Sunday, October 16, 2011

Spiritual Journal Entry #5

This is an odd entry... having been so sick for so many days this semester... like, missing most of two weeks of school... I cannot reflect on the spiritual practice from class on 10/10 because I wasn't there. What I can do, though, is write a reflection on an intersection between some things in my Rule Of Life and my experience on Friday 10/14.

Points of context from my Rule Of Life:
1) I committed to attend Labyrinth Walks at Grace Cathedral in SF
2) I expressed a stretch-objective regarding movement-based praxis

It is ironic that I would express my tendency to avoid movement-based πρᾶξις when I am so deeply interested in labyrinth-walking. There's an obvious irony, yes, but on Friday 10/14/2011 something happened while walking the labyrinth at Grace Cathedral that really synthesized several threads of my spiritual life. While walking the labyrinth I hit upon the concept of space-holding: I know from my worship experiences at COR-SF that I am a space-holder and I gladly embrace that role which God has given me. What was not so clear to me until this week's labyrinth walk was that my role as space-holder in Pentecostal worship also appears while moving through a labyrinth; this became clear when I sensed a woman behind me on the walk and -- acting totally on instinct -- I held space at a turn so that she could pass me.

I believe that the power of labyrinth-walking lies in the metaphor of the intentional walk. When a group of people walk a labyrinth, we are pilgrims on a shared divine path. Out of many spirits, one intent. Από πολλά, ένα. Some of us are natural lead-feet, some of us are stop-and-smell-the-roses, and yes... some of us are space-holders. I now understand that my identity as a space-holder appears even in movement-based praxis.

Will the circle, be unbroken, by and by Lord, by and by?
There's a greater home, awaiting, in the sky Lord, in the sky.


  1. What does "extreme measures" against anarchists mean? The first violence during the general strike today was by "non-violent" protesters in defense of a Whole Foods that had threatened employees with termination. If you want to continue the violence and extreme measures against anarchists (alongside the police), who do you think is going to provide the food and logistics at Occupy Oakland? Despite the smears and violence conducted by pacifists, anarchists aren't outsiders- they're often the most dedicated participants in the day-to-day grind of struggles- and they won't be driven out of the struggles they helped initiate.

  2. Umh... how interesting... I post a comment on Twitter about Anarchists fucking up Occupy Oakland, and the next thing I know there is a lengthy response to my tweet on a several-weeks-old Blog post that had nothing to do with the Occupy movement. Wow.

    Ok, let's indulge in some facts for a minute, not that anyone really seems to care about facts anymore.

    1) The first violence of the day, against the Whole Foods store, WAS PERPETRATED BY ANARCHISTS NOT BY THE OCCUPY PROTESTORS. The protestors, in fact, TRIED TO PHYSICALLY RESTRAIN THE ANARCHISTS WHO SPRAY-PAINTED THE WORD "STRIKE" ON THE STORE. The video of the incident is *quite* clear.

    2) The Whole Foods rumor was proven to be exactly that: a rumor. I wonder who started that rumor? Interesting. Perhaps we'll never know. HALLMARK behavior of Anarchists.

    3) I, stupidly, picked up on the rumor and posted a BOYCOTT WHOLE FOODS Tweet. When the lie was exposed, I *immediately* tweeted a retraction of my first tweet. And AT NO POINT DID I CALL FOR AN ATTACK ON THE WHOLE FOODS STORE.

    4) Suddenly, the entire thing with the Whole Foods store has started to look like a calculated attempt to distract from the statement being made by the Occupy Movement. Again, this is such a common behavior that we've seen repeatedly from Anarchists in the SF area. They pulled this shit during several of the Oscar Grant protests, and local citizens EXPOSED THEM and POINTED THE COPS TOWARD THEM. I saw this with my own eyes.

    5) In downtown Oakland earlier this evening, the video was crystal-clear: the protestors were peaceful, mellow, friendly, and absolutely not confronting the cops. Then, out of nowhere, several people dressed in all black, with black face covering -- THE HALLMARK LOOK OF THE ANARCHISTS -- ran down the street, rolled dumpsters into the middle of the street, and turned the dumpsters over. Almost immediately, folks from Occupy Oakland came over to the dumpsters, stood them upright, and rolled them to the edge of the road. Then, the Anarchists reappeared like the roaches they are and did it again.

    I have approximately *TWENTY* friends who are deeply involved in Occupy Oakland, half of whom are fellow seminary students who believe in a Christian-focused non-violent movement toward social justice. They are having their peaceful movement turned into an ugly violent stain on society. Anarchists are *NOT* the people who started this movement. Not in New York, and not in Oakland or SF. And until, or unless, the Anarchists are willing to get out of the way, they are just as much an enemy of social justice as the GOP, the military-industrial complex, or the KKK. And they should be dealt with similarly.

    I'm a Christian, but I am not a pushover.

  3. And, to be crystal-clear, "extreme measures" by Occupy Oakland to deal with the scourge of the Anarchists would be very simple: approach the police, ask for their protection from the violence that Anarchists always love to incite, and help the cops track them down. This is an extreme measure which not even my many friends involved with Occupy will take b/c they do not trust the cops. I understand this mistrust, but the enemy of my enemy is my friend. The cops are part of the 99%. Anarchsts? Well, they by definition eschew social order. Therefore, by their own belief system they are *not* part of the 99%. And therefore, they are NOT WELCOME IN THIS MOVEMENT. Anarchists did NOT start this movement, and it will NOT succeed if the movement allows anarchy to take over.

