I am, as all readers here know, a very simple man with a small brain, so maybe it is that small brain once again living down to its small capacity, but I find this Telegraph article, headed "Decline of religion in Britain 'comes to a halt' - major study suggests" somewhat confusing.
The key finding seems to be a snapshot, a slight pause in statistics of decline of religious belief and adherence in Britain. Naturally some fasten on that as a sign of a longed for hope being fulfilled. Surely the decline must come to an end. Surely there must be a point where all those lively congregations up and down the land count for something statistically.
But then there are the likes of religion-sociologist Linda Woodhead whose conviction that a long decline is inexorable means the snapshot is interpreted as a blip along the way. Even a tobogganist might want to stop to admire the view on the way down for a few seconds. The quote cited above (from within the Telegraph article) is Woodhead immersed in data about baptisms and funerals. Those kinds of stats are damning; here in NZ too.
Yet that cited sentence above also belies a missing element in any such narrative about Christianity. In that sentence there is no gospel, there is no revival, no Holy Spirit, and, in fact, no signal that God might exist and might be a "factor" in arresting the long-term trend.
Back to the article which I find confusing. I suppose the sub-editor provided the headline because it is a clickbait headline. Everyone expects the story today about religion to be the decline of religion, the dog bites the man. The sub-editor finds one element in the story which has a slight man bites dog twist to it so provides the headline. The article is then confusing because, in the end, with Woodhead driving the interpretation of the statistics provided, the story is just the old, old story of decline. There isn't yet any steady statistical trend as a basis for the claim of a "halt."
Be great if there was :)