Non-religious Society

An article by published yesterday on the Huffingtonpost by Andrew Copson . Comments that it’s about time Britain accepted that it’s no longer a Christian country.

And I’ve begun to think he’s probably right. Not especially because he quotes a figure of 95% of people NOT going to church every Sunday (I’m amazed and delighted that 5% of people apparently DO go every Sunday – Wow) that figure is a bit misrepresentative though when you’re trying to say how religious a person is- if they are completely honest (and one would hope that a self-identifying Christian would TRY to be) then very few practising Christians make it to church every Sunday – some are midweekers, others go once or twice a month; and many people consider themselves ‘practising’ if they go at Easter and Christmas without fail…

But forget that Sunday figure. Look instead at the deconstruction of the welfare state. Look at the aggressive focus in education on maths and English, at the sacrifice of arts subjects; and look at the endless and exhausting monitoring of children and prediction of probable ‘outcomes’ based on standardised markers…!

Look at the withdrawal of government support for the NHS, the withdrawal of vital support services and benefits, and look at the continued appalling misuse of public expenses by public representatives…

Look at zero-hours contracts and work-to-rule public servants in some areas, the forgetfulness of ‘service’ and self-sacrifice in many spheres of life, and look at the continuing cult of celebrity.

Look at the undermining of the human rights act in this country, the reduction in freedom of speech and new limitations on public assembly.

None of those things are Christian. So I’d have to agree that this no longer feels like a Christian Society.

But I’d go further. I’d say that it no longer feels like a Society at all – social cohesion now seems to rely upon factors as fragile as a shared response to a photograph or a quotable remark that you can get behind.

These are sheep without a shepherd – and the trouble is that a Star trek style Utopia has yet to emerge in which humanoid life forms appreciate one another for their wondrous diversity… (by the way a great deal of time was spent in that Utopia trying to understand and appreciate other cultures’ sincere beliefs, NOT trying to reason them away with unmediated and effectively dehumanised data).

Now I believe there is no greater Humanist than the God who became incarnate and faced complete humility out of love, and that with good theology, there is nothing better to replace Christianity as Britain’s root of social cohesion… because there is no other Truth that saves.

But it may be that Andrew Copson, like many other writers, does not realise that this Country does not PAY for its faith or SERVE it’s faith… it is quite the contrary. And I’m looking forward to being MORE OBVIOUSLY a controversial minority… I’ve often wondered how the vast numbers of people who worship Christ as the Son of God crucified and resurrected, get away with holding charity bake sales and knitting premature baby clothes and volunteering at homeless shelters out of love for Christ, and manage to pretend there’s nothing peculiar about their life’s defining relationship.

It is odd. Or should I say (and please forgive me Lord, I seek to provoke) God is comparatively odd… compared to us, who want to standardise and economise and regulate and justify ourselves with outcomes and outputs and efficiency, striving to work our way back from the mad joy and diversity of creation towards a grey comprehensible median of existence… and are on our way to a homogenous hell in a handbasket. We are in a vast normalising society that is striving and failing to reach an agreement on accepted and necessary behaviours that simultaneously encompass a breadth of human existence so wide that at any given time 95% of people will most certainly be living outside of some accepted limits… I pray that the 5% within ‘normal perameters’ are NOT the 5% in church on a Sunday.


About Jemma

Learning to be both a priest and a human being in the Anglican Church
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