Saturday, 23 October 2010

Beer and a bible, prayer and a pint

Phil Ritchie in his Treehouse Blog writes about a new initiative he is organising called a beer and the bible (possibly followed by the equally alliterative prayer and a pint?) Timed to coincide with bible Sunday, tomorrow, Phil aims to encourage us all take bible study out to the pub, a venue which is often more popular than the local church.
In the light of the post below, the beer and bible initiative did bring to mind a William Blake poem in which the eponymous little vagabond suggests that the church might do worse than emulate the ale house. It begins,

"Oh Mother, Oh Mother, the Church is cold
But the ale house is healthy and pleasant and warm."

Fair point that, you have to admit? The little vagabond continues to outline the advantages of a session down the pub over a stint of bible bashing with your bum on a cold seat,

"But if at the Church they would give us some ale
And a pleasant fire our souls to regale
We'd sing and we'd pray the livelong day
And never once wish from the Church to stray."

I think this could just be the way to bring in the punters - but remember that Blake thought of it first!
I hope Phil Ritchie's venture is successful - that's what I call fresh expressions!


  1. It should also be remembered that one of the main sources of revenue for the medieval church was the production of ale – churches often having a brew house attached! And of course one of the central sacraments of Christianity involves an alcoholic libation!

    The Salvation Army and some Anglo-Catholic Evangelists made use of pubs in the East End of London in the 19th and early 20th century. I know of several instances where pubs were taken over and became Christian meeting places.

    I think it is necessary to dispel the social discourse we have constructed concerning what is a 'church'. Gothic windows, rows of pews and the best efforts of Mrs Shubsole and Miss Frobisher’s flower arranging are quite modern inventions. The church as a building was not its original meaning. ‘Suma Tou Christou’ – The Body of Christ. The ‘Church’ can be wherever you want it to be. Perhaps it is time for the church to disassociate itself with the quaintness of middle-of-the-road Anglicanism or the ‘let’s pounce around in wreaths of scented smoke and brightly coloured frocks’ of the Anglo-Catholics‘ or the more pernicious ‘we make an idol out of our contemporariness’ forever smiling, ego-centric, personal pronouns abound choruses’ din of the Evangelical churches and return to something more immediate and a part of the local community?

    The fact that so much strife of our present church system comes from the battle of just who gets to hold the reins of power suggests a national church has become too big (though ironically of little significance) for its own good. A church in the ‘pub’? There is nothing even your most Bible Loving Christian can find conflicts with Scripture on this one. Me thinks it would be a good thing – though please don’t hold ‘services’ the same time as the weekly quiz. Paul and I rely on our quiz winnings to bolster our slender income!



  2. I cannot agree with this more - bloody marvellous!

  3. I'd like to welcome you and Paul along to one of the services, Stephen. Perhaps just to the "one for the road"(but only if you were walking) that would replace tea and coffee.

    I didn't know about the use of pubs by Sally Army etc in the 19th and 20th century - you know so much about church. That's what being an ex-monk and doing research into the subject does for you:)

  4. One of my sons always used to say he would come to church if there was a bar, warmth and a pint. But he does come at Christmas!

  5. One of my sons only comes to Church at Christmas, the other is an avowed atheist.