Despite being a rabid atheist, I went to a midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. I live close by to the church, my mother wanted to go, I quite like Christmas carols, and I was interested in what it would be like as an experience.
It turned out to be one of those High Anglican affairs, all incense waving and people marching up and down in big hats holding candles. I enjoyed the sermon, which was about shopping in Sainsburys and the commericalisation of Christmas - the vicar didn't put too much God stuff in.
However, towards the end, everyone took communion. I didn't really fancy it having not been confirmed. Also, the hygienic aspect put me off. One of the priests kept wiping the cup with a cloth, but judging from all the coughing from the congregation, it just looked like a big cup of bird flu. So we didn't bother. I was falling asleep by the end though. I guess my career as a fake Christian isn't really going to take off.
I've seen two end-of-the-world films over the Christmas period, both which have religious elements. The first, "I am Legend" starring Will Smith is a remake of The Omega Man starring Charlton Heston, which is itself a remake of The Last Man of Earth starring Vincent Price (both which I've also seen). Emma Thompson is Dr Kripp who boasts that she has cured cancer in the first scene with a variant of the measles virus. Three years on, everyone is dead apart from Will Smith and some CGI zombies. There are some nice scenes of a tourist-free New York, with weeds growing in the roads and wild animals grazing between the cars, but the zombies are a bit too fast-moving, and there's also a very hokey religious message about the evils of science and how God has a plan for a cure if only you will LISTEN TO HIM. The end, which involves refuge in a little walled village where the church bells ring and the American flag is proudly hoisted is a bit of a Bible Belter - constrasting too crisply with the vision of evil New York, full of weirdos who only come out at night. Maybe I'm being too cruel, but all it was missing was someone talking about A Thief in the Night...
On the other hand, I finally got to see the film adapation of the Stephen King story The Mist, which is a superior film (and has nothing to do with the other Stephen King film, The Fog which I thought wasn't up to much). Here the end of the world is caused by "The Arrowhead Project" run by the military instillation on the edge of a small Maine town. A "window" to another dimension is opened, allowing Cthulu-esque monstrosities to come teeming through, along with a mist that envelopes a local supermarket. Before long, the resident religious nut Mrs Carmody is calling it the End of Days and shrieking for blood sacrifices. It's pretty faithful to the book - even after about 20 years I recognised a lot of the dialogue, although there are a few updates - Mrs Carmody blames stem cell research and abortion for the mist. Controversially, the film continues for another minutes after the book's ambiguous ending. It's one of the more successful translations of King to film, and the film's lead, Thomas Jane isn't too bad to look at for 90 minutes. Don't expect it to be out on UK release for months though :(