Polite society during my parents’ lifetime deemed that nice people did not discuss politics or religion when guests were present.
“How stuffy!” we thought, when we were coming of age in the 1960s. “Religion and politics are just about two of the most interesting topics there are! And if it makes people clash around the dinner-table – so much the sparkier!”
But now, it seems, etiquette has dictated a return to those protocols of bygone years: Tatler, the society magazine, has decreed that conversation about religion should be banned at dinner parties.
Some forms of behaviour are acceptable and amusing, such as getting “rip-roaringly drunk” or “snogging” another guest, rules Tatler. Being hugely inebriated “enlivens” the mood, and public displays of intimacy can be “cheering”.
But no religion, and no talk of religion. “Religious fervour”, in particular, is out of the question in fashionable circles. Don’t mention the Alpha course you’ve just been on. God should only be discussed in private. Religion will “bore” people.
We can’t be sure whether Tatler is being somewhat facetious with this advice.
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