from the UK guardian    “After a year of bad news, spare a thought at Christmas for one of the threads that binds communities together”


This is though provoking, especially the following, kind of relates to what I said earlier about the Newtown shooting about community


“I have visited estates outside Sheffield, Manchester and east London from which doctors, teachers, policemen, social workers, professionals of all sorts, have fled, or at least confined themselves to cars. The only “leader” left in residence is the priest, of whatever denomination, underpaid, working in appalling surroundings and motivated by a grim but sincere philanthropy. The nearest I have found to saints have been priests in tough areas. And most are desperately alone. When a river floods, a child vanishes or a murder is committed, the only person the media can find to comment is usually a priest. He or she is the closest England gets to a mayor.

Local England has reverted to the middle ages, with the clergy as its most public face. The clergy are the ones who tend to know who is in trouble, who is a villain, who a saint. Their workplace is a church. They apparently mobilize 1.6 million parish volunteers for what amounts to social work, from caring for the elderly to hospital visiting. This output must be worth billions to the state. And all the state does in return is impose VAT and health and safety regulations on church repairs.”