What is sad is that the Dean and Chapter have been in such awe of both the lawyers and the Health and Safety firm they employ. The H&S people tell them it's not safe to keep the cathedral open, and instead of talking about how safety could be preserved they lock the doors - only to find a few days later that there was quite a straightforward solution after all. Create a firebreak next to the walls! Now apparently their lawyers have advised them not to talk to the protestors before they get to court. What interesting advice! Somewhat contrary to Jesus' advocacy of negotiation: "Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison."
There's a witty but sad cartoon in today's Guardian by Steve Bell, which will no doubt give delight to those who take every opportunity to attack faith. It does reflect the popular perception that the church tends to side with the rulers of this world. There is of course a dilemma for any church "rendering to Caesar the things that are Caesar's", let alone the established church of a country, against following the example of its founder who was a friend of the alienated and sinners and not of the establishment.
Eventually last night I was moved to write to the Dean and his fellow clergy:
Dear Dean and Chapter
Sadly, the Bishop of London has muscled in on the "evict the protesters" coalition. However, lest you think all in the C of E Establishment support the St Paul's line, there's a pithy blog-post from one of our local bishops, Alan Wilson, worth a read: Bishop on shutting St Paul's: "... do they have the stomach to engage in the real world at the crest of a tidal race between people, money and power, or are they just overgrown public schoolboys playing indoor games in their own self-important Tourist Disneyland?"
There's an awful irony in the timing of this whole mismanaged fiasco, in that it has completely overshadowed the Reasonable Faith tour of Professor William Craig Lane which ended on Wednesday in Manchester in a debate with Professor Peter Atkins, and was remarkable for the refusal by Richard Dawkins to a debate in Oxford. Craig Lane seems to be one of the Christians with whom atheists would rather not debate; so respect to those who were ready to defend their corner. But what a shame it is that some rather unusual and important debates should have been pushed off even the religious columns by a less than glorious piece of news - which sadly promises to run and run. Someone must be rubbing his grubby little hands in glee. Happily, he won't have the last word. Hallowe'en is just the prelude to All Saints' Day!