It’s that time of the week again. You call your pals and get dressed decently nice before picking them up. There’s a special this week, you can’t wait to get there. As you all pile out of the car and enter, you hear chatter of the townspeople and all your friends. Most of the neighborhood is there- your dentist, a few neighbors- you love seeing so many familiar faces. It’s a great time- you always get something out of it when you come here weekly. You leave a little cash on your way out. What an awesome environment, it’s nice to catch up with everyone.
……..Where are you? Was that a Sunday service at your local church or a weeknight at your favorite pub down the street? Was the cash you left a tip for your server or your weekly donation into tithes & offerings?
As we can see, there are multiple similarities between attending a church service and regularly eating and drinking at a pub you enjoy, and both usually involve loyalty. I present the point that these can both be considered religious practices.
In British culture, faithfulness to a particular pub is common- they find themselves committed to (one or a few) that they fancy. C. Mitchell, a college student in London puts it, “We are very loyal to a group of pubs in our town. My favorite is a pub called the Last Post. We are loyal there because it is cheap and has a really nice feel. I also love spending time with my mates.”
What if a few of those words were changed; if “a group of pubs” was switched for “a local church?” They are both about commitment and finding the right one that “has a really nice feel,” as he put it. (Of course when speaking of churches, it wouldn’t be plural. For the most part, when people commit to a specific church, they choose ONE and this would be singular). And consistency is key; this is what builds on the attendee’s positive perspective of the facility. Consistency provides the attendee with routine, trust, and tradition. These are all important in a religious practice, whether that is at a church (or other religious building) or pub. Then a personal connection can start being formed- when one finds themselves comfortable, welcomed, and can see themselves coming regularly. This is one’s personal initiative to take action and become a part of something.
But how does one experience these positive feelings and make a decision? That’s where community comes in- it’s all about the people. Networking is how one’s personal initiative branches out and becomes a group commitment. They start relying on each other to keep up with their “weekly tradition” and can form accountability partners. When it comes to community, either pub culture or church attendances are reinforced by communication and relationships with the others that partake. Coworkers might email each other to go out for their weekly Thursday night drinks, just as a parallel of college students texting each other for rides to church on Sunday morning. Community takes the forms of carpooling, plans, inside jokes, support, and probably a lively and diverse environment.
Lastly, both of these depend on contributions. Contributions come from the commitment of the community and how they have decided to use a facility for a certain purpose and practice. Pub culture and church services need contributions of not only money but also time. Staying at home and just sending money to either your favorite pub or church would not do them any good. They need PEOPLE. They need users of their services. Just as only spending time there and never pitching in any money would also not do them any good. They need FUNDS. They need donors and sponsors. Contributions of time and money don’t only come in one form, it could be servicing the facility through service, volunteering or purchasing something at an event. There are many ways to further advance either of these religious practices through contributions, whether it be personal or a group effort in community.
One could also argue that both pub culture (going out for food and drinks) and religious services (seeking prayer, worship and usually a message) are both nourishing and “feed you.” Whether that is physically, literally being fed or spiritually being fed, they contribute to a better well-being and peacefulness of the body & mind.
I think the pub culture of the Brits can be considered religious because it shares the same fundamental building blocks as does a religious practice or attending services with one’s religion. Both “religious activities” thrive on commitment, community and contributions.