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Maximus Decimus

A post-Christian Britain

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I attended a catholic Christening today and it was just bizarre. I'm sure most of you can relate because it is certainly nothing new but has been the case for some time, in my area at least. For those of you who haven't, let me explain:

The baptism is now entirely separate from the mass, they don't even have the pretense of having it during or straight after. They do them in job lots, today there were 7 at the same time and as you would expect it was chaos. The priest tried his best to speak but largely the people there weren't listening and were just talking during it; church is now so far removed from most people's lives that they don't know how to behave during one or simply don't care. As the actual baptism was being performed, people completely stopped paying attention if their child wasn't up. One dad even took his child out and started swinging him round in the back of the church!

I've mentioned many times before, that I was raised in a strict catholic household and only a generation ago things weren't like that. Even as somebody largely non-religious, it saddened me a little to see how things had declined. During the service, it struck me how absurd a situation it was. We essentially have a godless (or should that be religion-less) society but they still want the Christening and the day out.

I'm not sure how long it can go on though. The decline of the church is so much that the actual institution underpinning it doesn't seem like it will be able to continue indefinitely. Then there are other religious based institutions like schools that I know personally are struggling to recruit in a godless society. What does the future of post-Christian Britain look like?

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It must depend on the area because I have seen no difference and it's after the mass like I always remember.

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49 minutes ago, Maximus Decimus said:

I attended a catholic Christening today and it was just bizarre. I'm sure most of you can relate because it is certainly nothing new but has been the case for some time, in my area at least. For those of you who haven't, let me explain:

The baptism is now entirely separate from the mass, they don't even have the pretense of having it during or straight after. They do them in job lots, today there were 7 at the same time and as you would expect it was chaos. The priest tried his best to speak but largely the people there weren't listening and were just talking during it; church is now so far removed from most people's lives that they don't know how to behave during one or simply don't care. As the actual baptism was being performed, people completely stopped paying attention if their child wasn't up. One dad even took his child out and started swinging him round in the back of the church!

I've mentioned many times before, that I was raised in a strict catholic household and only a generation ago things weren't like that. Even as somebody largely non-religious, it saddened me a little to see how things had declined. During the service, it struck me how absurd a situation it was. We essentially have a godless (or should that be religion-less) society but they still want the Christening and the day out.

I'm not sure how long it can go on though. The decline of the church is so much that the actual institution underpinning it doesn't seem like it will be able to continue indefinitely. Then there are other religious based institutions like schools that I know personally are struggling to recruit in a godless society. What does the future of post-Christian Britain look like?

I read a similar article about Germany last week.

One of the factors they considered was that although Christianity was in decline there, for Islam it is the opposite. 

Rather than society becoming secular there may be a possibility of another religion being dominant. 

Of course that may become more secular too the more exposure to Western Society. 

It's an interesting discussion.

 

 

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8 hours ago, Maximus Decimus said:

I attended a catholic Christening today and it was just bizarre. I'm sure most of you can relate because it is certainly nothing new but has been the case for some time, in my area at least. For those of you who haven't, let me explain:

The baptism is now entirely separate from the mass, they don't even have the pretense of having it during or straight after. They do them in job lots, today there were 7 at the same time and as you would expect it was chaos. The priest tried his best to speak but largely the people there weren't listening and were just talking during it; church is now so far removed from most people's lives that they don't know how to behave during one or simply don't care. As the actual baptism was being performed, people completely stopped paying attention if their child wasn't up. One dad even took his child out and started swinging him round in the back of the church!

I've mentioned many times before, that I was raised in a strict catholic household and only a generation ago things weren't like that. Even as somebody largely non-religious, it saddened me a little to see how things had declined. During the service, it struck me how absurd a situation it was. We essentially have a godless (or should that be religion-less) society but they still want the Christening and the day out.

I'm not sure how long it can go on though. The decline of the church is so much that the actual institution underpinning it doesn't seem like it will be able to continue indefinitely. Then there are other religious based institutions like schools that I know personally are struggling to recruit in a godless society. What does the future of post-Christian Britain look like?

This sounds a lot like how Anglican services have been for ... well, I'm old and the son of a vicar, and CofE baptisms, weddings and funerals have always been remarkably unreligious and mostly filled with explaining subtly which bits you stand for and when to be quiet.


Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life. (Terry Pratchett)

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10 hours ago, Damien said:

It must depend on the area because I have seen no difference and it's after the mass like I always remember.

I was about to post the same. Everyone I know seems to be knocking out kids at the minute, and none of the baptisms have been like the OP describes. They do tend to have 2 or 3 families taking part at the same mass, that's true, but that mainly seems to be an efficiency measure.

As to a wider trend, I'm not a regular church-goer so can't say for certain but others that do go report full churches. Partly that's down to immigration, partly a desire to get kids into Catholic schools, and partly that a Catholic mass is a cool place to hang out*. At a baptism recently I was told that particular south London church has mass 5 times on a weekend - all standing room only. Obviously that's not the same everywhere.

