Today is apparently 'Back to Church Sunday'. There's been some radio commercials, a website and the Bishop of Reading has come out to say, in response to the dramatic falling-off of attendance: "How did it come to this, that we have become the Marks & Spencer's option when in our heart of hearts we know that Jesus would just as likely be in the queue at Aldi or Lidl?". I think he's summed it all up in just that one crass statement. The Church of England has for far too long tried to re-invent itself, to appeal to a culture far more interested in being in B&Q on a Sunday. It started with the New English Bible (sic), the attempt to subvert and alter the Book of Common Prayer, ripping out pews, hiding the altar behind an Ikea table, sacking the organist and putting pimply youths in front of guitar stands on the chancel steps. The CofE had a simply irreplaceable heritage that has been squandered and vandalised. Toilet block additions, solar panels instead of lead (if it's not already been nicked) and leasing out the nave to Halfords. Listen bishops. Kick out the moneychangers like Our Lord did before he went down to Aldi, stick some decent flowers round the pulpit, re-install the organ, dust off the 1662 Prayer Books, bring back Hymns Ancient and Modern and preach proper sermons that are both intelligent and inspirational. Stop everyone embarrassingly having to hug each other and just instil calm, simple faith in people. Of course there's much more you've got to do, and Norman architecture and chucking canteen chairs out of cathedrals won't do it on its own. God help us. The church pictured is Kings Norton in Leicestershire.
I am a designer, writer and photographer who spends all his time looking at England, particularly buildings and the countryside. But I have a leaning towards the slightly odd and neglected, the unsung elements that make England such an interesting place to live in. I am the author and photographer of over 25 books, in particular Unmitigated England (Adelphi 2006), More from Unmitigated England (Adelphi 2007), Cross Country (Wiley 2011), The Cigarette Papers (Frances Lincoln 2012), Preposterous Erections (Frances Lincoln 2012) and English Allsorts (Adelphi 2015)