Will The Woolly Occupy St Paul’s Protest Bring Down The Arch Ditherer Of Canterbury?
OCCUPY London Stock Exchange might pitched camp 0.4 of a mile from its eponymous goal, but the protest continues to hit the big swinging dicks of the Church of England. Giles Fraser, the Canon Chancellor, has gone. And now The Right Reverend Graeme Knowles has resigned. Of course, the buck stops with the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Church’s Chief Executive, whose inability to back or evict demonstrators is causing problems.
The current malaise at the Church was not helped by Halloween. As Simon Robinson explains
While confronted by the rise and rise of Halloween, what many fail to appreciate is that what Christians have on their hands could be what Simon Cowell would call a ‘high class problem’. Halloween is believed to originate from the pagan festival of ‘Samhain’, but has long since been Christianised into ‘All Hallows Eve’, in a bold, ruthless, and far-sighted move that was typical of our indomitable forebears. Halloween revellers are in fact celebrating the eve of a Christian festival – All Saints Day or Hallowmas, if they did but know it – partaking in the symbolic last gasp of darkness before it is extinguished by the light. However, unlike similar success stories of Christmas and Easter, the duality of Halloween and Hallowmas is largely forgotten. This is perhaps unsurprising considering the main activity of the traditionally Catholic feast day is to pray to Saints, a no-no for Protestants. It is followed by All Souls day, which features prayers for the departed faithful. Both festivals are sombre affairs that are not universally observed by Christians, and are certainly devoid of any appeal to the masses.
The protestors are having all the fun dressing up in scary masks. As the Times reports on its front page:
Zakandrew Roberts, 18, joined Occupy London on its first day, but left on Saturday after a series of incidents, including someone urinating in his tent and a friend being threatened with a penknife. He claimed that the camp had deteriorated from a group of serious campaigners intent on highlighting issues about economic equality, to “drunks and drug-takers . . . here for a laugh”. Mr Roberts, an unemployed charity worker, said: “Half the people there don’t know why they are there or what they are protesting about. I want political change, not to get high and drunk all the time.”
Can you be an unemployed charity worker?
Says the Right Rev Graeme Knowles:
“In recent days, since the arrival of the protesters’ camp outside the cathedral, we have all been put under a great deal of strain and have faced what would appear to be some insurmountable issues. I hope and pray that under new leadership these issues might continue to be addressed and that there might be a swift and peaceful resolution.”
The Telegraph leads with news that St Paul’s is a national joke. Dr Rowan Williams delivers the monologue:
“The events of the last couple of weeks have shown very clearly how decisions made in good faith by good people under unusual pressure can have utterly unforeseen and unwelcome consequences, and the clergy of St Paul’s deserve our understanding in these circumstances. Graeme Knowles has been a very distinguished Dean of St Paul’s, who has done a great deal to strengthen the pastoral and intellectual life of the cathedral and its involvement in the life of London. The urgent larger issues raised by the protesters at St Paul’s remain very much on the table and we need – as a church and as society as a whole – to work to make sure that they are properly addressed.”
In other words: from up here I can see all sides of the argument.
So. Will the Church co-operate or not with the Corporation of London’s legal efforts to evict the protestors? Will the protestors bring down a pillar of the Establishment, namely the Archbishop of Canterbury? Will a protest that hang around while working out what it was protesting about bring down the arch Ditherer? Does the Church get the protest it deserves?