Upon asking my friends on their thoughts about the Occupy happenings, I received some very interesting and informative responses to my last couple posts. One particular response captured the “bigger picture” in my mind and definitely resounded well with me. The following commentary comes from one of my fellow University of Southern Indiana alums and Christian brother, Ryan Cochran. Here ya go…. Thanks a lot Ryan.
The Occupy movement and the Tea Party are both expressions of frustration over the loss of the American middle class. One movement believes that the loss comes from corporate greed and corruption and other other believes that the loss is the result of over-sized government. Both movements are two sides of the same coin. Both are right and both are wrong.
Both movements have much good to say and we as Christians should “listen up.” God can be heard speaking through both movements. From the Occupy movement, God is reminding us that we have sold our souls to the modern corporation, and that our country has forgotten God’s concern for the poor and marginalized. The problem with Occupy is, of course, idolatry. The Occupy movement, writ large, idolizes the sovereign nation-state and believes that state control over the market, and our lives, will bring about prosperity.
On the flip side, in the Tea Party, God is saying that our country has too long lived far beyond our means and we have lost the virtues of courage, self-control, simplicity, hard work, and thrift. We have forgotten the importance of personal responsibility and have expected the sovereign nation-state to clean up our messes. The problem with the Tea Party is, of course, idolatry. The Tea Party, writ large, idolizes the “Free Market” and believes in the divine “invisible hand” to bring about prosperity for us all. This ideology is seen quite clearly in the writings of the Tea Party prophet, Ayn Rand. How so many American Christians can celebrate the writings of this self-professed atheist who mocked the ethical teachings of Christ is beyond my ability to comprehend and shows how much we have separated our political ideology from the Gospel.
Our response to both Occupy and the Tea Party should be to listen for how God is speaking in both and to allow the idolatry of both to hold up a mirror to our own idolatry. Our response is to see our money and possessions as useful but meaningless. Our response is to follow Christ in the way of sacrifice and simplicity, to resist being beholden to corporations or the sovereign nation-state, and to love our neighbors as ourselves.