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The Idle American
A Different Slant on "Occupy"...
Wednesday, November 23, 2011 • Posted November 23, 2011

In a life chapter just a few pages back, “occupy” was a term usually oozing with courteous and thoughtful consideration of others. Maybe it was printed on a sign placed on an airline seat, or in a crowded restaurant.The word had a tough side, too, sometimes noting that an enemy stronghold had been occupied.Today, it has a whole ‘nuther application by significant numbers of folks caught up in societal restlessness, poverty and/or a long list of causes. Their demonstrations are popping up across the land….*****Wasn’t it but days ago that “Occupy Wall Street” and “Occupy New York” made headlines? Now, cities can hardly be viewed as significant without “occupy” preceding their names.Most of the participants seem to be congregating at mega-banks.Mention of banks reminds that my 99-year-old Uncle Mort has now added “visionary” to his long list of personal attributes. His money, buried for eight decades, was in a bank for just one day. “Back in the 1970s, banks were giving away toasters for new depositors opening $500 accounts,” he said. “I made my deposit one morning, got my toaster, and closed the account later in the afternoon.”…*****Believe it or not, “occupy” has a spiritual dimension dating back to 1832. That’s when an Indian slave founded “Occupy Baptist Church” adjacent to Ten-Mile Creek in Louisiana. The rainy season, which was often, sometimes prevented church attendance when the creek ran high. In due course, 90 years later, a second church was constructed on the other side of the creek, three miles away. They shared a pastor in the early going, and they still share the name. One is “Occupy #1 Baptist Church”, the other, “Occupy #2 Baptist Church.” You may wonder about the name. There are several theories, one being that many biblical names already had been duplicated. One member, “studied up” on the Bible, suggested “Occupy,” citing Luke 19:13, “Occupy until I come.”The two churches are far removed from freeways and some 20 miles from a McDonald’s—unless you count the farmer who abandoned his place years ago when he learned there was more money to be made with his “E-I-E-I-O” song for children. (The “newer” Occupy Church is five miles from Pitkin, a town of 2,000 souls where my late daddy was born 102 years ago.)…*****And so it came to pass that Louisianans were “occupying” before it was a big news event.Lo, Uncle Mort attends a small rural church in East Texas. It’s a carbon copy of one of the Louisiana “Occupies.”A while back, his face reddened upon arrival at “his pew” a few minutes late. A visitor, unaware that Mort and others in the small congregation plop down on “their pews” at each service, asked him what was wrong. Sputtering, Mort said, “You are occu-PEW-ing my pie!”…*****It’s kinda fun to remain on the lookout for unusual church names. There’s a “Strange Methodist Church” in Louisiana (honoring a family of that name). In Richmond, VA, there’s a “Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church.” The Rev. John Jasper, a fiery African-American minister, preached there for many years, drawing huge crowds. One visitor, puzzled by the church’s name, asked if there were five other “Mount Zions” in Richmond.“No, ours is the only one,” the late minister is said to have answered, “We just like the way it sounds.”…*****Back to the initial subject, “occupy.” In the many tugs-of-war in our culture, look for demonstrations to grow and for civility to be further challenged. Where poverty grows and frustrated members of the 99% focus on the “top 1%,” such behavior seems unavoidable.In some cases, factions seem equally strong on both ends of the rope-tugging. A current example is New Braunfels, TX, where many citizens tire of beer cans tossed in the Guadalupe River by tube-floaters. They’re proposing a law against such, mounting campaigns to “Ban the Can.” Tourism folks, fearful that such a law might reduce the number of visitors, are countering. Their banner is to “Can the Ban.” (The “Can-banners” prevailed handily.)I dunno. I kinda miss the days when “occupied” meant “not right now.” Some “occupied” signs I hope will survive are located at both ends of aircraft. One can take note of it to avoid standing in cramped aisle space waiting to access the lavatory—even though “not right now” can seem like a long, long time….*****

Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Metroplex. Send inquiries/comments to: Phone: 817-447-3872. Web site:

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