Where Were You When they Crucified My Lord?

December 7, 2011 § 1 Comment

A friend recently turned me on to RSN (Reader Supported News) and I find it a terrific source for progressive news and commentary. It recently featured this abbreviated version of a talk that Chris Hedges gave at the Occupy Wall Street site in Liberty Square in New York City, addressed to Trinity Church (a landmark church downtown near Ground Zero) and to all Christians. I found it extremely moving, especially since Were You There is one of my favorite African-American spirituals. Here’s the link:

Where Were You When They Crucified My Lord?

Here’s an excerpt:

The Occupy movement is the force that will revitalize traditional Christianity in the United States or signal its moral, social and political irrelevance. The mainstream church, battered by declining numbers and a failure to defiantly condemn the crimes and cruelty of the corporate state, as well as a refusal to vigorously attack the charlatans of the Christian right, whose misuse of the Gospel to champion unfettered capitalism, bigotry and imperialism is heretical, has become a marginal force in the life of most Americans, especially the young. Outside the doors of churches, many of which have trouble filling a quarter of the pews on Sundays, struggles a movement, driven largely by young men and women, which has as its unofficial credo the Beatitudes . . .

Were you there to halt the genocide of Native Americans? Were you there when Sitting Bull died on the cross? Were you there to halt the enslavement of African-Americans? Were you there to halt the mobs that terrorized black men, women and even children with lynching during Jim Crow? Were you there when they persecuted union organizers and Joe Hill died on the cross? Were you there to halt the incarceration of Japanese-Americans in World War II? Were you there to halt Bull Connor’s dogs as they were unleashed on civil rights marchers in Birmingham? Were you there when Martin Luther King died upon the cross? Were you there when Malcolm X died on the cross? Were you there to halt the hate crimes, discrimination and violence against gays, lesbians, bisexuals and those who are transgender? Were you there when Matthew Shepard died on the cross? Were you there to halt the abuse and at times enslavement of workers in the farmlands of this country? Were you there to halt the murder of hundreds of thousands of innocent Vietnamese during the war in Vietnam or hundreds of thousands of Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan? Were you there to halt Israel’s saturation bombing of Lebanon and Gaza? Were you there when Rachel Corrie died on the cross? Were you there to halt the corporate forces that have left working men and women and the poor in this country bereft of a sustainable income, hope and dignity? Were you there to share your food with your neighbor in Liberty Square? Were you there to become homeless with them?

Where were you when they crucified my Lord?

Chris Hedge’s address stands as another example of how powerful a biblically based, pointedly Christian witness could be, how it provides a platform to stand on and offers compelling rhetorical tools.

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§ One Response to Where Were You When they Crucified My Lord?

  • P. says:

    I am afraid Chris Hedges’ rhetoric turns me off. I hear from him no love, which I hold as the cornerstone of Christian teaching.
    I had thought Occupy Wall Street was about economic inequality and the lack of corporate accountability, but now I am afraid it’s simply about holding Wall Street responsible for anything you don’t like. The reference to slavery seems particularly disingenuous, given that slavery existed throughout history until capitalists made it illegal, in certain places.
    There’s much in our system which needs fixing, certainly, but reading Hedges doesn’t provide me with any answers.

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