A different kind of vaccine

January 18, 2021 · Print This Article

If you happen to visit Lichfield Cathedral this week, you might get more vaccine than vicar.

It is as much symbolic as it is diagnostic that this is the first place of worship in England to be transformed into a vaccination hub.

Diagnostic because the corona crisis has uncovered where much of our nation’s hope lies. Not in priests and pews but in the NHS and inoculation. The latter is now our saving grace, the new ‘miracle’ on the block, giving us our lives back. In these times, hope comes more from the medical sector than the big man in the sky.

Symbolic because churches for centuries, ever since a radical new hope burst forth from the streets of Jerusalem from a man they called Messiah, have been the place where a weekly shot in the arm of hope was administered. Indeed, this use of the church as a place for vaccinations stirs something in our psyche, reminding us what churches were about in the first place: inoculation from plagues. And I’m not talking about the pandemics types. I’m talking about mass vaccination of a different kind, offering relief and protection from other plagues.

A few years ago, the Pew Research Centre asked why people went to church. I think the results suggest what this different kind of vaccination is for. Three of the top four reasons why people go to church are: to make me a better person; give children a moral foundation; and for comfort in times of trouble.[1] Not bad inoculations!

Now, I agree, churches like the one in Lichfield can come across as austere, pious, places for the holy, not people like us who sometimes live messy lives, struggling through the day trying to pull some kind of order out of the chaos. But you’d be wrong. Churches are communities that somehow, and over time, help inoculate us against our worst habits, against the moral uncertainty, and against the anxieties we face day-to-day.

And I know you may ask, but how do I get to a church in lockdown? Well, if you’re interested, here is the church I attend on Zoom: Launch Meeting – Zoom.

If you decide to come along, please say hello – I’m the young-looking guy in the square glasses.

Richard Fowler info@because.uk.com

Richard is editorial assistant at Because

[1] Why Americans go to religious and church services | Pew Research Center (pewforum.org)
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