How long have we been comfortable in the 1st world church? Nourishing ourselves on the warm broth of prayer and fellowship, resting and gathering strength, singing worship songs that seek an inward peace from God, a strengthened personal faith.
How much time do we spend on theologies seeking to eradicate lust, or to be more grateful for what we have? How long have we spent on our morning devotions, alone?
As another time understood, “Idle hands are the devils playthings.”
It’s not so much that the 1st world church isn’t busy with the tasks before it, but rather, what is before it is its own personal care. The church has become chaplain to itself rather than chaplain to the world. And I mean, world, in the Christian sense. It’s nourishing itself rather than nourishing those who are outside its fold. It has ignored a missional call, exchanging it for self care.
We are taking care of those in the 1st world church who are unhappy in spite of wealth, stuck at jobs where they feel like a cog, suffering from diseases that are the result of a fast-paced lifestyle filled with unhealthy foods, stress, and environmental toxins, with minds crippled by the parade of consumer goods and unrealistic lives we watch on television to calm ourselves after a day that leaves us strangely unsatisfied.
And are we nourished? Are we yet strong enough to act in nonviolence as the hands and feet of Christ in this world? Or are our muscles atrophied from disuse?
Yes, we are the 99%. We have mortgages, families, and spend 50 billion on household pets, while millions starve. Some of use are the 53%. Some are even the 1%.
But there is something that is looming on the horizon, some rough beast slouches towards our bed, where we sleep fitfully, waiting for our alarm’s call to beckon us to another day of work.
On the horizon is the spectre of world-devouring capitalism. Not compassionate capitalism, mind you. This is a beast that sweeps aside safety regulations, human rights, and decency. It poisons whole communities and oceans. It speculates, greedily inflating economies with empty promise, only to play dead and steal 400 billion dollars from not just the US treasury, but the world.
It is the walking dead, the machine that nobody is responsible for, the zombie profit-machine that nobody set in motion but we all tend, it feeds on the blood of the earth, oil, and crushes the poor with its stride. Nobody, supposedly, is guiding it, but if it is not fed, it, being “too big to fail” will collapse and crush all the people and houses that it walks among.
Church, this is what is coming towards you. You were giving the charge by Jesus to be salt and light of the earth. You are the guardians of love, self-sacrifice, frugality, humility. You are the watchmen, the lamp. Where are you now? Where are you as this rough beast slouches towards Bethlehem, towards your families, currencies, and mortgages?
Awaken, slumberer! You have grown fat, yes, and anxious. But throw off your blankets and heed this midnight call!
Or all that you have lived for will be destroyed. View my vision. Tell me it cannot be.
Population growth will continue. If we make cheap, easy choices influenced by corporate lobbies like oil, we will expand mining of the Tar Sands and other less-available resources rather than switching to renewable resources.
The air will choke with the burning of natural resources, causing global warming. Desertification will grip the drylands. The seas will rise. Factory labor will continue, producing environmental toxins which we don’t know how to remove. The air will heat, changing the climate. The fragile, beautiful animals, plants, and people will die. The barren earth will be littered with beautiful, twitching butterflies.
Populations will crush into already packed urban centers. Over the next 50 years, mercury and other toxins, the result of coal burned power and other industry, collects in the fish and water, causing madness among the poor. The walls around the gated communities will grow, militarize. Gas masks will appear in ordinary life as the air is poisoned. The drums of war will sound as the weapons lobby seizes its moment, when whole countries become deserts, uninhabitable, like the Spanish farms.
Earthquakes and tsunamis will increase in frequency, starvation, wars and rumors of war, signs of the biblical apocalypse, not brought on by God, but by our own greed, crucifying the earth itself as we crucified Christ.
This is but one vision, there are many others. Possible worlds, they exist if we do not take action. They exist if we do not tear ourselves away from the forces that demand a quick profit without looking at the future, forces that are deeply embedded in our political processes, suborning our democratic processes with quick and easy money and facile tongues.
Nobody was at the helm, you will say. Certainly it was not I who piloted the earth’s death machine, you will say. I had bills to pay and a mortgage. I had to drive to work because there was no suitable public transportation. And you will be right. You did not do it.
But you know what? Your grandchildren will not care. Asthmatic, they will simply focus, as you and I did, on surviving the harsh climate of avaricious capitalism.
This is the clarion. Awake! Stand up to the companies that seek profit above human rights and the environment. Demand the the government extricate itself from the big money influences of oil, weapons manufacturers, and the private prison lobby. Organize.
Occupy wall street and occupy church. Are the protesters too dirty, young, or radical? They are the only people who can afford to spend 24/7 at a permanent encampment. Thank them for doing that for you. And maybe come down once a week with your nice sleeping bag and tent. Be respectable, and be among them. Wear your suit and be proud of what you have worked to be, if you are proud of it. If you don’t like them, organize yourselves. But occupy, sleeper. Join the clarion call! Raise your voice.
Repent! Repent. And in repentance, walk towards your own salvation, the salvation of the church, and the salvation of this country, and the earth.
Who am I? I am a sleeper, wakening.
Jeremy has been an activist ever since he accidentally ate the red pill instead of the more harmless blue one. He converted to Christianity while serving a six-month prison term for civil disobedience to close the School of the Americas. He blogs and tweets about faith. He serves as a volunteer chaplain to OccupyDC with the OccupyChurch movement.