I asked Lisa Sharon Harper of Sojourners about her thoughts on the Occupy Movement, and she said something we don’t hear much amidst all the uproar about the “middle class” being under assault. While the economic figures about the shrinkage and stagnation of wages in the middle class make for a wider audience from which to garner movement support, what we Christians need to remember is that for the poor, this has been a constant struggle against systems that seek to make things easier for the sake of spending in order to “grow the economy”. It’s easy to “stand up for the middle class”. And if you look at the definiton of “the middle class” in our politics (as Lisa writes about it here) , it’s focus tends to be on the upper end, where there’s debate about whether the Bush tax cuts should be extended for those making over 250,000 a year vs One million dollars a year. Lisa Sharon Harper illustrates these efforts to widen that middle class definition in order to include a lot of people whose lives are a far cry from a “struggling middle class”.
In an article in Sojo last week, Lisa writes:
While Jesus loves everybody, there is no Christian tradition of teaching Godâ€™s â€œpreferential option for the middle class.â€
So, yeah, we in the Christian tradition who have been encouraged by the emergence of the Occupy Movement, need to keep this in mind as we (as I myself ) consider the theological implications and “Vinn Diagram” commonalities with the Occupy Movement and the Church. While there is a definite deterioration of actual middle class income (much more so in the lower portions) , and this has brought about a critical mass that has coalesced into a movement, it should be a particular hope for Christians that this push back and awareness building will bring about a clearer focus on the more serious problems at the lower end, and especially beyond (in this case, below the poverty line).
In this video, which I shot at the Wild Goose Festival back in late June, Lisa talks about this a bit as she says “While the 99% have certainly gotten a bad deal, in that bottom 10%, it’s really bad”