With Christmas almost upon us, two news stories have recently attempted to explore the festival’s relevance to modern life. The BBC looks to history to answer the question ‘Should we idealise Christmas past?’ Alternatively, the Guardian takes the opportunity to forecast the future of Christianity in the UK, reporting a Christian Research report which states that by 2050 ‘Sunday attendance [at church] will fall below 88,000, compared with just under a million now’.
With the credit crunch upon us, many will be taking stock of their lives, attempting to make sense of what is important both financially, and otherwise. For some, there may be a desire to return to simpler times, a period when Christmas was perceived to have less to do with increasing consumption, commercialisation and overindulgence, and more to do with honouring the birth of Jesus. However, it would appear that such sentiments are not novel, instead such fears have a very long history, and in fact may well pre-date Christianity.
Alongside this search for the meaning of Christmas, the publication of Religious Trends raises probing questions about the very nature of Christian worship. Is Christian Research correct in their assumption that worship is declining, or alternatively, is the way in which we worship changing? Either way it would appear that Christmas 2008 may well be a time for reflection.
From A New Dictionary of Religions
Religion and Consumption
By Kathleen M. O’Neil
From Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology