And the Lord smote them for what they did with the calf Aaron had built. – Exodus 32:35 (NASB)
On September 17, 2011, a bright gold papier-mâché calf, formed in the shape of the Wall Street bull, marched down Wall Street, disrupting brunches and headed towards Zuccotti Park. People dropped their Bloody Marys to join the parade: “Isn’t that the golden calf, you know, from the Bible?” Imagination seized the people, for a moment, taking the place of Sunday brunch as biblical behavior. Idolatry is no bull. It is spiritual and economic reality.
That was the start of Occupy Wall Street, with its protest against “the one percent,” meaning the minority, the super-rich.
Climate activists cite that 6% of the world’s population uses the great bulk of fossil fuels to feed its brunches while 94% of the people will pay the environmental cost of their buffets.
The golden calf is a symbol of what happens when the rich go too far and mistake God for themselves. They destroy their relationship with the divine and its good promises for creation and creativity. They become Incuravatus in se, Luther’s great definition of sin: “turned inward on oneself.”
But if repentance could occupy the tax code? No one could make more than a million annually. If repentance could occupy our infrastructure? The 99% could create beautiful buses and subways, hospitals and prisons could look like spas and have Harvard professors teaching in them. If repentance could occupy healthcare? The best doctors and therapists would want to work with the most injured people—that’s where the good money would be made, not in nursing the rich.
That’s not pie in the sky. That’s God from the Sky. It’s smart, for everyone, just like the creator. Plus, God won’t smite us. God will smile.
Cast not your presence from us and renew a right spirit within us and grant us your peace. Amen.