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It is still very painful for me to delve into the tragedy at Occupy Burlington, I rather at this time focus on the positive, on the events that unfolded last night that were truly inspiring. Yesterday at about 5pm at City Park, several dozen of us set up a "free speech zone". A orange gate, we had encircled ourselves with, and led the march, followed by others with signs and what not, the homeless and with home alike, student and worker alike, all marching as equals, under the same banner of justice, of a just cause that cannot be silenced or wiped out, no matter how the city and the State come at us, our chants, from LA to New York, from Egypt to Spain, will be heard the world over.We marched down Church St. to the surprise of many people, who have been hearing in the media our movement is dead, it is far from it. A man tried to break out free speech zone but we immediately reesembled it, and kept march, no one could stop us. Finally we reached the Post Office and sang solidarity with the union there against the cuts of the workers there. Then we headed down the road blocking traffick, to Edmonds Middle School, where Senator Palino, union leaders, students, and others were to meet together into the night.Only 3 months ago in the Burlington where my sister worked and died, I spoke with her here about the new society I wanted, and we dreamed together of that new society, a better world for my niece. Off in the distance as I marched, suddenly I could see my sister's face, and I lit up, and could feel the energy of resurrection, of revival, all around us, and all the blisters in my feet, all the tiredness, went away, and all I could feel was energy, which is hard to explain, a revolutionary energy that charged us into our destiny, as we continued to defy the unjust system where the poor are left to die in the street. A wave of people came to reinforce us, old faces I could see, survivors of the storm, the storm troopers that stormed our camp in a most despicable manner, but we continue, unabatted, unintimidated, till final victory, so that no more Natashas may die from this unjust system, so that my sister may live in me...
STATEMENT ON LOSS OF JOSH - OCCUPY BURLINGTON VT
Today, November 10th at 2pm, Josh, a valued member of Occupy Burlington and the houseless community, took his own life at the encampment. We want to take this moment to offer our thoughts and condolences to Josh's family, and to the members of the Occupy community who got to know Josh over the last two weeks.
The thoughts and prayers of everyone in the encampment are with his friends and family. We appreciate the support we have received from the Burlington community, the country, and the world. We ask for everyone’s continued support and solidarity as we deal with this tragedy.
From the first day of the encampment, we have welcomed all members of the community by providing anyone in need with food, shelter, and social support. Despite our best efforts to provide care and support to all members of the community, occupations are not equipped with the infrastructure and resources needed to care for the most vulnerable members of our community. The lack of resources to care for those in need was brought to the attention of Burlington city leaders. Unfortunately, our plea for assistance was not heeded in time to help Josh.
This tragedy draws attention to the gross inequalities within our system. We mourn the loss of a great friend tonight, while discovering an ever-deeper resolve to stand with our most vulnerable citizens. The failure to provide citizens with adequate and accessible physical and mental healthcare is one of the many issues this movement is fighting for.
Again, our thoughts and prayers are with everyone reeling from this loss and we deeply appreciate everyone who has offered support, compassion, and solidarity. It is our hope that this tragedy will serve as a rallying cry for occupations around the country to continue the fight for system change.
"One-sixth of all the words that Jesus spoke and one-third of all the parables are about the dangers of wealth and possessions. It is something we hear in the prophets, particularly in the Old Testament... and of course, that's what Jesus himself was steeped in, those words were his scriptures... that any culture, but certainly one that claims to be godly, is to be judged on how well the most vulnerable are treated...
It's really about our sense of community, and indeed, do the wealthy have a responsibility to the larger community. Are we really going to live in an every man-woman-child for themselves world or are we going to be a community in which the greater good - the common good - is also a value that we hold.
You know the prophet Micah said we must "do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with our god" and the 'do justice' part is figuring out what is wrong with the system that makes this happen, that causes people to be drowning almost literally, certainly drowning in debt, in the richest nation on earth.
And so, to be true to our tradition, we can't just provide food and clothing and even housing for those who have hit really hard times; we have to figure out what the system is that is causing that in the first place."
Hooker is a remarkable example of what wisdom in the flesh looks like—which is probably why he made it onto our list of saints. He wrote his most famous work in response to controversy with another wing of the church. And you don't have to look much beyond the first page to see the connections with current controversies in this church.
Richard Hooker was appointed Master, or Rector, of the Temple Church in London in the late 1500s. He had an assistant there, from the Puritan wing of the church, named Walter Travers. Hooker's duty was to preach in the morning. Travers followed him in the afternoon, and he took the opportunity one day to refute what the rector had said in the morning, when he preached about salvation and the possibility that all of us will be saved. The Puritan position, along with Calvin, believed that some may be damned even before they can do anything. Hooker insisted that that understanding took away the possibility of God's grace.
Hooker's focus on reason and tolerance and inclusion is foundational to that broad stream of Anglican thought. This isn't just academic theologizing. It has to do with the basic identity of our tradition—that we can be comprehensive and inclusive as we search for a larger truth. And that rather than being a cop-out, that focus on comprehension is a sign of the spirit at work.
That focus on comprehension lies underneath the challenging and uncomfortable place we are trying to stand in as a church today—affirming that gay and lesbian, bisexual and transgendered Christians are deserving of the best ministry of this church, AND that there is a place for those who take a different theological position. We say that we are willing to live in that uncomfortable and unsettling place because we believe that only God has truth in its fullness.
Wisdom, and the search for it, is one of the gifts and vocations that the body of Christ always needs. None of us ever has it all, and it is only in the wisdom of the body gathered that we can even begin to think that we might have the mind of Christ.Hooker's statue stands outside Exeter Cathedral.