NIMBY

Not in my backyard.  NIMBY.

This article was shared on Facebook with an invitation to comments.  I think there’s a lot to comment on – well beyond the scope of what most people want/expect in a FB response, so I’m responding here.  Read the article, then read the rest of this.  I’ll wait for you.
All done?
The basic premise is that the cause of the Occupy Wall Street movement is somehow linked to the cause of the Church.  This is a big assertion, considering how vague the various demands coming from OWS seem to be.  I have yet to hear any definitive statement for the movement.  They are about change, but what that change needs to be and how it should be arrived at seem to be a matter of personal opinion, and there are plenty of opinions amongst the “99ers”.  Without a clear statement of purpose, how can Jim Wallis assert that there is a common cause?  There might well be a common cause, but whether OWS would see it as such or not is another issue.
He makes the assertion that the “growing inequality in our society” is a very “religious and Biblical issue”.  What does he mean by this?  The Bible does not assert that we are to be economically equal.  The Bible does condemn those who oppress others and who achieve their gain by exploiting or oppressing others, through unjust means, or who lose their concern and love for neighbor in the process.  Biblically, the issue is not inequality, the issue is how that inequality comes about.  Inasmuch as OWS wants to address the inequalities in our economic system, I’m all for it.  But I don’t really think that’s the exclusive interest of may OWS folks.
Wallis suggests that churches should invite the protesters to stay on their campuses when they are kicked out of public venues.  I’m not sure what this accomplishes.  The point of the protest is to be in public space where they have to be dealt with and heard to some extent.  The issue is to push the bounds of civil disobedience in order to demand confrontation on the issues.  Churches inviting OWS to camp out simply become centers for squatters of various stripes.  At best, the police don’t have to bother with the OWS folks because they are out of the way and no longer a nuisance.  At worst, the congregation becomes liable for all sorts of infractions of usage permits, etc.  
Wallis makes the assertion that the issues of OWS are “gospel issues, and are therefore the business of the churches.”  I disagree.
Until there is a definitive message and demand from OWS, I have nothing to determine whether their issues are issues that the church should be getting involved with.  Until I know what their demands are, it would be reckless foolishness to align myself with them.  You can’t align yourself with someone who makes no stance.  You can stand next to them, but you may in fact be worlds apart.
The Gospel is not an economic issue.  The Gospel is that the world and every single person in it is broken and cannot fix themselves.  The Gospel is that the solution to this broken, sinful, self-centered rejection of God is for God to send his Son to be one of us, to be perfectly obedient, to suffer and die innocently, and to be raised again as the promise of our reconciliation with God.  This is the Gospel – that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  
This is not the issue that OWS is dealing with.  OWS is not proclaiming Christ crucified, which is the primary duty of the Church.  
The Church should also be concerned about people – loving our neighbor as ourselves as a response to loving God.  But the church’s job is to proclaim ultimately that we will continue to use and abuse each other until we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.  And that even then, perfect harmony between all humankind will not occur until Jesus returns in glory.  The Church still has a role for the voice of the downtrodden, but I’m less sure our voice is to used to scream for political change.  I tend to suspect our voice is to be used in speaking and ministering directly to those in need.  But that’s a lot harder, so I can understand why screaming is preferred.
I think that inviting people for food and discussion is a good thing.  Sharing a meal together is a wonderful idea that congregations should take seriously.  Inviting a group of disassociated people to camp on your property for an indefinite period of time is not what I would consider a good thing.  
Churches need to be welcoming places to all manner of people.  In that respect, welcoming the OWS protesters shouldn’t be anything new or different.  We should be just as willing to invite the homeless, the ex-convicts, and other marginalized elements of our society.  I can’t help but feel that in highlighting the OWS participants as the target of hospitality, Wallis has other goals and agendas in mind beyond sharing the love of Christ with our neighbor.  

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