I want to begin a tradition this week by doing a general post East culture comment. It will involve taking the pulse of the cultural (namely media) attitudes towards these two important places in the life of the Christian faith and community. This first attempt will be far from complete but touches on some the highs and lows of our last Canadian Easter.
To begin with, I was surprised to experience a greeting I had rarely heard from secular or Christian alike; “Happy Easter”. I must have heard it over 50 times from shop keepers and service clerks of every age, ethnic background and context. Had the expression become a new “verbal tick” (as my mentor Dr. Ernie Runions referred to terms that irritated him) or indeed the “outing” of sincere belief that has hitherto gone suppressed by political or religious correctness. I don’t know. If I hold an opinion on the matter it seems (and the stats that follow will clarify) that Canadian Christians and those who wish to identify with them are loosening up to a more open expression of season if not faith.
I decided to make some symbolic awards this year.
The first is the “Dead Easter Lily Award” to the media outlet most insensitive to the Easter faith celebrated by Canadian Christians. This year the Times colonist from Victoria is the odious recipient for staging an Easter Parade at 11 am on Easter Sunday morning. Come on folks; if you can’t muster up good judgement at least wake up your community relations department… come think of it, it was probably their idea wasn’t it? By the way, I read the Times Colonist regularly and love their week-end edition.
The second award is (keeping with a flower theme) the “Cut Flower Award” (cut flowers look only temporarily good). This award goes to CanWest Global who commissioned Ipsus Reid to conduct a national survey on religion in Canada. I am deeply grateful for this. The material was excellent but the figure of 17% regular attendance did not include the occasional attendees which in some categories doubled the stat. The CanWest, Ipsus Reid people were doing a cup half full dance which overshadowed their excellent intentions.
Sometime over Easter the Globe and Mail had an (intellectual) resurrection of sorts when they realized they had once again missed the interests and aspirations of the majority of Canadians and ignored Easter (well, almost). Easter Monday saw an excellent piece by one of my personal heroes (without whom religion in Canada would have been ignored) Reg Bibby, who wrote some exciting and startling things.
- 43% of Canadians have attended church in the last six months
- 50% of 18-35 year olds would like to be more involved in a church
- 37% of Protestants went to church weekly or occasionally in 1975.
- THIRTY years later this figure is 36% – essentially the same
Since 2000 church interest, attendance and stated belief has grown in Canada, not declined and appears to be on a trend to growing more.
The Globe and Mail gets the “late bloomer” award (in honour of Jane Fonda, who in becoming a Christian later in life said it is better to be a late bloomer than miss the whole flower show). The Globe barely made the flower show with it’s Easter Monday epiphany but seemed to be prompter more by marketing and competitiveness (with CanWest) than maturity on Christology.
So forget Mark Twain’s “Rumours of my death are greatly exaggerated” as it applies to the faith in Canada… we (in God’s strength and his glory) are growing.
To the cultural “humbugs and naysayers” … Happy Easter. Hope you didn’t mind me having a little fun at some of our media friends. They’ll live. More on the interpretation of the stats later in the summer.
The Lord is Risen
He is Risen Indeed