Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Drunken GDP Expansion: Hull's Prostitutes

My friend insists I should. No, he is wrong. This is bad self-advice and advice to me. What is said in the car should stay in the car.

Ideally he wants his talented artistic son to videotape his pub rantings on the world and everything, and this can include the car journeys back from the pub - back because that is when the alcohol is doing its narrating. I worry about him because a real tension-busting outpouring happens every week no matter what the topic; I hope it is tension-busting, but it could also be dam wall breaking and I once knew someone called Buster Bloodvessel. No I didn't, but making that claim is the kind of dodgy historical recall that might be wrapped up in one of these rants.

My friend likes cheese and this would be an alternative to booze. To paraphrase that "cunt", the Chancellor of the Exchequer, he should, 'Cheese life. Cheese a job. Cheese his shop. Cheese his fucking Sky Television, cheese the late night disaster meal, cheese the bog for the necessities, pissing your last in an extended home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the talented offspring brats you've spawned to replace yourself.'

What happened tonight is five of us met up. Usually it is four, but a baby sitter was found so it was the three plus two this time. The two had 'preloaded' and were merry from the off. I stay alcohol free.

This leads to a dilemma when the doctor told me to lose weight by drinking less alcohol. Seeing as hardly any ever touches my lips, I'm not sure what I should do - throw up alcohol?

I normally leave that to others, but constitutions are well-built by now. 20 years since the couple of the five first met, and my friend in the car worked out that it's been 35 years since who became his wife and another woman had him covered in shaving foam with a picture taken by the bloke there and then. More years have passed of consistent and persistent alcoholic consumption, paying towards the NHS via taxes on beer. By the way, 35 years must be wrong. The events are likely to be not later than 1982 and cannot be earlier than 1980. I wasn't there when the naked shaving foam incident happened as the relationship building was semi-independent of the historical friends. Scarborough, apparently. The persistent alcohol, though, goes back to 1977.

I can drive home with all others dropped off, and the other local friend having taken an earlier bus to get up for early part time work, and so my friend can twitter away like a self-powered bird as the car powers us home. All I need say is, "I see, I see," just to keep things rolling. So the other night I discovered the price list of prostitutes.


The full fuck is £77, and £40 for a blow job, and a hand job is less... Still, I said, if traffic is low. Oh no. He recalled when up a ladder painting the shop and the lass below appeared and disappeared eight times within the early hour. How does he know the price, when he never visits these? Ah, the shop is the in and out of information. And the prostitutes - as we saw this week and last on our travels - gather close to the shop. Indeed the rubber throaways have to be removed from the barbed wire at the back of the shop, dribbling on his neck (he says) as he reaches up to get them.

This price information ought to be recorded by the Office of National Statistics because in the desperate bid to expand the economy the Gross Domestic Product (and boy is it gross) now includes prostitution and illegal drug dealing. When I commented today on the reasonable appearance of two prostitutes stood together, near the shop, my friend said "never, ever go to them" because it is always a disappointment. So, I said, well, last week it was a price list and now we're having a survey of the quality of the product.

This is why our fucking cunt the Chancellor stole Irvine Welsh's word-use, because as Chancellor he now includes the drugged up and the semen
extracted as part of the economy's supply and demand.

That MP, who sent pictures of his knob to some reporter in a sting. Suppose it had been a genuine woman? What's that worth when added to the Gross Domestic Product?

And why re-introduce the unemployment version of the truck system, so that not only is the dole measly and desperately inadequate, especially with the Tory/ Lib Dem Bedroom Tax and 20% Council Tax [don't forget that one, Mr. Miliband], but will by Tory intent come in prepayment card form so you can only buy food and transport. I mean, if you can't pay the occasional prostitute, what will that do for the GDP? What a vicious fucking cunt is the Work and Pensions Secretary as well as the Chancellor. Talk about the Nasty Party. It's all coming out now, like barren semen mixed with blood.

Apparently back in 1977 my two friends, the same ones, paid £12.50 for me to receive the experience of a prostitute but I "ran away" and missed my chance. I would prefer to wait for such experience, and did a long long time. Although he varies as to the precise price, one can pass this inflation information to the ONS as well.

