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Gibson writes: "When the rich man asked Jesus how he could find salvation, Jesus told him to give away all of his possessions and follow him. Our solutions aren't as radical ..."

How do you deal with a rapidly escalating chat with a politically different relative? 12/26/11 (photo: CivMilCoe/flickr)
How do you deal with a rapidly escalating chat with a politically different relative? 12/26/11 (photo: CivMilCoe/flickr)



Occupy the Dinner Table

By Carl Gibson, Reader Supported News

26 December 11


Reader Supported News | Perspective

 

Occupy Wall Street: Take the Bull by the Horns

 

ike every liberal activist and preacher's son, I have arch-conservative family members who don't agree with my philosophies whom I see every year on the holidays. This year, Occupiers have nothing to worry about - when that uncomfortable conversation starts at the dinner table, we can appeal to their religious upbringing and be fully justified.

Jesus was the first Occupier. Think about it.

He was an unshaven, sandal-clad vagrant who claimed no permanent address, fed thousands in public spaces, spoke against economic inequality and materialism, and was firmly committed to peace and nonviolence. The only documented act of violence Jesus committed was overturning the tables of the money-changers in the temple, accusing them of turning a house of prayer into "a den of thieves," even chasing them out with a whip. And he's still venerated as the holiest, most perfect human being to ever walk the earth.

James W. McCarty III's excellent piece in The Christian Century points out the fact that Jesus Christ was killed by the state for threatening the socio-economic structure of the Roman Empire. Jesus built a nonviolent movement that inspired the empire's subjects to question the very nature of the system's structure, exposing the hypocrisy of the religious ruling class. He preached not of violent rebellion, but of structural changes that would make society more equal. He even reminded followers who asked him about denying the payment of taxes to "Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar."

Our movement, while filled with religious and non-religious activists alike, nonetheless espouses the same fundamental philosophies of Jesus in the Gospels.

At a time when 42% of all financial wealth is controlled by the top 1%, when 400 Americans control more wealth than 155,000,000 other Americans, when billionaire financiers who wrecked the economic well-being of millions for pure profit get off scot-free and have the audacity to sit in country clubs and call the people protesting them "imbeciles," a nonviolent movement has risen to decry those acts of greed as unjust and immoral. While none of us are perfect, sinless human beings like Jesus, we still have the same message. We aren't calling for violent insurrection, but fundamental structural changes to the way society has been built.

When the rich man asked Jesus how he could find salvation, Jesus told him to give away all of his possessions and follow him. Our solutions aren't as radical - Occupiers have no problem with people attaining wealth, as long as that wealth wasn't attained by denying a fair wage to their employees, or blowing millions on high-risk financial shell games that rook honest people out of their pensions.

Instead, we're proposing common-sense reforms, like removing corporate money from elections and instituting public campaign financing. We're demanding the return of a tax burden tilted toward the super-rich, instead of the poor and middle class. We want an end to a system that rewards and encourages reckless greed, unsustainable growth and endless profits for a few, done on the backs of the many.

The mainstream media, owned by the same corporations that have made their billions in financial finagling of the tax code, loves to ridicule and marginalize our movement. Fox News commentators call us unwashed radicals and vagrants, drifters with a hatred and envy of the wealthy. If Jesus were alive today, the talking heads on Fox News would undoubtedly play video footage of his attack on the money changers while accusing him of being a violent, radical religious cleric who hates capitalism. Just as today's right-wing political commentators cheer the violent police crackdowns of nonviolent protesters at Occupy encampments, they would also likely cheer the crucifixion of Jesus, a rebellious socialist who dared to question the inequalities and injustices of Roman society.

So don't fret this year, Occupiers. Truth, facts, and even scripture, are all on our side.


Carl Gibson, 24, of Lexington, Kentucky, is a spokesman and organizer for US Uncut, a nonviolent, creative direct-action movement to stop budget cuts by getting corporations to pay their fair share of taxes. He graduated from Morehead State University in 2009 with a B.A. in Journalism before starting the first US Uncut group in Jackson, Mississippi, in February of 2011. Since then, over 20,000 US Uncut activists have carried out more than 300 actions in over 100 cities nationwide. You may contact Carl at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.

 

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+25 # MidwestTom 2011-12-26 14:45
For real impact we should Occupy Goldman Sacks. With their former employees now running Italy, plus the U.S. are they trying to rule the world?
 
 
+46 # Doubter 2011-12-26 15:02
Though 'non-religious' I find myself in total agreement with this article.
 
 
+48 # angelfish 2011-12-26 15:08
The problem these days is, Caesar wants, not only what is HIS, but what is Yours, Mine and Ours, as well! Our Politicians. like the Romans of old, seem all too ready to accommodate him in the process! If Jesus walked among us today, He would be Pepper-Sprayed along with everybody else! Isn't it funny how the Beat goes on? The more things change, the MORE they stay the same. So sad.
 
