Predictions 2023 – How did I do?

1  Generative artificial intelligence will become significantly disruptive of many sectors this year. Education practices will change quickly as a result of this but education will be but one of many areas of life to be affected.

Happening all around us (even to people who can’t see it happening around them) – prediction fulfilled.

2 No progress for those seeking marriage equality in the Church of England. There will be a lot of talk about moving towards some form of official blessings for same-sex couples which would have the effect of thwarting those seeking actual equality, making it more difficult to achieve. Further division amongst pro-gay activists in the Church of England.

Happening exactly as predicted. The recent developments following the LLF project make equality more even further away – prediction fulfilled.

3  Indyref 2 will not happen on 19 October 2023 as Nicola Sturgeon had hoped, which is a shame for those seeking to separate Scotland from the rest of the UK as the autumn will be the high water mark for the Indepedence movement. It will be downhill into the next General Election after that.

Happenning but not quite as I expected. Indryref didn’t happen but Indy polls are indeed riding high. However I didn’t see the mess the SNP would get itself into along the way. Prediction Fulfilled.

4  Trump and Biden will both declare that they intend to run for the US presidency in 2024 and American politics will continue to be all about Donald Trump.

Exactly as I said – prediction fulfilled.

5  Covid recovery remains bumpy, particularly through supply-chain problems due to mismanagement of Covid in China.

Pretty much as I said – we’ve largely forgotten the supply chain issues that continued from the end of last year into the new year and the spring. Prediction mostly fulfilled.

6 No conclusive end to the war in Ukraine this year.

Alas. Prediction fulfilled

7 Governments in Westminster and Holyrood will announce some kind of “new deal” for the National Heath Service.

Holyrood here:

Westminster: Pay – here
Westminster: Medicines here:

Prediction fulfilled.

8 – UK Government will not succeed in blocking Scottish Gender Recognition Reform.

I remain surprised that the Scottish Governnent gave up on this. Prediction not fulfilled.

9  Liam McArthur’s bill in the Scottish Parliamant to allow doctors to participate in the killing of terminally ill patients will fail to receive parliamentary approval but will receive more support than similar proposals have before.

Bill hasn’t received approval but hasn’t gone to a vote either. Large levels of support in the media. Prediction partially fulfilled.

10  Changes announced to the UK honours system, perhaps at the time of the Coronation, to remove references to empire. OBE becomes Order of British Excellence.

Not happened yet. Prediction not fulfilled.


Result – about 7 1/2 out of 10 this year I think. Not bad.

Coupled Together

Perhaps one of the most unexpected things that could have happened this year in religious terms is that in the last days of the year, both the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church have moved to similar positions on same-sex couples.

Now, precisely what those positions are is complex, almost falling into the realm of holy mystery. However, it is clear that some form of prayer is going to be allowed in each of those churches for which the context of those prayers is a public recognition of such a couple. Both churches seem to want to have their wedding cake and eat it however and seem to be saying that whilst such love is the context for such a blessing, it is not the fact of that love or the union, partnership or marriage which is being blessed. It is a position that isn’t easy to understand, not least because it is nonsense. However, that’s where each church seems to be.

In the Church of England this comes after an enormously long and expensive process which has resulted in the bishops of the Church of England publishing a set of prayers and commending them to that Church. These can be used during already existing services but not as yet in stand-alone services. This is a curious position as it seems to stand a good chance of annoying just about everyone. Generally speaking, my view has been that the best answer to people who don’t approve of same-sex marriages/partnerships/blessings/hand-fastings/broom-leapings or whatever is that they simply shouldn’t enter into them and they don’t have to go to them. However the Church of England bishops by insisting that their pseudo-blessings have to take place during pre-existing kinds of services are basically insisting that those who go to church regularly and who don’t approve of such ceremonies are going to have their noses rubbed in them. Cue maximum offence all around. The pseudo-blessings are not really what the vast majority of what people who want same-sex couples to be treated with dignity and respect want to happen and they are going to be force-fed to at least some of those who don’t approve of them at all. The texts of the prayers themselves don’t seem particularly innovative either – they seem pretty much to be texts of the kinds of prayers that C of E clergy have been able to do all along.

Meanwhile, in the Roman Catholic Church there’s also been a process of introspective reflection going on for the last few years. The Synodal process is far less like a decision making process that Anglicans are familiar with but there is more than a whiff of change in the air. Today’s announcement from the Pope that in some circumstances those in same-sex coupledom may be blessed by priests is a wonderful Christmas surprise for those in that church who find a blessing in the Pope’s emphasis on mercy and pastoral care. Again, it is not the coupledom that is being blessed but the people in the couple being blessed. But again, the very fact of the coupledom of the couple is the only context that gives rise to such blessings. Once again, much like with the Church of England, it is difficult to make much sense of this without an extensive knowledge of the church as a political animal with leaders trying to bring about change whilst also being buffetted by forces that are not within their control, forces whose own leaders have a completely different vision for the future. Again, the suggestion is being made that what the Pope is saying can happen is no different from what Roman Catholic priests have been able to do in the past. All he seems to be doing is making that position a matter of public record.

I am reminded of the Roman Catholic priest that I know who claims that on the day that the Roman Catholic Church first ordains women as priests, the liturgy will begin with the words, “As the Roman Catholic Church has always taught…”

All of this seems a world away from the position of the Scottish Episcopal Church in which same-sex couples can just get married in exactly the same way as opposite-sex couples. Indeed, we’ve largely stopped talking about this and moved on since it simply became a matter of conscience after our General Synod in 2023. It isn’t a controversy any more and it is difficult to think that the position that we’ve come to is not the one that others will come around to in the end. Respecting everyone’s consciences is the only place that the Church of England can logically end up on this issue but respecting conscience isn’t to be underestimated within Roman Catholic thinking either.

A curious and unexpected thing is how closely the positions of the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church are at the moment. At least in the UK, they are both quite a long way behind public opinion. They are also significantly behind the position of those who claim to be their members. People are often surprised that the Roman Catholic Church has been shown in a number of social attitudes surveys to have a membership that is more strongly behind same-sex marriages than the other churches in this country.

These two churches seem unexpectedly coupled together in offering blessings that fall a long way away from what those they want to bless seem to want. However, the most curious thing of all is that despite moving to the same position, it feels as though the Church of England is moving backwards whilst the Roman Catholic Church is moving forwards.

Neither has ended up with a stable position that will stand the test of time. I wouldn’t like to place a bet on which one moves to a more inclusive position first.