I am not going to turn this blog into a record of trips home. I have a diary to do that, and often the conversation doesn't even feature. It is but a piss into the wind. Otherwise it is dodgy memoirs of girls when at school, sexual encounters long gone, and more up to date comments that really ought to go no further than their echoes. Tonight, for example, was in part about arses and blood, and coughing up blood, and that really isn't a topic for the public.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

The Constitutional Mess

I'm pro-European and a confederalist - that's to say, pool sovereignty practically in the European Union but ultimate sovereignty is held by the nation state via reserved unanimity votes. This was why I was instinctively a Yes voter, if I lived in Scotland, plus I hate the Tories and dismiss the turncoat Liberal Demcorats. Oh to be rid of them forever. However, I drifted towards No and only at the end saw the Yes as a definite revolutionary step to shift reform into the constitution of countries in the British Isles.

However, I think we knew that the Noes were relatively silent and the 10% gap wasn't a surprise. However, we are now in a constitutional mess, and had politicians been more generous in tone we might have had a neater outcome via a Yes than we have now.

We are in a constitutional mess. David Cameron has linked the newer promised Scottish powers with English purity over those powers, probably because Tory back benchers started saying they wouldn't back the three party leader commitment towards maximum devolution.

Cameron's simplest solution won't work. Imagine a government elected on a mandate where it has an overall majority but with Scottish (and Welsh and Northern/ North of Irish too) MPs excluded on certain voting areas, the government would not command a majority and be unable to govern its domestic agenda. The government where it did have rights to bring in the Scots, Gaels, Ulsters and Celts would frustrate the finances of the domestic majority voting. So there would be a government that couldn't govern, and a domestic vote that would be held up by the government.

The problem with an English Parliament - the clean federalist solution - is that it would frustrate the people of the north whose culture is closer to the Scottish. Leave neo-liberalism to Essex, Kent and London! Regional government is an alternative, but it couldn't have the powers of the Scots.

On a historical basis we could have three English Parliaments. One would be north of the Danelaw, one south of the Danelaw and one in Cornwall. Assemblies like Yorkshire and the Humber don't make sense from the point of view of identity. Newcastle voted No and the idea was dropped.

How simpler it would have been for the Scots to be independent and then have a Council of the British Isles. We could even bring Ireland in proper, and reassure the Northern Irish, who might consider Independence and the Welsh too might see its potential. The Council would meet to agree on matters of currency, foreign policy stances and mutual defence.

Labour wants a term in office and a constitutional conversation (presumably after delivery to Scotland making the West Lothian question even more begging). If it took power, once more, it would probably introduce proper proportional representation, thus making government coalition based - but do we really want UKIP replacing right-wing Tories? Look how neo-liberal is the Scottish UKIP MEP. We almost have to devolve to an English Parliament with an English government, and then devolve again to the regions.

Better surely to have them all independent and then devolve?

If the Tories welch on the deal with Scotland because Labour won't address the West Lothian question until after the next election (the assumption being it wins because of the electoral bias, the effect of UKIP on the Tories and the demise of the turncoat Liberal Democrats), the demand will grow for another referendum in Scotland.

The Gordon Brown plan, endorsed by three leaders, could have swayed 5%. If it did, that's neck and neck for independence without it. Welch on the deal and expect another referendum. Expect the return then of Alex Salmond to say they were all cheated.

What a mess.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Puzzles and a Picture

I'd be the editor of the Hull church bimonthly (i.e. once every two months) rag. It needs to be of a format and appearance for the outsider. I did a working out of 12 pages that observed the rule of odd number pages primacy and some facing pages features. Page 1 (cover) I'd have a local map and service time, simple as that. On the back page I'd put a map of the remaining eight Yorkshire Unitarian Union churches - doesn't include Doncaster and Sheffield. That's page 12. I can fill every page; indeed I could do it monthly.

Problem is, I'm too controversial. It needs a safer pair of hands, although recently one issue had some words scrubbed out and the last one was pulped because of unusual events - why it was late and a bit filled-up with web chat. I didn't know that, and it was why I offered.

