PFG and the new religion

The Parents Faith Group in my parish has reinvented itself this term. We are now meeting about twice a half term with people taking it in turns to host the meeting and do lunch. Today, we were at Helen's and were treated to a delicious pasta bake with tuna, tomato, olives and capers.

We discussed what subjects ought to be tackled in the forthcoming sessions. Deeper knowledge of the scriptures was one request and the Pam Stenzel DVD "Sex has a price tag" will probably be on the agenda for one of the sessions - it's a most helpful presentation for any family with teenage children. The whole question of the occult, especially mediums and contacting the dead often comes up as well - this brings in lots of basic Catholic teaching about the human person, angels and demons, the communion of saints and the four last things. I think that some lives of the Saints would also go down well.

I have noticed in schools recently that diet and recycling seem to have assumed an enormous importance. I was surprised to find out from the parents that teenagers in secondary schools who bring in their own packed lunch from home are forbidden to include crisps. Fizzy drinks are banned in the boys' school but one of the mums explained that this is because they throw the cans at each other so that is fair enough. Mind you, this can't be the real reason for banning Lilt because the now obligatory bottles of mineral water also make good missiles. (Actually the ones with the "sports cap" also make effective water pistols.)

Of course, anti-crisp monitoring and classroom cardboard collections are nothing to do with the schools themselves - they probably find the whole thing a wretched nuisance. It is all part of the Every Child Matters agenda of our ever-expanding Government. Compliance with this is inspected by OFSTED who will want evidence so that they can tick all the relevant boxes. (This is not a metaphor - there is a table with boxes that appears in the published report.)

We really have all the makings of a good secular religion here - the ten commandments are replaced by the five desired outcomes; a creed would not be that difficult to formulate around the trinity of diet, recycling and sex-education; sacraments are a cinch; and prayer - well we could meditate in front of an ikon of the rainforest or the ozone layer with cermonial sips of water every five minutes (perhaps chewing penitentially on a cereal bar.) I'm just waiting for a teenager to come to confession and say:
"Bless me, father, for I have sinned. On two occasions, I consumed saturated fats, I only drank 1 litre of water yesterday and I put my copy of FHM in with the household rubbish. For these an all my other sins which I cannot now remember, I beg the forgiveness of the earth, healing and wholeness from you my spiritualist father."

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