Sunday, January 18, 2009

Is This A Christian Country ?

Well it is certainly not an atheist country with 8% describing themselves as such . About 20% of Britain say they are not religious ‘or’ do not believe in god but many of these have other spiritual beliefs. These are included in the 10% of agnostics whio in many cases would fit comfortable into the Anglican Church if they wished to .
More than 72% call themselves Christian ( last census ). In fact the torrential immigration encouraged by New Labour has ad the unintended effect of making the country more Christian . There is a great deal of soft Christianity but the ubiquity of Church weddings and funerals is a telling fact. True church attendance has declined overall but not as fast as the decline in membership of political Parties . It may not represent a lessening the spiritual yearnings of the nation as a new ways of living
Behind this , even those who hate the church like Polly Toynbee call themselves humanists a tradition that clearly evolves from and with great debt to Christianity. It is the wider cultural stream which I am calling on when I say this is a Christian country . There are about 5% identifying with other religions of which Islam is the largest and was on 3 % (more now ).There have only been rare periods when a passionate faith has characterised this country , the times of Cromwell perhaps . These has been taken to mean this is not a religious country I take it to mean that we are happier with a quiet religion . I accept hat the place of the church has changed formally but the country is to its former self as the man is to the child

My heart leaps up whenI behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!
The Child is father of the Man; ………
( Wordsworth)

9 comments:

asquith said...

Well, if you're saying that our Christian heritage (whether it be Anglican or nonconformist) should be respected then I agree.

You seem (correct me if I'm wrong) to advocate religion not out of a belief in its claims, but because of its social & cultural aspects.

Rightly so, since the English Bible & the Book of Common Prayer are the basis of our literature, & are of massive cultural importance. You can think that whilst being an atheist, like my own self... or for that matter Richard Dawkins or La Toynbee herself, both of whom have more respect for the forms of religion than many right-wing neoliberals & bloggertarians.

Your enemy is not so much humanism & atheism as apathy & disregard for our inheritance, which isn't something I'd want to go associating with any party or any tendency, apart from neoliberalism.

All very interesting business. In Muslim countries, the Koran is respected even by those who don't believe, of whom there must be many. I don't agree with the conclusions reached by the likes of Richard Littlecock (who have no genuine respect for anything & are interested solely in pushing an agenda) but it is something that should be thought about.

We'd do well to clear a bit of space to think about this business. I'm not going to be converting any time soon, but I see no reason to disown the past or figures whom I admire.

I still hate the likes of Lilian Ladele & this clown of a bus driver though!

Newmania said...

Personally I have aquired a sort of faith Asquith after many years of bog standard atheism and I cannot quite agree that this has no implications for your views on moral questions or indeed any question.
The fact that very many people act and think as if they did have faith but do not is an oddity I see from rather the other end of the telescope.

Its hard to tease out different ways of thinking . I do not approve of the Liberal emphasis on the Enlightenment ( above the romantic and pre enlightenment ) but I am , I hope , rational.

Thought provoking comment though thanks

Blue Eyes said...

I think the key is to separate belief in "God" from the general "teachings". There are many people who can't quite bring themselves to believe that the world was created in seven days, that Christ was the son of God or that he was resurrected and was lifted up to Heaven but still follow his recommendations on how to live a "good" life. In that way many people are "Christian" without any religious fervour.

I have been meaning to do a post on this...!

Daisy said...

we have so many different religions in the US it is hard to see one from another...they keep change and rearranging the bible for their own individual needs...i think that happens when questions arise like blue eyes said...when we start questioning we need something to fit right while still being able to maintain as good christians...myself, i gave it up for lent one year...

Newmania said...

There are many people who can't quite bring themselves to believe that the world was created in seven days, that Christ was the son of God or that he was resurrected and was lifted up to Heaven but still follow his recommendations on how to live a "good" life

I do not agree with all of that. I do not literally believe in creationsim , I do however see the force of a poetic apprehension of a purposive universe . I cannot see religion as just a way of living



Daisy , I like the Church of Engaland it is the original tolerant Broad church. You can sit in the church with your doubts and hopes and feel wlecome

Little Black Sambo said...

The beliefs of Asquith about respecting our heritage and the respect he reports that Dawkins and Toynbee have for religion do nevertheless depend on the existence of some actual believers. Real belief is the ladder by which society has achieved this religion-derived culture and the morality that atheists can respect, but if the ladder is kicked away and no more real believers come, the culture-respecters will be stranded. If the host disappears the parasite, however benign, will die. (And part of the trouble is that the believers themselves often lack respect for the culture surrounding their belief - throwing away the Authorized Version and the Prayer Book, for example.)

Newmania said...

LBS how nice to see you around in a virtual way. I struggle with this I have come to a sort of faith in a personal way and I also like the Christian tradition. Connecting these two things at present is murky
Looking at the buildings , the music , the poetry especially in my case I cannot see that to see them as "Pretty " is to understand much about what is being offered.
I don`t think for one second you have to be a Conservative so the connection between the private and public is dificult. I have not attempted it.

Philipa said...

I am a Christian. In fact I was confirmed in my faith on Dec 7th 2008. I attend both the morning sunday service and evensong. Go to a choral evensong folks, it's lovely. I haven't attended in a cathedral yet but would like to.

Having said all that if the local baptist minister was my parish clergyman I could maybe tend towards agnostic I'm thinking. Or at least thinking my things quietly at home. My goodness what a load of twaddle he came out with. He used language like 'bipolar' and 'corporate' faith. I think the young man was trying to sound important but it had the unfortunate effect of reminding us that the church was actually quite a big business.

I checked with him afterwards and he reassured me that in quoting genesis (not the band) he didn't mean that after eating the apple only women were cursed (blood and pain in childbirth, all that) the WHOLE WORLD was cursed. That's Woman's fault but he didn't mean anything misogynist, oh no siree. Well ok then.

I didn't get onto asking him what the dolphins had done to offend God but the whole world being cursed kinda covered it.

He asked me for examples of what I thought was complete rubbish and in the time available (I thought 'all' covered it but obviously not) I informed him that many people live quite miserable lives and are not christians but they do NOT in fact drop down dead without religion, or hope. They continue to exist. Without religion many people do NOT want to kill themselves. I know this to be true. Even when they are unhappy.

He asked what my solution to finding an unhappy person would be. I answered that I could inform them of my faith, lead them to faith if you will, as it may give them hope. But confidentially I wouldn't thrust it upon them as it might not. I would just do all I can to help. My faith makes me the person I am as it comes from the person I am. I made a choice. Others must make theirs.

I don't think that young baptist minister thinks I'm very devout then, even though I welcomed him and only told him I didn't agree with what he said when pressed. But bless him, bold young clergy are often surrounded by old ladies who look after them. By the look on his face the young minister had never been told he was full of crap (I didn't actually put it like that) Well it's good for a clergyman to have his ego checked. far too many use the scriptures to support their own prejudices. Jesus was against that. He was a good bloke; Jesus. A real rebel.

And between thee and me I don't think the word of the Lord needs any 'sexing up' - if you don't speak hebrew then the King James Bible and Book of Common Prayer are good, been good for a while now, supported by simple honest truth. Accessible to all.

Newmania said...

I heartily agree with your last paragraph Phillipa . It was the fact that so mmany people had made such beautiful things that first made me start to wonder if I was missing somrthing .

On the other hand I tend to the view that women are indeed the root of all evil and take Genesies quote literally you apple eating hussie

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