Theology today not only needs to help us reflect on God, life, and power, it needs to help us develop alternative ideas about God and the world that are linked to alternative ways of life, which grow out of very different power flows. In many of the Judeo-Christian traditions, power moves not from the top down, the default position under the conditions of empire and capitalism, but from the bottom up. The traditions of the Exodus, the Jubilee, the Hebrew Prophets, the life of Jesus Christ, as well as the lifestyles of the early church that value community over hierarchy, all testify to this reversal.
On Thursday evening, September 9th, 2010, a diverse crowd, including members of the academy, churches, and local labor leaders, gathered at Perkins School of Theology on Southern Methodist University, to hear about movements rising up in churches today that are making a difference in the world.
Solidarity is no longer a matter of the privileged helping the underprivileged. It is about understanding what we have in common and how we all need to work together to organize and to embrace a different power.
In this interview, Rieger discusses his recently published book on religion and the Occupy movement as well as the theological importance of Karl Marx’s criticisms of capitalism, especially as they help Christians avoid naive idealism, attend to the movement of power from the bottom up, and recognize that issues of production and labor are central to their faith.
Rieger tackles the nature of the relationship between religion and money, and asserts that the two are interconnected. In exploring the difference that religion makes, Rieger examines how the monetary system can act like religion and how Christ counteracts the blind faith that seems to be a part of economics.
Religion itself needs redemption. In the Occupy movement, its potent ideals and traditions of resistance are resurrected. Rieger discusses this redemption in Aoen Magazine.
Contrary to widespread belief, theology is part of life. Whatever ideas people hold about God and the world, those ideas have been shaped to a considerable degree by the events of their lives. Their lives, in turn, are shaped by flows of power that are often not fully visible, including the powers at work in politics and economics. Few people realize, for instance, how the free-market economy influences not only their financial options but also the way they think about themselves, the world, and God. When these ideas about God, life, and power go unreflected, we are doomed to perpetuate these power flows.
Theology in this perspective contributes to liberation from all forces that restrict the flourishing of humanity and the world.
by Joerg Rieger and Kwok Pui Lan
Occupy Religion introduces readers to the growing role of religion in the Occupy Movement and asks provocative questions about how people of faith can work for social justice. From the temperance movement to the Civil Rights movement, churches have played key roles in important social movements, and Occupy Religion shows this role is no less critical today.
by Joerg Rieger
From the journey of Abraham to the travels of Jesus and Paul, from medieval pilgrims to today’s global trekkers, travel has held deep religious significance. In fact, says Joerg Rieger, traveling can seen as a metaphor for the whole Christian life, especially pertinent in an age of global connectedness, widespread international travel, and religious encounter. Rieger’s historical and theological reflections offer concrete ways in which travel can open up fresh encounters with meaning and, ultimately, the divine.
by Joerg Rieger
Even though economic downturns are still followed by upturns, fewer people benefit from them. As a result, economic crisis is an everyday reality that permanently affects all levels of our lives. The logic of downturn, developed in this book, helps make sense of what is going on, as the economy shapes us more deeply than we had ever realized, not only our finances and our work, but also our relationships, our thinking, and even our hopes and desires. Religion is one arena shaped by economics and thus part of the problem but, as Joerg Rieger shows, it might also hold one of the keys for providing alternatives, since it points to energies for transformation and justice.
This book is significant because it exposes the fetishism and false-faith of contemporary free-marketeconomics which precipitated the recent economic crisis and theologies complicity in legitimating unjust economic conditions. This book shows a way forward for Christians to rethink theology and begin to think about how to transform unjust economic systems.