Micah Bales asked a deep question. He suggests that the wealth in property we’ve inherited is hindering our work for social justice. He talks provocatively (as a spiritual challenge, he clarifies) about “burning the meetinghouse.” He asks, “What would happen if we put the movement of the Spirit ahead of property management?"
At Wild Goose, I was humbled to be among justice-seeking Christians seeking to follow in the footsteps of Jesus.
I see a deep connection between the personal practice of simple living and activism for social change. While I struggle to live justly, particularly in my everyday purchasing decisions (as Julie Clawson advises!), I often don't live as simply as I could. Sometimes I take shortcuts, going out for lunch, driving my car to work, or buying something to solve a problem that actually requires time I lack because of overcommitment.
Generally speaking, my generation is a practical generation, and I am challenged by my faith to be a practical person. Don't get me wrong: I love all verbal and theological things: story, theology, politics, and history, perhaps even inordinately.
But I believe in places. I believe that relationships, rooted in love, transform us. And it just so happens that most lasting human relationships are formed around the table.
In the Eucharist, the ordinary is made sacred. The original Eucharist tradition as recorded in the book of Acts and later Paul was a feast that united people of all incomes and races in a common purpose.
in Justice Unbound.
I do not know how to be a pastor. I’m an organizer. I organize the church for grassroots democracy, and sometimes I do pastor-like things, but I am a layperson.
Isaiah is an institutional reformer. He's a part of the priestly class. He's a part of the problem.
When I am faced with dishonesty and fraud on a systemic scale, I ask questions of God. But as I trace the origins of injustice, I am directed back towards humanity. The question becomes: what can we do to end injustice?
The Washington Post reported on the massive falsification of documents by banks:
"Employees at major banks who churned out fraudulent foreclosure documents, forged signatures, made up fake job titles and falsely notarized paperwork often did so at the behest of their superiors, according to a federal investigation released Tuesday.
Sometimes, I think, church can be dis-empowering. If I were to try to put it into my own words, the church's project is to empower each person to open themselves to the river of the Holy Spirit which transforms and renews the whole person with a continual work of healing love which moves from the inner to the outer, transforming a person's personal, economic, and political relationships as well as their material place in the world.
Is that our normal experience of church? Is this how we feel transformed by our church experience?
Oh Lord, save your servant who trusts in you.
A prayer lifts up from the city, like the smoke of incense. A single prayer, in the myriad of others, a strand of smoke amidst a great burning.
Oh Lord, why do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? -Psalm 10
But God is listening. God hears the prayers of God's people.
The question is, are we listening? For God, who hears the prayers of his people, is calling us to listen as well. God's justice is a collective project.
Isaiah 58:3-24 "Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
and not to hide yourself from your own kin?"
How does a Christian live in a power-mad world? A world that, from the perspective of the Beatitudes, is upside down. A world where the poor are getting poorer, and the rich are getting richer? Where nature herself strains at her bonds: straining for release from the carbon blanket that presses against her too hotly, maddened by a thousand poison-filled wounds? Where thousands sit in furtive silence to create machines like the one on which I write, their hands gradually succumbing to a thousand repetitions, frozen and swollen?
What does it mean to be a Christian in a world that is crucifying the poor and the environment on the same cross?
Hear the prayers of the people. Hear, oh God, the prayers of the people.
copyright Bill Waterson
Originally posted on the Huffington Post
The occupation is like Jesus' parable, where a king invites all of his privileged, first-tier guests to the wedding. But nobody came. So the king takes the invitation out to the streets, inviting all who would come, the good, the bad, the homeless, and those with homes. And they came.
How long have we been comfortable in the 1st world church? Nourishing ourselves on the warm broth of prayer and fellowship, resting and gathering strength, singing worship songs that seek an inward peace from God, a strengthened personal faith.
How much time do we spend on theologies seeking to eradicate lust, or to be more grateful for what we have? How long have we spent on our morning devotions, alone?
As another time understood, "Idle hands are the devils playthings."
It is difficult for individualist-minded Christians to join a populist movement. This is because we want to intellectually assent, as we would to articles of faith, to the intellectual propositions of Occupy Wall Street. But popular movements are living, breathing entities.
When we join a political movement, like when we join the church, we gain brothers and sisters we are sometimes ashamed of. There are missionaries who we dislike, dogmas and creeds that we disagree with. But we are still part of the church, following Christ, for better of for worse.