Doom and gloom? no I’ll have advent thanks.

Well the census results are out today… apparently a full quarter of the population is atheist or agnostic. A fifth of the population are immigrants though most of them live in London. Such a change in demographics in such a short period of time is staggering. Plenty of people decided to poke the government in the eye and call themselves Jedi, I applaud the sentiment, the census is a bit of a monster.

Its a shame the census didn’t break down Christian into different groupings, because I bet the only groups increasing in numbers are the free evangelicals, with all the fundamentalism that they entail, I also bet the Catholic Church’s numbers will be falling less due to immigration. But still the trend they clearly show is depressing, though perhaps its just an increase in people being honest with themselves rather than just ticking the Christian box, we certainly don’t see fifty percent of the population in the pews on Sunday.

In other news the government has decided it must pass its gay marriage law, no matter the cost.  Its strange, lately I’ve been thinking, there is a phrase in our society that is over used, its this “no matter the cost”.  People seem to say it without without realising that there is a cost, a big cost. The government spokeswoman I heard quoted on Radio 4 said she sees no reason why marriage should be denied to people because they are gay… to completely ignore the fact that a massive number of people have a big problem with gay marriage takes a certain detachment from reality. The cost, is plenty of natural Tory voters who will not go to the polls come election day or will be voting differently. I for one will be voting UKIP, that needn’t worry anyone though, my constituency is a very very safe Labour seat.

I was also listening to a radio 4 program on Jean Cocteau, which spent a good while talking about suicide, opium addiction and homosexuality and completely neglected to say he died a Catholic, though I’ve been finding that hard to verify, my parish priest is certain of it. He painted murals in a french church in London which he finished three or maybe four years before he died and he would talk to the people he was drawing.  Apparently he had a rather gnostic and eccentric bent to his faith but still. This is the re-writing of history that the BBC constantly does with great skill… Religion will be completely written out of our history in the near future I’m sure, because not only are atheists growing in number but they seem to have the media in an ironclad grip.

Finally the Mayan calendar runs out on the 21st, so some loons are awaiting the end of the world… I might point out that most of our calenders end on December the 31st but we don’t think the world is going to end every year… Ho hum that’s what you get for being forward thinking…. there’s one born every minute. Thank God for Catholicism we have a new liturgical year already, we can look forward to the end of the world with hope, not gloom, and we can face both hardship and bounty with a faith that sustains us.  A faith that again and again survived persecution and even thrived. One of my favourite poems is the burning babe by Robert Southwell which suddenly sprung to mind.

As I in hoary winter’s night stood shivering in the snow,
Surprised I was with sudden heat which made my heart to glow ;
And lifting up a fearful eye to view what fire was near,
A pretty babe all burning bright did in the air appear ;
Who, scorchëd with excessive heat, such floods of tears did shed
As though his floods should quench his flames which with his tears were fed.
Alas, quoth he, but newly born in fiery heats I fry,
Yet none approach to warm their hearts or feel my fire but I !
My faultless breast the furnace is, the fuel wounding thorns,
Love is the fire, and sighs the smoke, the ashes shame and scorns ;
The fuel justice layeth on, and mercy blows the coals,
The metal in this furnace wrought are men’s defilëd souls,
For which, as now on fire I am to work them to their good,
So will I melt into a bath to wash them in my blood.
With this he vanished out of sight and swiftly shrunk away,
And straight I callëd unto mind that it was Christmas day.

It just goes to show, the night we are experiencing at the moment is nowhere near as dark as some of the nights past.


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