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Occupy Religion

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments Chapter 1 Why Occupy Religion? Chapter 2 We Are the 99 Percent Chapter 3 The Multitude Springs into Action Chapter 4 Theology of the Multitude Chapter 5 Reimagining the God of the Multitude Chapter 6 Envisioning the Church of the Multitude Epilogue

About the Author

Joerg Rieger is Wendland-Cook Professor of Constructive Theology at Southern Methodist University. He is the author of numerous books, including Christ and Empire. He lives in Dallas, Texas. Kwok Pui-lan is William F. Cole Professor of Christian Theology and Spirituality at Episcopal Divinity School. She is the most recent past president of the American Academy of Religion and author of several books. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.


A comprehensive overview of how faith communities responded to the Occupy Movement, with fascinating asides about the faith and spirituality tent in Boston, where Zen Buddhists, Muslims, and Jews held prayers and services. * Publishers Weekly * The Occupy Wall Street movement, as it pertains to theology, is examined here. The authors communicate clearly and compellingly as they offer examples from the Occupy events that provoke religious consideration and illustrate Occupy's possible influences in the religious theater. The volume also looks back at Liberation theology and how some of the events of the 1960s had religious overtones. The Occupy theology concept, as delineated here, seems to offer new ways to define justice, opportunities to discover the divine through human diversity (including religious diversity), and pathways to authentically participative religion. The text's discussion of historic underpinnings will assist the reader new to this field, while those familiar with the work of Hans Kung and Paulo Freire will appreciate grappling with this new focus. * Booklist * In Occupy Religion two Christian theologians offer observations concerning the Occupy movement that swept through many American cities in 2011 and 2012. Rieger (Southern Methodist Univ.) and Pui-lan (Episcopal Divinity School) discuss the implications they find in that movement for religious thought generally and for Christian theology in particular. Adopting the Occupy movement's insistence that society is divided into the 1 percent and the 99 percent, they describe the latter as the "multitude," a group whose protest is legitimate and long overdue. The core of their thesis is presented in chapters on the God of the multitude and the church of the multitude. Therein they argue for an immanent God and a church of inclusion that is not restricted by time and space. The Occupy movement's claims regarding itself tend to be taken rather uncritically. Not all readers will find convincing this book's use of the Occupy movement as a kind of metaphor for all contemporary movements of social and economic protest. Nonetheless, this volume does offer thought-provoking observations on what a convincing contemporary image of God might be and on how a viable church might be shaped for the 21st century. Summing Up: Recommended. Researchers/faculty, professionals/practitioners, and general readers. * CHOICE * Authors Kwok Pui-lan and Joerg Rieger seek to convey the 'subversive and transforming power of the God incarnate' at work in the midst of 21st-century income inequality. Think of it as liberation theology 2.0. True to the theology it proposes, this book does not take a top-down view, but rather observes how the divine is emerging from the ground up. The authors provide an offering for our own reflection, resonance and participation. Because much of the content is experiential, readers without a formal theological background will find the language and ideas accessible. * National Catholic Reporter * It is easy to conclude that the Occupy movement was a flash in the pan, enacted by disgruntled people without a plan or staying power, a passing whim to be forgotten. This book insists otherwise. Its authors are peculiarly equipped to make the argument. Joerg Rieger, professor of theology at Southern Methodist University, has produced a series of important studies on the role of empire in the imagination and interpretation of the Western theological tradition. Kwok Pui-lan, professor of theology and spirituality at Episcopal Divinity School, is at the forefront of a postcolonial hermeneutics that both exposes the hegemony of empire and thinks outside that hegemony for alternative possibilities. These authors are of immense importance and are not as well-known as they deserve to be. Rieger and Kwok situate the Occupy movement in a global context and subject the movement and its resisters to acute theological commentary. Rieger and Kwok entertain the thought that the Occupy movement, a modest global awakening, is a chance that a church that is too much formed by the transnational capitalist class will notice its natural constituency elsewhere. They conclude with the recognition that the theologies of the empire are 'finished theologies.' The work of the multitude, however, is an unfinished theology that thrives among those who rally around Moses and Jesus. * The Christian Century * The author's deftly engage social, economic, and political dynamics through the lens of the Occupy movement. * Anglican and Episcopal History * This book should be read by anyone interested in intersections of religion and political dissent.... [N]ot only does this book provide important contributions to the study of the Occupy movement and intersections of religion and political dissent, it also opens out wider sociological questions about religion, organization and transmission, and religion and modernity.... [I]ts contribution to religion and social theory is certain. * Critical Research on Religion * Engaged theology at its best: passionate, articulate, and informed by deep knowledge of tradition and awareness of the pressing realities of contemporary political and personal life. A splendid resource for students, their teachers, and all who search for the sacred in a world of destructive economic and political domination. -- Roger S. Gottlieb, author of A Greener Faith: Religious Environmentalism and our Planet's Future Occupy Religion is a brilliantly unfinished book of theology that constantly opens a door to a new hope for multitude. In line with the Social Gospel movement and the Civil Rights movement, this book involves the church in the Occupy Movement for the sake of 99 percent of the US population. With the aspiration of foretasting the just and compassionate Reign of God in the United States and the rest of the world, this new theological movement emerges from the 'deep solidarity' with the people of the Occupy Movement, a fundamental challenge to the present practice of neoliberal American capitalism. I highly recommend this book to all justice loving Christians. -- Andrew Sung Park, author of From Hurt to Healing, professor of theology at United Theological Seminary Inspired by the global mass protests of 2011, Occupy Religion proposes a Theology of the Multitude that challenges traditional ways of thinking about religion, transcendence, and the ecclesial community. The significance and the reach of these global mass protests of 2011 will be on-going. By suggesting there is a symbiotic relationship between the 1% and the 99%, Rieger and Kwok contest religious concepts that have been used to reinforce the top-down domination of the 1%. Occupy Religion is a must read for those of us concerned with the confluence of religion and the logic of to-down domination as well as for those resisting and working with a vision that another world is possible! -- Wonhee Anne Joh, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary This compelling, comprehensive look at the spiritual heart of the Occupy movement not only issues a challenge to those trapped in liberal, modern understandings of religion, but it also captures Occupy's rich possibilities for global transformation and new theologies. It places faith right where it belongs: in the public spheres that ought to serve justice for all, to protect human rights and freedom, and to promote a common good and sustainable life on earth. -- Rita Nakashima Brock, Brite Divinty School, coauthor of Saving Paradise, and member of Occupy Oakland

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