copyright Bill Waterson
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.
It costs the (post)modern man to look at the waves and see God. The pre-modern human would have seen, in the cresting foam, an unexplainable force which could rise in fury to destroy, or, in turn, yield a rich bounty. Behind it were god(s) who must be placated or served.
But we can look at the waves and see fluid mechanics, gravity, and the protean force of life, evolving steadily: the selfish gene reproducing itself. We peer into the depths of nature and see bits or vectors, beautiful, chaotic, elegantly ordered, or dangerous.
But to look up, to God? Why would we look upwards to a Creator-God? We have all the miracle we need inside the very atoms that comprise us.
I am concerned for my generation because prevailingly, we believe that tinkering with our governmental and economic systems will create the definitively just world. For many of us, we believe that if equal opportunity and equal resources were provided, we'd arrive at utopia.
As a Christian, I am a stranger to the world, an alien, a sojourner. I find common cause with people working for a more just world, and I work alongside them. But I only believe in a better world than the one we've got, not a perfect one.
I am rarely surprised when fellow bloggers like
Mike Friesen and Lydia Schoch mention foul experiences amongst Christians. I recently had a long conversation with an Italian friend who wondered why I could possibly be both a Christian and an advocate for social justice when Catholicism has brought so much intolerance to Europe. He considered that intolerance must be the core of Christianity itself, because this has been its fruit.
Nonviolence. Ahimsa, "not-hurting." Gandhi proposed another word, satyagraha, or "truth-force."
I have given nonviolence trainings where people believed that any form of property destruction, strong disagreement, or disobedience of authority was a form of violence. For them, nonviolence was ahimsa, or not-hurting. It is easy, using this negative concept, to negate any action at all, from the carnage wrought among ants by the walking person, to the car emissions fueling planetary climate change. In the face of such an full negation, Ahimsa leads to quietism, inaction, and support for the status quo.