Ok, I’m massively late to this thing! Last week I made my first and, in light of yesterday’s events,only visit to St Paul’s during the time that the Occupy movement has been based there. My impressions were of a real sense of community, a buzz of conversations, unity, purpose and a good atmosphere. There was plenty of space to walk around and access everything in the area with ease, including the Cathedral.
Its fair to say that when the camp was initially started through a failed attempt to occupy the stock exchange and found itself in the ‘grounds’ of St Paul’s that The Church was slow to respond and genuinely did not quite know how to respond to the complexity of resonating with aspects of what the camp stood for and its own Mission and role in light of its new neighbours. That’s a fact. I’m not saying I could have done any better or would not have faced the same tension, but I did find myself agreeing with Giles Fraser and his more proactive, welcoming and engaging response.
A Statement from St Paul’s in response to the end of the occupy camp perhaps offers some hope
We wish to acknowledge fully that the Occupy movement is helping to raise issues of social justice in the national and international consciousness…St Paul’s Cathedral is fully committed to promoting issues of social and economic justice with renewed energy through our worship, teaching and the work of St Paul’s Institute. In the past months we have been made to re-examine our values and the role of St Paul’s. We’ll continue to do this and we look forward to welcoming a new Dean alongside us as we work together to shape our future mission.
The current debate for me highlights the complexity of this issue. Money and our relationship with it is complex. And yet I find myself agreeing and resonating with a lot of what the occupy movement and the critique of the capitalist system is offering. Just as Jesus and Paul brought great challenges about how we should use and value money, so today the Occupy movement challenges a system and in particular the financial sector within the global economy for misusing and abusing money. The Love of Money in the past few decades has brought with it terrible things and that has to be named and acknowledged. Change is needed and movements like Occupy have done a brilliant job to enable debate and provoke more thinking on our relationship with money and the economy.
Money, wealth creation, consuming and all that’s linked to it are complex. But they are also important and vital, but perhaps more than ever, vital to imagine a new, different and better way.
Movements like Occupy. Organisations like the New Economics Foundation, Movements like the Fair Trade (Its also Fair Trade Fortnight, and the great debate goes on) and Investment opportunities like Kiva, do show us how a different and better way can be created.