I’m looking forward to the outpouring of solidarity tomorrow, with some apprehension of what the police will be doing when I arrive downtown Oakland tomorrow.
In the meantime, I’m drifting around various thoughts and memories and motivations.
For some reason, which I’ve never fully understood, before I head out for a protest, this tune always goes through my head as emblematic of the kind of freedom I want for the world:
I live with the Bible. This is the part that keeps echoing in my head, over and over:
Shout it aloud, do not hold back.
Raise your voice like a trumpet.
Declare to my people their rebellion
and to the descendants of Jacob their sins.
For day after day they seek me out;
they seem eager to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that does what is right
and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
They ask me for just decisions
and seem eager for God to come near them.
‘Why have we fasted,’ they say,
‘and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
and you have not noticed?’
“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
and exploit all your workers.
Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
and expect your voice to be heard on high.
Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
only a day for people to humble themselves?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the LORD?
Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter-
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness[a] will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
The LORD will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.
Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.
– Isaiah 58:1-12
I will try to make it to some of the Daily Kos events. I definitely plan to hang out at the Clergy Tent, making ruckus with my religious peeps.
I’m thinking about 20 years back, when I frequently took to the streets on behalf of justice causes. Back then, I had a stronger belief that God was acting for justice in history. I have a stronger sense of the limitations of history now, that we move in cycles of progress and regress, and that our efforts are necessary, but extremely limited. I still ground my faith in the ethical perspective of the Hebrew prophets above all else, but with a greater sense that a spirituality of protest will always come up against the machinations of power, leaving us to start over another day. In the meantime, I know the only place I can find the God I worship at this moment in time is in the faces of all the people who have felt the spirit of the times and taken a stand against the arrogance of the mighty.
Oh, and what the hell, one more for good measure.
But woe to you who are rich,
for you have already received your comfort.
– Luke 6:24