Occupy Wall Street - Occupy London. Source: Wikipedia

Give it Willingly

Occupy Wall Street recently decided to move to London and raise their banners at St. Paul’s Cathedral. This led to a bitter battle in the sacristy

“Certainly no rich man has dealt much in the world, but he has something, of which he does not know the right owner; when he receives usury for his money, that interest is not his money, but when he receives usury again for that, there neither the interest, nor principal was his own money; he takes usury for that money of which he himself was not the owner, because it was ill gotten: If you do truly know the owner, restore it to him; if after a diligent examination of your self, you do not know the particular owner, yet you know it is none of yours, and therefore give it to him, whose it was at first; both before you had it, and before he, from whom you got it corruptly, had it; give it to God, in giving to his poor, and afflicted members; give it to him, and give it willingly, and give it now, for that, which you give at your death, you give by your last will, and you do not give…”
Preached at Whitehall on the 2. April 1620 in front of the royal family and the government. From: John Donne: The Major Works. Oxford World’s Classics, Ed. by John Carey. Oxford 1990,  p. 290


John Donne Burial Monument in St. Paul's Cathedral in London 1633
John Donne Burial Monument in St. Paul’s Cathedral in London 1633. Source: wikipedia

Last week witnessed a series of chaotic mishaps in and around the chancery of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. To recapitulate: On the 15 of October 2011, “Occupy Wall Street” decided to set up shop in London. Originally the group targeted the stock exchange. Guided by the police they ended up at the stairs of Wren’s majestic cathedral. In the midst of the following fracas, the senior clerics at the church one after the other ended up resigning. First went a part-time chaplain, Fraser Dyer, later the chancellor, Rev. Giles Fraser resigned, and finally, on Monday the dean of the cathedral, Right Rev. Graeme Knowles, decided to step down. As reported in the press, Rev. Fraser resigned because he could not stand the idea of watching the occupiers evicted from the front of the cathedral; Right Rev. Knowles resigned because he could.

During the last couple of weeks, the offices of the Archbishop at Lambeth Palace must have looked like beehives on a summer morning. Finally, today, Rowan Williams, the Most Reverend Archbishop, voiced his general concerns in Financial Times, stating that now is the time “to be more specific”. In his opinion, we need to raise the issues of more global regulation and the implementation of the so-called “Robin Hood Tax” (as supported by such pro-capitalists as Bill Gates, George Soros and others).

One wonders why the senior clerics at St. Paul’s thought they could decide on these matters amongst themselves? As if they had not preached Sunday after Sunday in the presence of the magnificent effigy of John Donne, who on the 2 of April 1620 voiced his concerns about the self-same matters in front of the royal family and the government at Whitehall.


On the sermons of John Donne

The Opinion of the Archbishop in Financial Times