Fear Of Whales

Archive for October, 2011

Occupy Wall Street

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Occupy-Wall-Street-signs15I might regret this. But I think perhaps it’s time to bring my perspective to bear on the Occupy Wall Street Protests. I don’t know about you, But I’ve certainty been curious about who’s side I would end up on. What with my tendency to controversy and social change, while also championing rationality and Christian values.

At first blush I thought it wouldn’t amount to anything. When my friend Salim, the Jasmine Revolutionary said he heard protests were happening on wall street and there were accusations of police brutality, I was quick to explain to him that in this country “police brutality” usually means a cot accidently knocked a kid down and he skinned his knee. “It’s not like Bahrain” I said “Protestors will get arrested if they cross picket lines, but they will be written up and sent home, nobody’s going to be locked in a dungeon I assure you” I then added “Wait a sec What’s happening on Wall Street again?”

When I did more research I scoffed. “Protesting cooperate greed”??? how do you do that? Every protest I’ve ever been to has an awareness raising component, “This is going on, nobody knows about it and it needs to stop, so we’re going to make a big stink until somebody does something about it” So as an abortion protestor I held a sign that depicts what abortion actually consists of. For Invisible children we wrote letters and took a picture of the crowd to show the sheer numbers of people who were concerned about Child Soldiers in Uganda. But how do you raise awareness for corporate greed? Who in the world did not know, prior to the protest that corporations on Wall Street were greedy? Are you going to protest Gambling in Vegas next? Windiness in Chicago? Fundamentalism in Utah?

What’s the Best Case Scenario here?

Occupy-Wall-Street-signs02“Hey Mr. CFO, I made this sign that says you should stop being greedy”

”I should? Well dang, Okay! But what will I do with all this money?”

“Let’s give it to the homeless together”

“Great Idea! Last one there’s a sub-prime lending agreement!”

One news blog I read suggested that there are legitimate issues here and this is just an organization problem and the cream has yet to rise to the top. When it does,the blogger theorized that the protest would be more about taxation and lobbys than it will about “I hate rich people”

Another perspective is that this is the first true protest of the information age. No longer tied down by Bumper sticker slogans and androcentric leadership we can finally use free mass communication to allow people to communicate a truly complex and nuanced message in a  truly brilliant way.

Still others think the protests are a waste of time and they should all just go get a job because they don’t know what they’re even protesting.

blog_karen_brown_rally_to_restore_sanity1I’d like to offer a fourth perspective. There are legitimate issues here, the protests are a waste of time, and that’s truly brilliant!

See, It’s a front.

They say they are hanging out protesting corporate greed, but really they’re just hanging out, and if social change happens all the better.

The more I read about what’s going on the less I feel like this resembles the work I did with Invisible Children and the more it sounds like the week I spent camping out for Star Wars.

Sure, In theory I was reserving a seat, but in reality we had all purchased tickets on fandango, I was really just spending the week outside with other nerds under the auspices of wanting a “really good seat”. It was one of the best weeks of my life.

Occupy-Wall-Street-signs25Invisible Children was awesome too. I stayed up late talking to unique like-minded people and telling jokes while making the world a better place.

Am I the first one who’s noticed that rent in Lower Manhattan is $72 per square foot per month? People often commute for hours from 3 states to get to the City, these guys are camping there for free! That’s brilliant!

Meanwhile they have raised the level of public discourse in the country about an issue that nobody in their right mind would protest. You see they can do that, because they’re not in their right mind. they’re transient hippie whackjobs, and they’re changing the world.

pics-from-the-rally-to-restore-sanity-and-or-fear.5571947.87In Ancient Israel there was a massive temple court where people would mill about and talk to each other and debate the issues of the day. I’ve often lamented that no such place existed in America, but I think these guys are creating it. And how beautiful and ironic is it that they’re creating it at the great temple of America’s favorite God, the Almighty Dollar. I think it’s marvelous.

I hope the protest continues indefinitely. I hope one starts in every city in America, and the civil leaders adjust to having people camping in their parks discussing whatever is on their mind 24/7/365. I hope I can go there and talk to everyone about Jesus and what his sign would say and what they all think of him versus the organized church community.

