Monday, October 31, 2011

protest camp at st paul’s: what would jesus do?

Questions, questions, (typical) questions….
How on earth can these people find the time to camp out indefinitely? Haven’t they got jobs?
What do they hope to achieve? They haven’t got any specific demands, have they?

Well, all I know is that I’m glad that these protesters in cities throughout the world ARE making a stand. I’ve signed countless petitions; I’ve written to my MP a number of times; I’ve blogged about all the unfairness and the greed…. but, apparently, all to no avail. These people ARE doing something and it nags away at the powers-that-be and they’re helping to keep the media’s attention on the issues.
They’re acting as MY conscience (why don’t I camp out with them – afterall, I’ve got the time/opportunity – is it because I just couldn’t be bothered?). I want them still to be protesting as we come up to Christmas and we start hearing about the bonuses being paid out to all and sundry in the banking/stock exchange/CEO world – even though it’s ordinary people like us that are actually paying the ENORMOUS price for their mistakes/mismanagement/greed.
Much has been written over the past few days about the decision of the cathedral authorities (and the City of London Corporation) to begin the legal process to evict the protesters currently camping outside St Paul’s. I have to say that I just cannot comprehend the Church’s stance on this. You will recall that Dr Giles Fraser resigned from his post as canon chancellor last Thursday. It was Canon Fraser who told police to allow the protesters to set up camp outside the cathedral on 15 October after they had been prevented from camping by the London Stock Exchange in privately-owned Paternoster Square near St Paul's. What actual harm are the protestors causing as far as the church is concerned? I’m convinced that they would be able to come to agreement to ensure that the cathedral remains open at all times. Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has spoken out about the greed of bankers, financial markets and the “rich” over recent years on several occasions and this was surely an opportunity for the church to stand alongside the protesters.
There was a very good
article (in my view) in The Guardian on 29 October entitled “Occupy London could be protected by Christian ring of prayer”. I think the following extracts sum up the feelings of a lot of us:
“Christian groups that have publicly sided with the protesters include one of the oldest Christian charities, the Fellowship of Reconciliation, and the oldest national student organisation, the Student Christian Movement, Christianity Uncut, the Zacchaeus 2000 Trust and the Christian magazine Third Way. In addition, London Catholic Worker, the Society of Sacramental Socialists and Quaker groups have offered their support.
“A statement by the groups said: ‘As Christians, we stand alongside people of all religions who are resisting economic injustice with active nonviolence. The global economic system perpetuates the wealth of the few at the expense of the many. It is based on idolatrous subservience to markets. We cannot worship both God and money.’
“Director of the influential religious think-tank Ekklesia, Jonathan Bartley said: "There are some very unhappy people within the Church of England. The protesters seem to articulate many of the issues that the church has paid lip-service to. Many people are disillusioned with the position St Paul's has adopted. To evict rather than offer sanctuary is contrary to what many people think the church is all about. The whole thing has been a car crash."

A car crash indeed!


bigdaddystevieB said...

As it happens, I’ve just (this morning!) read the text one of John Bell’s “Thought for the Day” talks on Radio4’s Today programme from 2004. He was writing about the (then) forthcoming US presidential election and highlighting what he felt was one of the most important attributes of leadership: the ability to change one’s mind. He concluded: “To Christians as much as to non-believers or other believers, this may seem anathema. But for the God of the Bible, this is a quintessential attribute – the ability to change mind and change actions when justice and compassion demand it”.
I hope the Church of England is listening!

bigdaddystevieB said...

The Guardian article also states that “it has also been claimed that highly critical report into the moral standards of bankers has been suppressed by St Paul's, amid fears it would inflame tensions over the protest. The report, based on a survey of 500 City workers who were asked if they thought they were worth their salaries and bonuses, was due to be published last Thursday. But publication of the report, by the St Paul's Institute, has been delayed in apparent acknowledgement that it would give the impression the cathedral was on the side of protesters.” Aaargh!!
PS: It also appears that Bristol Cathedral authorities are taking a very similar line to those at St Paul’s. Aaargh (again)!