“Where are or where should we theologians be?” http://theologysalon.org/ Read about this inOccupy Religion: Theology of the Multitude by Joerg Rieger and Kwok Pulan
The security and surveillance state, after crushing the Occupy movement and eradicating its encampments, has mounted a relentless and largely clandestine campaign to deny public space to any group or movement that might spawn another popular uprising. The legal system has been grotesquely deformed in most cities to, in essence, shut public space to protesters, eradicating our right to free speech and peaceful assembly. The goal of the corporate state is to criminalize democratic, popular dissent before there is another popular eruption.
That “demonstrators have already been branded “domestic terrorists” under the law” is the scary part of this administration’s tacit approval and ACTUAL support of draconian crackdowns on dissent. It really makes a mockery of any talk of how we honor freedom in America. Of course, that’s almost always been the mythology of America, and EVERYTHING is brought back to “in the name of freedom”, which we now see being taken away. This isn’t a mythological fear of “they’ll be coming for our guns”, but actual laws with wiggle room to declare any activist a “terrorist”, and remove the remaining freedoms and give the government carte blanche allowance to define you as an enemy of the state. Sounds more like Rome every day.
Hedges says it best here: “If we remain passive, if we permit the state to continue to use the law to take away our right of political expression, we will have no legal protection of resistance when we will need it most.”
I concur deeply. In other words, a hearty amen on just about every point. I’m disappointed in RLC, as I have been over the past year in the “social justice” orgs and their strange, what I can only identify as “reticence” to really be a support and encourager and enabler and participants with the Occupy movement. To say “they (Occupy) helped start a conversation” is certainly true, but it can’t stop there. The church needs to be “full-throated” and energetically resource-ful in ENABLING the movement and TEACHING their communities about what the Occupy movement says to us (SHOULD say to us) theologically and spiritually.
I also love this post by @glassdimlyfaith (Jeremy John)
“Cautious Affirmation” of Augustine (toward a “Theology of Occupy) #occuppytheology cc: @james_ka_smith
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 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
@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 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 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 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
When I read the following, from a previous Chris Hedges article just after the start of Occupy Wall Street, I immediately added my own group to the list of “discarded intellectuals”:
Bakunin’s vision of revolution, which challenged Marx’s rigid bifurcation between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, carved out a vital role for these rootless intellectuals, the talented sons and daughters of the middle class who had been educated to serve within elitist institutions, or expected a place in the middle class, but who had been cast aside by society. The discarded intellectuals—unemployed journalists, social workers, teachers, artists, lawyers and students—were for Bakunin a valuable revolutionary force
(this article was also incorporated into the chapter “Days of Revolt” in Chris Hedges’ latest book “Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt”)
This additional group of “discarded intellectuals” I have in mind falls within a subgroup in Progressive Christianity.
This question opens up a big sore spot for me on the content side: the present absence of the church, especially those supposedly “Progressive” mainline denominations, in the conversations such as the Occupy movement has started in our national conversation. There is an obvious avoidance of what is CLEARLY a set of issues that affect not only the poor (which is and always has been , in the church, a matter of heeding that clear call), but increasingly, most of the rest of us. At what point do the churches begin to say, “You know those accusations of the Occupy movement about the 1%? What do we as a church need to be saying and doing regarding our message during these times? It seems to be on hardly anyone’s radar. The home pages and second level pages and sections of denominational websites are not addressing such things. Rarely if ever do we see any denominational effort to indicate that the leadership is interested in asking its people about this, or informing them on these issues. It’s like its political dynamite; or poison to the “civil discourse”. When matters of state become so “off limits” in theological communities, it seems to me that we’re deep in the throes of nationalism that threatens the notion of what church represents.
For instance, how many and to what extent to people identify with the yearnings expressed by the Occupy movement? What do they feel about the degree of involvement and conversation that the church is having/not having with the messages being delivered by the Occupy movement? I’ve heard Occupiers say that they left the church long ago BECAUSE they felt the church was not listening or interested in such things (and in some cases, even hostile to the idea of “criticizing America”. How do we as a church arrive at a place so foreign to the history inscribed in the Scriptures themselves, which have frequent narrative of nations behaving in a manner which leads to their destruction? Even “God’s chosen”, Israel. Jeremiah told his contemporaries “Do not take refuge in ‘this is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord’ and think that God will protect us from harm when we continue to participate (and help to perpetuate) the injustices carried out by the nation at large.
The church, if it looks for them, has a small enclave of activists for justice that caught the drift and the energy of the Occupy movement early on, and saw it is an opportunity to engage with that political energy and bring the strong history of the the social justice work of our people into the happenings across the country, from NY to DC to Nashville to Oakland. Many of these people are seminary trained, many experienced activist, many both. They have immersed themselves inthe histories of church-based social justice actions . And these are among the class of the church’s “discarded intellectuals” that are being ignored at just the wrong time (if you consider how damaging that is for the “connection” between church leadership and the people they serve). Kind of reminds me of the political problems our country has. “Leaders” failing to serve their people, focusing instead on “survival” instead of having “Eyes on the Problems and Eyes on the Prize”.
“Part Two” of this has to do with another “Discarded intellectual” group that is sorely needed by the church, but is kept from playing a significant role largely because the church organizations have followed the market tendencies in technology to the exclusion of sound theological discernment about how to let the “Social” actually BE social. It has much to do with theological study and defining who we are in a way that makes the network such a potentially powerful tool for enabling the church to significantly extend itself into some powerfully creative spiritual habitat. I’ll link to this as soon as I put on some finishing touches.