Spirituality & Occupy Wall Street: Leaders at the scene

Faith leaders have joined the “Occupy Wall Street” throngs and and have given us their thoughts. Some samples:

Jim Wallis, a veteran from evangelicalism’s progressive wing and leader of Sojourners, visited the assembly and commended the protesters.  He left sound advice: “… try to listen and learn from those whose feelings and participation you are evoking by encouraging more reflection than certainty” … “try not demonizing those you view as opponents” … “instead of attacking the establishment ‘economists,’ you can become citizen economists” … “avoid Utopian dreaming” … “Don’t be afraid to get practical and specific” … “And whatever you may think of organized religion, please keep in mind that change requires spiritual as well as political resources …”

Here’s the first paragraph with a link to his “An Open Letter from a Veteran Troublemaker:”

You have awakened the sleeping giant, too long dormant, but ever present, deep in the American democratic spirit. You have given voice and space to the unspoken feelings of countless others about something that has gone terribly wrong in our society. And you have sparked a flame from the embers of both frustration and hope that have been building, steadily, in the hearts of so many of us for quite some time …

Go here for the rest.

Jennifer Butler, a Huffington Post blogger and the executive director of Faith in Public Life, traveled to Wall Street with a Catholic friend.  They brought along a statue of a golden calf.  Here’s her first paragraph and a link:

As the #OccupyWallStreet movement continues to flourish as a national symbol of outrage at economic injustice and inequality, faith leaders are bringing a new dimension to the demonstrations in New York. I’m an ordained Presbyterian (PCUSA) minister, and I traveled to Wall Street last weekend with a lay Catholic friend dedicated to fighting for economic justice. Our other passenger was an inanimate object that spoke volumes — a statue of a golden calf — a powerful symbol of idolatry in Jewish, Christian and Muslim traditions … 

The link to her full essay is here.

Andrew Gerns, an Episcopalian priest in Easton, Pennsylvania, gives a thoughtful, sobering assessment after attending a rally in his city.  Gerns, who views himself as theologically orthodox and (usually) a politically liberal, commends an essay by conservative Ron Dreher, who struggles with his own school’s embrace of greed and wealth for wealth’s sake.  No one is immune from hubris.

Ron Dreher is an American Tory…that is to say he is a conservative in a very different mold that the Tea Party or the “pro-business at all costs” approach of the self-styled Objectivists. He wrote an essay in the American Conservative in which he reflects on the Occupy Wall Street movement and the implications of the unbridled, unregulated wealth of the financial system we now inhabit.

Much of the response to OWS has been either abject horror or undying adoration. Two summers ago before the Tea Party was bought, packaged and re-purposed a corporate-owned re-branding of the GOP at a frat party, I was on the “abject horror” side of their movement. That’s why this essay came to me a kind of tonic. In it Dreher offers a third way of approaching the discussion of Occupy Wall Street…and, as I said, perhaps as an overly late corrective to the original Tea Party movement.

After observing an “Occupy Easton” demonstration up close yesterday, I found myself struck by both the anger and the naivete of the participants.

Most of all I was taken by the cozy libertarianism of the group that cut across political lines … Read here for more.

Lisa Sharon Harper, a progressive evangelical and director of New York Faith & Justice, interviewed protesters.  Harper, the author of Evangelical Does Not Equal Republican or Democrat, has recently released Left, Right & Christ, co-written with D.C. Innes.

Listen to the thoughtful response of one Occupy Wall Street participant:

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About Charles Redfern

Charles Redfern is a writer, activist, and clergyman living in Connecticut with his wife and family. He's currently writing two books, with more in his head.

View all posts by Charles Redfern


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