Yes, I do believe we are, at least a new kind of participation which will be up to us as to how well we understand it and utilize it. And, it is the Occupy movement that has focused my thinking on the kind of participation with which we are dealing.
The Occupy movement has been an aggregating force, meaning that it has brought out into the open, quite literally, a group of people who identify with the frustration expressed against the manipulation of our economy by a group who gamed our system and deceived many along the way. And the elite, many of whom were “let in” on the heist, are now protecting themselves. There are numerous details and more specific foci that have emerged as these throngs of people gather and converse and “mix it up” to emerge with a powerful group consciousness and sense of movement.
Here is where the church can learn to discover the power of the gathering. Not only do we bring our own gifts to the table, but in becoming exposed to the variety of problems people face, and analyses of what is happening which then yields certain proposed solutions, something emerges. Something more than just a list of grievances. Something more than a compilation of all the ideas. A convergence emerges that is born of the conversation. This seems to me to be very much aligned with what I’ve seen in the “Emergent Christian” groups
What Steve describes here, and also in the video where Ryan Bolger expresses similar thoughts to which Steve also refers, is similar to what I have seen being played out in the people’s political arena as the Occupy movement has evolved:
Iâ€™d like to suggest that faith leaders â€” from across denominations and traditions â€” need to begin reflecting deeply on this idea of participation. What Weiner calls â€œhighly interactiveâ€ and â€œexperimental.â€ Itâ€™s essentially the same message that Landon Whitsitt wrote about earlier this year in his book Open Source Church, and itâ€™s an idea that Dr. Ryan Bolger, from Fuller Theological Seminary, has been playing with recently, as well.
So I would recognize that there is not only a “solidarity” component in Occupy in which r the church can particpate and bring some of our “Good News” to the table, there is also a working example of a deeper model of participation, which is deeply ecclesial and therefore theological.