There was a Sunday morning ritual at home when I was growing up: out of bed early, dress smartly, off to church.
My brother and I would go to Sunday school and while I assumed my parents went to church, it’s possible they got back into the car laughing hysterically at how easy it is to dupe their kids and drove home for some child-free time.
Morning at primary school began with the Lord’s Prayer. Christmas nativity actually mentioned Jesus and wasn’t a story of angels losing their wings on a night out or an elves’ strike for equal pay at the North Pole.
Not that we were bible thumpers. But on hindsight, God in all his glory and, perhaps most importantly, the moral lessons of his word, weren’t too far away.
Later while working for a weekly newspaper, one evening a month would be endured at the local presbytery meet. Sometimes it had all the joy of a stone cold pew at the end of a particularly boring sermon. Other times – particularly as this was the age of the miners’ strike and the poll tax – fire and brimstone rattled the windows and the church was a serious force in Scottish society.
It’s not that long ago. Yet today how many could even name their local minister or, for that matter, priest? Any idea who the Moderator of the Church of Scotland is?
Chances of a modern prime minister following in Margaret Thatcher’s footsteps to deliver a Sermon on The Mound speech to the General Assembly – however much it might bomb with the audience? Probably no chance.
It’s no shock really that a new survey is suggesting the church – or, at least, the big man himself – is yesterday’s Supreme Being, with most adults saying while they believe in aliens, ghosts and angels, they don’t believe in God.
Among the children quizzed by book of facts Ripley’s Believe It Or Not!, a quarter believe aliens walk among us. They may be easy to spot, as around half of them believe aliens are green.
Actually, you may have more chance of spotting ET than coming across a truly vocal, charismatic and provocative Kirk voice these days.
Yet this is an era of food banks, benefits cuts and child poverty, when the church might be expected to shout the loudest. Instead it seems to have got caught up in debates about same sex marriage and gay ministers.
Soon we’ll be bombarded with Christmas adverts. I doubt any will refer to the origins of the Christian festival.
You have to wonder what, if anything, the Kirk might have to say about that.