St. Paul’s Cathedral to close because of Occupy London

Here’s the report from CNN.

Thinking Anglicans’ coverage. The Guardian’s coverage. A video shows the size of the encampment.

Seeing the images in that video make the issues clear to me. There’s a great deal of comment in various places about churches needing to participate in the movement, welcome it, etc. I would agree with that position, and early on, the Cathedral was encouraging and welcoming. But churches, a place like St. Paul’s Cathedral has several missions and many constituencies. The presence of so many people camped just outside the building creates enormous issues, and not just health and safety issues. It’s an enormous stress on staff and clergy; it does make worship difficult; and it can prevent, or seriously limit other forms of pastoral ministry. I wonder whether it would be possible to devise a compromise that would permit a small group of protestors to remain, in order to lessen the overall impact. Neither outsiders nor protestors can judge the toll this sort of presence can take on those who live, work, and minister in the middle of it.

There’s been a lot of “theological” reflection on the movement. Tom Beaudoin asked whether it would be possible to occupy the Catholic Church. He also is documenting the use of sacred imagery here and here. There are clergy and seminarians involved as “Protest Chaplains.”

Brian McLaren reflects on the symbolism of the term “occupy”:

The term “occupy” is winning me over because it puts an ironic spin on one of our most questionable national habits—occupying other nations: occupying Iraq, occupying Afghanistan, supporting Israel in occupying Palestine. Like kingdom of God, it turns that familiar language on its head.

The term “occupy” is also winning me over because it’s about presence, making our presence known and felt in public spaces. These public spaces—from economic markets to political processes—have been colonized by powerful corporate elites (the 1 percent, or maybe the 10 percent), elites driven not by an ethical vision but by the relentless demand to maximize shareholder return. The 99 percent are realizing how destructive this colonization of public spaces has become, and by simply coming back—by re-inhabiting public spaces—we are demonstrating that we see what’s happening and we are not going to tacitly comply with its continuing.

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