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Christianity is no longer in – but I'm craving the routine and … – inews

today7 months ago

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Since becoming a parent, I’m never totally sure what to do about Sundays. When I was childfree and single it was a day for sleeping off a hangover, making bacon sandwiches, streaming Gossip Girl and trying not to think about work the next day. When I was married but still childfree it was a day for lie-ins, long walks, having people over for a roast and then chatting about those people while we did the washing up.
But now I’m a parent – specifically a parent who doesn’t have a domestic partner – I find myself at a bit of a loss. Sure I’m sometimes hungover on a Sunday, but toddlers don’t understand about lie-ins. Getting up at 6.45am feels normal in the week when everyone’s doing it, but there’s something strange about it on a Sunday, when any sensible person is still asleep. And it makes the day so much longer. By lunchtime, when I would previously have been awake for a couple of hours, I’ve lived an entire life and run out of things to do with myself. It’s sufficiently bad that despite being dyspraxic and having no common sense, I am considering taking up recreational cycling.
Like most people, when I don’t know what I’m supposed to do about a specific parenting question, I look to my own childhood either for an example of what I should do or, in some instances, what I absolutely shouldn’t do. How did my parents fill Sunday? With a routine. And that routine started with church. Pretty much every Sunday we’d drive to a pretty church in south-west London, and I loved it. Sunday school was fun, the religious bits were a bit boring but mostly fine, and there were free biscuits afterwards.
For some reason, it hardly occurred to me that church would be an option for me and my daughter, which might speak to why a study found last week that the majority of people in the UK don’t consider themselves to be Christian. 64.2 per cent of people surveyed by The Times said that Britain can historically, but not currently, be described as a Christian country.
Anecdotally, it feels very true. Most of the people I grew up with went to church at least intermittently. No-one I know in adulthood goes to church unless they’re trying to get married at a pretty village church with strict entry requirements, or get their child into an outstanding local primary school. And I get it. Catholic school left me with some very complicated feelings about sex, and the historical abuses it perpetuated make it hard to want to be a cheerleader for it. Like a lot of people, I find the Christian stance on abortion irreconcilable with my beliefs, and their views on sex before marriage were ultimately what made me stop going to church, and eventually what made me stop believing entirely.
The absence of a religious life in adulthood seems to belong exclusively to the Christians I know. My Jewish and Muslim friends are active and enthusiastic members of their religious communities. Unlike other faiths, it doesn’t seem that common to take part in the church if you’re quietly agnostic. Plenty of my Jewish or Muslim friends are privately on the fence about the existence of God. And yet their faiths are woven through their lives and are a huge part of how they raise their children. I find myself really envying that.
Growing up between Catholicism and the Church of England didn’t leave me with an abiding faith. I’m a lapsed Catholic and an agnostic. But I do miss the routine, the music, the sense of belonging and community. I like the predictableness of it all, the same music and people and words, an enclave in the week where you don’t look at your phone and you try to think about something other than yourself. Even just the feeling of being in a big, cool, beautiful building and experiencing moments of silence.
Filling a Sunday is clearly a question that a lot of people wrestle with, and it’s given rise to a genre of content on TikTok titled the Sunday Reset, where people share videos of themselves cleaning their houses, meal prepping, having an everything shower, picking out their outfits and getting an early night. And ultimately, it’s the same thing, it’s finding a routine and a sense of order on a day which seems to bring out a strange side in so many of us.
Despite my prejudice about sandals and singing Christian rock with closed eyes, I’ve resolved to answer my own question, and give church another go. I’m very much hoping I might find a sense of community, and a little enclave of peace. If nothing else to keep me from taking up cycling.
All rights reserved. © 2021 Associated Newspapers Limited.

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Written by: Christianity Today

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