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HVK Archives: Christmas without Christ in the U.K.

Christmas without Christ in the U.K. - The Times of India

L.K. Sharma ()
December 28, 1998

Title: Christmas without Christ in the U.K.
Author: L.K. Sharma
Publication: The Times of India
Date: December 28, 1998

The clash between Christmas and commerce got intensified this
season as one supermarket chain ventured to do business as usual
on Christmas day.

For every one who came to protest against this ungodly act, there
were a dozen trying to buy last-minute turkeys and fruit and

Having successfully violated the sanctity of Sunday over the past
Couple of years, this Christmas day experiment will encourage
many more stores to open on this day next year.

The advertising slogans and displays and neon signs and office
parties became more vulgar this season and one TV channel
injected pornography into the mainstream fare.

The rising roar of cash tills did not go unheard in Britain's
churches where religious leaders denounced the seduction by the
goddess of materialism. in an unusually hard-hitting homily, the
Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Basil Hume, criticised a
godless society that had cut "Christ out of Christmas." He said:
"Look at our shop windows, study our media, ask the reasons for
any Christmas party. What are we celebrating?"

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, called on the
nation to recapture a sense of spiritual values and not place too
much faith as it was doing in "things that will pass away."

He reminded the people of the words of Christ that "a man's life
does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."

The bishop of Birmingham, Right Rev Mark Santer, said, "The idea
that we don't need to eat too much or spend too much to enjoy
Christmas can seem strangely uncomfortable. So we set out on
unachievable guests for the perfect gift, the perfect meal or the
perfect relationship with too many people in too small a space."

The business leaders, on the other, lamented that the people are
not going all out shopping as a result of which pre-Christmas
high street spending slowed down this year. This has meant more
goods in the stores and lower prices in sales beginning on

The millennium is also causing some anxiety to the church
leaders. Author A N Wilson who has written a book on Jesus
Christ, says: "Far from being a commemoration of Christ's birth,
it its a reminder of the slow death of Christian civilisation.

The Archbishop of Westminster urged the people "not to leave
Christ out of the millennium, the holy year. We are in danger of
doing so, partly because we have become a secular society and
partly because of the foolish notion that we may offend others
who do not accept Christ as we do."

There was some good news for the church leaders as the organisers
of the millennium dome disclosed that the latest modified plans
for its "spirit zone," provide room for Jesus. The dome which
lost its minister in-charge, Peter Mandelson, was dubbed as
"godless" as the plans seemed to highlight a multifaith
exhibition rather than emphasise Christianity.

The problem was that not many commercial sponsors found the
"spirit zone" attractive and the church organisations did not
have money to fund the project. In such circumstances the
Hinduja brothers, not belonging to the Christian faith, came into
the picture and speculation that they were willing to underwrite
the zone became rife after their meeting with Mandelson.

That may have set the alarm bells ringing in some quarters
because like in commerce, so also in matters of faith, the
competitive spirit prevails.

Christians realised the need to provide finance for the spirit
zone and they may give as much as 2 million pounds towards the 3
million pounds budget for the spirit zone. The Hinduja brothers
may have acted as a catalytic agent. Some Christian leaders were
aghast that the dome may promote heathen tendencies instead of
giving pride of place to Christianity.

The new design of the spirit zone has been endorsed by a
consultative group chaired by Canon Fletcher. He said: "The year
2000 is an event that Christians will be celebrating throughout
the world. Members of this country's different faith communities
recognise the fact and support the fact that Christianity will be
given pride of place in the spirit zone."

The exhibition hall will feature images from the gospels and
those charting the development of Christianity in Britain since
the country's official conversion in Ad597 by St Augustine.

The biblical stories will be told through a spectacular musical.

Of course, this concession displeased the British Humanist
Association whose spokesman said it was silly to include "fairy
tales" in the spirit zone.

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