So instead I've offered content. Plus I was asked to contribute an autumnal picture as a cover. I've done that, and provided various forms of content. Two of these pasttime pages have been put on my website.

First is a crossword, which outsiders via Facebook Unitarians have found too hard. That's because it relies on local knowledge, or an online map for around Hull, and perhaps read my more historical pieces in Learning / Religion / Unitarian via the menus on my website. But it relies on wider denominational knowledge too. Surely these are bleeding obvious, and if you don't know the first minister at Hull (Presbyterian then) you know the heir. One is a surname and one a first name...
  1. No priest he and to Jean Michelle Jarre's countryman with discovery.
  2. House bird - no! of Hugenot 'dissent'.
  3. First minister and heir.
You can find out about Melsa online - via a very significant Latin and English book. And this minister at Nottingham had a first name Gerald.

So the crossword is one item. It's using software installed, not a website. Also using software is a great maze-maker Amaze and by processing the picture result I can make it into bendy tipsy images. The result in a .PDF incorporates a sign from the old chapel building that I have processed to be correctly horizontal and the verticals to be parallel. That sort of processing used to be expensive but now is available free and plugs into a free Irfan View. A maze is really filler. I do have some old word searches software that actually does them within shapes.

The final product of the magazine editor is 12 pages in .PDF format. The present editor does things in MS Word and then makes it into .PDF, but my .PDF would come from many software directions and then be plugged together either in page order or in 12 page booklet order, which I'm guessing here now is 1, 2, 11,12, 3, 4, 9, 10, 5, 6, 7, 8. That'll be the professional printer's order. If they're done at A4 then the conversion to A5 is easy at the printing stage, but I think one has to consider the reader's ability to see. I would thus have all text at 14 point arial to make it easier to read.

Recently updated was a piece on Liberal Catholics that was in The Inquirer but became out of date. This is an example of  adding .PDF pages to others and making a new document.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Best Wishes Scotland

I've made my mind up. Oops, I don't have a vote. I was always sympathetic to Scottish Independence, simply on the grounds that an identifiable people should run their own affairs, so long as they were easily part of other unions, and this means the Europen Union.

Then more recently I was less in favour on the same principle, as in what is wrong with the United Kingdom. Actually, there is plenty wrong with the United Kingdom, including its inability to devolve to the English. Westminster could reduce itself if there was an England-wide Parliament; I'm not in favour of regional devolution. I'm in favour of what emerged out of Wessex and Mercia, from Alfred and Aethelstan, and of the Celts before them and continuing. The Normans afterwards plastered their rule over the rest of us, like a ready-built hierarchy, and England has been class-ridden ever since, from feudal power and monarch to capitalism, including inviting the Dutch to invade and get rid of the Stuarts.

Scotland is complex. It is silly for Scotland to have a welcome sign in Gaelic in Aberdeen. Gaelic was never spoken in Aberdeen among the ordinary population. Gaelic was always part of Scotland, to its west, and of course suffered ethnic cleansing at the hands of the English and the tut tut of modernist Scots. It was an English power that could take kilts from the Gaels, ban them culturally, and then pop them on to royals, while people had to leave and sheep took their place.

That's the difference between the Gaels and the Welsh, in that Welsh is of the whole of Wales. Indeed, properly speaking, Welsh is part of the whole of England too and up to the Scottish border. Celtic is continuous with Welsh - old manuscripts can be read today in Cymraeg but try and get the English to read Anglo-Saxon. Anglo-Saxon may as well be a foreign language - it is, through time.

I'm in favour of Scottish independence and here's why, and despite losing left-leaning votes (though these days Labour is so right wing and compromised it's hardly worth the loss). Set against the nastiest, most right wing government we have ever had in modern times, including those turncoats called Liberal Democrats (who'd have thought it - I didn't but I will at the ballot box next time), the Scots seem civilised, collective, communal. They properly believe in communities and responsibility, one to the other.

