Monday, September 08, 2008

Organize This (A Book Recommendation)

I read this book once about a guy who spent his life as a community organizer. The guy was a real historical figure born a long time ago, I think about 2,000 years ago to be exact, and the book was intended to highlight his more important works and set the stage for what he (as well as many of his followers) believed would be a new movement, although I think the word he used was Covenant.

The book begins with several stories of the man’s humble upbringing. He was born to a single mother and step-father, a carpenter if I remember correctly. In his adult life his title was Teacher, however, from a historical standpoint, many consider the work that he did to be that of a Community Organizer. In fact, his legacy is so enduring that one could argue he may have been the greatest Community Organizer to have ever lived. Although he showed remarkable promise as a Teacher and public speaker, he was much maligned by those in power who clung to the traditional notions of determining a persons worth by their position, power, and possessions. From what I read he spent much of his life challenging those notions and, at the risk of giving away the ending, paid dearly for it.

As and adult he began traveling the region, speaking to anyone who would listen and gathering followers along the way. His message begin to resonate with those on the fringes of society, those that the people in power determined to be less than worthy, namely prostitutes, tax collectors, lepers and citizens from foreign lands. He implored the leaders of the day to consider the plight of the poor, the sick, the aged and infirm, and went out of his way to challenge those who would accuse others of wrong doing to look into their won hearts before casting aspersion, or stones for that matter.

In the end he set out a few simple guidelines, or blessing for people to live by. Some of those whom he felt were most blessed were the poor in spirit, those who mourn, as well as those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. He also held a special consideration for the meek, the merciful, the pure of heart, peacemakers, and those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness. The last one proving to be prophetically ironic as he was himself persecuted, and ultimately crucified for the sake of righteousness.

His lasting message to those who claimed to follow him and work to organize a community around his legacy was this: feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, visit the imprisoned and welcome strangers with open arms. He believed that as his followers were able to do this for the less fortunate of society, they did it for him.

Sadly, the true nature of his work, organizing communities around a common message of love, unity and change, has been distorted, and in recent days ridiculed by those in power. His legacy does live on in the hearts, minds, and actions of many individuals today, even some who do not profess to follow him, its just really hard to find those people sometimes.

I wonder if Sarah Palin or Rudy Guliani ever read that book?

1 comment:

Attila The Mom said...

Not going to comment other than to say that I'm so glad to see you're posting again!