Wednesday, December 7, 2011

'Occupy Wall Street' -- highlighting the unspeakable

Woe to you who add house to house
and join field to field
till no space is left
and you live alone in the land.

-- Isaiah 5:8

Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you.

-- James 5:1-5

Republican strategist Frank Lantz has admitted recently that he's quaking in his boots over the Occupy Wall Street movement, which has called attention to the excesses of corporate power in this nation. As well he should be.

You see, by its mass ongoing demonstrations, which stated in New York's financial district but have since spread to other major cities, OWS has touched on a far bigger issue, one which few have ever addressed: Class warfare.

There, I've said it.

If you think I'm simply channeling Karl Marx, I challenge you: On what else was the opposition to civil rights for African-Americans based? The targeting for destruction of the labor union movement? The elimination of social programs that actually help the poor? Tax breaks and cuts for the super-wealthy? The weakening of regulation of large financial interests? The trashing of public education? And on and on and on ... if these don't represent an attempt to build a quasi-aristocracy, I don't know what does. And folks are waking up.

That said, over the years, especially in the recent tea-party movement, some have actually tried to scapegoat "government" as the ultimate source of all our ills. Let me remind you, however, that we have government in the first place due to a chronic problem called sin, that left to their own devices people will, in the words of Martin Luther King Jr., "take the low road" -- which is why the Apostle Paul told the first Christians to respect the government. (And don't forget that he was referring to highly corrupt Rome, which many of his Jewish audience despised with a passion.) Here in this country especially, because our system was built to give political power to private entities, the idea of "too much government" comes across as so much hooey.

Have you ever wondered why major Christian media "ministries," with all their bellayaching about abortion, gay rights and the "War on Christmas," never talk about the plight of the poor, a major theme in Scripture, especially the Old Testament? Check their donor lists and boards of directors and find out just who's paying to keep them on the air -- you'll be unpleasantly surprised.

So let's place the blame right where it lies: With the moneyed interests able to "buy off" any opposition. And that's just what OWS is protesting.

Moreover, OWS has to date never been part of any political establishment and thus truly represents a grass-roots movement. Contrast that with the tea-party movement, a picture of whose first local demonstration was placed on the front page of the Tribune-Review (its publisher is a supporter), that has run candidates for Congress and which now has several candidates jockeying for the Republican nomination for president. The tea-party movement has already been brought to heel, which OWS won't be -- and that freaks Lantz to no end.

None of this is to suggest that God is specifically endorsing Occupy Wall Street, although a few individual Christians and ministries have done so. Rather, I suggest that He is using OWS to send a message to the nation and perhaps also the church that business as usual -- with the emphasis on "business" -- will not be tolerated in the "last days."