Equipping God's People to Create Missional Culture

Walls or Bridges: Connecting with Occupy Wall Street in Your City

Photo by JR Woodward

It’s been close to two weeks since I wrote my first post on the Occupy Wall Street movement. There was a lot of reaction to my blog entry, positive and negative, public and private, more than I expected.  Talking about faith and politics seems to create a visceral reaction in many people, which is why some say to avoid it.  I can’t.  These topics are too important to sweep under the carpet.

I thought about doing an entry entitled: “Would Jesus Be More at Home at Occupy Wall Street or ‘Your’ Church?”.  But instead of writing a prophetic piece, (which I may do in the future) I decided to write a more missional piece.

Wall or Bridge?

Wall or Bridge?
First, I want to ask you, when you think of the Occupy Wall Street movement, which metaphor – wall or bridge – best describes your attitude toward the #OWS movement and why? Do you find a wall erecting in your heart or does your heart empathize with them? Do you first think about your political ideology or is your first thought about the kingdom of God and what it means to be an agent of his kingdom at this time?

As I first started following #OWS before the mainstream news was covering, I knew I was going to be on the East Coast, so I made a point to get to liberty square.  I always prefer to get my information first hand, because all media is biased in one way or the other.  It was October 5th, the day where at least 10,000 plus marched.  I marched along with them, because it felt right and it gave me a good chance to connect with all kinds of people.

LT and I

I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the people at Occupy Wall Street that I met in New York. The people I talked with were thoughtful, intelligent and really seemed to care about about the common good and giving everyone a voice. Bob Robinson has summed up the heart of the Occupy Wall Street movement well. There are two primary concerns driving the movement.

Photo by JR Woodward

1. The protesters believe that the wealthiest 1% have an unjust advantage over the rest of the country’s population because they can influence the political process and tax laws with there pocketbooks. (Just yesterday yet another in depth study confirms how the rich are getting a lot richer in the last 30 years. The report is from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, as reported by the USA Today)

2. They believe that corporations have an imbalanced influence in Washington, unfairly getting favors in the legislative process and doing all they an to wipe out regulatory restrictions at the expense of the common good.

This video explains the heart of the movement well, giving at least four reasons for the Occupy Wall Street movement.

While the movement has articulated the problem, and while there is general agreement in regard to some solutions, like reinstating Glass-Steagall, auditing the Fed, reversing No. O08-205 by Amendment and Overhaul 1%/Corp Tax Code (as mentioned in the video and in a lot of my conversations), there isn’t full agreement on the remedy. Partly because you have people of all political stripes in the movement, from socialist, to anarchist to capitalist who are “seeking to save capitalism from crony capitalists“. Read this fascinating article – A Voice from the 1%.

I feel solidarity with the protesters in regard to the problem, but the solution isn’t socialism, nor unbridled capitalism, it is conversion to King Jesus and his kingdom ways. We, like Jesus, must understand God’s heart is big enough to help us love the 100%, yet stand with the poor and the oppressed, not just in USA, but in the world. How this translates into our democracy is the more difficult road we must travel.  But let me leave you with some ways to build bridges to the Occupy Wall Street movement in your city, some of which I might expand upon if I have time to continue this series.

10 Ways to Meaningfully Connect with Occupy Wall Street in Your City

1. Appreciate their heart for the common good
2. Appreciate their norm of peacemaking (when one violates this, the group corrects itself)
3. Affirm their prophetic voice
4. Affirm their shared leadership approach
5. Affirm their care for the poor and oppressed
6. Seek to Understand before being understood
7. Meaningfully connect in community as a community
8. Be a student of gospels and economics (reading all viewpoints)
9. Be a student in Political Theology (Theopolitical Imagination would be a good start)
10. Meaningfully dialogue about the remedy

7 Posts Worth Reading
1. A Devotion for WallStreet – by Shane Claiborne
2. The Powers That Be, the Gift of Enemies and #OccupyWallStreet – by Kurt Willems
3.  Is it time for Evangelicals to “Occupy Wall Street”? – by David Fitch
4.  The 1 Percent Has Nearly Tripled Its Share of America’s Income – by Cord Jefferson
5.  #OccupyCorinth – by Dan
6. Occupy Wall Street: Why do so many Christians want to dismiss this? – by Bob Robinson
7. Jesus at Occupy Wall Street: ‘I feel like I’ve been here before – by Lisa Miller


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