Friday, June 22, 2012

Mark Adams Makes Us Better

Mark Adams was convicted of trespassing with us this past Monday for that infamous intrusion on Trinity’s hallowed vacant lot on December 17th. And so, Judge Matthew Sciarrino became the next unwitting person to be encircled by Mark’s spell. His Honor intended a lesson to be learned--even a national point to be made with, “this country was founded on the principle of private property”, in his sentencing statement. You wouldn’t have thought Mark had directed or charmed anyone but goodness finds a way.

Our cases were all referred to as “Mark Adams, et al.” We seven were the “et al.” and Mark remained in a class by himself, gentle, attentive, staunchly loyal to friends, with a back bone of steel. We knew the District Attorney’s whiz kids had him in the cross hairs; they even announced a “deal” which summarized the system’s frustration with “Mr. Adams.” There would be jail time since this miscreant dared to defy authority. It's a public worry: such dangerous characters on the loose.

The judge got right to it quickly announcing who was guilty and what would happen. He barely took a breath. I wish I had thought faster—and didn’t have to pee—since the sentences forced us to huddle under the benign label of “4 days of community service.” If I was better prepared, centered and ready—like Mark—I would have asked for jail time in solidarity. It all happened so fast. 

Me, pontificating. Mark always attentive, patiently listening. 
The court police swarmed Mark in a pitiful display of force. The charade of a decorous trial on behalf of pitifully wounded Trinity was called out for all to see and the unassuming, guileless man, with the bushy beard and kind face did that for us. Judge Sciarrino was a goner even though he had urged for a stern, well-paced trial. Court agents put Mark Adams in handcuffs with all the deftness of raw meat being rush-wrapped for a customer. Mark faced it all with a quiet certainty, a silent, “See what I mean?”

For as long as I’ve known of OWS there’s been Mark Adams. He's the poster person for this phenomenon coming from somewhere else after his home was swallowed up in foreclosure. There are other parts of his story he should tell you, not me. Those details add fuel to that motor of energy inside him of, “Why not justice? Why not now?” He said to me last week that he “came to join a social movement in Occupy and found a family instead.”

I think that discernment is what makes his representation in Occupy so compelling. When others might be drawing from personal agendas he fulfills what Jesus said of Nathanael in John’s Gospel, “Here is a man of no guile!” (John 1:47) By no design of his, circumstances around him drop pretense…like a court room revealing itself as nothing more than a star chamber so Trinity can collect rents and swagger. 

Even as I prepare to pick up trash at Tompkins Park for my days of community service I still breath the air in freedom but my sweet brother languishes behind bars where he has started a hunger strike “for all those who are unjustly imprisoned.” Even from jail Mark Adams beckons to our better selves.


  1. Many thanks for your gospel witness

  2. AMEN!! I am related to Rev. George Packard and it saddens me to no end how the beaten church is lashing out at it's own people.

  3. Obviously not all people can face prison time for their actions; it is no disgrace to have taken the plea deals. However, by not cow-towing to the state, the eight of you helped to further unmask what so many have known for so long; that our justice system is a sham; that the downtrodden will never have their day so long as society remains as it is, and that no organization - whether it be religious, scholastic, et al - is immune from the all-corrupting power of capitalism.

    Further, it is a shame that many in OWS and affiliated groups look down so much upon religion, because many of the teachings of Christ, of Mohammed, etc. - are perfectly in line with the kind of just society that we collectively dream of. I hope that some minds will be changed in consideration of the actions of yourself and other religiously-connected persons throughout the last several months.

  4. Thank You for your Great Work Bishop. Your are an inspiration and example of the Living Christ. I would like an opportunity to communicate with you. Should you find the time in your busy schedule, please contact me at Thanks Again!

    Peace and Blessings!