  4. Sorry, I didn't know how to address you otherwise- it's why I picked this format.

    Scattered notes:

    *What is the actual criteria defining the 99%? I thought it had something to do with wealth. Either way, it's certainly not based on subjective identity- if it was, the 99% would be relatively small. How many people actually actively identify with the term? At most a third of the population, since many people don't even follow the news? Thus, even if anarchists actually don't identify with the 99% or the "social order," most still probably belong to the 99%.

    *I don't know you or your friends. It's been a while since I've lived in Oakland. I don't deny your friends have been involved since the beginning, but I know anarchists who have been too. 1st difference: I'm not making negative claims that are impossible to back up ("absolutely no seminary students have been involved long-term or have made important contributions") 2nd difference: although I sometimes hear anarchists whine about "liberals," I never hear eliminationist rhetoric, the language of politically or physically wiping out liberals.

    *When you talk about turning people over to the police, you've left the realm of political debate, and are talking about submitting people to physical violence and, temporarily physically eliminating them from the community, by placing them in prison.

    *If you want to treat paint on the wall of Whole Foods as violence, that's your prerogative. I'm not interested in arguing semantics. But I'd find it disturbing if you can't see the difference between what a wall experiences when it's painted or chairs when they are impotently hit (the footage of the anarchists is pretty funny) and what someone experiences when they're knocked down, jumped, pushed, threatened with surveillance, etc.

    *I can't speak to whether the Whole Foods situation was based on a rumor or not. But just because something's been "exposed" as a rumor, doesn't mean it's not true. Example: rumors circulated that there was a wildcat strike this morning at the port. They were debunked (by people who have an interest in showing they weren't true), but then confirmation (I can post links) of the original story was reasserted strongly by port workers. Obviously it's in the interest of Whole Foods, the police, and the media to make anarchists look either insane or reckless or at least misinformed/senseless, so I'm skeptical of the nature of the debunking given how plausible the original story was. I'm not arguing that it's likely that the story was true, but rather that, after the attack, drama, and murkiness, its veracity is unknowable.

    To be continued (character limit)...

  5. *It's quite possible that you and anarchists have such different objectives and definitions for the movement, that you functionally exist in separate movements. But that doesn't mean that anarchists are senseless, anymore that I think you're senseless for having very different objectives from me (I'm not an anarchist, but am close in certain ways). You seem to believe that anarchists do what they do simply to wreck your life. In reality, they're operating according to a different narrative that involves you very little. This point is a bit sketchy right now because I don't really care to summarize arguments and narratives that I might not even agree with, sorry.

    *Even if you deny the validity of that narrative, it seems ridiculous to deny that anarchists have been involved from the get-go. A very non-anarchist leftist news-site has one story about how NYC started:

    Even if you deny the details or the emphasis, you'd have to go to some length to prove that the entire account is made-up. On the other hand, most of the anarchists in that story aren't exactly black bloc-types (though some of them are probably), but part of what you're doing is denying the diversity amongst anarchists.

    To go back even further, the whole movement was kicked off by a call from Adbusters, who ran, in the same issue or the one before, a series of pieces by Void Network (a Greek anarchist group) on the plaza assembly movement in Greece. OWS is patterned off of efforts to spread direct democracy and assemblies across Europe (Greece, Spain, Italy, etc.), by anarchists amongst many others.

    I'm sorry if this is overwhelming. As I mentioned I AM far away, and very concerned about the safety of friends and loved ones on the ground in Oakland, so I have a lot of thought and emotional energy to pour into a random comment thread on a personal blog.

  6. It's not like you owe me anything, but I'm surprised by your unwillingness to have a dialogue. I tried to respond in good faith, and at adequate length. Sorry if I was a bit disjointed.

    The reason I like anarchists is precisely that they are usually so prone to dialogue, sometimes to an embarrassing degree. I remember a 10 hour meeting with dozens of people during a major round of anti-police protests some years ago. The cops had just shot a guy in the back and riots in the black neighborhoods were raging. The two positions were:

    A) it would be unhelpful to organize a black bloc and it's not clear that it'd be welcome or who it would be accountable to.


    B) it's racist and farcical to try to show solidarity by organizing a peaceful protest when cops are shooting black kids with rubber bullets from helicopters. If the anarchists de-escalated, they'd just be taking advantage of a racist political system in which white bodies are allowed to peacefully assemble in many instances in which black bodies would be gassed.

    There wasn't a good solution to this mess, conversationally or practically, which is why the meeting went on literally all night. I share this anecdote to illustrate my experience of anarchists, one in which, despite media smears, most of them are desperately sincere and willing to engage in sustained conversation. Again, it's not like you owe me anything, but this feels like the opposite.

  7. Hey there "Occupy" -- I do owe you an apology for lack of response. This semester has been REALLY CHALLENGING and I have been sorely neglecting my blog. You made/make really good points and I do want you to know that I have read them and I am learning to see a different aspect of this whole movement through you. For that, I thank you.

    I'd like to invite you to "friend" me if you're on Facebook? I don't even know your name, where you are, etc. Dialogue is a good thing, and I thank you for your persistence!