 

*one of these may not be true.


"Just as we had been Cathars, we were treizistes, men apart."

Jean Roque, Calendrier-revue du Racing-Club Albigeois, 1958-1959

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3 hours ago, gingerjon said:

This sounds a lot like how Anglican services have been for ... well, I'm old and the son of a vicar, and CofE baptisms, weddings and funerals have always been remarkably unreligious and mostly filled with explaining subtly which bits you stand for and when to be quiet.

I don't disagree, it wasn't fashionable when I went to mass a generation ago and almost nobody did. Family occasions like christenings, weddings and funerals were as you describe but involved in that is a certain level of respect or at least an understanding that you should be quiet during the service. 

It was shocking to see how much things have declined that people couldn't give two hoots about any of that or don't understand that you're not supposed to. It really is to be seen to be believed, large groups of people chatting and laughing while an elderly priest tries to explain what is supposed to be going on.

The reasons they've had to make the services like this in my local area are obvious. There is a serious priest shortage and declining church attendance. In my lifetime we've gone from 10/11 churches with a couple of priests each, to 4 churches with 4 between them. It initially started as a couple after mass, before moving to groups of 4 at a separate time and now they're up to 7.

It just seems to me like it can't go on like this much longer. You have a secular public that by enlarge still want their children Christened but an institution that is in serious decline and cannot cope.

Schools are another area where the decline of religion is starting to really hit. Outwardly, faith schools look great but I know they're finding it ever harder to recruit especially at the deputy/head level where they have to be practising Catholics.

 

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1 hour ago, nadera78 said:

I was about to post the same. Everyone I know seems to be knocking out kids at the minute, and none of the baptisms have been like the OP describes. They do tend to have 2 or 3 families taking part at the same mass, that's true, but that mainly seems to be an efficiency measure.

As to a wider trend, I'm not a regular church-goer so can't say for certain but others that do go report full churches. Partly that's down to immigration, partly a desire to get kids into Catholic schools, and partly that a Catholic mass is a cool place to hang out*. At a baptism recently I was told that particular south London church has mass 5 times on a weekend - all standing room only. Obviously that's not the same everywhere.

 

*one of these may not be true.

I live in one of those areas that is 99% white British (yet voted Brexit but that's another matter) and I suppose it is the indigenous Brits (for want of a better word) that I'm talking about.

We chose to have our second child christened in Ireland for a number of reasons, one of them being that they so bad here now. It was much like it was here when as a child (80s, 90s) - one family after mass having a personal service.

I wonder where it is heading. How will they cope when my area is reduced to one church and how will schools recruit when there are next to no practising Christians. The public are still going to want those culturally Christian moments like christenings, communions, weddings in a church etc but there won't be an institution capable of delivering them. 

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I have a sister-in-law who nearly became a nun and spent a lot of time as deputy head at several catholic primaries (before wanting to get away form paperwork and becoming a special needs teacher) she mentioned how the schools have turned away from a lot of their religious teaching (basically now just in assembly) as teaching is now just so prescribed with the national curriculum.

On the other side in Reading the Polish immigrants actually took on the Polish church (been there since WW2) really regenerated it including renovations and starting up particular processions etc so it is probably the busiest in town (along with the one used almost exclusively by Chinese Christians). With regard to Islam i had a colleague whose wife's extended family were from Pakistan, when they came over for a big family do they got everything ready to be traditional etc and the ones who arrived were very secular and basically thought them mad and old fashioned for how they did things - in his mind it was like ex pat Brits in India trying to hark back to the days of the Raj whilst we have moved on over here. When you are away from you cultural roots you are more likely to try and preserve your roots

Edited by SSoutherner

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It's far more likely that we become a society without religion than that we become an Islamic state.


Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life. (Terry Pratchett)

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I think some of you really need to get out and have a holiday somewhere nice. The thread was going nicely.  Some posts removed to get it back that way.

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“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime" - Mark Twain

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39 minutes ago, gingerjon said:

It's far more likely that we become a society without religion than that we become an Islamic state.

Who mentioned Islam?

:kolobok_grin:

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3 minutes ago, Shadow said:

Who mentioned Islam?

:kolobok_grin:

*shakes fist*


Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life. (Terry Pratchett)

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I was brought up a Methodist.  Baptisms always took place during the normal Sunday morning service.  I lived opposite an Anglican church, and baptisms there always took place in groups on Sunday afternoons.

My children are both baptised, neither of them are religious. Neither of my grandchildren have been baptised.  Having seen what kind of life my younger granddaughter has been given I don't see how anyone can believe in a loving god.  I used to , my whole life revolved around the church.  But I no longer count myself a believer.  Still a Methodist though!  It's a way of thinking I believe rather than just a religion.

Perhaps if people want to take baptism seriously they should adopt the Baptist church's attitudes and baptise only those of mature years.

