It’s the 3 year anniversary of Occupy Wall Street. Micah Bales talks with QuakerSpeak about the spiritual element of the movement.
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- 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.
5 thoughts on “The Ministry of Occupy Wall Street”
I appreciate Michael Bales imagery of the apocalypse and the golden calf as ways of relating to our culture of greed and endless consumption. I agree that it is first of all the inward war we must fight in order to take on the other powers and principalities that surround us.
This is idol worship and results in the materialization of the whole. When the intellect is the center of consciousness, and all the jewels of the mind are poured into it, many golden calves, or material mental structures, are built up and worshiped. Around these the people eat and drink and play, often proclaiming, “These are thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.” There is a very widespread idea that it is through the power of money that man is developed from ignorance to wisdom. On every hand we hear people talking of the great good they could do to the race if they only had money to carry out their plans . This is worshipping the golden calf-making material things greater than spiritual. This idea must be ground to powder, as Moses ground the golden calf, before the true method will be put into action. God is your sufficiency, and if you are willing to obey His law the way will open to you and all your plans will be worked out in just the right way; money will come to you as servant instead of master. People who are striving to get money and then go into the Lord’s work are worshipping the golden calf. They are doubting God’s providing capacity, and their ideas along that line will be ground to powder. The great work of the Lord has always been done by those who were willing in the beginning to serve , as did Jesus, Paul, and the long line of reformers, whose only capital was the Spirit of God. gold, gold represents spiritual gifts; the riches of Spirit. The gold that the Wise Men brought to the Christ child was a consciousness of the omnipresent richness of substance. To follow Jesus in the demonstration of prosperity, we must charge our mind with wise and rich ideas.
Thank you to Micah and FJ for this inspiring message.
The first Friends were indeed greatly influenced by Daniel ansd Revelation. And Babylon was also chaos besides the corruption of empire.
How great it us that Micah and friends continue their ministry in the present. Bless you!
Michael calls us to the message and life of John Woolman whose spiritual journey with God and fellow Quakers led him to deeply and sincerely understand and value human life unfettered by chains and selfish wealth. David Fletcher
Yes to many differnts habits we can spread the gospel and winning the sinners to heavenly life in Christ and we will be blessing more that last time to up awaking first from sleaping in long darkness time whole the world in to living very ungodliness life to way into fire of hell and let us be steadfat in deed to win people into Christ ,thanks and bless and pray,keijosweden
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