When ice melts off a roof, you hear dripping and thawing for some time. Then, occasionally, a whole chunk falls off. I think I have lived through such a change in the UK. Census returns show it:
UK Census 2001 Christian: 71.7% No religion: 14:8%
UK Census 2011 Christian: 59.3% No religion: 25.1%
A piece of ice fell off the roof. When I was growing up, we theoretically believed in the ten commandments and the Sermon on the Mount.
School worship was vaguely Christian.
National celebrations like Armistice Day saw the country getting its Christian hardware out.
It was a staple of farce that the moment something immoral was happening in your house, the Vicar would call, and you were bothered.
In fairness it was all ripe for collapse, because not too many people believed in it really, though some did.
What has happened since has been:
- The incineration of millions of old nominal Christians (after they died).
- Their replacement by millions of younger people not brought up in Christian traditions
- A new widely accepted story about what we believe.
The new normal
I blame the BBC for this latter point, though really our national broadcaster only reflects back to us our own thoughts. What is the new normal? All religions are treated equal and thereby categorized and thereby diminished. The BBC looks down on them all and ‘caters’ for them all, while believing in none of them.
The position from which it looks down is not defined, but is assumed to be somewhere liberal, reasonable, empirical, scientific: a totally superior vantage point to where the poor saps who still follow ‘a religion’ lurk. Christians may prefer Fair Isle jumpers and fair trade coffee to beards and burkhas but really. All religions are the same and don’t lead anywhere. Though of course one must give them the utmost respect.
The Christian faith was like the constellation Ursa Major in the Northern hemisphere: always there, always indicating true north, always pointed out to children, always called the wrong thing, but everyone recognised it.
Now the stars have fallen from the sky.
Millions of thoughts flow from this, which might occupy other blogs. One is worth thinking about in passing.
It is a loss. Since the Emperor Constantine the European peoples bought into a project to unite every aspect of their lives– science, philosophy, trade, agriculture, birth, marriage, death–under the Lordship of Christ.However well or badly that worked out, we agreed on where the pole star was. Now it’s gone.
Interesting. Thoughts, anyone?