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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:

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…’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.

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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

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.


“Not dead yet” #ChrisHedges on #OWS #OccupyChurch

September 05, 2012 By: Theoblogical Category: Occupy Theology, OWS, Theoblogical

It’s true we must guard against becoming devoted to the “brand”.  “Occupy” as a brand is not the aim;  it’s not the point to see that this name survives as the main narrative title.  If the media succeed in discrediting that,  then the aims and goals still remain.  We simply need to articulate it  and present it through new actions and new channels,  and help create a new politics independent of the one presently failing us.

“We had a very powerful first six months,” Kevin Zeese, one of the original organizers of the Occupy encampment in Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C., said when I reached him by phone. “We impacted the debate. We impacted policy. We showed people they are not alone. We exposed the unfair economy and our dysfunctional government. We showed people they could have an impact. We showed people they could have power. We let the genie out of the bottle. No one will put it back in.”

This is the sense I have that made me disinterested in what was being said last night at the DNC.  The RNC stirred me up more,  because what they say and insinuate and express is truly scary.  I’m BORED and jaded by the narratives of the Democrats,  not that I won’t agree with some of it;  but  the level of acquiescence to “the same ole same ole'”;  that “politics as usual” that Obama claimed would end has taught me to take it with many more “grains of salt”.   The perpetuation of the free pass given to Wall Street started all this for me.  I now support the Democrats and Obama ONLY as a buffer against a more aggressive, insane, sick group of  cynical or deluded politicians bent on opening up the lines of infusion of further resources UP from the lower 99% up to the 1%. I simply want to forestall the destruction these people would do to our injured, struggling infrastructure.  I see nothing approaching a New Deal from the Democrats.  They truly haven’t learned from history.  They’re simply locked into the least common denominator game of politics, too politically wimpy to even suggest anything so bold as the kinds of measures that would put people back to work again,  and cower in  the inane arguments of the GOP that the deficit all of a sudden matters immensely more than it did when they were handing out the favors;  and matters  more than the struggling , unemployed masses of employable, working people . I am not moved by the Democrats promises that “they know  better than the other guys”. What good is that without the political will to fight for it?  They have thus  far handed renewed  power and emboldened the banks to simply continue their manipulations and irresponsible gambles with money.  Not  exactly a shining testimony of the state of our  politics,  but there you have it.

The hope seems all the more “audacious” now.  It has shifted for many into the hope of an increased upswell;  an even more popular uprising that keeps building until the elite see that the only way to calm it is to give in to demands.  As Hedges says, quoted  in three earlier tweets:

Under a rational ruling class, one that responds to the demands of the citizenry, the energy in the street can be channeled back into the mainstream. But once the system calcifies as a servant of the interests of the corporate elites, as has happened in the United States, formal political power thwarts justice rather than advances it.


Enablers and bureaucrats of the system – Hedges at @TruthDig

July 28, 2012 By: Theoblogical Category: Occupy Theology, OWS

Ever since #OWS began,  I have grown particularly attracted to Chris Hedges’ columns ,  often peppered with scathing observations about the professsionals who run and enable and tweak the systems that have led to the increasing inequalities and insane denials of the effects of “human progress” on all of our ecosystems.   In our present day media environment,  such scathing indictments are often looked upon as “inappropriate”, or “radical” . For me,  however,  this is an often neccessary attribute of the prophetic to which the church is constantly called.  In this week’s column on TruthDig,  Hedges takes aim at “The Careerists” whose job it is to “do the bidding” and provide the cover and justification and mythology to prop up and enable the systems of exploitation being increasingly hoisted upon our world by the overlords of the oligarchy:

The god of profit and exploitation. The most dangerous force in the industrialized world does not come from those who wield radical creeds, whether Islamic radicalism or Christian fundamentalism, but from legions of faceless bureaucrats who claw their way up layered corporate and governmental machines.

[These] Political and military careerists, backed by war profiteers, have led us into useless wars, including World War I, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. And millions followed them. Duty. Honor. Country. Carnivals of death. They sacrifice us all.

Another deeply cutting observaiton in the article:

Facts that interfered with plans were impertinencies.

We see this in  the almost complete disregard and even outright hotility to the introduction of facts into the equation.  Our media have  become lifeless drones in the face of the exploitation of audio and video in the service of a narrative that bears no resemblance to facts on the ground.  The GOP and Fox News glibly circulate known hatchet jobs that edit out entire contexts of speeches to artificially support the persona they wish to use to mark their opponents,  and the mainstream media say hardly anything,  as if this is not an outright assault on the very core of their calling.  And in the face of such neglect to call the Right on their deliberate deception,   the Right carries on with more  of the same.  The mainstream media bows to the pressure of the fundamentalist mind set that sees nothing wrong or amiss with lifting sentences completely out of context and meaning and placing them in an echo chamber as more proof text.  It seems that this is a clear indication of the close relationship between religious/theological fundamentalism (and their proclivity to proof text by lifting “verses” out of complete narratives)  and the political right wing.

But the more serious matter here is not with deliberate misinterpretations of speeches,  but with the system of propaganda that strive to “reinterpret” what is happening to our economy and to our ecosystems.  They display a dangerous hostility to the science’s finding s that the scientists INTEND as a warning and treat it as a political game.  And the denial;  the hubris,  of continuing to persist in the ultimately doomed assumption that  we can never irreparably harm the very systems we depend upon for life itself! Hedges, again:

They [the ruling  elites] cannot intellectually or emotionally recognize that the system might implode. And so they do what Napoleon warned was the worst mistake a general could make—paint an imaginary picture of a situation and accept it as real. But we blithely ignore reality along with them. The mania for a happy ending blinds us. We do not want to believe what we see. It is too depressing. So we all retreat into collective self-delusion.

Blaise Pascal wrote in “Pensées,” “We run heedlessly into the abyss after putting something in front of us to stop us from seeing it.”

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.