‘#OccupyChurch: The Elite You Will Always Have With You’ via @HomebrewedXnty

This is a video, courtesy of Homebrewed Christianity Unfiltered, from the American Academy of Religion, of Dr. Philip Clayton (dean of Claremont School of Theology) presenting a paper on “An Upside-Down Politics and an Inside-Out Church: Moving Occupy From Tent to Pew.

Here are some wonderfully quotable and provocative extracts:

Isn’t it a strange thing that a religion spawned by a homeless Jew in the first century could have been used to justify privileges – economic and power-wise – for the 1%? Like, what were we thinking? …

Paul warns the church “not to lord it over the Gentiles,” seeing and expecting the same dynamic in the church as we see in the world. Now if forming dominant groups and exercising power over others, in humans, is as deep in human nature as I’ve argued, is it surprising that it’s going to rear its ugly head in the church as well? Are you surprised? Why do Christians have such a hard time acknowledging this point? Why do want to privatise sin? … We think we can only achieve spiritual growth in community if we deny all these secular dynamics… If we look away from the secular, then we can find God. But you see, by denying dominance, we actually allow even more virulent expressions of it… Because we live in denial then we’re surprised when a church divides, a Pastor is ousted, a Bishop builds an empire. Here’s the problem: denying, putting our head in the sand, makes us complicit… Especially in the actual social and political roles the churches play. You see, American churches are the primary supporters of American empire! Which means the primary supporters of the global dominance of the 1%, guys, it’s us! …

When you read that passage in Philippians 2 own verses 5-8 and please leave 9-11 to those who are really suffering. It’s written for them. It was written for “the one who became obedient to death, even death on a cross.” Why are we, in middle class churches, owning 9-11 and hitting Jewish and Muslim friends over the head with it?