Thursday, February 2, 2012

The People's Prayer Breakfast...Finally.

Prayer is a sacred act that connects us to something greater than ourselves and moves us to action in transforming the world.
Rev. Brian Merritt, Pastor of the Palisades Community Church in Washington,DC

For intercession, to be Christian, must be prayer for God’s reign to come on earth. It must be prayer for the victory of God over disease, greed, oppression, and death in the concrete circumstances of people’s lives, now. In our intercessions we fix our wills on the divine possibility latent in the present moment, and then find ourselves caught up in the whirlwind of God’s struggle to actualize it.
Walter Wink, Engaging the Powers

Prayer is practicing heaven now.
Richard Rohr

Today is the 59th Annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington DC: invitation only and $650 a plate. This event was started and hosted by The Fellowship Foundation (or "The Family"), a highly secretive Christian organization birthed in 1935 to protest FDR's New Deal and the expanding rights of working people, specifically in the Northwest. The man who launched The Family (Abram Vereide) believed in what he called The Idea: that the two millenia focus on caring for the "least of these" (Matthew 25) was wayward and that, instead, God called him to care for and become connected to the wealthy and powerful, convinced that the world could only be saved by a Christian totalitarian government (a third-way, transcending FDR's social democracy and Hitler's fascism).

The Family does not like to use the word "Christian"--their unofficial motto is "Jesus plus nothing" --preferring to invite all political and business leaders together who just love Jesus regardless of political persuasion and economic agenda. The Family and their Prayer Breakfast are proudly non-political, but we know what that means: they advocate for a brand of Jesus-worship that focuses on a personal relationship with God primarily signficant because it guarantees eternal life disembodied heaven in the future.

The Family believes that Jesus did not come to change political, social and economic systems, but instead to die on the cross as a vicarious sacrifice so that people can stand in the presence of a holy, wrathful God. "Jesus plus nothing," then, combines an American capitalist narrative with a spiritual message of hope after death. The Family subscribes to a post-millenial, an if-we-build-it-he-will-come theology that attempts to baptize world governments in their muscular brand of Christianity.

"Jesus plus nothing" is really about defending the status quo. Behind the scenes, these political, religious and business leaders advocate furiously for corporate & financial deregulation, supply-side taxation, the criminalization of abortion, the rejection of gay-and-lesbian rights, the deportation of undocumented workers, the escalation of the military-industrial-complex, the expansion of the failed US drug war and the use of torture to root out "the bad guys."

Today, a few blocks from The National Prayer Breakfast at the Washington DC Hilton , there will be some prophetic, nonviolent resisters subvesively hosting The People's Prayer Breakfast for free. They will celebrate a God who is always on the side of the poor and oppressed. They will give voice to the homeless, the foreclosed upon, the jobless, gays and lesbians, "illegal" immigrants and, yes, even Muslims. Of course, these Praying People are also political, business and religious leaders working and eating for a whole new world filled with compassion, love and solidarity with the hurting and broken world.

On March 3, if you are in the Orange County area, come join us for The 1st Annual People's Prayer Breakfast at St. George's Episcopal Church in Laguna Hills at 10am. We will eat, sing and dialogue this crucified world into resurrection land. Life's too short to get all apathetic and cynical about the wealthy, powerful forces who appear to be in charge. The game's not over. Here come the underdogs.

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