Thursday, 19 May 2016

Going to Hell in a Hand Basket

I read Christian writers every day, looking for challenge, inspiration or just a broader view of "the church" and a life of faith than what I am exposed to in my own church.

Today I read this commentary on the death of the church:

At the same time, we are seeing the results of a society that is attempting to shut God out. Every day, in Britain, at least 312 couples are divorced. Somebody calls the Samaritans every five seconds. The pornographic industry in the UK is worth over £1 billion annually. There are 30,000 Christian clergy of all types, and more than 80,000 registered witches and fortune tellers.

I'm not at all sure I can agree with this hand wringing. Divorce is certainly a painful and costly business but does a high divorce rate reflect a fracturing of our society or does it reflect an honesty we didn't see in the past? After the messy and painful part, could divorce be making room for more love in people's lives, rather than less?

Calls to The Samaritans could also be seen as a good thing, surely? The commitment of volunteers, the increased awareness of mental illness and the trust displayed by those who reach out for help are all positive signs. Mental health issues seem to be becoming more prevalent but are they? or do we talk about it more? Twenty, thirty or forty years ago were there less people suffering loneliness, anxiety and depression or were they just suffering in silence, self medicating, chugging valium and putting on a brave face? or maybe they had a brief period of illness and got locked up in an inappropriate psych facility for decades?

Porn is a scourge, it demeans everyone who is involved in it but again, does it reflect a society devoid of goodness and love? or a reality which has always been with us?

I have seen society change in my lifetime, we have a long way to go but there has been progress made in the areas of equality for women and the disabled, LGBT rights and race equality. Forced adoption has lost traction, alienating single mothers and divorcees is less common, we institutionalise people less than we have in the past and there is growing acknowledgement of some sins of the past (slavery and the Stolen Generations come to mind.)

I am tired of the thought that God is ignored, society is declining, the death of the church is imminent and we are all on the way to hell in a hand basket. 

The function of the church is (or should be) to love. I want the church to stop the wailing and gnashing of teeth, stop the grief over a changing world and celebrate what Love has achieved. Christianity is not meant to be easy or comfortable so maybe we should see empty pews as a sign that God believes in us, that He is stretching us to become bigger and more whole. Can we consider that he is asking us to Love more and better, challenging His people to create change in the future?


  1. From my godless state, I see the things you list as positives in that way too. And am glad for so much more openness. Things kept in the dark tend to fester and grow.

  2. Very nice and thought provoking post!

  3. I believe that spirit, for lack of a better name we use the generic God, and I have a pretty damn good relationship. I have a clearly defined structure of faith that in times past would most likely have gotten me tortured and burned at the stake by the church system; simply because as that spirit has taught I listened well enough to learn. *meh* To all systems and orders that know neither "God nor Devil" as they know themselves to be.

    Be Well Kiley and heed The Buddha, Siddhartha in his death bed words to his followers. "Find your own Path."

  4. EC,
    There are so many positives!
    and maybe i am overly sensitive to the woe crowd

  5. Anne,
    Thank you. You are welcome to disagree if you want :)

  6. Mark,
    I have always regarded you as enlightened.
    I think I will always be connected to the church but I am happy to wander from the standard track.

  7. I do agree that all the hand wringing is overdone. Religion is still hugely popular here in Northern Ireland and no sign whatever of it being eclipsed by atheism. And yes, more divorces and more calls to the Samaritans are surely a good thing because it means people are sorting out their personal problems rather than pretending everything's fine when it isn't. But there are always people who get enjoyment (or money) out of seeing doom and disaster everywhere they look. I'm often guilty of exaggerating the doom and disaster myself.

  8. Nick,
    Obviously there is a lot of pain and suffering in the world but I think pain and suffering is un-quantifiable so these ideas that things are getting worse just seem silly. It particularly annoys me when it comes from people who claim to have an all powerful and loving God.If He is those things, there is less to worry about, not more

  9. Kylie there is a wide chasm between connected and corrupted. I am all in for those among us who like, love. appreciate the fellowship of "the body" or ecclesia (the Greek word used to translate as church). Yet in both the Pentateuch and the Epistles it repeats one line 3 times in the same verse. "And god himself will teach you, line upon line, brick upon brick, line upon line, brick upon brick, line upon line, brick upon brick..."

    maybe it's me or this particular place but I see plenty of pulpit pimps fleecing their flocks so they can "profile" wealth and looking good who use "the church" to preach the doctrine of greed not need. I believe the term they prefer is the Prosperity Doctrine.

  10. Mark, I agree completely. As I wrote my previous response I was thinking that my spiritual understanding will be determined by the spirit, not by the teaching I am given.

    And pffft to the Prosperity gospel

  11. I am a Christian, I've attended the same Baptist church since I was a teenager, and the changes I've seen within that church are amazing. It's been tough, as Baptists tend to be very narrow minded, but changes have been forced upon us, and that's a good thing.

  12. Joe,
    It's great to know that your congregation have been able to change. I feel like we all need to move a lot faster but for now I just have to be grateful that it happens at all.


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