Thursday 27 October 2011

Giles Fraser makes a stand

Giles Fraser is - sorry 'was' - the Canon Chancellor of St Paul's Cathedral in London. Today he resigned, with regret.

I don't know what a canon chancellor is so to that extent. Pffft! But I know who Giles Fraser is, he's one of the Anglican Priests willing to publicly engage with the politics of the gospel. And I know what St Paul's Cathedral is: it's a den of thieves that charges people to enter a place of worship built on the backs of the poor by the rich so they can celebrate their God given right to screw us all over. It's beautiful too.

 Photograph: Alex Diaz/PA: Giles Fraser: when the protest arrived
he sent the police on their way. No he's being forced to do the same. 
He resigned because the clergy and laity who run the show, including Bp of London Richard Chatres and high-powered finance folk, are plotting to remove peaceful protests by violence from St Paul's Square. Giles Fraser quite rightly sees what  a mockery and self-parodying nonsense the Church becomes when it makes such decisions. He wants no part of it. In his own words here.

So we don't know when but we know that violence will be used and the Church of England will get it's hands dirty for a change instead of letting the state do its dirty work. The Church of England imagines itself a neutral or benign power in matters of politics so often. And happily blesses the violence of others (as many clergy will do next month on 11 November) without getting the blood on its own cassock.

The protesters arrived thinking they would camp at Paternoster Square and expose the violence of Capital as it is expressed by bankers. That didn't know that another imperious power would be exposed in the process.

Perhaps its time the Church made up her mind: God or Caesar? What belongs to God is all creation. What belongs to Caesar are the empty promises of capital. So why does the church give everything to Caesar and only empty promises to God?

Meanwhile Giles Fraser might need some help this week. He needs to pack, he needs to figure out what to do next. God bless him as he discerns his calling in a church he loves but not more than he loves the image of God in his neighbour.

A line from the Paternoster prayer might be a good conclusion: give us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. Amen.

But if you want a better and funnier conclusion there's always the wonderful newsthump!

Thursday 20 October 2011

What's your message?

Mainstream media outlets and commentators are complaining that the Occupy Movement has no message: "They don't know what they want", they cry. Of course this is not true and if there was a single simple change they'd probably be dismissed as naive and simplistic.

I wonder if the media in Jesus' time complained that he lacked a coherent message. Certainly 2,000 years later people are still unclear as to what exactly the Kingdom of God is about or where it is.

Jesus was interested in the questions, the parables, the dilemmas of his age and in presenting them to the 99% so that they could discover their own solutions.

Just before our last General Election I was invited, along with the other deacons, to a dinner at the Bishop's house. As we ate he casually turned to me and said, "So I hear you're telling people not to vote." This was a wonderful way to light the blue touch paper and watch the fireworks go off!

Among the comments and questions from those around the table I was asked what I would replace the current system with. I suppose I could have said a Swiss cantonement, a federation, Total localism, or any other thing that took power from the elite to the people. But I resisted that totalitarian urge within me. Because I know I don't have the answer.

The answer to the question 'If not this, what else?' lies in the space between I and Thou. It will emerge from our situations not from our text books. I don't want a blue print for a better world. I want to turn my mind to a parable, as the psalmist says. I don't want to be the answer but I want to be part of a generation that is willing to live the questions.

I also want corporations to stop buying politicians. ;-) 

Monday 17 October 2011

Sheffield Social Centre

David Cameron would be proud. The Sheffield Social Centre are running a really free Free School event with a broad curriculum for spiritual activists, anarchists, and anyone with the imagination and curiosity to learn and create learning.

Their first day of term was Saturday 15 October. A one day event. I hope there are more to come and in future will post them here in advance. Follow this link to find out more.