Thursday, November 03, 2011

Turning Occupier outrage to service

I had a lot of fun yesterday playing with the feature of my processing program that turns photos as if by magic into line drawings. Here's First United Methodist Church where, coincidentally, the end-of-month meals program for those in need resumes this month.

The season shifted gears here yesterday during a day of steady rain, clouds and cold wind accompanied by gusts strong enough to strip trees and punctuated by lightning and thunder, one near-strike powerful enough to trigger the museum’s alarm system, inconveniently interrupting my midday nap.

Coming out of church early last night after evening prayer, I’d have sworn I saw a flake or two of snow. But if that was the case, none of it stuck. It looks like the sun will return for the weekend, but colder days and nights are ahead and it’s time to start throwing a blanket over the big pots of chrysanthemums on the front steps to encourage continued bloom --- for a while at least.

All of this has caused me to reconsider location of the “Occupy Chariton” camp. I was thinking the northeast part of the courthouse square, conveniently near the gazebo, but that’s kind of exposed. Maybe the south side would be better. Since I don’t have a tent, I’ll have to sleep (and eat) at home, of course.


Speaking of the Occupy movement, I see that Occupy Iowa’s general assembly has voted to invite Occupiers from other parts of the country to pay us a prolonged visit this fall/early winter and attempt to close down presidential campaign headquarters in the state, Republican and Democrat alike, between now and the Jan. 3 caucuses. That could be interesting, or perhaps not.

There’s no question about who the Democrat nominee will be and Republicans seem by process of elimination to be moving toward the inevitability of Mitt Romney, who has the great advantage of not having a firm position on anything. There’s something to be said for flexibility.

Herman Cain has been inconvenienced by those allegations of sexual harassment and Rick Perry’s idiocy was so evident in New Hampshire last week that generous pundits ascribed his performance to strong drink or a bad reaction to drugs. Newt Gingrich is still an adulterous has-been and Michele Bachmann still doesn’t have a penis. The field narrows.


Most Lucas Countyans fall easily within the Occupy movement’s 99 percent, as opposed to the one percent where no one denies wealth is becoming increasingly concentrated, but it’s a little difficult to find a target for rage here.

It’s just not fair when there are no clear targets. Hy-Vee or Johnson Machine Works, our largest private employers? Well, probably not. Both provide many jobs and both give back to the community in a variety of ways. The problem with getting mad at our largest public employers, the school and the hospital, is that they are us. Local branches of larger banking chains? That hardly seems worthwhile.

It’s so frustrating when you can’t figure out who exactly to be mad at, a problem shared by both the Tea Party and Occupy movements. General rage is interesting, but not too productive. Maybe something positive will develop, however.


Hunger, on the other hand, seems to be something we all could be outraged about, and feeding the hungry and that sort of thing something we all could agree on, and work on together.

That’s actually happening here --- every week at the Interchurch Council’s Ministry Center food bank, in the hugely successful CROP walk earlier this fall and in the Rotarians’ just-instituted backpack program for kids.

We got to talking at St. Andrew’s the other day specifically about First United Methodist, perhaps Chariton’s largest congregation, and its outreach ministries. In addition to supporting other general programs, the Methodists feed the hungry specifically, for example, through an end-of-month, no-questions-asked meal program targeted at those whose fixed-income checks don’t stretch far enough.

Methodists also are heavily invested in the Salvation Army’s outreach into the community and offer other types of assistance.

We’re such a tiny congregation, taking on a large-scale program of any sort is beyond us. What we probably should be doing is asking the Methodists how we can contribute to their efforts. The same probably is true for other churches in town.

I think I’ll chew on that idea for a while and stop spending so much time trying to figure out where to put the “Occupy” camp. Specific targets for outrage are so much more satisfying.

1 comment:

Ken said...

I'm pleased to see that my old congregation (First United Methodist) is taking the lead on social justice issues in Chariton. I don't recall that being the case when I was growing up, but perhaps I was just oblivious to what was happening in the community.
P.S. - I really like the line drawing of my old church.