The Common Good

God's Politics Blog

Paradigm Shift

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Autumn mornings -- when the cool rain is hitting the tin roof and the breezes blow with enough swagger to make the trees bow in admiration -- remind me of when my second daughter was born and after we had held her in our arms for some time we knew exactly what her name would be. Jorah (meaning "autumn rain" in Hebrew.)

I cannot help but reminisce about those summer sunsets (pictured above) when the sweaty warmth stretched late into the day. Those days were full of bold, luminous life. A bountiful garden. Happy hens sauntering. Silly children splashing and running and laughing.

During the summer season, my wife's delicate hands turned, with soil under her nails and calluses here and there from hours of loving toil in the garden -- always walking towards me with a bowl full of color and a mouth cracked open by a proud grin. She mothers the vegetables in her with almost as much attentiveness and love as her own babes.

Now autumn's crisp air awakens us as we feel the seasons shifting. The trees cast all their energy into turning shades of green into glorious reds, yellows, oranges and golds, a celebratory finale before bowing out for a season of slumber.

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#OccupyWallStreet: Hand Gestures, Health Care and the Birth of a New Paradigm

generalassemblyThroughout the day here at the #OccupyWallStreet mass demonstrations in New York's financial district, you can find small and often somber groups meeting.
They have agendas, a facilitator, a time keeper, and someone to keep track of the "stack" -- the list of people waiting to make a point or ask a question.
And they also have a system of hand gestures -- a sort of gonzo sign-language adaptation of Roberts Rules of Order -- designed to keep the discussion and decision-making process both democratic and efficient.
When someone agrees with a point the speaker is making, the crowd raises two hands in agreement. When the crowd disagrees, hands quickly go up, making a downward pointing motion. To call a "point of process" crowd members shape their hands into a triangle to stop discussion. Speakers who wander off topic are quickly redirected and reminded of the point being discussed in the agenda.
These working groups bring their recommendations to the #OccupyWallStreet General Assembly, which takes place once a day. A vote is taken to determine consensus before a recommendation is passed along to the G.A.
Anyone participating in the General Assembly can block a proposal by forming an X with their arms. Participants make their case and then a revised proposal is put forth. The revised proposal can then be passed with a 90/10 consensus.

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Lynne Hybels answers, "What is an Evangelical?"

Increasingly, in meetings focused on a wide variety of human tragedies, I hear these words: "What are you doing here? I didn't think evangelicals cared about these things."

I understand those comments. I grew up in a form of Christianity in which "saving souls" was pretty much all that mattered. The God I discovered in that church was a harsh, demanding tyrant; I knew that if I wanted to earn God's love I would have to be very good, follow all the rules, and work very hard. As a devout adolescent I did that. As a young pastor's wife I did that.

Unfortunately, I worked a little too hard and eventually became utterly exhausted, seriously depressed, and physically sick. That plunged me into a total life crisis in which I felt compelled to give up the God of my childhood.

Fortunately, a wise friend said to me, "For a while, forget everything you've ever thought about Christianity; forget the Old Testament; forget Paul and the epistles-and just read Jesus."

So for months -- for years actually -- I just read Jesus. And slowly but surely, Jesus reshaped my understanding of what it meant to be a Christian.

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#Occupy D.C., October 6, 2011

Produced by Cathleen Falsani for Sojourners/God's Politics
Photos by Heather Wilson and Carrie Adams/Sojourners
Music by Jason Harrod (used with express permission from the artist)
Song: "For Your Time" from Jason Harrod's album Bright As You, 2006
All Rights Reserved

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#OccupyWallStreet: The Faith Factor

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Slowly but surely, as media coverage of the #OccupyWallStreet demonstrations in New York and across the country continues to grow, attention is turning toward what the spiritual/religious/faith elements are to the larger political/social/cultural story.

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Jon Stewart: Media to #OccupyWallStreet, "What's Up, Brotesters?"

CAUTION: SARCASM AHEAD

Oh, Mr. Stewart, how we love you...

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#OccupyWallStreet: Bruce Came From Vermont...

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Jonathan, 19, who works at a fast food restaurant, said: "There isn't really room for religion here. We are trying to focus on the big problems we face that we all have in common. Religion gets people focused on too many specifics and divides."

His friend Chris chimed in, "How could anything that caused so many wars be any good?"

I asked a group that was serving food what they would think if more religious people joined.

"Awesome! Some Muslim guys came down and offered to do all the food one day," one young woman said.

"No way!" responded a middle-aged man who had been pointing other protestors to vegetarian sandwiches. "We just got a bunch of food donated by some church in North Carolina."

Many protesters here have had some bad experiences with religion, but it's clear that they are genuinely open to seeing religion done differently.

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Lisa Sharon Harper answers, "What is an Evangelical?"

From the Catalyst Conference for evangelical Christian leaders in Atlanta, Sojourners' Director of Mobilizing, Lisa Sharon Harper, gives her answer to, "What is an Evangelical?"

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#OccupyWallStreet: "The First Time I Slept on the Street Was Seven Years Ago..."

tim at occupy sleepingFor whatever stereotype you might have in your mind about who the so-called Occupiers might be, there are some people who fit it, and whole lot more who don't.

I traveled from Washington, D.C., to Wall Street late Wednesday because I believe it's often easier to find God on the streets than in a sanctuary.

We serve a God who shows up for those in need, and for those who stand with them.

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