What we have is a London that is a casino, and notions that Liverpool to Leeds should be another urban casino. Somewhere in between is Birmingham. Gone are the real notions of manufacturing, serving, craft, skill and career; it's all instrumentalism from school and college to mobile CV. If you are not a profit centre individual, you will exist on the margins in a no-world of meagre benefits with a system to force you to become one of those individuals. It's a dog eat dog world of liberal economics and Tory self-satisfaction.

What Scotland will become, independent, is a beacon of decency. It might not be quite as rich as a dog eat dog land, but it won't be as unequal either. It will consider things as a community, across complex populations and a rich inheritance. The English surely won't stand for it, to see the Scots enjoy a decent life while we are run by class-soaked right wing boys. The English gwerin can't be the losers all the time, to see the collective protections at work dismantled, and forced into the trough. They'll rise again, but it will take the Scots to show them how, and the Scots need their own power to do it.

Here's the contrast: English politics has Douglas Carswell defecting to UKIP on the usual narrow-minded agenda that has Cameron promising a referendum on in-out once he has negotiated a narrative to claim to stay in. This is about the British elite divided, uncomfortable with the European political elites but some more practical than others. The Scots are somewhere else: this politics is irrelevant. It should be irrelevant (although the democratic deficit in Europe is not irrelevant: but positive reform not removals).

Given the situation in Ukraine, we need the European Union more than ever - not politicking about how to leave.

The right wing Tory nutjobs will be with us for some time, unfortunately, because of a de-politicised South East gives them their space. The rest of us, also English, have to wake up. Otherwise we could lose Wales too, and even the Cornish. But then they might also teach the English how to behave.

Or, another idea, why not just dump London and let the rest of us organise our lives better?

Sunday, 24 August 2014

A Contemporary Religious Realism

I don't know Ian Paul. He's probably a very nice chap. He doesn't appear to be a very nice chap in his writing, however. He seems narrow-minded and authoritarian. If you expect self-defined Christians to come across as warm, pleasant, engaging types - well, he doesn't. He may be quite different in reality. He's just combative. I can be combtive too, in words, though I'm really a fluffy bunny.

He's been arguing with me, and many, on Facebook. He seems to enjoy it.

As I understand it, his position is that the Bible taken as a whole (the usual evangelical priorities and inclusions) is not an inclusive document, so that we take a text, and try to discern the original meaning, pr its context, then relate it to how we live, with our societies, then relate it to the revelation of God and the identification of God, and then have the ethical result.

So on the gay inclusion issue, the texts are blunt in their own context (but blunt about much else too). We live differently, now, but the texts won't stretch to say what was black is now white. Unlike with the authority of women, there are no contradictory texts when it comes to sex. There might be friendships, even close ajd loyal same sex ones, there might be relationships today that are not covered by Paul referring to Pagan same sex encounters as one of a list of sins. Jesus says nothing on homosexuality but then upholds strict views on marriage and divorce. The ethic which derives is therefore, no matter how much one pushes a different society, the maintenance of the biblical text means the exclusion of same sex and therefore the exclusion of same sex marriage. It means, in contemporary terms, the Church is forced to be homophobic, and it means the ethic derived clashes with contemporary inclusive ethics.

All this is to uphold the status of the Bible. But why so? Well, because they say so, because part of a Church has said so, the Church that made the canon has people who uphold the canon as the privileged source of revelatory text.

Now my sympathies are with the people who are for inclusion. I hope Colin Coward, recognised by the State with his MBE, succeeds in changing the Church of England. But I note how he does it. He does it by regarding the Bible as a flawed document and has an expansive view of the love of God. He gets this view from, I think, natural theology, and he is a critic of authoritarian Church and Bible. He is a critical participant and user of both. Others, however, stretch the text via the heremeneutical divide between then and now to include present loving, sexual relationships whilst maintaining the authority of the Bible, but not obsessed by sex. In contrast evangelicals appear to be obsessed with sex, which may be because that's the bit that remains off-limits by texts that mention sex by those who focus on the sex question.

