Thank you Lauren, for putting into writing what is obvious to anyone who observes and listens (and read on after the quote. I’m not being sarcastic. It is something conveniently ignored by press seeking quick bites and political rancor)
Much of the criticism directed at the Occupy Movement has focused on protesters’ lack of clear objectives. However, as I’ve witnessed while photographing religious groups involved in the protest, for many people of faith in D.C., these goals are as bright as day: social and economic justice, and equal support for all human beings, regardless of circumstance.
One could easily say (and I have many times) that seeking “more clarity” or accusing OWS of “lack of clarity” is somewhat obtuse. Do we do the same with our politicians? If we are good at holding our politicians responsible for articulating a clear(er) vision and set of goals, then we do them, and us, a service. Same deal with the church. Do we cast aspersions at the church because we don’t hear a “clear vision”? Some are happy with the typical pietistic answers, like “to proclaim Christ”. Few inthe church disagree, but many want a less “abstract” answer. With the diversity of theologies in American churches, “to proclaim Christ” has a wide variety of markers. People need to know what it means to say “to proclaim Christ”. When churches have trouble articulating a set of actions or habits aimed at living what it means to “proclaim Christ”, then the world rightfully holds the church at arms length and questions the willingness of that church to actually make a difference. To continue to relegate the church to a “religious” role (which covers its set of rituals, recitations of belief, meeting together for education in the ways of the faith) and in that move , departmentalize faith to the “individualistic” and “private”, then the political and social realities become off limits to “the religious”.
This photojournalist observed the intentional efforts and assumptions that are daily being carried out, “places” being carved out, physical needs being looked after, and community being nurtured. OccupyDC has people in it self identifying as OccupyChurch who are making the church visible in this “secular” political movement. I put “secular” in quotes because I do not believe in such a disconnect. Occupy has tapped into what I deeply belive to be a spiritual renewal movement. Many do not identify it as as such, especially those who have become cynical or long-since resigned to the church in America being out of touch with the social and political and justice concerns of the prophets and the gospels.
Lauren is a ray of hope toward dispelling the notions of a detached spirituality. Her profile on The Huffington Post includes this:
By documenting how faith is lived and sharing the human stories that underlie doctrine, she hopes to shed new light on a topic that is often opaque and generalized.
An excellent testimony to the power underlying and sustaining movements for social justice within faith communities.