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Occupy and the Church

By Christian Harvey

As the current manifestation of the “occupy” comes to a close I find myself being asked what I feel about the movement. I have to answer that my feelings are complicated.

First, I feel excited. That so many people from around the world are bravely speaking out against the system that dominates us, that entraps us, that takes our imaginations hostage so that we cannot even dream of another way excites me. We know that change happens when people join together and speak out, and that is what is happening.

Second, I feel angry. I find myself getting angry especially in regards to the movement in Canada, when I hear people saying “What are they complaining about? We aren’t the States, things here are pretty good.” Yes, for many of us things are pretty good, we are living a comfortable life, living in a good house or apartment, eating well, working a good job, going to the movies, but let us be clear, this is not the case for many Canadians. Many people across our country have to make the decision between paying the rent and eating, and the gap between the comfortable and the struggling is growing at an alarming rate. If there is ever a time that people need to speak up and say we need a more equitable system that closes the gap, it is now.

Third, I feel ashamed. This is because as I hear the voices of those who were in the encampments calling the powers to repent, calling the rich to stop feeding on the poor, calling for an end to the constant destroying of the gift of creation that we have been given, calling for a new world, I realize that it should of been us! These young people around the world have had to stand up and be a prophetic voice because the church at large has so often given up her prophetic voice in order to be comfortable, in order to grow, in order to succeed in a consumer culture. Our vocation is to proclaim a new kingdom that is being birthed within the shell of the old. It is to call out to the powerful and rich to repent, to turn around to stop their trek toward death and destruction and join the movement that offers life to all. But instead, we buy into the myth of consumerism that our vocation is to grow, to expand, to protect the institution.

I often hear people within the church join others critical of “occupy” with the criticism that it is not clear what they are asking for. I don’t understand why this makes Christians uncomfortable, we are a part of movement that doesn’t focus on one particular issue, we are to proclaim that the whole world needs to change its direction, needs to change its heart. Did Jesus have a specific ask? No, for he new that the troubles with the world are greater than this or that issue, but rather it is the greed, the selfishness, the sin in the human heart that needed to be addressed.

We as Christian’s should be grateful to the occupy movement, for they spoke out when many of us were silent, they put themselves out there, facing mocking voices, cold conditions and cold hearts to call for all of us to repent.

I pray that the greater church world wide would join these brothers and sisters, stand with them, and realize our vocation to proclaim truth to power.

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