Monday, September 27, 2010

A Certain Sadness

Those of you who know me, know my affection for all things British.  If it could not be spotted a mile away, I would have long ago developed a British accent as an affection to celebrate my love of the BBC, literature, movies, country estates, James Mason, the Queen and the Royal Family (except for Charles and bloody Camilla), etc. . .  I listen to Choral Evensong through the miracle of the Internet and have an extensive CD library of the English choral and hymnic tradition.  The sound of an English boy choir singing at Christmas in Westminster Abbey IS Christmas music.  I even like fish and chips (the real kind accompanied by a suitable pint of the appropriate beverage.  I cannot explain it.  So I will not.

How sad then to read among the millions of words covering B16's visit the facts that unmistakably reveal that all is not well in merry old England.  The facts cited by some to describe how terrible things are were sobering to an Anglophile like me. In 2008, 45 percent of British children were born outside marriage; 3.9 million children are living in poverty; 20 percent of deaths among young people aged from 15 to 24 are suicides; in 2009, 29.4 million antidepressants were dispensed, up 334 percent from 1985.

These are the signs of a society on the verge of collapse -- not because of an invasion from outside but because of a suicide of sorts from within.  The marginalization of religion, truth, and the Church may not be the primary cause but surely they contribute.  The fact that the population of England is on the dole to government or institutional support of one form or another is another contributing factor.  The fact that the things I associate with England are more the stuff touted to tourists than anything real or significant to modern British society and life, is another sad fact.

England is only going where Scandinavia has already gone and the rest of Europe is not far behind.  Which leaves us with the alarming truth that America may not be very far behind Europe.  The world is all following the slippery slope of a largely secular society, with truth that bows to the altar of political correctness, with diversity that refashions history to be what we think it should instead of what it really was, and with government increasingly seen as the entity to guarantee pleasure and bail us out of our mistakes.

Which gives rise to hope among the newer Christians who have no desire to be a toothless majority and are content to be a solid and creative minority.  These and the voices of those from Africa and other former mission outposts tell us that the sound of hope will not completely disappear into the dark night of valueless inclusiveness in which every vice is equal to every virtue.  But I cannot help a tear for England and hope that the signs of the times there are not lost on those who have the power to bring change and transformation.

So paint me sad yet with a sliver of hope for the future of global Christianity and its ability to give rebirth to the established Church so much in decline... Raise up, O Lord, a new St. George to slay the dragon of our own immorality and emptiness...


Rev. Allen Bergstrazer said...

Not to mention the massive amount of immigration that has also put a strain on the system. A few years ago a friend from Ukraine moved to a 'burb outside of London. I tried to steer her toward a Lutheran church in her area. It was interesting to see what a relatively small presence the Lutherans have, the ELCE for instance isn't much bigger than an average circuit in Missouri.

Anonymous said...

Currently in England, 20% of the
population are professed atheists
and about 8% of the population are
in church worship services on Sunday.

Dr.D said...

The CoE is in a sad state morally and theologically, and the recent invitation from B16 for Angilcans to come to come to Rome has created even more turmoil there. Just this past summer, the General Synod in England passed the final vote to approve women bishops, which has forced traditionalist Anglicans into a corner with no place to go to avoid them. They will be a fact, just as women priests have been a fact for some years now.

++Rowan Williams leadership has been extremely weak and indecisive. He has been one of the most ineffective archbishops in modern times, and this at a time when strong leadership has been most urgently needed. His appointment was a political decision as happens when you have a state Church. The man is an academic and has never held a parish, so he is really not well suited to the job.