Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Occupy Religion: Theology of the Multitude

Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Occupy Religion: Theology of the Multitude

Article excerpt

Occupy Religion: Theology of the Multitude. By Joerg Rieger and Kwok Pui-Lan. (Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, 2012, Pp. vii, 155. $21.95, paper.)

At the time of this review of Occupy Religion, Occupy Central with Love and Peace was rallying for political voice as the people of Hong Kong look to address issues related to its future governance. The multitude continues to seek to have a voice for its own well-being. Yet the Occupy movement, whether of 2011 or today, need not be alone in its protest against economic and political subjugation by the one percent. Even though religion as an institution has often mirrored the dominant forces of society, religion can also respond by advocating for the ninety-nine percent just as the Occupy movement has. In Occupy Religion, Joerg Rieger and Kwok Pui-lan start with this premise and explore God, the church, and the mission of the church through the lens of the Occupy movement.

The authors begin with expounding on the Occupy movement's goal to give voice to the ninety-nine percent and how it serves as a prophetic voice for the church. Just as the Occupy movement publicly engages and challenges current models of ideology and governance, the church can also seek more actively a public theology that advocates for the needs of the multitude. Kwok and Rieger admonish the church not to side with the hegemonic leadership of society but to actually be and be with the multitude. Top-down leadership can easily become self-absorbed, focus on efficiency and productivity, and lose touch with those it seeks to lead. Jesus on the other hand represented and sided with the multitude and modeled leadership that included the multitude.

These ideas are not new, but seeing them through the lens of the Occupy movement the authors present a theology of liberation that reflects our contemporary societal constructs. Rieger and Kwok build around the notion of deep solidarity, recognizing that solidarity extends beyond lumping the multitude together into one homogenous entity and encompasses the inherent relating and knowing among diverse people seeking a common good. The authors contend that such is the world of the Occupy movement. Out of deep solidarity, values of God's reign abound: restorative love that champions justice for all, a purposeful deemphasis of central leadership that empowers participation of all, a deep sense of otherness that comes out of curiosity and respect. This model for the church might not be the most efficient or productive; however, the embodiment of these values serves as witness of God's reign. The authors deftly engage social, economic, and political dynamics through the lens of the Occupy movement, though at times perhaps idealizing it.

The authors also challenge that the church has too readily advanced an otherworldly view of God's transcendence, one that lifts up and keeps the powerful and dominant at a distance. …

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