The critical matter is the then and now divide, and the now divide has become all the greater: a time when they believed in a supernatural world, some of them in its last days (something that periodically affected ourselves in the past in times of weather and economic and conflict stress), and where we have believed in a world of its own regularity and now in a world of mathematical chaos (accompanied by some with a kind of philosophical chaos). The latter two positions have, for most thinking, God as a transcendent extra, not something that pushes up crops or allows the birds to fly. In terms of direct believing, a one time sacred canopy is replaced by choice and its loss, a working class resistance to organised religion in Europe and similar followed by just about anyone. Decline is affecting choice based America now and so active religion is still associated with magical and supernatural cultures, and with fear, and economic sub-development, or nationalism.

Thus the Ian Pauls of this world have to become defenders of identities, of rules of association, and in his case via the privileged Bible. And it's more than Bultmann's 'it's in the text' ahistoricism about how to understand 'the kerygma' of what was the basis of grasping the gospel. It is real information about understanding who Christ is.

Bultmann was aware of the problem of history, and the difference with science and other subject specialities. He and the anti-cultural revelationists, like Barth, and Bonhoeffer, whilst different from each other in so many ways, were searching for that space to organise biblical religion when the culture is not just hostile but urban, technological and indifferent. Others, like Tillich, created systemic parallel systems by which Christianity retained its systematic interrelated nature, but not as accessible from the outside as it tried to appear.

They were theological managers of decline. The fact is that history in its various historiographical schools has rules of procedure, and particularly regarding primary sources. Christianity doesn't have primary sources. The New Testament would be primary sources of the early Christians, and that's about as close as it gets to making Christ out of Jesus. They are their own, if related, supernaturalists and magicians. They are involved in the switch from end-time tribal leader of some Jews with a universalist Christian faith that focuses upon the messianic figure.

The closest we can get to them is imaginatively via the texts, if we want to. Why do we want to? I don't. I see no need to follow this 'cult of an individual' who is as evolved and mistaken and time-limited as anyone else. The rest is mythology of that time, and adapted since into traditional religion.

Religionists in the manner of evangelicals like to fashion themselves on the universality of text and communication and the 'linguistic turn' (until it comes to supernaturalism again - that Christ is really Christ as he always was, rather than accept the price of the linguistic turn). They'll blab on philosophically about language, but not like the liberal postmodernists for whom such text leads to a kind of non-realism regarding all religion. Once again it is pre-selected performance-text, just as some postmodern conservatives have reinvented a performance-Church, an identity that for some is Protestant and others is Catholic, all based on selecting and freezing past cultures. It's a game of preservation again.

My final Anglican minister of religion said to me he was not a liberal but followed the whole tradition Catholic-style because he wanted to gain the whole benefit from the discipline of doing it all and whole. At the same time he'd say he agreed with Dawkins on biology and contemporary physics and all the rest. His package was a kind of doing, based on former times and inherited. This to me, in the end, is a cop out because it says religion is impossible in contemporary times. It is like Chasssidic Jews who'd return to the older, better times, and try at least to culture themselves accordingly.

It's like the Rochdale bus driver who does his day job, but his home is full of the civil war society memorabelia that guides his life-view in between re-enacting battles with his wife in some smoky hut doing some weaving.

I used to be 'story-based' in doing religion, one as a Christian-dharma, a path, with some consistency, but was still selective. The trouble with the 'whole tradition' is that it carries harm along with the benefits. It isn't ethically checked first.

Unlike with Ian Paul, ethics must come first, ethics decided by collective debate and individual conscience. But then comes knowledge, and how we know, even in the context of talking communities of friendship (in the MacMurray sense). The issue of language has captured even liberal postmodernists into a kind of language fundamentalism that I find misleading, misleading because research delivers back results that show language as a filter only when dealing with results. We make progress through these results.

So first we have mathematics, with form and structure. These are realised in physics, in pure falsified knowledge, and then expanded into chemistry. Then comes biology, or chemistry coming to life (where it does) and then we are led to psychology (some theories are speculative!) and anthropology (animals and humans). So into sociology, and economics (and politics even) and then the houses of history. So much geography seems derived from economics and social science, applied spatially. Then you get to the arts, where objectivity and subjectivity are merged, as is the case with religion pure.