 
+55 # teineitalia 2011-12-26 15:31
Carl Gibson continues to give me hope that there are young people in America who see things clearly. As we say in Samoa, "malo lava" Carl... well done!

I have also come to the conclusion that the Christ of the Gospels would be as unwelcome by today's power elite as he was in ancient Nazareth, Samaria, Galilee and Rome. Jesus understood - and demonstrated by his life -the extreme importance of caring for one another and being kind to our fellow residents on this planet. He understood well the dangers of materialism, amassing wealth for its own sake, and selfish narcissism, which create an unjust and untenable society.
The Occupiers and all those who support them do have truth and scripture on our side. Thank you, Carl for reminding us.
 
 
+7 # BeaDeeBunker 2011-12-26 15:46
So that's what Jesus was all about. Sounds like he was a nice Jewish man who made his mother proud; even more so if would only come by more often for a good home cooked meal, and maybe, just maybe bring a nice Jewish girl with for once.
 
 
+4 # BLBreck 2011-12-29 15:40
He DID bring a nice Jewish girl, her name was Mary Magdalene. Mary M was NOT a prostitute, Pope Gregory "made" her one, by deleting the story of the real Mary M. and just giving that role to her in around 1000 AD. He probably figured women were so unimportant (and it was dangerous to allow women had any power or rights) that telling the truth about them was also unimportant and who needs the stories about women in the extremely paternalistic Bible. In truth Mary OF Magdalene was from the upper classes, from a politically powerful family in that region and sure seems to have been a very important companion for Christ (she also wrote a Gospel that was expunged by the Catholic Council)...mayb e even the rabbi's (Jesus') wife? If we could read the REAL Bible we would be very surprised!
 
 
+8 # Vardoz 2011-12-26 16:21
As far as I can see its too late to occupy. Fukashima spells gane over for us and our ability to live on our planet.

http://www.rense.com/general95/death.htm

The Death Of The Pacific Ocean Fukushima

Debris Soon To Hit American Shores By Yoichi Shimatsu Exclusive To Rense.comHong Kong-Based Environmental Consultant Former General Editor Japan Times Weekly In Tokyo12-16-11 An unstoppable tide of radioactive trash and chemical waste from Fukushima is pushing ever closer to North America. An estimated 20 million tons of smashed timber, capsized boats and industrial wreckage is more than halfway across the ocean, based on sightings off Midway by a Russian ship's crew. Safe disposal of the solid waste will be monumental task, but the greater threat lies in the invisible chemical stew mixed with sea water.
 
 
0 # noitall 2011-12-28 20:29
Surprise! Its already been reported on the coast of NW Washington. Do you think there's a plan to deal with it? Maybe GE should foot the bill.
 
 
+11 # ruralhorseman 2011-12-26 16:31
Although Mr. Gibson did an admirable job in this article, it should be pointed out that being unshaven was part of Jewish-Hebrew culture and religion. Being unwashed was a norm, as water was for drinking, the occasional cloth bath, religious ceremonial adherence and to keep your food animals alive. All of the working class stank. Everyone wore sandals, even the rich. New studies of the Gnostic Scriptures, show Jesus MAY have been a bit more violent than just turning over tables, MAY have been more than just a friend to Mary Magdalene and MAY have been more of a philosopher than a prophet caught up in a movement which moved, to his detriment, a little too fast. Lots of questions about the REAL Jesus still persist, just as lots of questions still exist about the OWS movement. While I think it is in our best interests in this current society to nurture this movement, the best way to avoid a Roman/Plutocrat ic society is to not allow one to get started in the first place. Our religious, social and political leaders dropped the ball on that chance. Now it's up to the masses to affect change. Just remember its below zero in Moscow and they are still pulling 50,000 people a day to protest Putin. What does that say about our participation in any OWC city protest? Do we have to have tent Bushvilles? Or can we pack up, clean up and come back the next day?
 
 
+8 # ganymede 2011-12-27 11:44
I love the brilliant, perceptive articles that I often read on this website, but I am getting tired of just the words, but very little action. One comment here that really caught my attention was by "Ruralhorseman" about the tens of thousands of Russians who are out on the streets in freezing weather. I think this is the next step for us and I encourage everyone, especially the OWS people to help organize these mass daily demonstrations. I'm in New York City and am going to start helping to make this happen.
 
 
+20 # wwway 2011-12-26 16:32
The simple message and example of Jesus Christ isn't enough to organize and sustain a religion around.
I was raised American Baptist. We were taught to care as Jesus cared. When I was a young adult living in the world of evangelism I saw how the ideals of capitalism were morphing into the church. In today's church it is believed that if you aren't among the wealthy then you must have sined. If you are sick you must have sined. If you are poor you must have sined. This judgement is passed as an excuse to deny love and carying. And if you want to know how the church feels about women read The Total Woman by Marabel Morgan. It's covert domestic violence against women and written by a woman...suposed ly. Then consider Gingrich's divorce story being told in the news today. Ask yourself, is this the teaching of Jesus?
 
