Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Cathedral City

The Occupy London movement yesterday performed a loosely choreographed mass dance routine to Michael Jackson’s Thriller, in tattered suits and zombie make-up, holding a banner saying “Dancing on the grave of capitalism”. That’ll show the bankers. Almost simultaneously, the Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral, the Right Reverend Graeme Knowles, resigned from his post, saying that he felt his position had become untenable, and a fresh approach was needed, “ to the complex and vital questions facing St Paul’s.” On the contrary, acknowledging that you might be more a part of the crisis than the cure, is quite the freshest approach in years. Our leaders have made us more accustomed to the last-one-to-realise-I’m-rubbish style of management.  Even the best intentioned can eventually evolve from healer to heal, but all too often they can’t see the writing on the wall until they’re being pushed off it.
Rev Knowles is the next ecclesiastical casualty, after Giles Fraser, the Canon Chancellor quit. He was concerned that any potential eviction of the anti-capitalist camp would amount to “violence in the name of the Church”. His departure was essentially in protest at the prospect of legal action. As Dale Farm displayed, such actions are often elongated, expensive, and exceedingly messy.
In all the comings and goings between protester and Protestant, the bankers who supposedly triggered this outpouring of outrage have been barely mentioned. While the great and the good have been falling on their swords, the City seems to have escaped even a scratch. Again, some would say. Whilst many, large sections of the Church of England included, have sympathy for the protesters’ principles, there is less, perhaps, for their practices. It feels a bit like fleas declaring war on the cat they live on, and may be just as likely to succeed.
If the thermal imaging cameras are to be believed, then many of campers creep home for some comfort of an evening. One suspects that if the TV cameras went home as well, then the campaigners might not creep back for breakfast. But if they are in residence in the early hours as well, then surely nature will effect an eviction of her own. If you really want Glastonbury out of your garden, just be patient. St Paul’s might have saved a few bob, and the odd job, just waiting for winter.
For now, an uneasy impasse exists. In amongst the publicity stunts and sound bites, one question I have heard from the clerics, the commentators and the canvas dwellers themselves, is “what would Jesus do?”  Good point. You would hope that someone running a cathedral might have asked him.

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