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ďIf a man has an apartment stacked to the ceiling with newspapers we call him crazy. If a woman has a trailer house full of cats we call her nuts. But when people pathologically hoard so much cash that they impoverish the entire nation, we put them on the cover of Fortune magazine and pretend that they are role models.Ē
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 Spirituality: Protest, Tentions, Poetry and Christmas

HolidaysBy Howard Bess

St. Paulís Cathedral in London is a magnificent building. Visitors swarm to visit this 400 year old architectural wonder that is known as Englandís Cathedral. Until recently people did not take note that it was located in Londonís financial district. It seemed that God and mammon existed quite comfortably next door to each other.

Then came the protestors. The Occupy Wall Street movement has not simply spread all across America. It is a worldwide protest movement that covers the globe. As the movement has spread, the message has not changed. More and more people of conscience do not believe that the wealth of the world should be controlled by a relatively small group of greedy, selfish super rich. In Christian teaching, greed is one of the seven deadly sins. From a purely secular point-of-view, few believe that billions should live in poverty while the elite rich live in flagrant luxury.

The protesters arrived in London. Their banners announced Occupy London Stock Exchange. The way London Police handled the protesters around London Stock Exchange was one matter. When the protesters took over the spacious court yards of Englandís Cathedral, it was another dynamic. After all, Jesus was a protester in the court yard of the great Temple in Jerusalem. The confrontation between God and mammon was real. ...

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It takes a lot of money to support an operation like St. Paulís. The Cathedral collects fees from it visitors and sells them memorabilia of their experience. St. Paulís clears about $25,000 a day on their operation. In an unintended consequence, the protestors shut down the entire operation. Loss of income was climbing into hundreds of thousands of dollars. The graffiti they painted on the walls of the Cathedral was very upsetting. Probably as upsetting as Jesus upsetting the money tables in the Jerusalem Temple.

Should Englandís Cathedral (Episcopal) resort to the London police? Should they try to negotiate with their newest neighbors? Should their uninvited guests be allowed to use the Cathedral rest rooms? The Cathedralís vacillation is recorded for everyone to read in their daily news releases. The Dean of the Cathedral has resigned. So also have other staff members. The conflict between God and mammon can become very real.

For the present, the Cathedral has decided to allow the protestors to stay through the end of the year. The final chapter has not been written.

I confess that I would not have taken any note of the drama in London were it not for a friend of mine, Owen Vigeon, a retired Episcopal priest, who lives in London. Owen is a very fine poet. He occasionally sends me some of his work. I like poetry, but I love poets. I am reminded that almost all of the Old Testament prophets were poets. Poets can effectively speak truth in a way that mere preachers or politicians can never master. They say things so very nicely until you really think about it.

Owen sent me his latest poem. It is obviously inspired by the occupation of St. Paulís. I am privileged to share it with you all.


A Song of the Word Made Flesh

ďAnd the word was made human, and he pitched his tent among us.Ē John 1:14
When I pitched my tent in the human race
And stirred in my motherís womb,
Her soul was roused to prophetic grace
As she warned of impending doom.
When the mighty will lose their seat and power
And the meek and humble joyfully flower.

When the rag tag and bobtail pitched their tents
On St. Paulís Cathedral holy gate
To register their discontents
With an un-egalitarian state,

My Clergy seemed somewhat perplexed
To know what ought to happen next
And truth to tell the English nation
Showed both disgust and admiration.

Yet in Cathedrals everywhere
There hung on the November air
The echo of My Motherís prayer
That tells what Heaven thinks is ďfair.Ē

Each waft of Chorus Evensong
Conveyed Godís sense of right and wrong
Who stuffs the hungry with bonus pay
While the rich he is sending empty away.

This, as My Dad confirms to me,
Is what life is like in eternity.
Til then I fear My Motherís vision
Will still be met with indecision.

But those whose banner now display
Had better learn the gospel truth
Which I have practiced since my youth.
Whatever the questions you may have selected,
My answers will always be quite unexpected.

-- OWEN VIGEON 2011--

May the visit of the Son of God be real to us all and always. Merry Christimas.



The Rev. Howard Bess is a retired American Baptist minister, who lives in Palmer, Alaska. His email address is [email protected]


[22 December 2011]

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