Occupy Wall Street, should I be there? 

Raffaele Battista

The Occupy Wall Street movement has led to the re-emergence of the old – age question of the involvement of Adventist Christians in politics.
Politics, as a category of thought and action, has played for my generation (European Youth of the Seventies) a role that goes beyond the pure sense that this expression may have nowadays.
In those years, politics was the category of thought that influenced every element of existence, assuming the character of a global revolutionary agenda.
On the extreme left wing, the activists called themselves The Revolutionaries, on the right wing, Patriots and Political Soldiers!
Therefore, it is no surprise if the reaction of many pastors and Adventist thinkers at the time, was that of a sharp border fence, settled between the desire for political involvement and Christian apostolate, which apparently denied this possibility.
We understand now that the anxiety and worry felt by church leaders were partially justified by the fact that desire for involvement scarcely seemed the natural fruit of a Christian conscience but rather the mere consequence of listening to the Sirens’ song of ideology.
Politics, we must admit, in the resurgence of those tumultuous years, rose to all-encompassing category, which included, on occasion, the dimension of faith, as a mere individual and private dimension.
These conditions produced incredible situations, as in the case of those ideological, undrinkable cocktails, in which the Christ was distorted to take on, alternatively, the face of a Marxist Revolutionary or a Crusader.
However, to talk of the present time, I note that the intellectuals in the church are back to discuss and express different stands on politics. In today's climate in which ideology has given way to more flexible policies and relativistic conceptions, they start with a different interpretation of the role of Christians in the world and in history, perhaps with a greater possibility of finding concrete solutions.
But, the tension, inherent in God’s Kingdom, between the Already and the Not Yet, and the human tendency to emphasize one aspect of the matter to the detriment of another, may constitute the basis for a seemingly irreconcilable conflict.
To be specific, the question of whether Jesus would have joined Occupy Wall Street or not is misleading and, in my opinion, should be reversed. Where does He want me to go, what does He want me to do?
Using this line of reasoning, I think that I may discover my vocation in history, within the tension between a Kingdom of God already among us, walking on our legs and the Eschatological Kingdom.
The coherent response to God's call will bring us into the midst of events as the protagonists of reform and procurers of justice. That implies much more than simply joining a movement of opinion or a social struggle. Mere solidarity with a more or less wide range of people who feel that a series of injustices are being perpetrated, who warn about them only when the system has its periodic crises of adjustment only to return to the routine when the social and economic situation settles down to an acceptable level, is not, in my opinion, the core of our mission.
The Christian mission, even when it's time to change and transform the world and society, is characterized by two fundamental elements: Guided by God’s Will, Free for Action.
This is not the purpose of this article, but it would be interesting to study the Jewish Exodus from a political and social perspective. Light of the World, Salt of the Earth, Yeast in the Dough, are such clear Neo-Testament metaphors of how the church can and must transform the world here and now, pulling up at the root the plants of injustice, in all their forms. From both the Old and the New Testament, a pattern can be figured out.
Christian effectiveness in social and political fields will be expressed through interactive collaboration among the Holy Spirit, the Church and Men of Good Will.
Sometimes the church can produce visible leaders who embody an idea, such as Martin Luther King; sometimes the church is made up of countless anonymous people who lead through their example toward change. As we can see by looking at the history of the world, change is sometimes visible in the short, mid or long term. The Light of the World, Salt of the Earth, Yeast in the Dough play an inherent role.
At other times, as in the case of European countries, the church plays a role similar to that of a grain of salt, one voice among many other voices. Therefore, one may have the impression that the impact of the church on society is prevented by the physiological limits of the church itself which, as a religious community, is of very little interest to the masses who seek purely material and contingent justice.
After all, Jesus himself experienced this difficulty. He was not appealing to some parts of the population of his era. However, Jesus was able to make Himself as visible as any other, while remaining faithful to the Father and His Mission. How? By being One with the Father and by receiving the power of the Holy Spirit, which traced the way through history and more specifically, the country of Palestine. These conditions were sufficient for Him to win His battle against evil and all forms of injustice. To transfer all this into our personal lives and church agenda, is the task at hand here and now, until His Return.

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