Thursday, October 20, 2011

To faithfully #Occupy

From Eastern Mennonite University, 1200 Park Rd, Harrisonburg, VA 22802, USA
A theodoodle for occupation
During seminary chapel worship on Tuesday, we were given a time to be reflective and write. We were supposed to write about something different than what I ended up writing about, but whatever. So here are a few theological notes and questions in relationship to the Occupy movement.

The very word "occupy" is not neutral. Occupation can have quite an oppressive connotation. The New Mexico manifestation of the movement, for instance, chose to use a different word due to "occupy's" negative connotation to indigenous Native American groups. Indeed, for indigenous peoples to this land, occupation is 300+ years of living under imposed sociopolitical orders from Europeans. Is this land really, as the song says, "made for you and me?"

So a theologically better way understand "occupy" is perhaps "inhabit," as in "to live into." So the question then becomes inhabit what? Live into where? It's important for Christians to occupy - in this sense - the body of Christ. We are its members and we seek to be healthy in that regard, to faithfully occupy the body to which we belong, and to whom we belong. In another sense, we occupy the kingdom of God as it impinges upon this world, creating it anew, slowly, agonizingly on its way to fulfillment.

But in yet another sense, we are ourselves occupied. The body is the temple of God's Spirit, both individually and corporately. We are not our own and the good that is done through us is the work of God in us. And to the extent that we perpetuate sin in this world, we are occupied by something else not of God.

Finally, occupation in a faithful sense is always embodied in time and place, and always in community. It is therefore conflictual and contingent, but therein lies the opportunity for faithfulness to be made real and shine forth a glimpse of the occupation of shalom to come. This nonviolent occupation is far beyond protest, far beyond ressentiment that (rightly so, to a point) pervades the Occupy movement underway in the U.S.

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