Would a CofC Bishop Get Arrested for Occupy Wall Street?

I was at Duarte Square, Lower Manhattan, this afternoon as retired Episcopal Bishop George Packard, and several other clergy were arrested supporting Occupy Wall Street’s attempt to start a new occupation on land owned by Trinity Church Wall Street. For a video of him talking with protestors in the back of an NYPD paddywagon, click here.

“I am still baffled that the Episcopal Church of which I have been a member all my life could not–through Trinity–find some way to embrace these thousands of young people in our very diminishing ranks,” said Bishop Packard, the former bishop for the armed services, on his blog, Occupied Bishop.

Packard is not the only high-ranking Episcopal leader who has supported the movement. In an open letter to Occupy Wall Street, anti-apartheid hero Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town and former Deacon at Trinity Church, said:

“Injustice, unfairness, and the strangle hold of greed which has beset humanity in our times must be answered with a resounding, ‘No!’ You are that answer. I write this to you not many miles away from the houses of the poor in my country. It pains me despite all the progress we have made. You see, the heartbeat of what you are asking for–that those who have too much must wake up to the cries of their brothers and sisters who have so little–beats in me and all South Africans who believe in justice.”

To watch a video of interfaith leaders addressing the Occupiers at Duarte Square today, click here.

Do you think Community of Christ clergy should join the Occupy Movement? How should the church more generally interact with the Occupy Movement?

[Updated 19 December 2011]

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How Should the Church Interact with the Occupy Movement?

…it is incumbent upon the Saints … to be in the world but not of it, … using the things of this world in the manner designed of God, that the places where they occupy may shine as Zion, the redeemed of the Lord. Condensed from Community of Christ Doctrine and Covenants 128:8b, 8c.

And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves. And He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’; but you are making it a robbers den.” Matthew 21:12-16.

“It’s time to invite the Occupy Movement to church!” says Jim Wallis of Sojourners, who this week called for the creation of a “church sanctuary for the Occupy Movement.

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What is the future of the Community of Christ in a North American post-RLDS perspective?

I just published a long-ish blog post that responds to the question, “What is the future of the Community of Christ in a North American post-RLDS perspective?” The post focuses on questions of Community of Christ identity in light of its North American heritage.

I share the link here to invite reactions and comments to my observations about the nature and limits of RLDS identity and how I believe Community of Christ logically fulfills essential non-sectarian strands of RLDS heritage in Restrationism and early American Christianity.   I welcome responses from Mormonites, ex-Mormons, Community of Christ members, Restorationists, historians, theologians, and others.

CLICK HERE to go directly to the post, or follow the links above to my blog.

Blessings,  Matt Frizzell

Appalling…

The Quran

On September 11, 2010, the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida is hosting International Burn a Quran Day.

From 6-9pm “Christians” can burn the Quran at the local church.  The city of Gainesville has refused a burn permit for safety reasons, however the church has vowed, “BUT WE WILL STILL BURN KORANS.”

Dove World Outreach Center’s pastor Terry Jones is quoted by CNN as saying, “We believe that Islam is of the devil, that it’s causing billions of people to go to hell, it is a deceptive religion, it is a violent religion and that is proven many, many times.”

Dove World Outreach Center's Pastor Terry Jones

Some other local religious leaders have organized a Gathering for Peace, Understanding and Hope to occur near the same time to counter this book burning.  At least there is some attempt being made to counter the Quran burning.  This story is attracting some media attention, and likely moreso as the planned date approaches–assuming the Outreach Center sticks with the plan.

To me, this is appalling.  The very concept of this idea is contrary to everything I see the Community of Christ standing for, or atleast what it should stand for.  I see this as an attack to an entire religion of people, and just one day after the conclusion of the holy month of Ramadan at that.  And worse yet, this is being done in the name of Jesus.  Shameful.

I’ve been blessed in my life to get to know many people intimately of very diverse religious backgrounds.  I have worshipped in Islamic mosques openly before, with no hesitation or concern.  I have celebrated Ramadan with Islamic friends three seperate years and endured the month-long fast, multiple times.  I know personally of three other Community of Christ members who engaged in Ramadan at least once as well.  It is a complete test of mind, body, and will.

I cannot believe that if Jesus Christ was with us at this moment that he would join in or approve of the burning.  Same as I do not believe, as others argue, he would join them holding up GOD HATES FAGS signs.  This is not the Christ that I’ve come to know.  And this is not the Jesus that the Community of Christ knows.  I pray this is not the Jesus known by most of Christianity.

We proclaim Jesus Christ and promote communities of joy, hope, love, and peace.

We have a special calling, and the world needs to hear the “liberating truths of the gospel.”  Jesus is hope, not hate.

Holy Tentles of the Restoration

Community of Christ produces a special edition of the Hymns of the Saints hymnal, to commemorate the dedication of the temple.  It’s bound in blue, rather than red, and has a large picture of the Temple in Independence within the first few pages.

I’m telling you this to relate a story involving my three-year-old daughter, Ella.  Never willing to go to the nursery, but preferring to make mayhem during the service, Miss Ella was flipping through the hymnal last Sunday during the sermon.  Seeing the picture of the temple, she turned to me and said, “Daddy, that’s the tentle.  I want to go back.”

I’ve taken Ella and her older brother Lincoln to many temples: Kirtland, Nauvoo, Salt Lake, and Independence.  And I’ve tried to teach them, at their level, that these are places where the Saints have sought to encounter God and a message of purpose of peace.  Someday, I hope that they, too, will be able to rejoice in the temples throughout the Restoration as efforts by the Saints to capture a glimpse of what existence is and should be about.  I hope that they will especially find the temples of Community of Christ meaningful to their lives and cosmosviews.

In any event, last Sunday I wasn’t sure what the speaker was saying at the moment that Ella pointed to the picture of the Temple, but I was struck that my daughter was paying attention to my efforts to share with her something that has come to mean a great deal to me; but more importantly, struck that perhaps she had caught the power of that holy place, and that it had become something important in her life, too.  It is this type of identity development which will be crucial in our effectiveness, as Community of Christ members, to pass on to the rising generation the message of peace and Zion that the Temple symbolizes.  God’s efforts will not be frustrated, but ours likely will be if this sort of passing of the torch doesn’t take place.

The Globalization of Zion

‘Zion’ has been a central theological concept and practical imperative of the Community of Christ, since its very beginnings.  Particularly in the first half of the 20th century, Zion (not to be confused with Zionism) represented a vision of ‘the kingdom of heaven on earth’ – not to be realized in some far off future, but to be built in the here and now. But the political and economic forces of globalization have significantly impacted the way the Community of Christ now thinks of Zion. Continue reading