In the present day, American politics has become deeply entangled confluence with materialist, grand-scale Protestantism. To great aggravation, Christianity has been tied not only to constitutional self-governance (as this recent best-selling painting shows in a way that strongly resembles parody), but the laissez-faire economic system that has segregated its people and eroded liberty over the past two centuries. It has been used to argue for capital punishment, and for centuries has been used to create the idea of “just war”
The issue is that Jesus was not a fan of exploitative commerce. In fact, he led the first occupation- he was the founder of Occupy Jerusalem. In the gospels, he enters the Temple of Jerusalem, where commerce has defiled the holy place. He takes those around him to task, and uses the popular support for his actions to defy authority.
On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves (Mark 11:15)
Later Jesus calls the Temple he cleared a “den of robbers” (Mark 11:17)
We can all learn from the example of Jesus. The idea of commerce and profit-making entering a place of worship is cringe-worthy- and indeed I have a visceral reaction when I read about megachurches with cafés and merchandise stores. But even if you’re mostly secular like me- there is something that you think should not be messed with; something that must remain pure and not tainted by money. It could be anything from politics to college sports; from education to healthcare. You probably know of some money changers you’d like to drive out.
And that’s really what Occupy is all about. Driving away the money changers, and improving society rather than let profit dominate over people.
4 thoughts on “Jesus of Nazareth: the first occupier”
“We can all learn from the example of Jesus. The idea of commerce and profit-making entering a place of worship is cringe-worthy- and indeed I have a visceral reaction when I read about megachurches with cafés and merchandise stores.”
It might interest you to know that, not all that long ago. . . I visited the Unitarian Church in Ottawa Canada one Sunday to attend their service and found that Ottawa Unitarians were holding a mini “church bazaar” around the perimeter of the church sanctuary itself. Items were being sold prior to the service and immediately after it. Sure the proceeds went to a “good cause du jour” as it were but it was none-the-less somewhat “cringe-worthy” as you put it.
I don’t have any objections to churches putting on farmer’s markets or rummage sales, but I do think that most religious teaching does not intersect well when so nakedly mixed with commerce so intimately.
Agreed. If Ottawa Unitarians had held their fund raising bazaar in an area of the church other than the perimeter of the sanctuary itself I would not have bothered to comment on it.
Quite so. A church is a multi-functional place (after all, church space is often rented out to support groups and the like). However it is best not to excessively mix them.
I’ve been to three UU churches and one fellowship (and walked around a fourth). The nice things about a devolved system is that UU churches do rather different things with their worship time, and with their charitable endeavors. And if you find something you don’t like in a UU church, the next one you go to often doesn’t have that characteristic.