It is well known in progressive liturgical circles that working-class people, or those I had better describe as the "not as nice as us" (NANAU) category, do not go to church. As long ago as the 1960s the church hierarchy in Southwark realised that their congregations relative to the population were tiny, that they were not relating to their working class parishioners. The poor, frankly, did not believe in God. The strategy of getting the Bishop to write a book explaining that he didn't believe in God either did not help in making contact. Maybe the working classes took opposing views to the bishop of the work of Tillich and Bultmann? We will never know, as the working classes never turned up at the cathedral to tell him.
I notice that the Diocese of London in recent years has had a strategy of clear communication, simplification, belief in God and letting people get on with things. How they expect that sort of thing to work is beyond me.
And so, in order to bring the sweaty masses to the pews, last night was our first "Worship in the Working Class Tradition". Brilliant work by Pearly Queen Charlii for leading. Thanks to Grenville for his playing of the old Joanna, to Parquin for his virtuosity on the comb and paper, and Dezmelza for her attempts at playing the spoons. To be fair to Demelza, she is keen but maybe needs a little more practice. And a second spoon.
The bring and share working class finger buffet was frankly disgusting. Black pudding, fried lights, jellied eels. Frankly I don't see why anyone would want to be working class. It's hardly a good career option. The only recognisable food was pie and mash. But someone had poured some kind of green poison on it. Bernie the chef said it was called " liquor" but it didn't look like whisky to me. I don't know who first had the idea of putting green poison on working-class food, but I suspect it may have been Marie Stopes. She made it her life's work to reduce their numbers. I have no evidence that she ever collaborated with John AT Robinson to deliberately rid South London of the working classes, as I think the good bishop liked the poor but didn't "get" them, but there's no doubt that it would have improved the percentage of his diocese's congregation that went to church. And some of them would have preferred the green poison to reading Honest to God, in my opinion.
At the end of the day, we had an exciting and informative Worship in the Working Class Tradition. We may do it again, and invite some people from Bletchley. And you may think that we have celebrated a rosy, stereotypical view of a group of people that weren't homogeneous, that we don't understood and who, in the idealistic form we have presented them, never existed. And you'd be right. But I have only two words to say to you. "Celtic Tradition."