It’s sad the church’s message falls on deaf ears

It’s sad but true to say that, just like Christmas, Easter simply doesn’t resonate with most people on a spiritual level these days.
Hands up if you actually went to church. I thought so. Neither did I.
For the vast majority of people Easter is simply an excuse to take a few days of annual leave, link them up with the Bank Holidays and have a week off work.
Many children don’t even have a clue what we are celebrating – having been weaned on tales of the Easter Bunny and annually plied with their own body weight in chocolate eggs.
It’s sad because the Easter story is the Christian church’s most powerful message of love and hope and yet it is falling on so many deaf ears.
I may not attend church religiously, if you’ll pardon the pun, but I am a believer and, as a good Methodist lad, I do take note of what the movers and shakers within the Church of England have to say – especially at important times of the year.
This is because they are among the few people who actually speak out altruistically in this spiritually-bankrupt country of ours.
They also talk a lot of sense and often say things that go against political-correctness or highlight the vacuous nature of our celebrity-obsessed culture.
For example, I was struck by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s idea that the rich and powerful should be required by law to spend some time every year helping the poor and needy.
Rowan Williams said a return to the medieval tradition when monarchs ritually washed the feet of the poor would serve to remind politicians and bankers what should be the purpose of their wealth and power.
This is an idea so bizarre and so unlikely to ever be taken up, and yet it chimes with me as the Prime Minister continues to trot out his mantra of a Big Society while assuring us that “we are all in this (financial mess) together”.
Dr Williams has suggested a new law that would make all Cabinet members and leaders of political parties, the editors of national newspapers and the 100 most successful financiers in the UK spend a couple of hours every year serving dinners in a primary school on a council estate, or cleaning bathrooms in a residential home.
I’m all for such a law, but I would widen the net even further to include a few more meritorious individuals.
For example, I’d take the highest-paid footballers at every club in the top flight and force them to flog pies and raffle tickets to fans of a struggling League Two team on a wet Tuesday night in November.
At the same time I’d have the Premier League and FA big-wigs staffing the turnstiles to highlight the gulf between the haves and the have-nots which is killing our national game.
I would also have our top 10 best-paid and generally most-nauseating television and radio personalities – certainly anyone from the X-Factor – working a shift with the Citizen’s Advice Bureau to give them a taste of the real-life they bleat on about but are so far removed from.
But what if we could ensure that this conscription of the great and the good dribbled down to a local level?
For starters, I’d have all the senior managers at the former RENEW North Staffordshire living in terraced houses for a week in one of the areas left in limbo by the agency’s slash and burn approach to regeneration. Middleport, for example.
Then I’d have the former Council Managers and Chief Executives of Stoke-on-Trent City Council brought back to the Potteries and force them to collect rubbish from the homes of taxpayers who have been short-changed in recent years by untouchable public sector top brass who survive and thrive by moving from job to job.
You see, the Archbishop’s idea may be fanciful but it has great merit in my eyes.
Many of the most wealthy and powerful individuals in the UK are completely out of touch with the lives of the ordinary people over whom they have so much influence and are utterly unaccountable for their actions.
Sadly, Dr Williams’ idea to “remind leaders what the needs really are at grassroots level” has as about as much chance of being heard and acted upon as Jesus has of winning a popularity contest against the Easter Bunny with the children of the UK.

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