Monday, October 15, 2012

Time for a little dialogue

I've been wondering on and off today what I would have done if protesters had chained themselves to my platform as I was about to deliver a sermon. This happened to the dean of St Paul's yesterday. As David Ison rose to deliver his sermon at evensong, four protesters from Occupy Faith chained themselves to the pulpit and shouted about the folly of welcoming the money changers into the church (a reference to the fact that bankers are part of the Institute that reflects on Christian approaches to key issues in society).

It seems to have been a good natured affair and a missed opportunity. After shouting a little, the four protesters remained quiet while Ison delivered his prepared text. It's not a bad sermon; it recognises that mistakes were made last year and that there is a need for dialogue to solve the major issues of injustice and division that we face.

But there was precious little dialogue last night. Invitations have been issued for the group to come and meet with the cathedral authorities. But why did Ison not abandon his script, leave the pulpit and have a conversation with his 'captive audience', chew over some of the issues that occupy has raised for the past year?

Even the Economist - not a journal known for its left-leaning inclinations - has a major report this week arguing that something urgently needs to be done about inequality in the major western economies. Occupy raised this issue a year ago and it will not go away. It demands the attention of politicians and community leaders. And it demands the attention of church leaders which is why yesterday evening was maybe a missed opportunity. Action begins with dialogue and where better to foster dialogue than in the church?

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