I hope we start talking about things as a people from now on. and don’t just limit stuff to what’s easy to talk about, or what fits on a sign or what problems are “solvable” I hope our prophets stop following procedure, and start crying out in the wilderness again because I hunger and thirst for justice and I hold to the audacious hope of satisfaction.

…also I would really like to hang out with these guys, but I have a job and it’s getting kinda cold out.

Written by RyanGaffney

October 21st, 2011 at 4:26 am

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Another Paradigm Shift

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A Bible studyOne of the wonderful, and sometimes horribly embarrassing things about being a young man putting your thoughts on the internet, is that once they’re out there, they’re kinda out there (and my thoughts are out there in more ways than one)

There are quite a few things I don’t agree with 2008 Ryan about, and yet his thoughts are here right with the thoughts I’m having today. 2004 Ryan also had a blog. Boy was that guy a pompous idiot! I’m often relieved to know most of the stuff he wrote is lost to the sands of time before Google had a memory

Of course I’m actually just as much of a pompous idiot right now. In the scheme of the universe the amount of knowledge I’ve gained in the last 7 years in insignificant. But I like my ideas now, even if 2018 Ryan is going to think they’re awful.

This is the Art of the Blog. This is how it is. A few superstars like Arianna Huffington might elevate the format to the lever of true journalism, but the rest of us just shout out opinions at the wall and hope in instigates an interesting thought in someone else.

Last year at this time I found myself in no position of leadership for the first time since high school. I was transitioning out of Church Ministry into Parachurch. I had one foot out the door on my way to Kansas, and without any students I needed an outlet for my interesting thoughts. So I brought the blog back (it had been inactive)

Then I moved to Kansas and I didn’t know anyone, I was unsure of the landscape, I didn’t know what comments were appropriate to share, and this forum needed to mutate into a mouthpiece for thoughts I couldn’t say our loud for any reason.

Now I’m drifting into inactivity again and I think I know why. I have a chapter now, and a mission, and friends. I have stuff to do, and I’m just not angsty enough to bleed on the page most days. I’m going to try to shift again. This time into a more official capacity. My identity as Campus Minister, is getting more integrated into my central identity and I think it’s time to start preaching from the blog. Posting fewer edgy opinion pieces, and more biblical interpretations.

At least I hope that’s what’s going on

Written by RyanGaffney

October 18th, 2011 at 10:54 pm

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New Student Outreach

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Hey Everyone!Catalyst

I know most of you haven’t seen or heard from me since my visit in august. Since that time I have been fully devoted to learning the ropes of what InterVarsity calls NSO “New Student Outreach”.

At the beginning of each new school year, about 5,000 new freshmen come to K-State. History has taught us that we have about 5 weeks to get these students involved, before their schedules fill up and they are no longer available. So all through September, all over the nation, campus ministers are scrambling to get the word out about their groups in an effort to take advantage of this unprecedented opportunity to meet students. We plan special events, plant new bible studies, take trips, and host tables in order to meet people, and when we’re not doing that we’re mostly walking up to strangers and getting to know them!

Then in October, things wind down a little bit, our programs for the semester have some momentum, and we all take a nap and focus on casting vision for the semester ahead.

This year’s NSO was especially crazy for me since it’s the first time I’ve ever seen one and I was in charge of it. But God is faithful and he has answered your prayers. We started the year with a dinner at Chili’s for all our students. Prayerfully, I made a reservation for 20 people, hoping that if most of our students came and some brought friends we would fill all of the seats.

Unbelievably over twice that many people ended up coming and learning about InterVarsity. There were so many people there getting to know each other that I couldn’t even do the talk I had planned in the restaurant and we had to gather outside afterwards in order for everyone to be able to hear.

Events like this wouldn’t be possible without the prayers and generous giving of donors like you, so I want to thank you and ask that you continue to pray that God will pour out his blessings in such abundance that out nets begin to burst. That’s the kind of ministry we need here!

Written by RyanGaffney

October 16th, 2011 at 10:08 pm

Posted in Uncategorized