Is Britain a Christian Country? And what does that even mean?

By Heather Tomlinson
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A new poll has found that less than a third of visionaries believe that the UK is a ‘Christian country’. The latest data on whether the public considers the UK to be a ‘Christian nation’ doesn’t hold too many surprises. But I hope it can help us to think more deeply about what it really means to be a Christian.
The data, from a ComRes survey by the Faith Research Centre, showed that just 31% of young adults aged 18-24 considered Britain to be a Christian country, compared to 74% of those of pensionable age: 41% of the young adults thought Britain had no religious identity.
Whether or not you consider the UK to have a Christian identity depends somewhat on whether you consider the terms ‘Christian’ and ‘British’ to be a compliments or not. A militant atheist who considers the term Christian the same as ‘narrow-minded bigot’ is not likely to identify with it. So it’s not surprising to see that as atheism has become more popular in the younger generation, so has describing Britain as ‘Christian’.

(Full article via Premier Christianity Magazine)

The 1970s was a good era: Even though we lived it behind school walls

By Jennifer Valentine-Miller

My classmates will not be remembered for being celebrities or for surviving the 1970s. The class of 1978 made a name for themselves because they loved television, music, and sports as well as their school.  School-life was filled with fun and laughter. There was always a scandal around the corner.  I stand tall and commend the good times in my life. I will never forget how we overcame barriers, stigmas and years of pain and hard labour. We step forward in order to be celebrated and step out to celebrate all we have done.


1976 – present

Why must I go to the country?

by Journalist & TV Presenter Peaches Geldof

Last Easter weekend, record-breaking numbers of us flocked to the countryside. We went seeking “fresh air and peace”, according to the English Tourist Board; a chance to “de-stress from our working lives”.
I’m sorry, but I don’t understand this. At the prospect of spending time in the country, I shudder. This feeling hasn’t grown on me gradually – I’ve always hated it. Not only is it boring but, I also genuinely believe that it slowly drives people insane.
All over Britain, teenagers in families thought lucky enough to have a rural second home are dragged off to spend “quality time” with their nearest and dearest – which means sitting for hours on end playing Scrabble, or if you’re really lucky, going to the pub for the much-anticipated Bingo night with the locals.
I’m always being asked: “Why don’t you make any friends there?” The answer is because most of the people seem to be pensioners, who want to talk about the weather or hunting. The small section of children my age are wannabe rude boys whose only topic of conversation centres on: “Innit, man. Check out dat new Gilera 180 moped with golden alloys . . . it’s da bomb, bo Selecta.” This was amusing for some time. Then it got boring – like everything else in the country.
I can see the good aspects of rural life – if you’re getting on a bit and considering retirement. Peace and quiet, friendly locals, much-needed rest and relaxation to soothe your old bones. But for us young people, it’s hell. I love London because it’s noisy, crammed with humanity and there’s always something happening. I hate the country because the only noise there is the constant hooting of wood pigeons, and the only people there are dressed in tweed jackets and want to shoot them.
Sure, the country is beautiful, there’s no denying that. But so is the city. Look at the architecture, it’s incredible. Big Ben and Buckingham Palace are surely more stimulating than a couple of trees and some ducks in a pond.
I know this might sound awful, but I was almost relieved when the foot-and-mouth crisis started. For me, and for lots of my friends, it meant more time in London doing something exciting or productive, like meeting up with friends to go shopping or out clubbing. But now the countryside is crawling with visitors taking a healthy break, inexplicably enjoying doing, absolutely nothing.
There’s something so forced about the way people talk up the countryside; all that raving about the fresh air. I always feel really drained when I leave.
Here’s a typical, “de-stressing” day: enforced trudge for two miles to a pub for lunch. Arrive with clothes covered in mud. Eat awful fish and chips off pub menu (why do all country pubs serve fish and chips?) Alternatively, hang around while adults spend three hours cooking lunch, then two hours eating it. I hate those long lunches. Afternoon, play Scrabble for two hours. Sit in the kitchen staring at the clock for another hour and-a-half. Watch Bargain Hunt on the 60-year-old television. An hour later, it’s time to feed the ducks in the stinking bog. Look at the sheep – which are there for no reason. Sit in my room watching old Disney videos until it’s time for bed. At eight, mind you.
Another question we’re asked by well-meaning parents is: “Why don’t you bring a friend?” Because no one – no one – wants to come. I remember one terrible weekend when three of my girlfriends couldn’t even bear to stay the night and left four hours later. It really is that boring.
I asked one of them why she left so early. She said that she felt like she was going mad. Understandable, as all we did was read magazines. They left when I suggested the duck pond.
countryside
Peaches Geldof wrote several witty
and thoughtful teen columns for the Telegraph

Good Childrens’ Books are still around

Little Red Riding-Hood

Little Red Riding-Hood

by Jennifer  Valentine-Miller

The Golden age saw a shift to a modern genre of children’s literature occur in the mid-19th century, as the informative qualities of a previous age began to make way for more humorous, child-oriented books, more attuned to the child’s imagination.

