Fantasy, reality and Valerie Stroud: More on the S4VII meeting

30 01 2010

Val, bless her unflattering white t-shirt, has a rolling commentary on it. She would.

Anyway, quoting the master of ceremonies, Frank Regan (editor in chief of Renew, dontcha know) she says,

“With benign humour he noted the grey-power in the room and reminded us of the lack of young people in the Church. They were not interested in internal political struggle or dead Services when attending church. They wanted something that would inspire them to make the world a better place. The question we, of the senior generation, needed to address was how we were going to hand the Church on to the next generation.”

The grey power in the room is a polite reference to the fact that the average age at the meeting was 70+. And by the way, before we go any further let’s get the turnout right, once and for all. Valerie and Bernard Wynne have been saying that there were more than 200 people present. How can I put this politely? They either can’t count or they’re deliberately telling porky pies. I did a headcount at the meeting: 2 lines of 6 places each times 13 rows, at least two of which on the left hand side were half filled, plus say, five stragglers at the back, a couple each standing next to either wall and three speakers. That’s 181 people, 190 top whack.

It may seem like a small point but it’s important to be as accurate as possible at all times. It’s an antidote to any tendency there might be to inflate figures, say one thing while meaning the other and generally bend and stretch the truth until it snaps.

Back to Frank Regan’s comment. How does he know what young people think or want? Going by the meeting – there were three people aged under 40 there, I was one, Tablet staffer, Christopher Lamb another and the third, who looked like a 20 something, was seated at the back next to her very loud mum – and leaving out any kids he might or might not have, it’s probably the case that he doesn’t much contact with young people, still less the kind of meaningful interaction which would enable him to articulate their views.

I’m only asking.

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