Raising questions in Philadelphia
Members of the Simple Way, an intentional Christian
community in Philadelphia, took on Wall Street more than ten years ago, when 90
people staged a celebration of the Jubilee, complete with a drop of hundreds of two-dollar bills.
I asked co-founder and author Shane Claiborne for his
reactions to the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Are members of the
Simple Way involved in the protests?
Yes. The beauty of being part of a community like Simple Way
is that there's room for members to creatively discern how they are to do
ministry. One of our members, an accountant, is on the financial team for
Philadelphia's protest community; others are praying daily for the effort. I
took some neighborhood college kids down to the site. They are aware of the
civil rights movement, and we talked about how this movement might be echoing
the earlier movement.
I personally will be joining the Occupy Wall Street "Move Your Money" Campaign. On November 5, I will divest from Bank of America, moving my money to the nonprofit credit union here in Philadelphia. It's one way to continue trying to get the log out of my own eye--to be a little less of a hypocrite tomorrow than I am today.
What did you see when
you visited the Philadelphia site?
I saw wide diversity: 80-year-olds and 18-year-olds, people
of all colors, homeless people, military people and professionals. It looked to
me like a crowd that Jesus would have engaged. I didn't see cynicism. I saw a
real sense of hope and the possibility of dreams becoming reality.
What to you think of
What an opportunity to create conversation! Jesus' own
parable in Luke 12 is relevant to the entire effort. Why build bigger and
Occupy Wall Street may not come up with solutions, but at
least it is asking the right questions in a nonviolent setting. I don't believe
that love can be forced, but I believe it can be provoked. I don't believe that
generosity can be forced, but it can be provoked. Occupy Wall Street is
What would you like
to see happen?
I'm hoping that Christians will see this as an opportunity
to proclaim that God's heart is big enough for the 100 percent. It matters to
God that some people are sagging with food while others need $3 for a mosquito
net. It also matters to God that many of the oppressors are, in spite of their
money, desperately lonely and suffering. God cares for both and can set both free.
I believe we're building something new, proclaiming
something else as possible. God wants to see us systemically dismantle