I was hoping to stay up to see UKIP win the Rochester and Strood by-election. But the results aren’t expected until after 4 a.m. So I
‘ll have to put a question mark after the title for the time being, although UKIP are expected to win. Then tomorrow I can maybe remove the question mark, to bring things up to date. UKIP did indeed win, and the recriminations have started. The Financial Times:
Imagine an American passing through London for the first time on Thursday night. He watches the news in his hotel suite and concludes what? Probably that Britain is riven by the culture wars of his own country, minus the bit about God.
Britain is indeed riven by cultural war. Smoking bans are a form of cultural warfare. Smokers have been driven from their pubs.
And it’s not really ‘minus the bit about God’. Pubs and cafes are also churches. They also are the ecclesia in which people gather to meet and speak, or maybe just quietly meditate. Their beer and cigarettes and packets of salted peanuts were the church’s wine and candles and bread. Their bars and stools and chairs and tables were the church’s altar rail and pews. Their customary banter was the church’s liturgy. Their tobacco smoke the church’s incense.
What we have today is another reformation. a wave of puritan protestantism sweeping away the liturgy and the furniture and the candles and paintings and statues, leaving white-washed bare walls. And if thousands of pubs are closing, it’s really no different from the Dissolution of the Monasteries.
And Americans don’t need to hire a London hotel suite to catch up with the UK’s culture wars. They can come here.
And they do. Harley’s here every day. Walt pops in most days. And Smokervoter is another regular. And many more. For this also is another little bar, another little ecclesia.