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Tuesday at Occupy Wall Street, at Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan, energy seemed to remain strong, boosted by a constant stream of new protesters and curious people, who surround the park and take pictures, observe, and perhaps consider joining the protest. Much more visible now (as I see it) are union members, religiously identifiable people, and seniors, to name a few publics. And the movement is clearly more racially and ethnically diverse than ever. White OWS protesters (like me) were, in my highly unscientific estimation, between half and two-thirds of the total assembled, whereas just a few weeks ago the percentage was much higher. And there were a handful of well-dressed men (and a few women) who, again according to my unscientific estimate (and knowledge of Wall Street dress codes), probably work in finance in the neighborhood who were there, too.  The park, which was definitely outgrowing itself in terms of sanitation and organization during the second and third weeks, is now being kept more orderly and clean; no small task given the thousands of people who participate every day. On Friday night, families with children are invited to spend the night in the park. This Sunday at 3:30, a multi-faith service will be held at OWS.

Here is an excellent video on religious involvement in OWS produced by Odyssey Networks:

I realize now that my earlier comment on some pictures I posted a few days ago was wrong or at least insufficient. In that picture series, I included a picture of a sign that exhorted sharing coats and food and attributed that command to John the Baptist. I suggested then that the sign, because of what seemed like its paraphrasing tone, was a reworking of some statements attributed to Jesus in the Christian scriptures. But as I re-read the Gospel of Luke in recent days, I realized that I should have trusted the sign more. As I encountered a similar sign this week (see picture below) that cited the gospel of Luke chapter three, verse eleven, I realized that indeed the reference to John the Baptist (evidently Jesus’ teacher or mentor according to many biblical scholars) was correct. I had become so accustomed to hearing such commandments to hand over goods as issuing from Jesus, that I had forgotten that Luke 3:11 also has John exhorting his hearers to give away coats and food: “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.” John’s speech is “apocalyptic,” sounding tones of radical disclosure that seem (in the narrative) to presage a turning-concluding stage in history (“Even now,” Luke has him say, “the ax is lying at the root of the trees.”) This apocalyptic language fits well with OWS in its attempt to not only demand but also to embody a future-oriented and radically democratic society, and also fits well with the symbols of “ordinary eschatology” I photographed earlier. (I’ve gone back to fix the earlier post to reflect the attribution to John the Baptist.)

On reflection, there may have been something in me that resisted having John rather than Jesus be the one quoted as saying something so theologically valuable for the protest. I don’t know why that was, but now I am fascinated by the decision to make John the Baptist this everyday theological authority in the Sacred Space area. To be sure, images of Jesus (and Mary) are on the altar, but I wonder if others find it interesting that in this improvisational spiritual space in which religious symbols and statements must sit pluralistically, John has his own sign, and as far as I know, Jesus does not (yet). Both figures (as well as Jesus’ mother, Mary, who also has her own pictures and statues at the Community Altar) are portrayed in Christian scriptures as prophetic people, invoking a divine vision and judgment on their social situation. It is easy to imagine any of them at Occupy Wall Street. Much harder to discern is who would be the first to take up drumming and which one would sport the OWS t-shirt first.

Tommy Beaudoin, Hastings-on-Hudson, New York

If you can’t see the pictures yet, click the MORE button below:

Here are some new pictures with brief captions:

The north side of the Sacred Space area has changed a little. Now the sign says "Community Altar / Sacred Space"

“Divine Feminine Weekly Schedule”

The Community Altar as it faces south. In the last several days it was tended to and is now more artfully arranged. Incense burning in individual sticks and small bundles was the only debris there now. The religious/spiritual/etc symbols keep multiplying. I do not know who tends the Altar.

Detail from the Community Altar

Those of us in the Sacred Space area are invited to a march by a man holding a sign that says "Redistribute wealth / It's in the Bible / Luke 3:11" (See my discussion above)

The scene at OWS

God's help is invoked next to a sign asking for "Student Loan Justice"

Strangers becoming friends: An exercise again symbolizing an "ordinary eschatology"

One of many facilitated conversations

The Catholic Worker is in the house

Leah from The Birth Attendants in Olympia, Washington: "I'm knitting a baby blanket to raise money for better pregnancy care for incarcerated women"

The revolution will be silk-screened

 

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3 Comments »

  1. The Tea Party and Republicans distrust big government, and the Occupy Wall St.group distrusts big corporations, otherwise known as the ‘private sector’ (perhaps better labeled as the ‘secretive, trans-national sector.’ Despite the seeming political divide, I am not sure there is a distinction. I am sure that the only way to wrest power away from both is with huge public outcries calling out the massive lies. Distrust and lies are grinding the economy to a halt. The recession is as much about selfish profits, inflated values, and failed trust as it is about jobs.

    Comment by beth cioffoletti — October 22, 2011 @ 5:07 pm

  2. <3 beautiful coverage. keep it up!!! <3

    Comment by jackie dandelion — October 23, 2011 @ 4:16 pm

  3. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DvwkhRW4ajI&feature=g-upl

    The first thing I did when I returned to Liberty Square was go to see if the shrine was still there. The first week it was there in tiny fragments at the base of the Tree of Life, now there is nothing. Please watch my movie and send it to others to post on web sites.

    Comment by Dennis Cleasby — December 3, 2011 @ 7:55 am

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