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Archive for the ‘occupy everywhere’ tag

Religion Stories Of 2011: The Top 11

by Paul Brandeis Raushenbush
from Huffington Post

In the final days of 2011 we pause to reflect on the year that has past — the good, the bad and the ugly. Here are the HuffPost Religion Top Stories of 2011.

The Muslim Spring
It started with a simple vegetable seller in Tunisia who, humiliated by the police and autocracy, set himself on fire at the end of 2010. One year later, the seemingly eternal regimes of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya have fallen to popular uprisings and several others, including Syria, appear to be teetering. Once called the Arab Spring, Islam is increasingly being recognized as the fuel that fed the fire of these revolutions — a fire that that may both warm and burn in 2012.

The Dalai Lama Steps Down
The Dalai Lama made history when he relieved himself from his responsibility as political head of the Tibetan people to concentrate solely on his role as spiritual leader; ending one of the most enduring, if benevolent, theocracies in the world. Lobsang Sangay, the Harvard-trained legal scholar, is the the new Tibetan Prime Minister in a time when frustrations with Chinese policy is leading to a fiery form of radical protests by nuns and monks.

Mormons in Politics
The potential success of the Romney presidential campaign has fed a frenzy of discussion of what it means that a Mormon is in politics. The fact that Romney is not the only Mormon candidate (Huntsman) and that the Senate Majority Leader (Reid) is also Mormon doesn’t seem to stop the endless punditry and speculation. Will religious suspicion on the part of evangelicals in the primary and secularists in the general election doom this Mormon moment?

The Muslims Are Coming, The Muslims Are Coming
Fear of the “Muslim menace,” fueled by cynical politicians and well funded think tanks, has led to anti-sharia laws proposed and passed in states around the country. The fact that these states hadno pending pro-sharia laws is apparently beside the point. Creating bulwarks instead of bridges, the anti-sharia (read Muslim) movements seem to ebb and flow according to the political tides (think Park 51 in 2010). Get ready for a flood in 2012.

The End of the World
In order to give people time to repent, people with May 21 Judgment Day signs started popping up well before the announced date of the end of the world. The “prophet” of this apocalypse was Harold Camping, an elderly man with a drawling voice heard most prominently on his Family Radio empire. People left jobs, families prepared to be raptured and as the clock ticked down, the entire world held its collective unbelieving breath. And then time went on, and oddly a little disappointed, so did we.

Presbyterians Acknowledge Gays and Lesbians Can Be Ministers
Ho hum, gays can be ministers, too. Yet, for the Presbyterian Church, one of America’s most famously and proudly plodding religious traditions, to change its laws to allow openly gay men and women in same-sex relationships to be ordained as clergy was a major step forward for LGBT rights and for the Church as a whole.

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I Was Wrong About Occupy

The movement does need public space

by Donna Schaper
from Religion Dispatches

Last week I argued in these pages that the Occupy movement might be diverted by its focus on getting physical outdoor space. I felt that the movement had gone viral—we were everywhere, and didn’t need a particular space any more. I was wrong.

We do need physical outdoor space. Trinity Church in Manhattan, sometimes meanly—and unfairly—referred to as a real estate corporation with an altar, could even give it. They own an empty downtown space at Sixth Avenue and Canal Street that is gated (providing security for occupiers) and accessible to public transportation so that allies, visitors, and media could join them. I really thought this demand was a sideshow until Thursday. Then I changed my mind.

That morning a dozen occupiers addressed forty or so clergy. We clergy were all somewhat skeptical of the demand for public space. You could hear the ministerial, rabbinical hrumph,hrumph in the room. (Most of us had never occupied Zucotti Park and a downward trend in temperature wasn’t going to improve on that.) But the occupiers edged toward the theological as they articulated a need for communal, inspirational, face-to-face contact in which they could “appear” to one another.

Secondly, they talked about the nearly complete privatization of municipal public space in a way that made a deep and tragic sense. Where can you go if you don’t own something? Does a public even exist if it has no space? The great irony is that they have been called the virtual demonstration, and here they were talking about old-fashioned, in-person, human interaction.

Third, they talked about the increasing surveillance of most space, private or public—the self-surveillance on Facebook, the constant camera, and the ask-no-questions “security” cordons. They reminded me of one of my first posts on this whole matter: we no longer march and the police pen us for “our own good.” What nonsense. A completely nonviolent movement does not need to be penned up for its own good.

And finally, they spoke of a new monasticism, in which people have given up everything to jump to a future they can only imagine. In the most recent newsletter posted by Occupy Theory [as of this posting, the site is down Eds.], occupiers describe how sad they were about their lives, both present and future, until they found each other. If you were worried about “young people today” before, you will be terrified after you read about the emptiness, the bought-and-soldness, the futility, the lack of any place to be or person to be.

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St Paul’s Seeks New Direction and Begins Dialogue with Occupy Movement

by Alan Rusbridger
from the Guardian

The Rt Rev Richard John Carew Chartres exuded an aura of benign ecclesiastical calm having performed the most dramatic reverse ferret in modern church history.

The Bishop of London was cloistered in his 17th century palace – confusingly called the Old Deanery – after overseeing a meeting of the St Paul’s Cathedral chapter at which his colleagues had unanimously agreed to overturn virtually every single decision they had reached over the past two weeks.

“Reverse ferret” is, technically speaking, a term used in Fleet Street, just down the road, to describe the moment when an editor executes a startling editorial U-turn.

But it was the bishop who brought off a remarkable tactical volte face. Stepping into the shoes of the recently-departed dean of St Paul’s, Graeme Knowles, Chartres decided to suspend legal action against the protesters who are camped out barely a hundred yards from his sitting room – and to disregard the legal and health and safety advice which had previously led to the closure of the cathedral.

“The symbolism of the closed door was the wrong symbol,” said Chartres, who also announced an initiative, led by a former investment banker, with the aim of “reconnecting the financial with the ethical”.

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What place do people of faith have at Occupy Everywhere?

by Jonathan Oskins
from State of Formation

News agencies were already slow to cover the movement in New York, so it is no surprise that reporting on the involvement of religious people at Occupy Together took even longer. But the wait was worth it, with fellow State of Formation contributors having written on their personal participation: Mary Ann Kaiser wrote a great piece on her hands-on work as part of Occupy Austin and Anna DeWeese posted on her experience at Occupy Wall Street. Faith & Reason also has terrific summaries of the reasons why different faiths have become involved, including a great link to a HuffPost Religion post on an Occupy Wall Street Yom Kippur. Another HuffPost Religion post does a good job of highlighting the variety of religious groups at Occupy Wall Street, including Jumah at #OccupyDCOccupy TorahOccupy Judaism and Occupy Sukkot.

At Occupy LA, the city I am from, there has been group meditation and yoga sessions, but the most prominent story in the last few weeks on spirituality was an event organized by Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace (ICUJP). On October 7th, the 10th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, fifteen peace activists were arrested in front of the Federal Building in downtown LA, including Anthony Manousos, a Quaker who serves on the board of directors for ICUJP and the Executive Committee of the Southern California Committee for a Parliament of the World Religions, Reverend George Regas, rector emeritus of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, Shakeel Syed, the executive director of the Islam Shura Council of Southern California, Father Chris Ponnett of Pax Christi, a Catholic organization, and Friar Tom, a Catholic priest, among others.

What struck me was that while Occupy LA supporters joined them as they marched towards the Federal Building, it does not seem to have been coordinated that way. ICUJP sent out tried-and-true press releases including promises of “Visuals: some 20 activists and religious leaders wearing vestments being arrested,” but the press release made no mention of Occupy LA, though some articles made the connection.

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