I no longer attempt to apply a non-objective-subjective merged language postmodernism across the board. Its relevance in religion, as in art, maintains where objectivity and subjectivity have merged and collapsed. In physics, subjectivity is part of the objective system - the observer principle. In religion, this principle is far more pervasive.

Buddhism understands the individual observer-participant principle, and it is at the core of its activity. So is the mixing, at the deepest level, of the objective and subjective, and yet Buddhism didn't pay the price of Western continental philosophy with its anti-realism. Buddhism held to the real and the transitory nature of all things. At the deepest samsara and nirvana meet, and nirvana or nothing is also real, real if away, the transitory state itself at its ultimate. There is not a meeting of Western non-realism and Buddhism, and indeed the Stephen Batchelor's of this world realise that Buddhism is yet another package, but one of insight.

I don't agree with Don Cupitt and his pervasive non-realism and the application of the philosophical sweep. Rather I think there is a hierarchy of knowledge where theories are speculative and guiding as underpinned by the best falsified tests and research. It's not all language when social science delivers results we'd rather not see, and this is the answer to the Radical Orthodoxy's tripe that sociology is but secular theology. Not when there is research.

And I don't agree with Ian Paul about the privilege of a text. Why? He says the move of liberal religionists to history and science was disastrous. To whom? To people like him, to a religion based on past world views. As for the disaster, well tough. No wonder he appears combative. A number of his inclusionist Church friends are going down the liberal route - usually sticking and compromising at some awkward and artificial point. Peter Berger (the sociologist) could see the gravediggers in action, and the awkwardness of the compromisers over the sectarian traditionalists.

I'm interested, instead, not in gurus but in forms, like fractals and beautiful equations, like signals of transcendence (another Berger insight), where behind complexity is simplicity. Chaos theory now is seen throughout reality, from weather and climate to economics and evolution. Evolution and chaos almost forbids a designer God - it just is so that the copied mutate, and the mutated gain advantage in localities. Out of these chaotic growths come interactions that prove systemic, and systems give stability until they crash.

At the moment our link with dinosaurs are a few reptiles like crocs, aligators and, oh, bird life. Birds are dinosaurs! But the big meteorite 65 million years ago wiped out the big reptiles and gave space for the mammals including us to grow. Those who follow an 'incarnation of God' realism regarding Christianity have to account not just for the accident of the meteorite so that 'the Christ' didn't have a lizard skin but the outcome of mutations good and proper that led to us being the most self-reflective ones on this blue dot.

Oh I'm being silly. No I am not being silly. It's how people used to believe. If it is now 'text' and 'story' then say so, but the world is not the equivalent of a novel, even if your religion is so. I'd like religion to be more than a novel, to use cultural resources and means of reflection (yes, dragged from the past in some extent - there is method in its madness) to reflect on what there is - in terms of human misbehaviour, science, history, chaos, systems, space, time.

By the way, I don't agree with Colin Coward's natural theology. I think nature is cruel, nasty: evolution operates via death, and much of life has been just transitory. What is good has to be made good. The transcendent, if it exists, is not simply good, but gives a capacity for beauty and the good. Nor do I think he and liberals like him will necessarily succeed. I think his Church, despite the ordination of women -and women use experience, that alternative to 'text' - is struggling and the money and suburban churches are going the way of definition. Inside sects the old supernatural and magical universe lives on, unless otherwise organised.

My view of Christianity is - thanks for the introduction. The graveyard you built is over there.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

My Unitarian Sermon

So a service for the folks at home base and then on the Internet. There is the service structure, which can be used for different hymns, readings and sermon, although there is still a reference to the hierarchy of knowledge in which maths as relational and structural comes first, and then the sermon on Beautiful Equations (including Fractals). The CD is for the service, so I jump several tracks even in the service given. For example, there's either Don McLean Waters of Babylon or Queen Is This the World We Created (shorter) for a Lament, so the CD has both. As for the sermon, I'm venturing into an area at the boundary of my knowledge and there were several partial rewrites to get what I was saying passably accurate - whereas the main point is  - well, yes - the proof of mathematics but the theological speculation that lying behind much complexity is a transcendence in the simpler iterating or balancing equation, just as many scientists insist on the beautiful equation as a filter to connect fully to explaining nature (including space and time).

