Q: How Many Festival Tents Does it Take to Close a Cathedral?
A: About 97
I know this because during my lunch break I left my warm office on the South Bank, trip-trapped over the Millennium Bridge and walked up the magnificent front steps of St Paul’s Cathedral, completely unimpeded.
I stood near the top of the easily accessible, completely unobstructed front steps and did a quick recce of the small array of tightly packed dome tents at one side of the foot of the steps. A quick tot-up from my vantage point revealed around 97 tents (not counting the additional protesters hidden out of sight around the side of the Cathedral).
The tents were fronted up by a small number of quiet, well-mannered protesters who were significantly outnumbered by films crews, press photographers, curious onlookers, opportunistic leafleters and intrepid bloggers on their lunch break.
Firstly, I have to congratulate the protestors for peacefully and safely invoking their right to free speech and effectively raising the awareness of the Occupy The City campaign (#OccupyLSX), whilst being far less obstructive to the Cathedral visitors than the normal £14.50 admission charge.
However, as worthy as this campaign may well be, this blog is more concerned with the irrational knee-jerk behaviour of the Cathedral’s custodians. Whether the church officials acted on undisclosed health and safety grounds or were simply worried that church visitors might be exposed to the forces of liberal free-thought as a valid alternative to unquestionable authoritarianism is unclear, but either way they chose to make their stand and close the Cathedral. As time goes by and it becomes clearer that a wrong decision has been made, the Bishop of London has had to call for the protestors to move on to save themselves the embarrassment of admitting they were wrong to close the Cathedral in the first place.
I’m rather hoping that the protestors will dig their heels in, as the deafening silence of the Cathedral tills is likely to spur the church officials into action. Of course all that is really required is for the church officials to simply hold up their hands up and re-evaluate their hasty closure decision. However, despite plenty of practise at it, the church are still not especially good at admitting when they're wrong, but perhaps they can find a weaselly way of reversing their decision and attempting to save face.
But the interesting thing we have discovered is that it turns out to be far easier to close down a Cathedral than anyone suspected. I’m not especially anxious to close down Cathedrals, but I am always terribly excited at yet another opportunity to expose the frequently inherent irrationally of religious leaders.
So armed with the useful information that it takes less than 100 strategically positioned small festival tents to bring a major Cathedral to its knees, it might be time to extrapolate again.
As there are 42 Cathedrals in the United Kingdom, and assuming that the church officials for each Cathedral are as stupid as those at St Paul’s, then it will take a mere 4,074 happy campers to close down every Cathedral in the land on Sunday morning.
So, anyone fancy a camping trip this weekend?
Normally I’d love to join you, but I’ve actually got a rather nice Hotel booked this weekend. Solidarity Brothers.
(Oh, and Sisters, sorry Loretta).
If perchance you would prefer some quality investigative journalism to my vitriolic catcalling, I would highly recommend a visit to my good friend David’s Blog over on the New Statesman where he has fairly and intelligently dissected the whole sorry affair.