I am completely bemused by the ‘Occupy the London Stock Exchange’ protest. It seems that the protestors were prevented bearding the lion in its den and chose instead to wound a behemoth, one caged by the rules and regulations of a litigious society, which has behaved rather predictably, as wounded animals do. Meanwhile the self-styled ‘masters of the universe’ are mooning the crowd from their mirrored towers.
So now we have this encampment, or should one describe it as a pied-à-terre for occasional protest? I don’t have the benefit of infra-red vision but some of the protestors who were interviewed by the media seem to have had pressing engagements which militated against a 24/7 occupation. I try to be optimistic that their willingness to obey the injunction against occupying Paternoster Square may indicate that when the authorities obtain one for St Paul’s Churchyard they will quietly move on.
And this is my dilemma. I want to support them but I do not understand their argument with St Paul’s. Do they think that Mammon is holed up inside? There is a lack of political coherence. “All emotions and abstractions,’ as Joni Mitchell would say. Yet the 99% are in sympathy with their aims and share their frustration that the malfunctioning global financial system is proving resistant to reform. But, for as long as they continue to berate the institution of St Paul’s and haughtily spurn all attempts at mediation, however ineptly done, the more the media will focus on this squabble.
To the “What would Jesus do?” question, I suggest that he would have checked in for the ‘vibe’ but quickly moved on to the parts of the city that are hurting. Jesus was continually exhorting his followers to move beyond the city and preach the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth. It is the people, the oikumene who are the place of God not a tented space; and the sacredness of cathedrals lies only in the way they facilitate the union of believer and Jesus Christ the Saviour. There needs to be dialogue not sententious banner waving.
What we seem to have at the moment is dis-place-ment therapy. As Richard Rohr asks in Simplicity: the Freedom of Letting Go, “How is it that we’ve managed so effectively to avoid everything that [Jesus Christ] taught so unequivocally?” We continue with the blame game, blaming institutions and not accepting that our victimhood stems from being seduced by the myths of the modernity project. We will not regain our freedom by trying to catch every trendy breeze.