Sunday, September 25, 2011

Quick update

"The troublemaker is precisely the one who tries to force sovereign power to translate itself into actuality." Giorgio Agamben, Homo Sacer

Today marked the second week of the occupation of Wall Street. Mass arrests, pepper spray, and gruesome photos finally forced mainstream media to cover this unprecedented protest.

Friday night, the Chaplains met to discuss our next steps. We're making plans to return to our friends and allies in New York, and are planning meetings with other locals for Occupy Boston.

Despite efforts by Yahoo, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook to hinder social media efforts, the movement is growing.

Protesting is not a crime. It's more necessary now than ever.

Stay tuned, rest well, and peace be with you!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

You need to watch what happened today. And how you can help!

The woman operating the camera really did an amazing job keeping her cool in a terrible situation.

Protesting is not a crime. Putting tarps over computer equipment and handmade signs to keep the rain off is not a crime.

Everyone we met this weekend, everyone we talked to, was so smart, generous, and committed to peace. The occupiers have been working so hard in General Assembly meetings to stay organized, comply with police requests, and bring life and spirit to the occupation that we absolutely fell in love with our new brothers and sisters. This is what hope looks like. This is what Christianity looks like.

And, good news! Despite the police raids this morning, those not arrested have been joined by many more - tonight's meeting in Zuccotti Park/Liberty Plaza seems to at least one Twitter observer to be possibly the largest yet.

Here's what you can do:
Send supplies! Contact: 347 640 0925
Send money for sleeping bags, generators and other supplies:
Send food! Do what Wisconsin did for their Capitol occupiers last spring and buy the occupiers an OccuPie pizza, made especially for the occupation by Liberato's Pizza in Lower Manhattan: 212-344-3464 ($15 for an OccuPie, they'll know what to do) or donate to the other food budget (so far soooo good!):

Best of all, though? GO TO WALL STREET! And TELL YOUR FRIENDS!
There has been much frustration over the "media blackout" resulting in so little coverage of this joyful, earnest, determined protest made of so many different people who all believe in justice. As Christians, we're especially bothered that this beautiful expression and work of hope is getting so little coverage  in comparison to coverage of the Tea Party and their religious rhetoric of hate.

BREAKING: SOLIDARITY OCCUPATION GROWING IN SAN FRANCISCO (555 California). Can't make it to the East Coast? Go to San Francisco!
Can't make it to New York? Occupy DC beginning October 6!

THE STRATEGY: We're especially calling churches and clergy to go in your denomination's religious drag-o-choice (collars, albs, stoles, choir robes, whatever!) down to Zuccotti Park. Your presence will make it impossible to dismiss protesters as just a bunch of malcontent whiny kids, which is the narrative used by both the Left and the Right to ignore this incredible demonstration. All over the rest of the world, Occupy Wall Street is a huge news story! You can make it so in the US by going there as something unexpected -- Christians.

All you gotta do is show up and sing. Bring food & water! You want to see what Christ looks like? Look into the eyes and hearts of the people there. There he is.

Come and see. We promise.

We went, we saw, and we are transformed for it. Our whole team is still buzzing with excitement. Harvard Divinity School is hearing all about it. Priests and pastors from around the country are contacting us. It's time, sisters and brothers in Christ, friends of God: Out of the churches, and into the streets! Let's practice what we preach!

Love, blessings, and the light and peace of Christ,
The Protest Chaplains

Monday, September 19, 2011

A prayer for justice

The occupiers spending the night in newly-dubbed "Liberty Square" (aka Zuccotti Park) are growing in numbers and coming under new pressure from NYPD. But spirits are good and the General Assembly meetings continue.

If you have eyes to see - this is God's dream of peace, equality, and harmony among different people coming into the world in a new way!

If you're the praying type, pray for Occupy Wall Street. And if you can get to New York, please do! Bring water & food while you're at it.

For Social Justice
Almighty God, who created us in your image: Grant us grace fearlessly to contend against evil and to make no peace with oppression; and, that we may reverently use our freedom, help us to employ it in the maintenance of justice in our communities and among the nations, to the glory of your holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

And the rich reveal the evil in their hearts.

From Saturday night. Marchers interrupted the leisure time of the aristocrats and the aristocrats turned ugly.

Is this where the bailout money went? So these people could refine their disdain for the other 99% of us? It's not just offensive. It speaks of the sickness-of-soul that we all suffer from. What makes these sneering people on the balcony different is that they can afford to be cruel. If we are going to see a better world, we need to open our hearts to one another, share what we care about, encourage one another, form new relationships, and forge new alliances.

This isn't just spiritual woo-woo talk. We joined strangers Saturday to sing, march, and chant, and the new friendships, conversations, and mutual expressions of hope energized and enlightened us. Now we're back in Boston, talking to all kinds of people, and people who never would have thought twice about Occupy Wall Street are discovering that they, too, would like to be part of the protest.