 
+21 # Steemdoff Moore 2011-12-26 17:29
As a fellow left wing liberal and preacher's kid I am greatly gratified to hear Carl Gibson's comments. I have saying this since Bush stole the Presidency that today's so-called "Christians" on the far right are the Pharasees of today and their "holier than thou" attitude while oppressing the poor and the middle-class is an abomination to the Christian values that they supposedly adhere to. They have sold their souls to the devils that promise abortion reform, no gay-marriage and religion (theirs of course) shoved down everyone's throat. They have forgotten the true message of Jesus. Thank you Carl, for reiterating that message.
 
 
+1 # BLBreck 2011-12-29 15:43
And don't forget the sale of their souls to be rich and powerful!
 
 
+15 # Spartacus 2011-12-26 19:38
This was a very fine article. I just want to point out the existance within the Occupy Movement of those who do indeed question the way wealth is accumulated by capitalism. Just as slavery and feudalism exploited the labor of slaves and serfs, capitalism exploits the labor of workers. The notion of "fair wages" hides this reality and is only at best a measure of how exploited a worker is, not whether a worker is exploited. We can do better than capitalism. How? Occupy the capitalist enterprise and transform the dictatorship of management that appropriates and distributes the wealth created by labor, the 99%, thereby creating the vast concentration of wealth by the 1%). This new creation would be a democratic cooperative enterprise where the workers who create the wealth in democratic consultation with their communities NOW ALSO decide how the wealth they created is appropriated and distributed to themselves and their community. In this way we would come very close to creating the kind of community Jesus called for in the Acts of the Apostles where the important things were shared in common by deliberation of the community.
 
 
+18 # OldSalt 2011-12-26 20:02
The Faux Christian Right doesn't believe the words written in red apply to them cause they believe they are "The Exceptional Americans on the Hill" who are rich because God favors them with riches.
 
 
+5 # EPeterson 2011-12-27 12:27
I am pledged to get at least 100 people to read this article. It is the most necessary thing to read today. Tomorrow, I will ask the same people to read Jim Hightower's article with the reference to the incoming toxic debris from the atomic disaster in Japan. It is now landing on our Pacific shore. Part of our occupying MUST now include immediate attention to saving the ocean from this toxicity. It is the basis of our food chain and our ultimate survival on the planet. Occupiers Unite! Thank you, Carl Gibson,
for a terrific article.
 
 
0 # KittatinyHawk 2011-12-27 18:47
I am amazed that Greepeace and others are not warning us. Guess everyone is being paid off.
Nicely written but not a new story, we already knew this.
 
 
+2 # KittatinyHawk 2011-12-27 18:46
Wow you all are now finding out what us hippies and generations of others knew, that Jesus was a Radical.
Same people who killed him then are killing the Earth, People, Wildlife now...just more of them.
Sad thing is there is more of us and we are sooooo LAZY except for texting these sites. Should put our time into organizing and getting the Earth back in order.
 
 
+1 # noitall 2011-12-28 20:52
We're waiting for the opposition to TOTALLY get their ducks in a row. They're working on it; Getting close: tanks rattling down the street, check; peppery gas supply, check; seams let out on Seal and Airborn outfits for our city's 'best', check; 'disappear' capability, check; plenty of private jail cell space, check; swift-and-sure answers to "what did I do?", check; corporate owned Supreme Court and "law makers", check. Come on you dirty hippy patriots, we're ready for you...Oh, its raining. Once we break the ice and the 100th monkey washes his cocoanut, the people will show up in hoards and the more they ply their crowd control devices and tactics, the more the People will show. It will just take time. The time is now to get your feet wet. Be the 100th monkey.
 
 
+2 # BLBreck 2011-12-29 15:51
Thank you for this article. I, too, believe that is Jesus was here now, not only would he be in the OWS movement, he would be one of the first to be "disappeared" by the far right "self declared Christians" in this country.

I truly hope fewer and fewer people in this country are being fooled by these pseudo-Christia ns, who only worship money and act against the less fortunate and those who do not worship money and make it their only goal in life, no matter who they hurt.
 
 
+1 # Robyn 2012-01-01 22:15
Even though I am an atheist I do agree with everything that has been written here.
 
 
0 # tswhiskers 2012-01-03 11:25
Thank you for this article. I have just been reading Garry Wills' book What Jesus meant and found it to be amazing. He emphasizes just how radical Jesus was in his teachings. These are things I had forgotten or had not seriously thought about. Jesus would definitely have been an Occupier in his sympathies. Early in its history the Church deliberately deemphasized Jesus' insistence absolute trust in God and poverty except for monks and nuns. Now there's a sign: JESUS WAS AN OCCUPIER
 

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