Well, now, Mammon or God? Health and safety, or the Gospel? Christianity or Jesus? Middle-class busybodies and lay-abouts or principled protesters ?
I suppose that everybody even remotely interested in the Occupy movement, or in the outworkings of the Christian faith in daily life by now knows that the Dean and Chapter have decided to close St Paul’s Cathedral, and this has become a matter for intense debate. Whether the Dean and chapter like it or not, and Christian charity dictates I suppose they do not like it, it is now plain that this has become a fault line for the debate over the Occupy movement. On the one side, the right. They side with the Cathedral and argue that the protesters ought to use due Parliamentary means to be heard, and that it is a disgrace that the Cathedral has been forced to close.
On the other hand, the radical Christians simply cannot believe that the Cathedral really had to shut – and moreover do not understand why, if it DID need to close, it did not simply move most of its services outside. Why are they not preaching and teaching and celebrating in the public space, in the public eye so generously offered to them?
Whether they meant it or not, it is an own-goal of horrendous proportions. The Church of England is once again seen as clearly aligned with the Establishment in its most unattractive form, an image sections of it, though not well-heeled City sections, had struggled hard to escape.
Dear knows if the protesters can actually achieve anything, but it is totally clear that the unprincipled or rather aprincipled manipulation of money is a wrong thing, wrong in its assumptions, and wrong in its fruits. It is always the fruits of an action which are the test of the action. Dearly as I would like to believe otherwise, I do not see the protesters as having any solutions to offer. That is not the point. The Church, and any church, has no business doing anything which LOOKS LIKE siding with a system which makes the rich richer and the poor poorer.
Neither side of this debate, neither side, believes that this action of closing the Cathedral does not spring from a fundamental assumption about the rightness and the wrongness of of the Occupy movement. Beyond doubt, St Paul’s is seen as having sided with Mamon. As I say above, this may not have been their intention, but it has been the result of their action. I can see no way out of this now for St Paul’s – so it is the more necessary that the rest of us make our position clear.
God, Gospel, Jesus, and therefore, protesters.