Saturday, October 22, 2011

Occupy Saint Paul's!

The canons of St. Paul's Cathedral in London decided to close the cathedral indefinitely for the first time since World War II. During the height of the Blitz, the cathedral closed for only 4 days. They cite all kinds of safety concerns for visitors as well as for the protesters. I cannot help but think that this is a melodramatic over-reaction. Camped out protesters are hardly German incendiary bombs raining down out of the sky.

I think the London protesters are right to see this as a move on the part of the City to close them down. We had a similar episode in New York when a scheduled "cleaning" of LibertyPlaza/Zucotti Park was used as a transparent pretext to shut down the protest. Supporters rallying at the park at the last minute prevented a confrontation by forcing the mayor and the police to back down in the face of public opinion on the side of the protesters.

The protesters are there because the London cops would not let them anywhere near the Stock Exchange. That center of the international financial industry must be protected from ... shame and embarrassment I suppose. The campers pitched their tents on the cathedral grounds and the cops were ready to move in and clear them out. Kudos to the cathedral for asking the cops to stand down and for welcoming the protesters to camp out there (would I be right to see the hand of Giles Fraser, frequent columnist for The Guardian and resident canon priest at St. Paul's in that invitation?). It is good to see at least part of the Church of England resisting the fate of so much of American Christianity, to be co-opted into becoming another collection agent for the banks (see right wing political efforts to clobber the poor with the cudgel of Calvinism, the one corner of Christianity where camels do pass through the eyes of needles). There appears to be a measure of good will between the cathedral and the occupiers. It seems to me that some kind of agreement could be worked out, especially if the City Corporation stays out of it.

Contrast that situation with New York where there is no good will at all between the occupiers in Liberty Plaza and the Mayor. Mayor Bloomberg is definitely part of the 1% and is not exactly shy about his complete lack of sympathy for the protests. The cops are not shy at all about using clubs, pepper spray, and mass arrests on unarmed and peaceful protesters. And yet, both sides managed to work out at least a modus vivendi for the occupation of that small park. The occupation in New York continues to flourish and expand. Occupy Wall Street now has public opinion to protect it from more aggressive police tactics. It seems to me that the custodians of St. Paul's could work out safety and sanitation issues with largely peaceful protesters instead of having an attack of the vapors and passing out on the fainting couch. I see no good reason why protesters, priests, worshipers, tourists, and pigeons can't find some way to live with each other.

Occupy proclaims a message that the Church should embrace. European political leaders, like American political leaders, refuse to confront those who are really responsible for creating this global economic crisis, the high rollers in the financial industry who gambled with everyone's money and threw snake eyes at the craps table. Instead we get bromides about already hard pressed middle and working class people living beyond their means, that austerity and more austerity is the solution to debt crises. The politicians and their financial backers want to reverse the parable of Dives and Lazarus and put poor old Lazarus in the flames of hell with rich fat old Dives in the Bosom of Abraham laughing at the poor wretch.



I wonder if the canons of St. Paul's would prefer the protests end like this:


I'm delighted that Themethatisme looks in on this blog. He sends this skewering of the Opinion of The City:



it's margaret said...

I think the idea to close was poorly constructed and thought through... and is riddled with mis-information, as reported at the Lead.

Unfortunately, I see the closing of St. Paul's as a sign that they are part of the 1%

--unless the shutdown is in order to join the protest... ever hopeful....

Counterlight said...

I suspect that the staff of Saint Paul's is divided over this. I would imagine some want the cathedral to join in and others would never hear of such a thing, so like the C of E.

Counterlight said...

Some commenters on Thinking Anglicans speculate that the chapter might be in cahoots with the City financial industry, or feeling pressure from them to end the protest.

June Butler said...

Seems a shame, doesn't it? Some kind of agreement might have been worked out. The closure of the cathedral seems about putting pressure on the occupiers to move on. The worshipers and the tourists may be angry at the protestors. Of course, the closure could have the opposite effect of making the authorities of the cathedral look bad.

Revd. Neal Terry said...

Do check out the advantage made of this nonsense in the Daily Mail. comparing a few hundred tents to the Blitz. The Daily Mail is the source of some of the most prurient shite on the face of the earth.

In cahoots, doesn't quite get there. From whence came the cash for the restorations works on the cathedral? It certainly wasn't parishioners; nor the tourists they are avowedly missing, dependent upon for their base income. I am particularly encouraged by General Synod member invited to comment by the Mail, "‘This is a tragedy. Clearly now the demonstrators should pack up their tents and go. St Paul’s is a greater cause then theirs and they should acknowledge that."

Citing health and safety has become the all purpose mendacity of choice for anyone who wishes to object to someone elses wishes. One has a sneaky feeling that Giles may have spoken out of turn last week and has subsequently had his wristies slapped by the boss...a real shamem, for Giles acted sensibly and honestly in a tight spot and for once put forward a public expression of faith as it should be seen.

Read more:

June Butler said...

theme, that's tellin' 'em!

On second thought, the protestors may include the unwashed and the riff-raff. Gosh, do you really that sort is fit to hang about the house of God?

Revd. Neal Terry said...

I'm just getting warmed up Grandmere!
You should have heard the latest sweetie of the tory party (Louise Mensch) on TV last night berating the protesters for having a cuppa out of Starbucks. Accused them of rank hypocrisy for having a cup of coffee whilst protesting against the evils of capitalism. Fortunately she was on HIGNFY and the gentlemen sallied forth with the righteous ssword of satire and made her sound a complete prat, to the merriment of all concerned.

Revd. Neal Terry said...

It is on youtube already...

Counterlight said...

Thanks theme. I enjoyed it so much it's getting posted.

Counterlight said...

It also got Facebooked.

June Butler said...

The decision to close the cathedral is a disaster.

The day I went to St Paul's for a service, three sides of the cathedral were barricaded off due to street construction. By the time I found my way in, the service was nearly over. I'm sure that was much more obstructive than the protestors. Others beside me were searching for an open door, too.

JCF said...

[NiL, tell us---from your experience---what do insane people do?]

As if the CofE, in the Age of Rowan, wasn't seen w/ enough contempt already, that they had to go and shut St Paul's as a favor to the likes of Murdoch???

Kyrie eleison!

Counterlight said...

NL is just our old nemesis Brad Evans. His comments are deleted and spammed as usual. He'll just have to find another internet cafe in Rhode Island.