I’m not an economist and I wouldn’t presume to know enough to claim to be a committed anti-capitalist.
But I do know that I feel unsettled about the times we’re living in, about the number of people losing jobs, homes and even their lives, choosing to commit suicide than suffer another day of poverty or indignity or homelessness or whatever it is. I feel dissatisfied with the words of our politicians. They don’t comfort or reassure me. And I feel unconvinced that if capitalism got us into this mess, it can get us out.
What political or economic system can get us out, what can resolve this fundamental brokenness, unfairness, injustice, I also don’t know.
There’s this idea in the gospels that Jesus talks about called the Kingdom of Heaven. It’s a kind of world or society where the weak and small things are carefully looked after, where anyone can get involved, where humanity is fully valued. Christians call the coming of this kind of world order, the gospel – good news.
And lord, we really need some good news.
In theory, Christians (and therefore the church) are supposed to demonstrate what this kind of life or way of living might look like. We’re supposed to feed the poor, battle against injustice, visit prisoners, help the sick, bring joy – essentially to do to others what we’d like them to do to us, to love other people as much as we love ourselves. It’s not rocket science but it is radical. After all, if we lived like this, what would the world look like?
Now I am sure the people who work at and attend services at St Paul’s do care for the sick, prisoners, homeless, vulnerable and so on. Most churches do, but you’d never guess if you went into them on a Sunday.
Outside this particular church though, on the cathedral steps, it feels different.
At the Occupy general assemblies on the weekend, the people near the front repeated back the speakers’ words so that the people at the back could hear what was being said.
I took a rollmat down for someone to have to sleep on and was thanked by so many people as I walked past I was embarrassed by the smallness if what I was doing.
All kinds of people were there setting up camp and mucking in, and people were singing – it’s serious and sincere and joyful.
And it’s so remarkable, so unusual to see people making an effort and taking the time to live in this way, it feels like revolution.
Is this something like the kind of thing Jesus was talking about?
Is the kingdom of Heaven like occupy London? Where:
Everyone is welcome
All the stuff is shared
There’s a sense of gratitude and an effort to be peaceable
There’s a vision to see the world changed to be better
Everyone is considered