GET YOURSELVES DOWN TO WALL STREET. Every body counts. And if you can't, do the world a favor and stop, think before you dismiss this protest and all protests, and consider: What could the world look like if we quit allowing the banks to control our democracy? What if we undid the corporate theft and gave public money back to... the public? And what if religious voices joined those of anarchists, socialists, Marxists, international organizations, and all who crave justice?

The love we saw, felt, and shared on Saturday is the one and only thing that can change the world. We call this love God. You can call it whatever you want. But call it something, and cry it from the rooftops. Cry it in the streets. And let justice roll down like waters (Amos 5:24).

Love, peace, light, and hope to you all!
The Protest Chaplains



Watch live streaming video from globalrevolution at

This morning the occupiers seem chipper, in good spirits. The cops' strategy seems to be just to keep the protesters on the move so quickly that no one is blocked. The bank workers seem mostly confused and a little irritated, but some are asking questions. The road is blocked off so that only the sidewalks are accessible. Funny thing is, this means that pedestrians are all mixed in with protesters...

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Love and peace to you, campers!

Yesterday, we saw what we recognize as the face of God in the meetings, the marches, the creativity, and the hope you shared with us. You, occupiers, are one family, one nation, one beautiful people, united near and far with the millions of supporters around the world who call you sisters and brothers. Together, we are so alive!

You inspired us. You sang with us. You chanted with us. And we are still with you, even from Boston.

This morning, at churches all over Boston and beyond, Christians heard about what we saw and felt and lived with you. We prayed for you and continue to do so. Even if you don't believe in that stuff, good vibes can't hurt, right?

We know your feet hurt and your voices ache because ours do too. We know you're exhausted but inspired. So tonight, as you settle in, full of pizza and good will, consider pulling your group together and doing the following meditation. Have one person read it. And let the silences sink in - go slow, don't rush.

As we close this long day, let us breathe in the peace that surrounds us underneath the city noise. There is calm here, underneath the sirens, the engines, the tension, and the talking. Listen for the silence, and breathe it in.


Let us bring to mind the pleasures of today: new friends, productive conversations, creativity.
Imagine that the warm feelings of gratitude are a soft blanket. Relax into the gratitude.


Let your heart, stomach, guts, bones, and muscles all fall gently into this warm, dark, quiet space. Let the gratitude wrap around you, protecting you, holding you safe.


In this space, bring to mind your frustrations, fear, tension, pain, irritation.


As you take a deep breath, imagine exhaling all of those frustrations. Let them dissolve into the night air. The silence, and the gratitude, still hold you. You can let go of all that has not been done today. Release the day. Exhale.


Imagine the millions of supporters around the world standing guard around Zuccotti Park or wherever you are sleeping. We are watching, praying, protecting you. You may let yourself rest in the hearts and love of this great family.

We are one family, breathing, hoping, becoming more alive together. Peace be with you. Good night.


(from Flickr)

The Inter-and-No-Faith Dinner Blessing in Zucotti Park.


We've got some photos up on our Flickr account.

More to come...

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Comrades, inquirers, brothers and sisters:

We're taking off tomorrow afternoon for Wall Street. And we're SO EXCITED!

To those of you we'll see on Wall Street:
Look for the group in the white churchy robes. Don't get freaked out. WE'RE NOT GOING TO PROSELYTIZE YOU!

Some of us struggle with our belief in God. Many of us have "quit" religion altogether for some portion of our lives. ALL of us wrestle with the beauty of our traditions and the contradictions of the realities of institutional Christianity. We don't think you're going to hell.

We've also been activists, lived through burnout, and still somehow wanted more. So we've been trying to draw on the riches of thousands of years of religious practices to connect us to something deeper, more sustaining, than the rage we feel at so many injustices. Rage is a fuel, we've discovered, that burns too hot: anger ignites, but the long haul requires something that feeds our souls. For us, something about the person and stories and wisdom of Jesus does that.

We decided to come specifically as Christians, rather than doing an interfaith thing, because we're sick of folks like Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin, and all of the Tea Party using our religion to mock the dying, torture Muslims essentially for being Muslim, give the people's money to the banks and their wealthy friends, and wage global war for profit. These things are evil, not being gay (half of us are gay), being poor, or being a person of color or a non-Christian. And we're tired of too-polite Christians hiding in their churches, unwilling to say so. Enough!

We're going to pray and sing and we invite you to join us. We've specifically brought prayers and blessings with wording we hope almost anyone will feel comfortable using. At 3 pm, as part of the General Assembly, we'll be inviting everyone to write on our posterboards and talk to us about your griefs, hopes, and fears. Protesting and occupation are difficult. Consensus is difficult. Facing the immense injustice and corruption and suffering of the world takes courage, community, solidarity - and, we think - all the spiritual resources we have. Let's share, collaborate, meditate, and hope -- together. We will go further together. We are all different, and we all need each other.

