Jesus needs to save us from the oligarchy
Jesus needs to save us from the oligarchy of the United States. I just have no other option but him and the saving grace he offers me, and the revolution that he is bringing about among his body and to the world through the people in whom he has made his dwelling.
In April, a Princeton study went viral when it proved the obvious: the U.S. is an oligarchy, not a democracy. For me, I never needed a study to prove to me that the U.S.’s rich and elite have more political persuasion then the rest of us do. I don’t think this is a stretch: in the U.S. money talks, and even with campaign finance reform, lobbyists (i.e. corporations) are king.
The U.S.’s wealth inequality, that there isn’t a great interest in increasing the minimum wage, and that that policy in general seems be guided by a special class of person, can leave anyone faithless. In fact, our oligarchs are so powerful and influential that participation in the church (which in the West, especially in the ‘80s and ‘90s was the oligarchy’s tool) just seems to be pointless.
It’s so easy to get disillusioned with how we are led by our leaders. It’s so easy to just become nihilists. All the latest political gossip leads us to believe that it’ll be another Clinton and Bush race, and it all just feels too familiar.
Unfortunately, I don’t think Americans care very much. The study proves what we’ve all felt forever, and the prospective of Hillary and Jeb just confirms what we already have with our feet. Americans don’t vote, and they are not very compelled to. It doesn’t matter how obvious it is, Americans know that their salvation isn’t in the government and the capitalists that rule it.
The problem is, we aren’t just suffering disillusionment about our government, we are suffering disillusionment about the prospect of being saved at all. We don’t just not care about Monica Lewinsky writing about her affair with Bill Clinton, we are just don’t care about anything. Netflix will do—it’s a shame they cancelled Community.
It’s true that the oligarchy survives based on our indifference; but it is also true that even the most earnest efforts seem to be too small to make a difference.
I think the church needs to continue to serve as the energizing and idealizing institution it was designed to be. Our subversive movement threatens the powers that be. We are inclusive, and so everyone gets invited to the Lord's Table and once you're there, the world is your oyster. Through a process of mutual dialogue, we can really do anything we want. People are left to be creative, and they need a certain last name, or a salary, or an Ivy League degree. They don't need be wealthy or elite to change the world and to empowered. This is totally the opposite of an oligarchy. So if we are doing our job, the world will hate us, in my opinion, because that kind of posture is revolutionary. The balance we need to strike is between holy separation from the powers that be, and holy confrontation of the evil they have.
I suppose that’s why we have compassion teams. I love the pockets of resistance that are organically created. It’s exactly the opposite of an oligarchy. These expressions aren’t created in headquarters, they are birthed out of the passion of individuals. They are totally grassroots. The revolution starts in someone’s heart and overflows to action. It’s not a matter of policy that gets stripped down to nothing and then blocked by a gridlocked Congress who bends its knee to the will of the wealthy and elite. Ironically, one team actually wrote a piece of legislation to create an equitable land bank that, by and large, got passed unadulterated.
On the other hands, our cells are pockets of restoration. Pockets of hope that exist despite the oligarchy and despite the disillusionment of our populace and the electorate, so to speak. Our cells are circles of hope that offer authentic connection in an era where such genuineness is scarce. Our cells exist and thrive despite the low voter turnout rate. People are still showing up, and they are still multiplying. I was impressed last week when we basically started a cell from scratch. We asked some people to join us and try something new and almost everyone wanted to. It was a boon to me. An encouragement that showed that Jesus is still alive and is still going to save us, from the indifference that the elites around me oppress me with.
Join the movement with us. Start a compassion team or a cell, or join what’s already happening. It’s how I am saved from the oligarchy.