Prayer of the Day: Raising Hell

From The Nation’s coverage of the Showdown in Chicago, where the American Bankers’ Association meeting was the site earlier this week of protests against Wall Street greed run amok. Participants, according to the terrific reporting of Esther Kaplan, not only protested, but prayed for legislation and policy that would would regulate the banks, hold them accountable, and protect and empower consumers.

The Showdown, organized by consumer protection advocates and joined by labor unions, included prayer that reflected protesters’ rage against the machine.

On Monday, Kaplan writes:

Rev. Eugene Barnes of Bloomington, Illinois, offered an emotional prayer against “money changers” and for the “ragtag band” before him. Farmer activist Larry Ginter of Des Moines, Iowa, got the crowd back on its feet with, “I know you can’t raise corn on the streets of Chicago—but can you raise a little hell?” Even Senator Dick Durban stirred the crowd as he railed against loans with “tricks and traps that even a Wall Street lawyer can’t explain.” And the crowd clearly moved him, too. “One of the newsmen asked, ‘Why are you here?'” he said quietly. “And I told him, ‘I’m here because they’re here.'”

The Rev. Jesse Jackson offered a closing prayer:

It was during Jackson’s final closing prayer that the pain underlying the day’s tough talk was allowed to show. “Those who lost jobs, bless them,” he said, and a woman to my left, eyes closed, echoed him: “Bless them.” “Those who’ve lost their houses,” Jackson continued, “bless them. Those who died in need of health care in an emergency room, bless them.”

The religious component to the Showdown was the antithesis of religion inside the Beltway, where religious leaders favor photo ops with politicians, who in turn look for a spiritual stamp of approval to curry favor with voters. This protest was fueled by outside agitators rising up against that Washington insidery-ism. They vote, too.