Moon Under Water

I visited Wigan one grim autumnal day this year. I passed a public house, The Moon Under Water. This I thought a peculiar name but also faintly familiar. It comes from an essay by George Orwell in which he describes the perfect pub. Some of the desired characteristics included the playing of darts being limited to only one bar area, the absence of a radio or piano to encourage conversation, and the selling of ‘liver-sausage sandwiches [and] mussels’ among other things. I cannot say that I am with him on all his points. As a good dissenting minister, of course, I am not a regular frequenter of the ale bench, but I do salute the wonderful Englishness and communal benefits of a traditional pub. Orwell concluded that he knew of none that reached his ideal, though a few came close.

How would we describe the perfect church? We might draft a list of essentials and desirables, and then, like Orwell, remark that of no such church have we ever been part. In this world we anticipate ideals and perfections, but never or seldom experience them. Great pubs and great churches are as rare as moons under water. Strangely, both types of establishments have entered periods of terminal decline, despite the Englishman’s perennial thirst and deep-seated, though well concealed, spiritual needs. What a pity he slakes and fulfills them away from good pubs and faithful chapels. 

The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory. Isaiah 60:19