AN AVERAGE of 29.85 million people watched the Euro 2020 Final (BBC1, Sunday). I confidently expect, any time now, a report commissioned by our Archbishops and adopting this as a realistic target for the Church of England to aim for, in terms of popular support.
Much of the infrastructure is already in place: parishes, deaneries, dioceses, and provinces provide exactly the pyramidal structure required, stepping by stages from local to national; so level-by-level adherence to your immediate personal community transfers upwards to a wider and wider territory. Isn’t that what mission is all about?
Our cathedrals are far more photogenic than most stadiums; they just need to adopt a more realistic ticket-pricing regime. Just think how much more respect and adulation we would accord archdeacons and bishops if their appointment was accompanied by stratospheric transfer fees, diocese vying with diocese to grab the most effective clergy. The one element that I cannot quite work out at the moment is how to make the parish eucharist an essentially competitive event, with, at the lowest level, parish going head-to-head with parish, producing winners, losers, and draws. But no doubt they can bring in someone clever, who knows nothing whatsoever about the C of E, and cares even less, to show us how to do it.
For a sermon on the false blandishments of filthy lucre, try Kathy Burke: Money talks (Monday of last week, Channel 4, first of two). Ms Burke grew up distinctly underprivileged, yet her comedic talents have made her comfortably off; so she knows whereof she preaches. She hates the way in which, in our society, we grade each other according to their cash value: surely we can do better?
She visited seriously wealthy people; does their experience endorse the conviction of those 80 per cent of British people who reckon that they would be happier if they had more money? Her findings tie in with what we are familiar with from the pulpit: one rags-to-riches millionaire admitted that he lived in fear of bankruptcy; one lottery winner lives a contented life still working as a midwife (although she admitted that being able to pay off the mortgage brought peace of mind).
Ms Burke is alarmingly foul-mouthed, but, cheery and disarming, an ideal interviewer, raising her essentially homespun conclusions to far wider attention.
Motorway service stations are a contemporary circle of Inferno, sucking the desire to live out of all drawn into their maws — and yet A Lake District Farm Shop (Saturday, C4, four parts) depicts one that people drive out of their way to visit. Local farmers set up Tebay, on the M6, in 1972; continuing to develop local produce, crafts, and employment, they create, despite regional decline, a flourishing local economy. Let’s invite them to run the C of E.