Last week, I was in Berkeley, California, for the Occupy Faith National Gathering, coordinated by the Interfaith Tent at Occupy Oakland. I was one of six from Occupy Faith NYC/Occupy Wall Street, and our delegation was a small part of over 60 conference participants from some fourteen Occupations around the United States. Christian-identified participants were the overwhelming majority, and there were also Jewish, Muslim, Native American, Buddhist, and Wiccan-identified participants, and more, including multiply-identified persons. We also convened an interfaith service at Occupy Oakland. The whole conference was generously facilitated by theologian and activist Dr. Rita Nakashima Brock.
Over the course of a couple of days, we traded stories of experiencing and supporting our local Occupy sites, and caucused with the aim of planning some coordinated national Occupy Faith activities for the rest of the year. I will write more about those as they come into public view in the coming months.
Here is an excerpt from a panel discussion among Occupy Faith leaders (this happened to be mostly men, with Dr. Rita Nakashima Brock as facilitator, but the religious activist leadership in Occupy is broader than that). This panel was part of the conference and open to the public on Tuesday 20 March:
The Occupy movement has often fallen off the front pages over the winter months, due to the many evictions from Occupy sites, but due also to Occupy's quieter work of advocacy and solidarity with workers, with people stuck in the underclass, with families displaced by foreclosures, with students, and much more -- work that is not the flashy stuff of major media news coverage.
But a big spring of events is coming, indeed is already underway. For regular updates on the works of Occupy, see the InterOccupy site. The Occupy Wall Street page is here, Facebook here. The Occupy Faith NYC page is here. Of particular interest to many America readers, Occupy Catholics are here.
In this Occupy work, theologically, I am most interested in what actually happens to people's faith/religion/spirituality when we meet and work with other people of different faiths/religions/spiritualities, in their integrity, working for the common good -- and what the implications might be for the way that theology understands the stability and plasticity of faith/religious/spiritual identities... in the interest of learning how to live responsibly, sanely, justly.