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What are your thoughts on the Occupy Wall Street protests?  Are their concerns valid?  Or are they just this generations collection of fruits and nuts?  Is this just anger and rebellion given the opportunity to turn into anarchy and socialism?  Is the rage focused on the right things?  I'd like to hear your thoughts.

Tags: #OWS, protests

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So "being the church" is political, but none of the goals listed are political?  I'm seriously confused.  

Seraphim said:
Political by BEING THE CHURCH. Not by being Republicans or Democrats, but by being Jesus to a hurt and suffering world.

Daniel said:

Unpack something for me.  You believe "the Church is supposed to be Political", but don't see these as political ideas?  If these ideas are NOT political, but the church is supposed to be political, can you give me some examples of political ideas the church is supposed to be involved in?

Seraphim said:

Sorry Daniel, as I believe the Church is supposed to be Political by Being Jesus to the World, I don't see those as liberal or political ideas.

See, I don't always disagree with you, Daniel.

Daniel said:
 I'm seriously confused.  

You are right.  Sometimes you disagree with others as well. :)

Marv said:
See, I don't always disagree with you, Daniel.

Daniel said:
 I'm seriously confused.  

OK woooooooaaaaah are you joking? You don't think equal justice for the rich and poor is something that will get us closer to God? How about you go back and reread the ENTIRE old testament? Did you know that after idolatry, justice for the poor is the number one issue God picks up the Israelites about? (I read this recently but not online, in a devotional book, so am prepared to accept that I may be wrong - in any case it is mentioned A LOT). How about the parable by Jesus about Lazarus and the rich man? The rich man was separated from God in a fiery eternity why? Because he didn't take care of the poor? oh... yeah. BTW I'm not trying to advocate a salvation by works here I'm just saying, Jesus talked about it a lot too... and in a way that suggested that it actually IS good for your soul to help other people. On that note, it is not only in the bible - people who volunteer their time and do charitable works are actually healthier and happier - I have read this numerous times, one example is here.


Sorry for the tone, but I couldn't believe my eyes when I read that. Obviously the culture here in Australia is much different to where you are from (I assume America) so this would perhaps explain our vast difference in opinion on this. In Australia we have public healthcare and it is awesome. I am SOOOOO happy to pay tax (mind you I am quite poor so I don't pay much) because I know that myself and others can get good healthcare whenever they need it, children can go to school for cheaper, roads fixed quicker etc etc. And guess what happened when they privatised our telephone company? It went to the dogs. So what you saw above was a very Australian opinion based on our experience.


Nevertheless, I do really believe all that stuff I just said, and I agree with Seraphim - God calls us to a hurting world, and as James (the book in the NT) said (to paraphrase) if you see someone naked and starving and say to him "brother, be warm and well fed" what good is that? (italics mine (obviously :P)). So I truly believe it IS a biblical mandate to make life physically and emotionally better for people as well as preaching an intellectual gospel.

On the original post, I don't know if anyone else saw those two news stories making there way around facebook? One (homeless black) guy gets like ten years jail time for stealing $100 from a bank (and then feeling so much remorse he turned himself in and gave the money back), whilst  a (rich white) guy gets about six months for rorting billions of dollars.I call that injustice.


Maybe that's why people are protesting?


Rant over. Sorry, I do get passionate about these things. :) But as I said, I also understand my understanding is culturally bound and limited.



Daniel said:

Take another look. :)

It is full of liberal political ideas, many espoused by the very political #OWS folks.  "Equal rights", healthcare as a "civil right", environmental protection, "justice for the poor", anti-corporation, anti-rich, anti-war and so forth are not spiritual goals, but civil/political ones.  Maybe there are Biblical reasons to support some of these things.  But the goals themselves are social ones, not spiritual ones that get us closer to God.  It suggests that the church shares these goals with the "occupiers" and that the way to achieve these goals is through the church.  I just don't like it.  I think it distorts the purpose and goals of the church.

Seraphim said:

Daniel, i looked at it again and I don' t see any political agenda or endorsements. at all.

Daniel said:
I don't like it when folks mix the church with politics or suggest that God endorses their political agendas.

Oh, btw when I say poor, I don't mean properly poor, I just mean studenty poor and a low wage earner who is therefore entitled to get tax back. Had a nun to visit my school class today talking about people living on a dollar a day and I felt I should clarify I'm not whingeing - I appreciate that just by having a house and clean water I am in the top eschelons of richness.

Scott, I think all of your arguments are good and most Americans (including those here on Theologica) agree with them, but how they are implemented is what is being debated. Those who are generally against the OWS folks are against them because we think all the things you said should be done from a personal responsibility angle. Not the government doing it for us. If the government does it, it almost takes away our biblical responsibility to our neighbors. And where does the government get the money? Not from me, I posted that earlier, and I think its wrong. No, the government forces people against their will to fund "our philanthropy." But we know that no one can be forced to love their neighbor. If it's forced, it's not love. So we are all for using our own money and helping our communities.

