No wonder Giles Fraser, the departing Cannon Chancellor of St Pauls has become a bit of a hero, in the face of the Church, as very much the establishment, invoking Health and Safety to defeat the voice of the unwashed crowd. ‘I can imagine Jesus being born in the Camp’ he said, invoking the age-old debate of whether Christ was or would have been a Socialist, that in an English tradition has proud antecedents that go back to the Civil War Diggers and Levellers. So, was he?
It is marvellous how many wealthy friends invoke that old saw about Rendering unto Caesar. Namely Christ was about another place, whether within or up there, and we can get on with all our greed and self-interest, and worry about Camels and Eyes of Needles later. On the other hand, one who did recently, and a Catholic, reminded me of the Priest in Rome last year who, at Christmas Time furiously ushered an old beggar woman from his porch opposite the Trevi Fountain, into the lashing rain, because she seemed to be upsetting the smart tourists.
Didn’t Christ drive the Money Lenders out of the Temple and wasn’t that Kingdom of Heaven, within or above, about the love of mankind? Even if that wasn’t a revolutionary fire, you can hardly imagine him siding with the Corporation of London. He may not have excluded the redemption seeking Tax Collector, but surely the point was the redemption, not the 49% pay rise! A Nigerian SuperPreacher on Unreported World last night, peddling Sunglasses and Prosperity, also a huge tradition in American Evangelism, would not agree either. He tried to claim that Jesus, that Carpenter’s son, had an accountant! Get thee behind me… But since this did all begin in New York, we wonder if American visitors and tourists realise that Socialism is not the dirty word here that it still is in America, though that is changing. It’s roots reach into the National Health Service, the Fabian traditions of the 19th Century, the Library and Schools movments, and the Enlightenments of Robert Owen. They also stretch into the report on Tuberculosis in Wales which the Phoenix Ark Founder’s Grandfather wrote, that influenced the Beveridge Report.
Not that the blitz spirit seeking Occupy London protestors would necessarily align themselves with the Church at all, and probably woke up to the sudden media coup, as the argument began. If God Moves in Mysterious Ways, perhaps he sent the Devil down in a dream to inspire the authorities to close their doors, so the Cameras would turn and actually hear what the protestors are saying. But since we publish Children’s Books and one, Michelangelo’s Mouse, involves St Francis, perhaps it’s best to remember not just people, but London’s other great tourist draw, pigeons, and quote from the Shermann Brother’s haunting song from Mary Poppins. Though its melancholy might only encourage those invested in the natural, enormous and increasing disparities of Capitalism, with their trickle down patronage and reluctant hand outs.
Early each day to the steps of Saint Paul’s
The little old bird woman comes.
In her own special way to the people she calls,
“Come, buy my bags full of crumbs.
Come feed the little birds, show them you care
And you’ll be glad if you do.
Their young ones are hungry,
Their nests are so bare;
All it takes is tuppence from you.”
Feed the birds, tuppence a bag,
Tuppence, tuppence, tuppence a bag.