I visited my accountant recently, who has on his wall an old print of London, which depicts a blizzard of church spires. What do we – quite literally – look up to these days? Tower 42, Canada Tower, the Gherkin, the Shard…most of which are cathedrals to the financial institutions they house. Aspiring? Inspiring? I can’t help thinking that a society’s tallest buildings say something about what that community holds most dear.
If that is the case, we are all following Mammon now. But the problem with leadership is that it is 1% reality and 99% perception, and this is what the City has lost sight of in recent days (along with News Corp, a number of our domestic and international politicians, and a host of other disappointing leaders, with the honourable exception of the likes of Steve Jobs). We’ve stopped following you. Look behind you. We’re not there. Some of your followers have ground to such a halt that they’ve set up camp. And maybe if we stop, you’ll have to stop too, and walk back a few steps and talk to us. You’re not a leader if you have no followers. We don’t need even to be that coherent in our arguments – if you want to lead you have to give us good reason to believe in you again. Given this need for compelling leadership, perhaps St Paul’s could learn something from the banks. They took the risk that they were ‘too big to fail’. God is certainly too big to fail. So wouldn’t it be brave – prophetic even – for his iconic London church to stay open, in the sure belief that St Paul’s is too big to fail too?