Why women bishops can't save us now

Monday 21 July 2014

The dizzying speed and sheer magnitude of social change in this country during the past 50 years is unprecedented in our long island history.

In the distant past the arrivals of aggressive invaders were the earthquakes that shook apart the established order. The Romans, Vikings and Normans carved out new shapes in British life with their swords. But in my lifetime we have seen seismic changes in our way of life that have not just been peaceful, we've hardly felt them happen.

After nearly 2,000 years of continuous Christian worship, we've almost without notice put God into a retirement home which we don't bother to visit. Yet when I was growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, almost everyone believed in God. I went to a bog-standard post-war state primary school and we prayed to Him daily in morning assembly. If you are aged over 50 you probably did too. God's existence was simply taken for granted. Christ's, too. My parents accepted most of the New Testament at face value. So did my friends' parents. Jesus really did walk on water, feed the five thousand and come back from the dead. It was all in the Bible. And the Bible told you the truth. QED.

We believed in the Devil too. If God was up there somewhere Lucifer was most certainly down below us. I remember Mr Bird, our ex-Spitfire pilot headmaster, earnestly explaining in assembly that the Devil lived about three miles below the Earth's crust and almost certainly under England. The Lord of Darkness had plenty of demons and imps to keep him company, as well of course as the souls of the damned.

And it didn't take much to be damned. Swearing, stealing, thinking unkind or impure thoughts, all these would see you condemned to swim in molten lava for all eternity. I have no doubt Mr Bird implicitly believed in all this, his conviction was unmistakable.

Read Richard and Judy's Daily Express column in full here.