Monday, December 26, 2011


First my disclaimers...  I'm male.  I'm white.  I'm very well educated.  I have a middle class salary.  I live in a home that while not ostentatious at all, is quite nice, and when compared to houses in much of the country is pretty expensive.  I have OK health insurance which likewise is ridiculously expensive.  I grew up in a blue collar family in a blue collar city in a time when blue collar folk living in Pittsburgh made a solidly middle class living.

I'm aware of the other side though.  I also went to a school district that was about 50% minority and I experienced first hand the ways that race impacts everything.  I had friends who were poor and had no hope of ever being anything else and it didn't matter how hard they worked.   I also saw first hand what happened when the good blue collar jobs disappeared from Pittsburgh and my parents slipped from being solidly middle class to poor.  In their latter years, they struggled terribly.  My younger sister was just far enough behind me to miss all of the benefits I experienced... and the fact that she was female with a learning disability didn't help at all.

My politics, theology, and economics were formed in the crucible of the 60's and early 70's and I never forgot where I came from.  My formative influences were anabaptists, liberation theologians, and social radicals.

So here we are...  read these words -
46And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, 47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; 49for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. 50His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. 51He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. 52He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; 53he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.
I can't imagine a better theological frame for the Occupy movement.  This passage clearly shows that when class warfare takes place (and it is right now), God is always on the side of the poor.  The prophets speak similar words again and again.  From the beginning, God has called for a system that precludes those with power from rigging things for their interests.  The one time we see Jesus angry, it is when those with power and position use it to take advantage of those with none (he turned over the tables of the money changers in the Temple as they took advantage of the poor who came to worship as required by the law).  Unfortunately, the Church is not always on the same side as God.

I recently read a powerful article by Kristin Rawls where she shares her frustration at a system that has failed her even as she did and does everything right and she feels that those on the more progressive side of the evangelical church have not stood with her and those like her.  She asks for a church that will be "outraged with me and who practice solidarity by showing up when it matters and advocating for real economic justice.  I want you to use your clout and influence to help..."  Clearly she is asking for us, for me, to do exactly what Jesus would do.  If we do anything less, Mary would remind us that we are standing against the work of God.

I don't know that I have any clout or real influence, Kristin, but I want to stand with you and your sisters and brothers who have been thrown under the economic bus.  Yes, God does love even the 1%... but God clearly wants to bring them down from their thrones, send them away empty, while lifting up the lowly, filling the hungry with good things, and seeing the lowness of those under the bus.

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