

It  is this way with churches as much as it is with movements such as Occupy.  There is a sense of space and people inhabiting that space that energize the online extensions of that community.  This needs to be considered when we consider the meaning of the online church vs the “meatspace church” or “face to face church” (or as some would put it; “real church”  — a designaiton I don;t really like that much).

Being at occupation + participating in accompanying social media is strong combo,  much more so than exclusively online….the sense of what the movement is like in FTF, electric atmosphere and collaboration comes through to those who have “been there” in the flesh,  when they go online,  in a way that it cannot to those who are coming in the other way— unless they actually end up coming down and participating in the flesh,  and then the online is enhanced in status and experience;  as the recall and association kicks in and flavors the online “aura”.

“A collapse of virtual and Physical spaces”  is a good way to articulate this.  (Max Berger just said that on Net Roots Nation panel entitled “That Won’t Work: What Progressives Can Learn From OWS” )

What many movement organizers and participants will emphasize is that , in addition to “notification” and “meeting info” , online is providing a sense of a mass participation,  and a sense  of  safety in that it becomes a bit less risky (or seems so)  due to the group surrounding us and encouraging us to speak up.  “Safety in numbers”.  But they want us to know that there ARE,  actual people and flyers and media and meetings and conversations in face to face space,  not simply IDs and avatars and clicks.

I am also encouraged by the integration of video into the Social Media-sphere,  re-introducing the element of physical presence (even though only in video),  combining or “restoring” the personality and the stories articulated by their conversation.  With movements,  people are moved by other people, and video and “on the spot” video and even streaming is bringing back some of the lost elements of personal and social communication.