Unintended consequences

All Luther and his Protestant followers meant to do was make it clear that faith no longer had to be mediated through a church hierarchy - that all that was required for your eventual heavenly ascent was a personal relationship with God, direct from created to creator, no priests needed, thanks.

Faith, then, only required you, your Bible, and your God. It was, in other words, a private affair, a path of personal salvation, that need not concern anyone else. The proper repository of spirituality was inside the individual, not to be exposed to others, except perhaps in a civilised manner in church on a Sunday.

Incidentally, this marked the start of individualism in the Western world, because suddenly the basic unit of value was not the family, the church or the village - it was YOU, who God related directly with, and YOU needed only to be concerned about YOU.

It also marked the end of the public life of religion, which we saw most poignantly in the separation of church and state.

Some time after that, we lost God. And then someone found her again, huddled under a pew in a cold church. Half of the YOUs were running around outside, making lots of money, ripping other people off; the other half of the YOUs were sitting sternly in the church, after having spent the week making lots of money and ripping other people off.

I think that God really wants the whole world to dwell in, rather than being stuck under a hard wooden pew or stuffed into a confessional booth.