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Death of the Denominations

I wonder which will be the first denomination to collapse.

It could well be the Unitarians. I don't know how long locally the weekly service can continue with such low attendances. There is a body of people to draw upon who could sustain it if they only attended each week, but each week already people like me are coming by obligation to keep the show on the road. In the past a church like this would have closed. Now we keep it going, hoping one day for a 'bounce' as has happened in other places - the random two or three that come and stay, and eventually more attend.

The problem is that there are plenty of people out there who used to attend, but now do not any more.

Recruitment is random, and we are addressing now the sense of drift. There was a time when we liked variety and different preachers every week. However, it obviously hasn't sustained interest and the need now is for more co-ordination, and a leadership from the front rather than from behind. It needs co-ordinated ministry.

I don't think for a minute that this is unique. The church, like many, is now badly located. I would go west, young man, because one feature of the more successful Unitarian churches is that they have parishes locally, that they can form communities within communities. You can't do that in a city centre.

Another success type is in the metropolis where there is enough choice for a church to specialise - either humanist, or Christian, or Pagan, or Eastern. The big umbrella has much to commend it, but if the rumour going around is that my church is 'humanist' then perhaps it should develop this identity. A preacher we find very acceptable, because he thinks, is theologically competent and gives personal reflection, was warned that certain features of his presentation might not be appropriate because we are 'humanist'. Not so, in fact, but the 'humanist' label is only comparative to other Yorkshire congregations. And when your congregation is so low in number, what is it to have such an identity anyway? Two of us who attend are Masters level in Theology and Religion anyway.

The other churches in Yorkshire are not exactly doing brilliantly either. One closed last year, and others have handfuls attending. The tradition is historical, and often I think is presently irrelevant. As gay friendly we could be a gay inclusive church, but no effort has been made to register for rites of passage.

Hull is also very secular in surroundings; I would challenge any of those so-called successful ministers to come to Hull and build the church. Any success of course would be considerable in terms of a lifeline of a future, but this territory is more than tough. I live in the largest parish in England for the Church of England in terms of population - and 80,000 people provide 80 people attending each week across a number of churches. This is indeed residual religion.

Let's not get the idea either that, say, Baha'is and Buddhists are doing any better. Their numbers are insignificant. The Baha'is thinking they are the next world faith are a pinprick of membership in the UK and many of them when signing up simply leave because of the monetary and bureaucratic burden heaped upon them. New religions are as troubled as old. Pagans manage things because they keep flexible and associative. Buddhists have regional centres and classes, and these are their own pay-centres.

By and large Unitarians have plenty of money, no people and lack imagination about how to gather. Unitarian regional and national meetings are always more creative and exciting and interesting than the weekly fayre in badly attended chapels.

Unitarians are now so used to bobbing along at the bottom that they seem to go on an on regardless. But it is a denomination in the winter of its life.

My bet is that the United Reformed Church is the first main Church to collapse. I suspect this is the main reason why it has become the one gay friendly mainstream Church. It maintained numbers by taking over Scottish denominations, even at the cost of theological conflict over adult baptism, but its congregationalist inheritance gives internal flexibility for difference - as over the gay issue, even if consensus wasn't achieved at the top for variation within regarding gay marriage.

But the much bigger Methodist Church is tumbling down the numbers too. After all, if it has the same top-heavy age range, it collapses by the same proportion and speed as others. As I understand it, the Methodists have actively closed surplus churches (something the Unitarians cannot do) and moved people together. It does have a younger element, but a tiny portion, and no doubt they (if they continue, and most don't) will give it a bit longer than the URC. But, in the end, the disappearing disappear proportionately.

Inevitably the Methodists won't die but will absorb into the C of E. It has missing bishops so that's relatively easy to sort out, whereas the URC has no bishops and cannot re-absorb. To absorb the ex-Puritans, the C of E would need not just theological bishops for existing minority groups but leaders that were not bishops at all and not recognised as such. Either that or the URC starts calling ministers bishops on some new and convenient New Testament re-reading.

I think it is between those two as to which dies first, but my money is on the URC.