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Wednesday, 19 August 2015

New British Religion Overtakes Church of England

Who can explain the religious situation of the early 21st Century? At the time when the old established denominations were declining, there was new life from  a variety of new traditions - the Orthodox churches, Pentecostalism both Africa and the West Indies. All this with a burgeoning Islam and a thriving Hindu community.

Yet there was one religion that threatened to overwhelm all others. A tradition that caught the imagination of the masses - even those that claimed to follow other religions. A tradition that, like Catholicism and Orthodoxy before it, focussed round the sacred mystery of the breaking of bread at a communal table.

The Great British Bake-Off.

Like Songs of Praise before it, the new religion was pumped into British homes by the BBC. The bearded prophet and Sibylline oracles of the new religion spoke truth and prophetic wonders - interpreted by their oracles, Mel 'n' Sue. They tested the new acolytes - holding the power of life and death, ejection or getting through to the bake-off final.

The representatives of the old religion objected, of course. The fundamentalist preachers fulminated against those who "bake their cakes for Mary Berry". The more Puritanical objected to the constant stream of unnecessary doubles-entendres. But the devotees worshipped every Berry Day - tuning in to see whether salvation had been achieved by a crusty soda bread, by the raisin cakes rising in accordance with the requirements of Paul of Hollywood.

Would the acolytes pass into the seventh heaven of running a bakery in a small market town in the Cotswolds? Or would they pass into the darkness of going to be a nursery nurse, A Level student or computer geek? Only Mary had the power of life and death, fame and obscurity. And, just like the Church of England, a nation attended once a week with no necessary impact on their daily lives. They enjoyed watching the travails of producing lava bread on Wednesday, and bought a nice Tesco oatmeal sliced online on Thursday, same as normal.

Next week - "Great British Bake-off from Calais". Giles Fraser watches an Eritrean who successfully gets a loaf to rise in a hand-built clay oven - but  Giles still makes sure he mostly talks about Giles.

1 comment :

  1. I have baked one cake in my whole life, under close supervision by my spouse. It turned out fine, but I won't be doing it again, it took days to get the dough out of my hair.

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