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If you are affiliated with a Catholic institution that might help provide resources to the Occupy movement, please see the CALLS FOR ASSISTANCE below.

Since late September, I have been posting occasional updates from Occupy Wall Street, drawn from my participation in the protests. (See here, here, here, and here.)

Theologically-minded readers might be interested to know that the Occupy movement now has its own growing communities of theologians and chaplains. For those who support the Occupy movement from a religious/spiritual/faith-based vantage, there is the Occupy Faith community. Prof. Gary Dorrien of Union Theological Seminary weighs in with an interview and article at The Christian Century magazine here. The Sacred Space area at Occupy Wall Street now has its own Facebook page here.

In the last several weeks, Occupy Wall Street has begun to settle in for the winter. What was once an open-air festival atmosphere has become a tent camp, with walkways snaking through that allow protesters to set up tables for their causes. New people show up daily to hold signs on the west side of Zuccotti Park, the food station, press area, and library remain constant hubs of activity, but the feeling I have is that we are in a pivotal period in which an inspiring number of hundreds of people are showing that they are willing to brave the increasing cold, with the daily support of thousands who descend on the Park, in fidelity to a movement whose only demand is the nonviolent embodiment of “No” — a no to the market as God — and the nonviolent embodiment of “Yes” — a yes to a new instantiation, in the political process, of the ways our flourishing, as citizens of the world, is essentially bound up with recognizing each other as equals across all differences.

CALL FOR RELIGIOUS ASSISTANCE:  I hope all religious institutions and organizations will consider their relationship to the Occupy movement, and take this occasion of a global social movement to ask themselves how their traditions of spirituality relate to their actions for justice and their works of mercy. If your religious/spiritual/ethical community discerns that the economy is meant for human flourishing — instead of humans being subordinated to economic systems and fantasies — then I hope you will ask how you can concretely help this movement here and now.

CALL TO CATHOLICS: More specifically, I ask Catholics and Catholic institutions to consider how the witness to a different economic order in the Occupy movement is congruent with Catholic commitments to love God in public, or in other words, to live justly with an untiring, and even today still radical, commitment not to individual good or the good of special interests alone, but to the common good. Catholic organizations: you have resources that the Occupy movement in your area might need. Will you prayerfully consider that?

CALL TO CATHOLICS IN THE NYC AREA: Even more specifically, I have it from a representative from OccupyFaithNYC that there are some urgent needs. If you are a Catholic organization in or near lower Manhattan that can contribute resources, please consider getting in touch now. There are specific needs: Kitchen Space, Meeting Hall, Beds, Showers, Parking. Please write to me at tbeaudoin@fordham.edu and I will put you in touch with the right people from OccupyFaith.

A number of people have asked what I do when I am on-site at Occupy Wall Street. I visit tables of various organizations, I talk to fellow protesters, I catalogue the Sacred Space/Tree of Life area that constantly joins spirituality to justice work at the site, I take in the sights, sounds and smells of the Park, I participate in marches scheduled and impromptu.

In other words, I try to be present and active in Occupy Wall Street in such a way as to hold together what is theologically significant from the ground with what I think is theologically significant from the vantage of academic theology — in the direction of greater fidelity in practice to what is holy in this movement, with the intent to help people connect their sense of spirituality to their sense of justice at increasingly personal and political levels. My theological work strives to be a kind of intellectual chaplaincy here, a contemporary riff on the ancient commitment of theology to the care of souls in under the sign of scholarship. And in that vein, I take what I learn there into the classroom, into my research, into my larger work at Fordham, and into the theological dimension of my life as a parent of a young child. My work is not to speak in the name of protesters, nor to fold them into great theological concepts as a way of reducing people to already-held theological ideas, claims or convictions, but to stand alongside and render a view of the theological character of this movement, in the hope of furthering what is good about it that may participate in a “divine” reality.

Here are some pictures I have taken recently:

"Our Lady of Missiles"

Music/Protest near the Sacred Space area

Detail from the Altar at the Tree of Life

Tents everywhere!

"Occupy With Consciousness"

The Comfort Station: Donated Clothes for Protesters

Detail from Altar at the Tree of Life

The Altar in the Sacred Space at the Tree of Life

The Altar as it faces south

Tommy Beaudoin, Hastings-on-Hudson, New York

3 Comments »

  1. Tom, in an earlier post you on the America blog you were pushing Catholics to occupy the church to protest the progressive agenda and now you want the Church to help – talk about taking out of both sides of your mouth!

    Regarding the so called “sacred space”, the East/West bookshop near 14th street does a better job at making up their own religion. Why should I, as a Catholic, bother with all this nonsense? Well, if they plan on sacrificing a few heterodox Catholics on the makeshift altar – I might be interested in that!

    Comment by Juan Lino — November 9, 2011 @ 7:35 pm

  2. For those in NYC tonight, my friends in the Young Adults School of Community of the ecclesial lay movement Communion and Liberation are having a discussion on the Economic crisis and OWS, based on a flyer they wrote and handed out to those in OWS last week.

    Here’s the end of the flyer and details:

    “Reality stirs us and constantly provokes us to take a position in front of life. We are inviting everyone, then, to look at the crisis as an opportunity. It is an opportunity to pay attention to the things we take for granted — our families, our education, our jobs.

    We are the 100%

    Like everyone deep down, we aren’t satisfied by partial solutions, partial explanations, or partial reactions. Like everyone, we want to face the economic crisis by looking at all of the factors. Like everyone we want to get to the heart of the matter. We are the 100%.”

    We invite you to join us to continue this discussion:

    Monday, November 14, 2011, 8pm
    SOC Meeting Room
    125 Maiden Lane, Suite 15E
    New York, NY 10038

    Comment by Juan Lino — November 14, 2011 @ 1:31 pm

  3. Thanks so much for this and your other writing on Catholics and the Occupy movement. We’re hoping to foster a discussion about this, including around your articles, at a new website:

    http://occupycatholic.wordpress.com/?s=beaudoin

    We welcome all interested Catholics to join the conversation.

    Comment by @OccupyCatholics — November 27, 2011 @ 2:41 pm

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