But the OWS crowd are all about forcing people to give up their hard earned money for the benefit of others. "Higher taxes, more taxes, tax the rich, - we need more help!" And that is not biblical (nor economically smart). Forcing lots of money away from a few men and giving it to others. There are all sorts of things wrong with redistribution of wealth, but the fact that I as a citizen can force another man to give up his wealth against his will for my benefit, is not biblically ethical (along the lines that you are arguing from the OT). 


As for justice, that is a court issue. And only having righteous judges "interpreting the law correctly" in the land can fix that.  


So, I'm agreeing with you that the Bible speaks a lot to the Christian about compassion and love for our neighbors and those in real need. For they will always be with us. And we need to do something for them out of our hearts of love. But forcing non-believeing rich guys, against their will, to do what God has called His children to do is not the correct approach. 

Scott, I am not opposed to equal justice for the poor.  And we are told to love them and help them out.  But doing good things for the poor or anyone else doesn't make me closer to God.  That is a social goal wrapped in religion.  The PROPER goal is to be closer to God, which results in a faith that has hands and feet and does good things.  The focus and purpose of the Christian life is not a long laundry list of good works.  

JB has a great point.  This isn't a debate over whether or not we should help the poor.  It's about what is the wise thing to do to help them out and how much one should go into debt to give things away.  Take unemployment benefits, for example.  The average unemployed person is given about $290 a week in unemployment.  And depending on where you live, it lasts as long as 99 weeks.  The average time on unemployment is about 40 weeks.  So the average American gets over $15,000 in unemployment benefits.  Now out current system pays this out week by week and they don't have to do anything but say they are still unemployed and still looking for work.  It is basically an honor system.  But I propose that they could re-do the system, end up with better results, and end up saving money as well.  Instead of paying out $290 a week for 10 months, why not give them them an option to get up to $10K of it up front in something akin to an education grant that they could use for re-education and training for a new job?  There are a lot of schools for different trades that run as short as six weeks.  You could learn to drive big equipment, become a hair stylist, get into massage therapy, or even do something like take classes in internet development.  

You could even do something nationally like what is being tried here in my state.  You could let someone keep their unemployment while allowing them to work in an unpaid internship where you are both trained to perform some job as well as being evaluated for possible full-time hiring.  It's a win-win proposition.  The unemployed person is making contacts and learning new skills and the corporation is getting a chance to get some free labor and and training periods for prospective employers.  

These are just two ideas, but are examples of what I'm referring to.  It doesn't have to be a false dichotomy where you help or don't help.  You can help in different ways.  Instead of giving them fish - or just enough money to eek by week after week - you can teach them to fish.  The liberal position is to take fish from the rich guy's freezer and give it to the guy with no fish.  And they wrap that in some kind of "doing God's work" wrapping.  But I think that good stewardship needs to come into play.  If I can teach someone how to fish for less money that it takes to feed them for 10 months, why should my plan to make the person less dependent on me and better equipped to take care for themselves be characterized as less Christian?

And, BTW, I'd disagree that the reason the rich man went to "hell" is because he "didn't take care of the poor".

Again, I'm not saying that Christians should not be charitable or anything like that.  But that should not be our goal.  Social/life changes should be the result of obtaining a spiritual goal.  The problem I had with the image is that it made social change, not spiritual change, not only the goal and purpose of the church, but some kind of litmus test on spirituality.  

Seraphim said:
Matthew 25:40 would seem to disagree with you Daniel. Doing works of mercy and charity for the poor are not how we are saved, but might be the fruit showing our salvation...

Daniel said:
But doing good things for the poor or anyone else doesn't make me closer to God.
I'm part of the 53%.  Here.
I've mentioned this before, but I think Luke 15:16 is a good litmus test for political liberalism or conservatism.  Liberals think the "friends" in the "far country" should have helped support the kid.  Conservatives see it reaping what you sow and a necessary step to getting the kid back to where he belonged.

I am new to this group, so please forgive me if it's not appropriate to provide a link to my blog.  [Let me know what would be appropriate and I will do as advised.]

I have blogged about this topic, as it's hot amongst many young Christians I know in Malaysia - there are people, of all religious persuasions, who are mimicking OWS, with a Malaysian twist: it's more about recovering the public square.

Here is my most recent post on OWS:

Because of some heavy-handed tactics used by the government of Malaysia recently against a socialist political party (I've blogged about the EO6), many young Christians have become attracted to socialism. I am planning to attend a socialism whole day seminar this weekend just because many of my 'jaded,' pro OWS, young friends are attending.

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