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Implicit Religion in Contemporary Society – Edward Bailey

May 18, 2015

IREdward defined implicit religion as: an approach that provides both theoretical and practical space for the elucidation of absolutes, of “what people stand for.” A single word definition of its meaning might be: commitment. Some lessons that frequently come to mind while ministering in a parish are introduced from a preliminary study of religion generally and from three formal studies of implicit religion. These took the form of interviewing individuals, of observing a public house, and of participating in the life of a particular local community. The essay concludes by teasing out what may be meant by the commonly used credal statement “I believe in Christianity” and compares it with various official forms of Christian faith.

His work, he said,: … opens up the possibility of discovering the sacred within what might otherwise be dismissed as profane, and of finding an experience of the holy within an apparently irreligious realm. Above all, in contemporary society it allows for the discovery of some kind of religiosity within what conventionally might be seen as an unrelievedly secular sphere. The concept therefore gives credence to the opinion of the ‘person in the street,’ that while ‘some who go to church really mean it,’ others who go to church ‘really have a different religion altogether’—but that ‘everybody has a religion of some sort,’ a faith by which they live, albeit as an unconscious core at the centre of their way of life and being.’

Paul Tillich used the term ‘ultimate concern’. Edward asked people what they thought the biggest problem was in the world. They spoke of various concerns. The solution to these would be seen, in explicit terms, as ‘salvation’.

What was cause for gratitude?

What did people live for? Their partner, children, job etc.

He talked about the pub as the meeting house for community, as the parish church was once. The barmaid acts as confessor, ‘You get all types in here.’ The bar is the altar, the foot rail is the communion rail. The reredos is composed of various trophies and a dart board.

In his parish of Winterbourne, he identified current threats to community – new houses being built and the new ‘settlers’. A new country of Avon had taken over many functions of the old parish council (this was in 1967, when he wrote this, his PhD thesis, published much later in 1997) What did people look for when they had their child christened – it’s not what the official liturgy says? In what sense is the churchyard a liminal space?

This seminal work fostered many conferences and lots of ideas – which the established church has largely overlooked.

see also 

See also https://layreadersbookreviews.wordpress.com/2015/05/18/the-reverend-professor-edward-ian-bailey-r-i-p/

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