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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Not too Occupied to address what's happening on Wall Street

Otherwise Occupied: Activism, Jesus & the Kingdom of God « The Cost of Community: Jesus, St. Francis & Life in the Kingdom
However, my bigger concern lies- not so much with movement itself, but rather with tendency among some Christians to frame it as a kingdom movement.  Anyone who knows me knows that I am passionate about justice as a central aspect of kingdom work.  However, I am concerned by the trend seems to equate any (legitimate) social justice work as essentially kingdom work.
I have mixed feelings about the Occupy Wall Street movement.  On one hand, I can identify with its calls for justice.  On the other hand, I doubt that a purely legal answer to the spiritual problem of greed exists.  Hence, my answer:
While I wish the demonstrators well and would probably agree with their goals (which would be easier to identify if they mentioned it on the poster), I fear that Christians involved in events like this are making the same mistake that the Religious Right has been making for years- namely, trying to find a political solution to a spiritual problem (in this case, greed).  Without spiritual renewal, there may be changes in laws, there may be changes in company structures, there may be in politicians, but without any changes in hearts and lives, that is all there will be- changes, but no progress.  As long as companies place profits above human lives, they will simply find a way to subvert and/or disregard any laws that get in the way.
As James Dobson writes in [Blinded] (p. 187), "The transformation of our culture will come through the power of the gospel- one person at a time.  I fear that in the Religious Right we have opted for a shortcut to cultural change- namely, legislation.  But laws do not change people's lives."

Update (second response):
I guess my two main concerns are, first, that there are those whose may believe that the problem can be solved solely, or even mainly, through legislative fiat, and second, because of this, there will be the temptation to settle for a such a lesser victory if one can be achieved. Cal Thomas and Ed Dobson in Blinded by Might: Why the Religious Right Can’t Save America (both were key members of the Moral Majority) call this "top-down" morality... and I can’t recall even a single instance where it has worked. While legislation may give some protection to innocents, this is only true when there is a desire to honor such laws (in spirit as well as in letter) and enforce them when they are not honored. Otherwise, even the best of laws are of no effect if they can be safely ignored.

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