The Rev. Giles Fraser, who left his job as canon chancellor of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London rather than assent to the cathedral’s plans to forcibly remove Occupy London protestors from its property has written a forceful column to mark the one-year anniversary of the movement. He writes:
Despite the facade of respectability and ordered control presented by our great financial institutions, modern capitalism – turbo-charged by absurd levels of borrowing – is responsible for much of the world’s chaos. In the name of freedom and deregulation, financial anarchy has spread from the housing market to the banks and is now being swallowed up as massive sovereign debt which we will now pass on to our children and grandchildren. The euro will probably collapse and millions more people will suffer enormous hardship. More jobs will be lost and houses repossessed.
The wealthy will be protected by stored-up money. The poor and the not-so-poor will be exposed to the elements. ….This is the Dionysian truth named by Occupy. But it is so overwhelming, we don’t begin to know how to fix it. And so it goes in the mental box marked “too difficult to think about”. ….
The church ought to have a great deal to say about all of this, and ought to be as angry as the Occupiers, but it is stuck in the position of never wanting to take sides. Traditionally, the Church of England has styled itself as the honest broker, a host organisation that stages debates rather than take part in them. Like the BBC, though completely unlike Jesus himself, it is constantly reaching for a sensible balance, defining its position by charting a mean between extremes. This way it justifies its role as an established church. The problem for the Church of England, and specifically for places like St Paul’s, is that this lofty Apollonianism has little to say to angry people other than calm down and (if they won’t) go home.
Putting aside Occupy’s tactics for the moment, what do you think of Fraser’s analysis? And if you agree with it, what do you think Christians should be doing to respond to the situation that he describes?