Daniel Adams – a reporter on the Waikato Times – has a delightfully biblical name.
It is appropriate therefore that he has been sent out to report on the booming business for churches in Hamilton.
But his by-line appears on another story in his newspaper today, about a drop in business for the city’s whores and harlots.
He has not noted the obvious connection between the two trends – that as more and more people rediscover The Lord, so more and more people must be rejecting the works of the Devil and eschewing the sins of the flesh.
As a godly bloke, Alf is thrilled.
The only thing that bothers him is that hardship and fear seem to be driving people back on to the path of righteousness.
The troubling implication is that when the economy picks up again, something that will happen much sooner under a National Government than was likely under Labour which can’t properly manage an MP’s personal crisis, hardship will evaporate.
Likewise, memories of Christchurch’s earthquakes will fade.
When that happens, it is reasonable to suppose people’s piety will evaporate, their faith will wither and wickedness will flourish.
The strumpets will be rolling in it again as the Lord is foresaken.
But for now, praise be, it’s the God business that is flourishing.
As Adams reports –
Hard times and fears following natural catastrophes have led to churches reporting a surge in the number of worshippers, and far greater demand for their social services such as foodbanks and counselling.
Anglican Bishop of Waikato David Moxon believes natural disasters and difficult financial times have helped prompt a swing back to faith that he says was also evident during the world wars and the 1930s Depression.
“We have noticed an increase. People are coming for solidarity, company and spirituality as things get tough, and as they get down to the wire. There’s a need to return to our spiritual roots in a crisis,” Bishop Moxon says.
Hamilton’s apostolic Vision Church Eastside Senior Pastor Sheridyn Rodgers reports a surge in membership at his church, too, over the past two years.
He believes mainstream churches are more likely to see increased numbers. Many people are prompted to revisit their faith during tougher times.
But Adams has been sniffing out trends elsewhere in his city.
He reports on a Hamilton brothel owner who says the sex industry is feeling the hard times.
Ken Smith is frank when asked “how’s business?” He’s watched the recession impact on patronage at his London St massage parlour, Club 140, and he puts it squarely down to the tougher times.
The wall of his second-storey office has an annual planner with some of the city’s big events marked in.
Smith says they used to do well out of Fieldays and they will pick up a small amount of custom from the V8s but he’s not expecting a major spike in business.
“We get an increase, but not much. Our business is pretty constant. The recession has knocked everyone around, although we always get enough business,” he says.
Adams also chatted with California Girls manager Kim, who agreed the recession had definitely affected her business, even though there is always demand for “the oldest profession on Earth”.
“When it was first talked about, people kept on spending, it was like they didn’t want to believe it. Now, it’s kicking them, and it is affecting us,” she says.
Alf hesitates to suggest that maybe it would be a good thing if the economy did not recover.
But if greater godliness and less rumpy-pumpy in brothels and massage parlous is a consequence of recession, maybe it would be a big mistake to put the country back on its feet economically.