In 2014 I wrote a book about the 30 men from my village – Wymeswold – who died in WW1. The website is at http://www.bringingthemhome.co.uk
I was looking through the vicar’s papers from just after the war, and he remarked that people seemed not to be so interested in religion as before.
There is also a widely held belief that the soldiers returned home in 1919 and decided that there was no God – how could a loving Creator have allowed so much carnage?
So I started looking into this.
Now, I’m engaged on a part time Ph.D. and I’ve learned a lot. For example, that religion – in terms of church or chapel attendance – probably peaked somewhere in the 1880s – well before the Great War. Also, that religion in the UK (Christianity, that is) didn’t nosedive until the 1960s. Again, the figures are largely about attendance, rather than belief.
There’s a lot more to discover, though. Like what ordinary people actually thought about religion. That’s proving difficult, because on the whole, ordinary people don’t write memoirs, or reflective accounts of their philosophy and theology.
This blog is going to be about the process of finding out.
It is not going to be a vehicle for discussing the existence of God – there are plenty of places on the web for both sides of that argument.
I was going to study the experience of ordinary people in a selection of villages in the UK. Part of that was to be a survey of headstones – an area where ordinary people (literally) left their mark. The more I thought about it, though, the more I became interested in the words that people used to express their grief and loss. So the project changed direction.
Currently, I’m beginning with WW1, and I aim to end around 1950, after WW2.
That’s the theory, anyway. It may well change again.
If you want to dip in and out of the journey, you’re very welcome.