The availability of children’s literature greatly increased as well, as paper and printing became widely available and affordable, the population grew and literacy rates improved. Today, many parents seem to be in a huge rush for their kids to read J. K. ROWLING and Harry Potter. As soon as most children get beyond the Junie B Jones and Magic Treehouse books some parents run out and buy Harry Potter forgetting the true foundation behind the series. Even Barnes & Noble and as well, Amazon, list the Harry Potter collection as suitable for nine to twelve olds.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

When elementary school readers are given Harry Potter to read, they start the book, perhaps even making it through the second in the series and stop, deciding that they don’t like Harry Potter and generally don’t pick the rest of the series. Having seen the colourful screen adaptation, many parents seem to be in a huge rush for their children to read Harry Potter, after having decided that their young child has outgrown the colour and splendour of WALT DISNEY’S wizardry and dragons. Or is it because of the multi-million commercial aspect, parents who are confounded because every child likes Harry Potter and it is the ultimate chapter book, so why not their child? Harry Potter is much harder than most children’s and young adult (and adult) books. Not only are they very difficult to read but the books are very long and there are seven of them which is a lot for a young reader. Not only are they very difficult to read but the books are very long and there are seven of them which is a lot for a young reader. Professor Jack Zipes from the University of Minnesota asked the question, are we a childist society? – and – what role does literature play in dealing with child neglect and abandonment?

CARLO COLLODI
In 1883 the first Italian fantasy novel, The Adventures of Pinocchio was written, and it has since been translated many times.

CHARLES KINGSLEY
Another important book of that decade was The Water-Babies, A Fairy Tale for a Land Baby, (1862), which became extremely popular in England, and has remained a classic of British children’s literature.

GEORGE MACDONALD
In Britain, The Princess and the Goblin (1872) and its sequel The Princess and Curdie, followed in 1883.

HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSON
Hans Christian Anderson was a Danish author and poet who travelled through Europe and gathered in the early 19th century, many well-known Fairy Tales. He was followed by the Brothers Grimm, who preserved the traditional tales told in Germany. They were so popular in their home country that modern, realistic children’s literature began to be looked down on there. This dislike of non-traditional stories continued there until the beginning of the next century. The Grimm’s contribution to children’s literature goes beyond their collection of stories, as great as that is. As professors, they had a scholarly interest in all their stories, striving to preserve them and their variations accurately.

J. M. BARRIE
In 1911 the world was presented with the story of Peter Pan in the novel Peter and Wendy.

JEAN-JACQUES ROUSSEAU
Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778 who argued that children should be allowed to develop naturally and joyously. His idea of appealing to children’s natural interests took hold among writers for children. His theories urged children to teach themselves. While John Locke (1693) argued children were the tabula rasa (blank slate) upon which ideas could be impressed, Rousseau countered by saying children developed at their own pace and on their own terms. Though Locke’s and Rousseau’s philosophies seem opposed, they both highlight the role of children’s books in the creation of child development.

JOHANNA SPYRI
In 1880-1881 Spyri published the two-part novel Heidi was published in Switzerland.

JOHN NEWBERY
The Little Pretty Pocket-Book and The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes began the origins of the modern era in literature. These were Newbery’s most popular books with Good Two-Shoes widely considered as the first modern children’s book, published in 1744. It was a landmark as the first children’s publication aimed at giving enjoyment to children, containing a mixture of rhymes, picture stories and games for pleasure. Newbery believed that the play was a better enticement to children’s good behavior than physical discipline, and the child was to record his or her behavior daily. The modern children’s book emerged in mid-18th century England. The book was child–sized with a brightly coloured cover that appealed to children—something new in the publishing industry. Known as gift books, these early books became the precursors to the toy books popular in the 19th century. Newbery was also skilled at marketing this new genre.

JONATHAN DAVID WYSS
This popular family novel, The Swiss Family Robinson in 1812, with the aim of teaching children about family values, good husbandry, the uses of the natural world and self-reliance. The book became popular across Europe after it was translated into French by Isabelle de Montolieu.

JOSEPH “RUDYARD” KIPLING
Kipling was an English short-story writer, poet, and novelist. He was born in Bombay, in the Bombay Presidency of British India, and was taken by his family to England when he was five years old. Kipling is best known for his works of fiction, including:
*The Jungle Book (1894) we read how Bagheera the Panther and Baloo the Bear had difficulty trying to convince a boy to leave the jungle for human civilization.
*Just So Stories (1902)
*Kim (1901, a tale of adventure)
*The Man Who Would Be King (1888)

LEWIS CARROLL
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was first published in 1865 in England that signaled the change in writing style for children to an imaginative and empathetic one. Regarded as the first “English masterpiece written for children” and as a founding book in the development of fantasy literature, its publication opened the “First Golden Age” of children’s literature in Britain and Europe that continued until the early 1900s.

LUISA MAY ALCOTT
The “historic book” Little Women was produced in, 1868, this book was based along the fictionalized autobiography of Louisa May Alcott.

MARK TWAIN
This “coming of age” story established the genre of realistic family books in the United States. Mark Twain released Tom Sawyer in 1876, and in 1880 another bestseller Uncle Remus: His Songs and His Sayings, based on African American folk tales special adapted and compiled for a wider global audience by Joel Chandler Harris.

OLIVER OPTIC
In 1865 the United States’ children’s publishing era entered a period of growth after the American Civil War in 1865 when boys’ – books were produced. Oliver Optic published over 100 books.

ROALD DALH
Referred to as “one of the greatest storytellers for children of the 20th century”. Among his awards are for contribution to literature, he received the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement in 1983, and Children’s Author of the Year from the British Book Awards in 1990.
His works include James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Matilda.

ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON
Treasure Island and Kidnapped were extremely popular in the 1880s.

THOMAS HUGHES
Tom Brown’s School Days appeared in 1857, and is considered to be the founding book in the school story tradition.