Advent message clashes with Chancellor’s plan

by
26 November 2008

by Bill Bowder

Waiting in the cold: Dr Paula Gooder, the Bishop of Reading, and the Abbot of Worth entertain three students at the launch of the Advent website

Waiting in the cold: Dr Paula Gooder, the Bishop of Reading, and the Abbot of Worth entertain three students at the launch of the Advent website

THE CHURCH and the Govern­ment were at odds over the economy this week. As the Chancellor, Alistair Darling, announced in the House of Commons measures to boost high-street spending and push up the national debt, a plea was made from the other side of the Thames for Advent thrift and patience.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, in a video from the Church of England’s Advent website, screened to journal­ists at Lambeth Palace on Monday, said that the economic crisis had been driven by impatience.

“We are not a culture that’s very used to waiting,” he said, at almost the same moment as the Chancellor was announcing that he would bor­row £118 billion next year, the equivalent of £1934 for every person in the UK.

Dr Williams said: “All those bits of our contemporary culture which are about rushing to get gratification, getting the results straight away, all those habits of our culture which so drive the crises of our culture, whether it’s the credit crunch or the environmental crisis — all those things we have to cast a rather cold eye on during Advent.”

The message of Advent was the opposite of what the Chancellor was saying, said the RC Abbot of Worth, Dom Christopher Jamison, author of Finding Happiness, extracts of which are included in the Advent site.

“We see Advent as a very seriously charged moment, in which we . . . refuse to behave as though the way to salvation is to spend more and to get into debt more, because that is what has got us into this trouble in the first place,” he said at the launch.

“The antidote to greed is waiting. It is not never shop, but shop less; not stand still, but go slower; but that is not what the politicians are going to tell us. The Chancellor is going to say ‘Spend like before.’ But that is what has got us into trouble in the first place.

“The economy is going through a readjustment, whether we like it or not. If we behave like we have in the last ten years, then we will just see another crisis. We have to work for an economy with a more solid founda­tion in order to skip the boom and bust. But the politicians have not done that.”

In the video, Dr Williams criticised the way society was “saturated” with carols as leaving little space to think. But Dr Paula Gooder, the Birmingham-based theologian and author of The Meaning is in the Waiting (Canterbury Press), who, with Fr Jamison, had contributed to the Church’s Advent programme, said: “I don’t think there is anything wrong with lots of carols and early Christmas trees. It is the way we celebrate Christmas now.” Advent was about realising “that this moment is like no other and once it’s gone, it’s gone”.

The Bishop of Reading, the Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, whose Advent book Do Nothing Christmas is Coming (CHP) is also featured on the website, said: “I don’t want to be a kill-joy about carols, but if you sing them too early, you lose the sense of occasion. “A feast is better when it is pre­ceded by a fast. When every day is Christmas Day, then no day is Christmas Day.”

Some people did not put up their Christmas tree until Christmas Eve or drink alcohol during Advent, but that was not a course he was going to follow. “It’s a lot harder not drinking in Advent than it is in Lent. Not drinking is probably unrealistic.”

Elsewhere, the Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, six other Welsh bishops, and the four Chief Constables in Wales have combined in a campaign against binge drink­­ing. People would be invited to “pledge” to cut down, Dr Morgan said at the campaign launched on Thursday last week.

Debt fears.
by Pat Ashworth
More than three-quarters of UK residents are worried about the cost of Christmas, the debt-counselling agency Christians Against Poverty said last week..

Debt fears.
by Pat Ashworth
More than three-quarters of UK residents are worried about the cost of Christmas, the debt-counselling agency Christians Against Poverty said last week..

A further 15 per cent are not looking forward to Christmas as a result, says a survey by YouGov com­missioned by the charity. Of the 2000 adults surveyed, almost one in three (30 per cent) said they did not budget at all for Christmas. London­ers were least likely to budget, more than one third (34 per cent) doing no financial planning at all.

Of those who did budget, Scots were the most prudent: 57 per cent said they would set a budget and try to stick to it. Women were more in­clined towards prudence than men: 22 per cent did not budget, as against 38 per cent of men. They also worried more: 82 per cent said they were anxious about the cost of Christmas, compared with 69 per cent of men.

www.whywearewaiting.com

www.whywearewaiting.com

www.capuk.org

www.capuk.org

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