It's a different kind of protest. It's a different kind of ministry. And it's a different kind of witness.
Adbusters, now joined by the internet activist group Anonymous, have called for a Tahrir Square-style occupation of Wall Street beginning September 17. They've called for 20,000 people to bring tents, their skills, and their demands for justice to create a peaceful occupation of the very heart of the American center of financial scandals, mortgage crime, and now-unlimited campaign funding that has created the economic disaster we are all now trying to survive. The protest has gone international. There are plans now to occupy financial districts in San Francisco, London, Paris, Madrid, and Milan, and perhaps more. (Search #occupywallstreet for more info, or check out http://occupywallstreet.com/.)
Interested? There are two ways to get involved.
I. PROTEST CHAPLAINS
ORIENTATION MEETING SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 10, time/location TBA
Depart Boston Friday afternoon, September 16, return Monday afternoon, September 19
We need 8-12 people who can find common ground with anyone, don't speak Christianese, find holiness in the everyday, and have enough grit to keep their heads in chaos, and even find it fun! Protest Chaplains need to be self-aware and self-sufficient. We need encouragers who don't feel the need to defend their faith, religion, or political positions, but rather want to encounter and nourish the life arising in the people we meet in whatever form that takes. For those who want to listen deeply and respond to the particular hopes, fears, longing and rage of those who desperately want a better world, this experience will be one you'll never forget.
Protest Chaplain activities include:
1. Doing liturgies and leading meditation! Some examples: Morning prayer, Compline, candlelight vigils and readings of names of soldiers, prisoners, homeless, etc, centering meditations, and hopefully welcoming and orienting groups visiting from local churches.
2. Video interviews: Since this is largely a social media effort, it would be incredible to set up a station with a video camera to record faith & protest stories to be uploaded real-time. Encouraging people to talk about what moves them most could be tremendously powerful. The viral videos that inspired Tahrir Square featured people who talked about Allah and verses from the Quran quite readily. However people think about matters of soul and religion, encouraging people to connect their hearts with their actions is a good thing.
3. Sacramental tag-teams offering prayers and blessings for individuals. At the Crossing and at St. Gregory of Nyssa in San Francisco, people have gone out on Ash Wednesday in robes carrying ashes and people in both cases have flocked to these teams. What if we brought holy water and oil and offered un-creepy blessings?
4. SUNDAY MORNING EUCHARIST IN THE STREET! It sure would be fun to get an ordained person to be part of this so we could do a proper Mass and invite EVERYONE.
5. Radical Listening: Engaging people to hear their stories and reflect back to them the life and hope they have within them in whatever language they can hear.
II. SUPPORT PROJECTS: THE HOME FRONT
For this to work well, we need serious preparation. Even if people have only 5 minutes to look up their favorite prayer and email it to us, that's great! Here are the projects for which we need as many people as we can:
A. Creating a Protester's Prayer Book, with prayers, meditations, and scripture particularly apt. This could be a really beautiful thing with a long life after the occupation. Some people might be surprised at the words of the OT prophets or the clarity of Jesus' teachings about wealth. It could also be done as an interfaith collaboration.
B. Creating a songbook of easy-to-teach hymns & chants. Protest chants are angry and sucky. Real chant and singing draws something that perhaps we recognize as the Holy Spirit out from the hidden depths of each of us to make us something more, and something more alive, than the sum of the individuals. Plus it's fun and keeps people positive and peaceful. Singing shifts our attention from looking for enemies to focusing on togetherness.
C. Writing/finding blessings for protesters and cops
D. Social Media Coordinators, especially during Saturday, Sunday, and Monday to keep live updates, video, and photos moving from the chaplains to the world. These people will be taking text messages from those of us without smartphones and posting them to a Twitter account, Facebook page, and sharing them with our media partners like The Christian Left, religious news outlets, as well as keeping up our presence on related blogs and sites.
If any of these projects interest you, email us asap at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The peace of God be with you now and always!
-The Protest Chaplains