I’m a fan of the Bishop of Bradford – Nick Baines. He writes a blog that’s well worth reading.
Yesterday he did Pause for Thought on Chris Evan’s Breakfast Show on Radio 2. His script is below:
I was on a train, my head buried in emails and papers, when I heard the voice of the ‘train manager’: “This service will shortly call at New York.” Great, you might think. except that I was on my way from Bradford to London… and the last time I did the trip, we didn’t cross the Atlantic. Eventually I worked out she was actually saying ‘Newark’… the place in the Midlands.
Funnily enough, this reminded me of when my kids were young and we were in the car going on holiday. My youngest son asked – having watched Star Trek the day before – “Why do they keep saying, ‘Beat me up, Scottie’?” Oh, how we larfed…
But, it’s actually easy to mishear stuff, isn’t it? We do it all the time – often without even realising it. I guess our mind expects something and doesn’t process what really comes out. A bit like hearing the choir singing “While shepherds watched their socks by night” or the Kop singing “You’ll never work alone”.
Mishearing is just something we all do. The people at the back of the crowd at Jesus’s ‘Sermon on the Mount’ in Monty Python’s Life of Brian hear him say: “Blessed are the cheesemakers” – and people still don’t hear what he actually said about an upside down way of seeing the world.
So, I wonder what we make of the 2011 Census figures issued yesterday – especially the news that the number of people claiming to be Christian has dropped considerably since 2001? Well, you can hear the statistic and think Christianity is on the way out… or you can ask yourself why Christians continue to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, clothe the poor – and do all this without fuss or fame across the nation. Yes, others do it, too; but, it is often the churches that organise it consistently. Like InnChurches in Bradford providing shelter and food to hundreds of homeless people through the winter months.
So, when I hear the stats, I dig deeper into the story. As the Rolling Stones put it, ‘Sticky Figures’ can be misheard.