What Space Must the Church Occupy?

by Craig Wong 

At a 50th birthday party my dear wife recently threw for me, Pastor Bill Betts waxed eloquent about the “Greek, Roman, and Jewish phases of our lives.” The first phase swirls with lofty idealisms…dreams about our future and the world we hope to change. The second is where we take on the world with concrete energy, striving to make our mark. It is in the Jewish phase, however, when we realize that, when all is said and done, it is our friendships, family traditions, how we’ve lived our lives with one another that ultimately matters. Bill’s words provided food for thought for many of us that day.

While I’m still somewhere in the second phase (or at least would like to think I am), my “Jewishness” is clearly emerging, particularly as I find myself often pondering the life of my mom and dad, the world they experienced as young parents, and how their world can inform the lens through which I understand ours today. Which made my sister’s birthday gift – tickets to the musical Hair – quite timely, particularly in light of today’s Occupy Wall Street (OWS).

Without question, it wasn’t easy being a mom in the 60s, as sons and daughters everywhere blew the top off the sexual mores of the day and liberation meant regular, psychedelic flights from reality. Hair was a reminder to me that the 60s revolution was as much spiritual as it was libidinous, as youth, very much entering their “Greek” phase of life, searched for a more worthy meta-narrative than the pursuit of an American dream that required the napalming of Southeast Asian villages. Unmoved by Washington bureaucratic fantasies of American peace, and tired of being lied to, they searched for love, meaning and universality through myriad quasi-religious experiences.

Social observers can draw parallels between the anti-Pentagon dissent of the 60s and the present-day revolt against the global banking elite, for example, the camps, the peaceful rallies, the predominance of young leadership, and encampments of solidarity around a common cause. Most significantly, both groups share an acutely grave awareness that “things are not the way they’re supposed to be,” on one hand, the gross brutality of endless war, and on the other, the gross inequity of a system that sanctions, and indeed facilitates, the redistribution of wealth from the masses to the top 1% while the percentage of Americans living in poverty steadily rises beyond 15%, according to the Census.

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