Occupying Advent and Political S(p)in

If our churches are looking for renewal, reformation or some sort of infusion to restore credibility and new life into dry bones, then we do not need to glance far! It is literally on our front step! I am referring to the Occupy movement which is presenting a public and prophetic face that ecclesial institutions should welcome and support, instead of genuflecting before the dead deposits of traditions turned into traditionalism, money lenders, an failing economic system and lies.

One cannot help but ask “who are really running things these days”! Governments may give the impression that they do. Perhaps! For ever since the IMF open “piracy” season in the Caribbean (1970’s onwards), I am of the view that governments are largely impotent, to use an appropriate descriptor for the largely male dominated leadership. Economic/financial power houses are the ones who call the “shots”, even if they have lost all integrity! The continue to spin their economic roulette, while politicians do the “s(p)in” to give us the impression that things are under control.

The Devil’s Dictionary (Ambrose Bierce) describes politics as “a strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles” and “the conduct of public affairs for private advantage”. He goes one to compare politicians to “eels”. A slippery idea indeed, but one that causes me to raise both eyebrows to our PM’s constant plea about putting his country first! Some politicians love their country so much that they will take the whole nation “to the cleaners”! That famous note in the Treasury memo (“there is no money left”) underscores this point.

We are all aware that before elections, we are often duped into all kinds of promises by political leaders, who once in power play a different ball game. Indeed, political speeches are best read backwards! No wonder, some have compared politics and politicians to the art of theatre – great acting and appropriately chosen masks. And so, in our upside down world we applaud forked tongues and split personalities! In the midst of all the nice language and official palaver about we are in this present economic mess together, the reality is that this translates as: “screw those who always get screwed”! A person like John the Baptist who pulls no punches, smell musky from a distance and has a strange organic diet would stand no chance in such a world. No wonder he eventually lost his head! Truth should remain covered up!

Truth is a rare habit and to practice it today is an uphill task. And churches are not exempted from the double speak and lies. Our injustices and wrongs are turned into mistakes and perpetuators appear before “hearings” and committees of all sorts, apologise and then continue to perpetuate more injustices with impunity. Taking responsibility is such a lost habit that when someone rises to the occasion and accepts it, we are surprised.

So here we are again in the midst of advent, rehearsing our waiting. Perhaps, it is time to actively occupy waiting with insights from the Occupy Movement, opening up fresh opportunities to help us rediscover honesty and integrity. These virtues may hopefully propel us to enable the change of direction we so desperately need. May we continue to actively occupy and act for the many for whom there will be no room in the inn!

©December 10, 2011

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