Like so many others, the Occupy Wall Street movement has captured my attention, and today, a preacher’s column drew my attention. In it, the preacher poses the question, if Jesus himself were to come upon the Occupy Wall Street movement, what would he do? How would he respond? Now, I will admit, I am tempted to make a joke or two about Jesus casting the devil out, or flipping tables, even punching in drums – but it made me consider – what might he do? Unlike the author of that article, I refuse to say, “Well, he would have…” I think the best any of us could do is merely suggest how he would approach the situation, but saying definitively that he would do this or that is near blasphemous to me. So, here is what was going to be my response to so many of the “He would have done…” comments for the article.
“This entire premise is unquestionably without answer, and to try to pin an answer on Christ is asinine. While we would all love to project our own beliefs onto him, and thus, claim we would be like him (or he, like us), or that he would give the OWS movement some sudden legitimacy, it is not possible. As much as we would love to say, ‘Well, of COURSE he would join with the protesters!’, there are other lessons in the Bible which, if we are being honest, may have shown him refusing to join them, and perhaps even rebuking them. (And in an ironic twist, the left is well-known for having a far higher percentage of atheists among their membership than conservatives and the right in general — it seems like some stretch for the protesters to even consider how something that many of them deny, might respond)
Forget for a moment the antisemitism shown against an older man wearing a yarmulke in NYC, would the protesters welcome Jesus, or seeing a man in poor robes, chastise him and chase him away as they did to the homeless? I maintain that Jesus would have more in common with the homeless people anyway, then he would with the people who, despite having jobs and homes (a great many of them do), decide to engage in sloth (one of seven capital sins). While sloth is not the avoidance of work altogether, it is the refusal to exert oneself or engage in hard labor. A perusal of The Beatitudes really lacks any parallels to OWS behaviors, and I figure the closest that they come to matching any of them might be “Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill”. Although, the justice that they seek is of their own conception, and there is not as much support for it as some would have us believe.
I find it ironic that the movement seems willing enough to use Jesus Christ as a means of leverage, and as a sort of guilt-trip to gin up support from the religious. The OWS movement in London, given some permissions to occupy the grounds of Saint Paul’s Cathedral, responded by writing graffiti onto restored pillars, scratching messages into the doors of the church, and most disgustingly, defecating in the entrance ways and inside the historic Cathedral itself. I do not recall any of Christ’s teachings that people may desecrate synagogues or any temples, be they Roman temples or any other religions’ temples.
The movement who would host a savior would probably find themselves facing a great divide in beliefs between they and he. Exploring further, I doubt he could do much for them – possibly lending some sort of ‘star-power’ and drawing cameras? Well, no, there have already been plenty of stars (Jay-Z, Russell Simmons) to proclaim their undying support for the protesters (then getting in their limos and leaving). Perhaps Christ could provide the protesters with food and drink? Then again, substance abuse is said to be rampant, and bottomless jugs of wine are the probably the last thing that the protesters need. And unions and other sympathetic people have given money and food, so loaves probably would not be too welcomed. I suspect that the result of Christ showing up to any OWS movement would probably be disgust and a quick disavowal by the Savior. As their own fellow protesters are constantly doing to the criminals among them, and as Peter did to Christ himself , I would not be surprised to hear Christ say, ‘Who are you and what are you doing?'”
(The story of the London occupation, and particulars to the eviction sought by Church leaders, and their rationale): http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/nov/21/occupy-london-camp-eviction-bid