It’s the 3 year anniversary of Occupy Wall Street. Micah Bales talks with QuakerSpeak about the spiritual element of the movement.
- Subscribe to QuakerSpeak so you never miss a video
- Read “A Clerk’s Lesson from Occupy”
- Explore the Quaker way to see if it could be right for you
- Worship with Friends! Find Quakers near you on QuakerFinder and Friends Journal’s meeting listings
- Read Friends Journal to see how other Friends describe the substance of Quaker spirituality
- Quaker Voluntary Service has opportunities for young women and men interested in social and personal transformation through service work and living in Quaker community.
- At the beginning of the video, Micah says that, “The Occupy movement exposed Wall Street and by extension our entire economic system as one of exploitation, as one that God does not approve of and that God is calling us to change.” Do you agree?
- Micah takes a different spin on the popular concept of “apocalypse”. How does the use of “apocalypse” as “an unveiling” speak to you? Do you agree with Micah’s comparison of our economic system to the Wizard of Oz?
- After becoming familiar with the biblical stories of the fall of Babylon and the Hebrews’ worship of the golden calf, what do you make of Micah’s comparison of these Biblical stories to modern times? Could there be a correlation?
The Occupy movement exposed Wall Street and by extension our entire economic system as one of exploitation, as one that God does not approve of and that God is calling us to change.
The Ministry of Occupy Wall Street
My name is Micah Bales. I live in Washington, DC. I’m a part of Friends of Jesus Fellowship and I was one of the organizers of Occupy DC.
An Apocalyptic Movement
An authentically prophetic spirituality is going to be one that’s apocalyptic. The word apocalyptic, when I say that many people are going to think, “He’s talking about a nuclear war or climate change making the planet uninhabitable or a dramatic cataclysm.” That’s the popular use of the word, but historically and in scripture “apocalypse” comes from the Greek “apocalupsis”, which means unveiling; taking the veil back and seeing what’s actually hidden behind the curtain. It’s like when Dorothy goes to the Emerald City in the Wizard of Oz and she looks behind the curtain and sees that its just this guy talking into a machine. It’s not actually this powerful, God-like figure.
The Early Quaker movement was an apocalyptic movement, a movement that deeply referenced the book of Revelation and other apocalyptic writings and interpreted them in a deeply spiritual sense. When we read about wars and conflicts and tribulations in the book of Revelation and other places in scripture, its not simply talking about the kind of wars that we humans are used to, it’s talking about an inward and spiritual warfare that’s happening between all the ways in which we enslave ourselves and those forces of spiritual darkness, and the power of God to redeem and heal.
In the Occupy movement I saw an apocalyptic unveiling of – symbolically – New York city, but really of the entire economic system that we live in in this world, and especially in the first world, in the developed world.
This economic system that makes many people very very rich, but at the cost of the lives of so many, that builds up luxury but deprives people of basic necessities.
The Golden Calf
When the Hebrews were in the desert after they had left Egypt but before they had gotten to the promised land, while Moses was away, the Hebrews got together and took all of their gold jewelry and made it into an image of a golden calf, and they bowed down to the golden calf and they worshiped it.
What was going on here was the Hebrews had just left everything they knew and they were scared and they didn’t know whether they were going to be able to make it out on their own, and so they worshiped a God of wealth and prosperity.
One of the coolest actions that we took part in as a part of Occupy DC and Occupy Church was to take a golden calf – a paper mache golden calf – and we marched it up capitol hill to the capitol building where congress meets and we delivered it to them.
The Fall of Babylon
In the book of revelation, the city of Babylon is a code word for the city of Rome, which was the capital of the greatest empire the world had ever known, and the empire in which everyone was living. In the Book of Revelation, it talks about the city of Babylon (that is the city of Rome) being on fire and the smoke rising up to heaven.
There’s an image of all of the merchants of the Earth weeping over Babylon and weeping over the profits that would be lost and all the beautiful merchandise that was burning up and all the trade that would no longer happen. Included in that trade – there’s actually a list of all sorts of things that they were trading, and the list ends with, “…and human lives.”
Somehow – and I don’t think this was planned from the beginning – the Occupy movement unlocked a real need that we had, not to list demands, not to say what needs to come next, but instead to say, “Look at this burning city of Babylon. Look at the smoke rising up to Heaven. Look at the utter destruction of this city.” And we’re living in it.