Bishop brands Christmas as

A BISHOP last night spoke of his fears that Christmas is becoming “grotesque” - and the country has transformed into a nation of shoppers heading for a debt crisis.

By John Howard

A BISHOP last night spoke of his fears that Christmas is becoming “grotesque” - and the country has transformed into a nation of shoppers heading for a debt crisis.

The Rt Rev Christopher Morgan, bishop of Colchester, is worried that people will wake up after the festive celebrations to face huge debts.

The bishop, from the Chelmsford Diocese that incorporates Essex and east London, said: “In some ways Christmas has become grotesque.

“No sooner than fireworks finish and certainly before Remembrance Sunday, people are getting heavily in to Christmas, which means heavily in to spending - it's all the twinkle and bubble of Christmas.

“We do seem to have become a nation of shoppers, in the bigger cities some shops have even applied to open on Christmas day, which is appalling.

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“On January 4 people will go back to work and be worrying about the debts they have run up.

“And for some, Christmas is not a happy time - it accentuates loneliness or isolation.

“I am conscious that in extreme cases, individuals or families multiply debt on debt and then find themselves in an inescapable situation.

“That does no one any good, neither the creditors or those in the pit of the situation.

“The culture of buy now and pay later, of possessing things now, is a very short sighted one.''

But the bishop added that he is glad that Christmas remains one season when many people are open to the Christian message and attend carol services, offering a chance for Christians to welcome people in to the Church.

In Suffolk, the Rt Rev Richard Lewis, the bishop of the St Edmundsbury and Ipswich Diocese, said: “There is the feeling that Christmas is only successful if we give or receive large, massive presents.

“The level of debt is worrying, on two levels. Personally that people are getting themselves in to serious difficulties, and then there is the underlying issue about the economic stability of the community.

“There is a huge pressure on family life from debt. It's easy to blame advertising, but it is a human expectation to want the latest new thing.

“We are perpetually getting the next computer model, which can do things two milliseconds faster. There's a sort of madness.''

The bishop also feared for people who have a lot of capital tied in to their homes, and who may suffer if house process collapse and debts are called in.

He added: “People are not very sure about the future, perhaps that is why they spend so much.

“It could easily be seen as being smug, but it is a question about if you focus on the latest, the best, the biggest it is because there is a vacuum, a spiritual hole.''

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