Every religion, every denomination, bemoans the fact that it can be hard to keep teenagers engaged in thinking about religion. They’re busy thinking about, well, other stuff. But yesterday was different. Yesterday, my two teens had a transformative educational, political, spiritual experience at Occupy DC, through the lens of their interfaithness.
Today, the police will start enforcing a “no camping” rule, prohibiting the activists at Freedom Plaza and McPherson Square from sleeping in the Occupy tents. So yesterday was a tense and busy day at Occupy DC. Nevertheless, our intrepid spiritual leaders, the rabbi and the minister who guide our interfaith community, Reverend Julia Jarvis and Rabbi Harold White, took a group of our teens down to McPherson Square to meet Reverend Brian Merritt of Occupy Faith DC, to learn more about the role that clergy and religious communities are playing in the Occupy Movement.
At Occupy DC, they were able to witness a General Assembly, explore the library filled with political and spiritual books, drop off some pumpkin muffins at the kitchen, and bring home copies of The Occupied Washington Times. Now, our interfaith kids want to return to sleep there. We’ll see if that is even feasible, after today.
So why does this post belong on a blog about interfaith families? I find it moving and inspiring that my teens were able to have this experience with both their minister and their rabbi (a rabbi who was deeply engaged alongside Christian clergy in the civil rights movement in the 1960s). As interfaith families, our microcosm of respect and engagement and learning has to be a helpful model for non-violent interfaith interaction in the larger world. And while my kids understand that there are differences between their two family religions, between any two religions, they also know that the thirst for social justice is something that Jews and Christians shared in the civil rights movement, and that they share now in the quest for more equitable taxation, and for voting rights for DC.
This Thursday, my radically-inclusive rabbi and my radically-inclusive minister will go together to the People’s Prayer Breakfast, a progressive alternative to the National Prayer Breakfast, organized by Occupy Faith DC. All are invited. In fact, I am tempted to pull my kids out of school to attend.