quite marvellous is happening across the UK this spring. At nine o’clock on
Sunday evenings, an estimated nine million of us are sitting down in front of LineOf Duty—and revisiting it at the water cooler on Monday morning.
literally, of course. Anyone who is employed in the kind of workplace that has
a water cooler is still working from home. But Line Of Duty is a prime
example of the water cooler phenomenon, that shared experience so powerful it
spills over into our everyday lives. Thanks to social media we don’t need to
wait until Monday morning, we don’t need to wait at all. On the other hand, we
are made to wait a full week for the story to be carried on. This feels almost
counter-intuitive at a time when so many of us have turned to streaming on
demand to get through lockdown (Jo and I watched all eight series of French
drama Spiral between Christmas and Easter). And yet that water cooler
phenomenon relies on it, on a necessary mass of us watching this together in
time, even if others will be catching up later.
a world of engaging at our own convenience, we are reminded of our need for a
collective experience—and one with drama, and a good measure of confounding
mystery, and a cliff-hanger to boot.
is much to reflect on here, as one called to curate the things, the good news,
of God—to present the gospel afresh in each generation, within and beyond the
joy of shared familiar liturgy (in the case of LOD, technical policing terms in
general, and Ted Hastings’ Ted-isms in particular);
appreciation that not knowing what is going on, indeed not having a clue, is
not necessarily a barrier but can in fact be a positive, where we are drawn
deeper into mystery;
central importance to our wellbeing of experience shared in time with other
forensic attention to our motivations and behaviour, with brutal honesty and
some wisdom as to how much to share with whom;
kind of conclusion to our shared hour that propels us back out into the world
wondering how things will unfold, and buzzing with our thoughts, our personal
investment, to share.
is not that church (or, more significantly, the gospel) is, or ought to be,
like watching Line Of Duty. It is not that those who like LOD might like
church. It is simply that those who believe in something greater than the
welcome distraction of a good tv drama might have more questions to ponder than
easy answers. Something quite marvellous is happening across the UK this
spring. Those with eyes to see, take note.