Edited by Trojan

“Few thought him even a starter.There were many who thought themselves smarter. But he ended PM, CH and OM. An Earl and a Knight of the Garter.”

Clement Attlee.

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I basically take the late Christopher Hitchens’ View on religion in as much as it’s not, and can’t be a force for good in the world,

There are good religious people but religions as such are not a good thing 

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"Freedom without socialism is privilege and injustice, socialism without freedom is slavery and brutality" - Mikhail Bakunin

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13 minutes ago, Phil said:

I basically take the late Christopher Hitchens’ View on religion in as much as it’s not, and can’t be a force for good in the world,

There are good religious people but religions as such are not a good thing 

Once the teachings of buddha became an 'ism', you know people are starting to miss the point of the teaching. The same with Taoism.

However, as with Dawkins and Dennett, I would take what Hitchens said with a pinch of salt.

 

Edited by Mister Ting
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25 minutes ago, Mister Ting said:

Once the teachings of buddha became an 'ism', you know people are starting to miss the point of the teaching. The same with Taoism.

However, as with Dawkins and Dennett, I would take what Hitchens said with a pinch of salt.

 

I’m sure Hitchens would want his ideas to be examined, unfortunately religions don’t like being examined and in some countries such examination could put you in serious danger. 


"Freedom without socialism is privilege and injustice, socialism without freedom is slavery and brutality" - Mikhail Bakunin

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32 minutes ago, Mister Ting said:

All ideas should be tested. The thing is, even mainstream science has an orthodoxy to it.

“That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.”

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"Freedom without socialism is privilege and injustice, socialism without freedom is slavery and brutality" - Mikhail Bakunin

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6 hours ago, SSoutherner said:

I have a sister-in-law who nearly became a nun and spent a lot of time as deputy head at several catholic primaries (before wanting to get away form paperwork and becoming a special needs teacher) she mentioned how the schools have turned away from a lot of their religious teaching (basically now just in assembly) as teaching is now just so prescribed with the national curriculum.

On the other side in Reading the Polish immigrants actually took on the Polish church (been there since WW2) really regenerated it including renovations and starting up particular processions etc so it is probably the busiest in town (along with the one used almost exclusively by Chinese Christians). With regard to Islam i had a colleague whose wife's extended family were from Pakistan, when they came over for a big family do they got everything ready to be traditional etc and the ones who arrived were very secular and basically thought them mad and old fashioned for how they did things - in his mind it was like ex pat Brits in India trying to hark back to the days of the Raj whilst we have moved on over here. When you are away from you cultural roots you are more likely to try and preserve your roots

I would have to question the first part of this. Christian schools have a requirement that 10% of curriculum time is spent in RE. That is effectively 2 and a half hours.

It's naive to think this much is taught by many, but you couldn't get away with doing less than an hour. Schools also face a religious inspection which is a huge deal in a faith school. One of the first things they look for is how much RE is being taught and how well it is delivered.

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1 hour ago, Phil said:

I basically take the late Christopher Hitchens’ View on religion in as much as it’s not, and can’t be a force for good in the world,

There are good religious people but religions as such are not a good thing 

I think this as an issue has essentially been decided. You have a small percentage of atheists and religious people debating, but then you have a vast population who have made their decision in that they live their lives almost completely free from religion.

I'm more interested in the practical ramifications as I feel we're slowly reaching a breaking point where the institution is in rapid decline but there is still a significant demand for some of its services amongst the general public. 

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5 minutes ago, Maximus Decimus said:

 

I'm more interested in the practical ramifications as I feel we're slowly reaching a breaking point where the institution is in rapid decline but there is still a significant demand for some of its services amongst the general public. 

And that should never have been the situation that we may arrive at. Perhaps naivety of the future during the past century has brought us to where we are now.

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good point, where would we have been? 


"Freedom without socialism is privilege and injustice, socialism without freedom is slavery and brutality" - Mikhail Bakunin

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31 minutes ago, Maximus Decimus said:

but then you have a vast population who have made their decision in that they live their lives almost completely free from religion.

That’s me.  I’m an apatheist.    I don’t believe in God and I really don’t care that I don’t believe in God.   

 


English, Irish, Brit, Yorkshire, European.  Citizen of the People's Republic of Yorkshire, the Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom and the European Union.  Critical of all it.  Proud of all it.    

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4 minutes ago, Steve May said:

That’s me.  I’m an apatheist.    I don’t believe in God and I really don’t care that I don’t believe in God.   

 

To be a true apatheist, you wouldn't feel the need to to share your feelings about the subject of that word.

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Just now, Mister Ting said:

To be a true apatheist, you wouldn't feel the need to to share your feelings about the subject of that word.

That’s true.  I’m a very bad apatheist.   I’ll try harder next time.   Or not.  

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English, Irish, Brit, Yorkshire, European.  Citizen of the People's Republic of Yorkshire, the Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom and the European Union.  Critical of all it.  Proud of all it.    

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