Friday, October 21, 2011

Occupying and wealth

A quote from the latest Sojourners newsletter, written by Jim Wallis.   


1. Don’t expect the Occupy Wall Street movement and sites across the nation and world to produce a set of demands. They are instead raising some fundamental questions about the un-economy, and creating the space for a new cultural and political conversation about it. It’s our job now to push that conversation forward— an especially good role for the faith community as our biblical values and theological assertions are integrally involved in these matters. It’s time to put our faith values forward in the midst of what could become a new global conversation about what a fair, sustainable, stable, and happy economy might look like.
 
2. Don’t worry about endorsing the Occupy Wall Street movement (all the diverse elements involved wouldn’t even endorse each other!), but rather engage it. I asked a young African-American man I met at Occupy Wall Street what churches could do to help. He suggested three things: inspiration, consultation, and presence. I think that’s a very good guide. Worship services are already being held at many of the sites, led by local clergy of many faiths. Take a potluck meal down to the site as a chance to sit, eat, and talk with the people there. Take your youth group or members of your congregation down there after church just to see, meet, and listen. Offer the occupiers support—material and spiritual—along with prayer and love.

I'm not personally sure that the local Occupy movements (in Dunedin's The Octagon, for instance) are doing much more than piggybacking on the big movements overseas.  Nevertheless, they are keeping the bigger movement in mind, and that in itself is perhaps a valuable thing.  Regrettably, the young man who was interviewed in the Otago Daily Times the other day seemed naive in some areas as to where the money comes from to help him study at Varsity and then to support him when he's out of work at the end of his study (which for some reason he assumes he will be).  


On the other hand, it was interesting to see on TV7 a couple of weeks ago a short doco on wealthy people in New Zealand being castigated by other wealthy people for not giving to philanthropic concerns, whether the arts, or medicine or whatever.  Not everything is bad/wrong in the wealth sector.
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