We're going to take all that we hear and learn from our brothers and sisters - pagans, atheists, Buddhists, spiritual-but-not-religious folk, fellow Christians, Muslims, Jews, etc etc etc etc - and develop a collection of songs, chants, prayers, blessings, and meditations to use in Washington DC and everywhere. We're going to experiment with strategies for group work that may help your affinity group, reading group, or collective hold together in times of stress. We're going to develop tactics ways of working with frustration, disappointment, excitement, and hope that don't just get us through an agenda, but bring us more to life. US Day of Rage has been saying that this is a "fight for the soul of our nation." We want to help.

That's it. We want to help. Tell us the shape of YOUR hope.

All peace, love, joy and light be with you - now and Saturday!
The Protest Chaplains

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Ten Reasons Why Christians Should #OCCUPYWALLSTREET

10. Because "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag, carrying the cross." - Sinclair Lewis

9. Because the symbol of Wall Street is a golden effing calf! (Worse actually: a fully grown, angry bull.) How much more obvious could the symbolism be? The creepy market worship is bad enough, but once you start totemizing invisible forces into bears and bulls, let's face it: it's a religion, Wall Street is its Holy Land, and the bankers are its high priests. Corporate Capitalism, as a religion, teaches us to envy our neighbors, exploit the less fortunate, wage war, and hoard as much as we can for ourselves.

8. Because Jesus' most furious moment was at those who used the Temple in Jerusalem for cheap religious consumerism. (Come to think of it, if he had flipped the tables of the money changers today, likely we would criticize him for harming small local business owners.) What provoked righteous outrage was this desecration of the holiest center of his religion, Judaism. Using Christianity as cover for idolizing money, worshiping wealth, and making war for profit is nothing less than blasphemy, and this spiritual desecration hurts our souls as well as our bodies.

7. Because of the Sermon on the Mount, duh. Blessed are the peacemakers! And this makes us all - ALL - children of God. How revolutionary is that?

6. Because, if you're Protestant, PROTEST is in the name. (Lutherans: Let me see your 95 Theses!)

5. Because, if you're Catholic, Dorothy Day, Daniel Berrigan, Oscar Romero, Mother Teresa and so many others all understood that corporate war-making was no way to follow Christ.

4. Because religion (if not necessarily Christianity) invented chant, and we can be way more creative than screaming "NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE" for hours until we're hoarse. Because we have beautiful, heart-opening treasures to share from our traditions in meditation, contemplation, prayer and song.

3. Because "whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven" (Matthew 16:19). Let's bind our fear and judgment, and let loose our joy and hope!

2. Because Jesus loves everyone AND that didn't keep him from calling out the Pharisees for being legalistic oppressors.

1. Because the life within us that we call God calls us to be Christ's voice, hands, and feet. We can't do that by sitting fearfully at our computers, allowing the powers of this world to destroy the earth and all its inhabitants.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Are you the last person on earth who hasn't heard about #OCCUPYWALLSTREET?

MarketWatch, of the Wall Street Journal, just published an article about OWS.

On Sept. 17, the Arab Spring becomes the new American Fall, with 20,000 revolutionaries in a tent city. Plus “solidarity” occupations in major financial centers worldwide, all ready for a long siege, vowing not to leave till they get their “one simple demand.” 

Does this make it official? "American Autumn" is ON?

We like to think so.
Now a massive show of solidarity is rapidly emerging for Occupy Wall Street rallies at major financial centers: London, Madrid, Milan, Paris, L.A., San Francisco “and with a bit of luck, this list of participating cities will expand” maybe even include the world’s most powerful bank, the Federal Reserve Bank in Washington.
But will 20,000 show up? Warning: Could be lots more.
In the coming days and weeks, we encourage you to imagine your hopes for the world. Who do you meet? How do you interact? Where do you go? What do you do? What does it feel like? Imagine, describe, and practice naming the shape of your hope.

Then come to Wall Street, and we will hope with you.

There is so much coming to life right now - can you feel it?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

What's your favorite scripture about wealth? Let's make a list!

One of our projects is to draw together all the good stuff in the Bible about wealth, serving the poor, etc.

But because proof texting is for chumps, we don't want to just make a list of passages.

Send us your favorite teaching about wealth and tell us about what it means to you. Why this passage? How do you understand it? How do you live your life differently because of it? How would the world be different if we lived with this understanding?

We'll post these, and include them as needed in The Protester's Prayerbook, which we'll be handing out in NYC. Let us know if you do/don't want us to use your name, and you can send a photo & blog link too if you want. Or leave a comment.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Anonymous video for #occupywallstreet hits 60,000 views

Ever wanted to be one of the freedom fighters in The Matrix? Well, you'll love this. Since we're Christians, we kind of have to work on forgiving, but "forgiveness" doesn't mean "sitting idly by while the rich declare war on the poor." Go Anonymous. Go Campers. See you in New York!

Friday, September 2, 2011

It's a mission. And we need you!

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

Interested? There are two ways to get involved.  


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.

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

The peace of God be with you now and always! 
-The Protest Chaplains


Check back here later for more! Thanks!