Did you know that it's officially "Back to Church Sunday" tomorrow? No? Well, then, that's good reason to believe in a merciful God.
First because He's spared you the existential horror of the Church of England's campaign, second because he has protected his poor old church as well; stuck his Almighty spanner in its silly works and stopped the press from humiliating it – because anyone who did catch wind of the campaign will now know for sure what they've long suspected: that the established church in England is not long for this world.
It's not that I don't approve of bringing back old-fashioned Christian Sundays. I do. I miss them terribly. Every week, trawling for pointless tat on Oxford Street, I wish the shops were all safely shut. I want church bells, church hats, pews full of cross toddlers and old ladies; the reassuring sense that at least the vicar believes. But the C of E campaign filled me with a growing sense of doom.
The church's big idea was to try to coax "ordinary" working-class men and women back into the aisles and each bishop came up his own innovative little stunt, each one more depressing than the last. The Bishop of Doncaster, the Rt Rev Cyril Ashton, thought it would just the thing to ride around South Yorkshire on a motorbike with a troop of biker pals to publicise the day.
No Cyril. You're not drawing attention to the campaign, you're drawing attention to yourself. You're hoping congregants say: "Look! What a groovy old hep cat our bishop is." Were you followed back to Doncaster by a gaggle of joyful farmers, waving their pitchforks and singing Hosanna? I don't think you were.
The Bishop of Reading, the Rt Rev Stephen Cottrell, came up with a pithy idea he felt sure would speak to broken Britain: "How have we become known as just the Marks & Spencer option," he asked, "when in our heart of hearts we know that Jesus would just as likely be in the queue at Asda or Aldi?" Poor Reading. He meant well. Why didn't someone have a quiet word?
Quite apart from the comic potential, the thought of Jesus at the shops is a theological minefield. Would He have chosen "value" goods to show kinship with the poor or chosen pricey but ethically sourced products instead? More troubling still: M&S and Asda? Who does that? Is it just the underwear Jesus buys from Marks, before popping over the road to get his reasonably priced groceries from Asda? Only Reading knows.
The C of E has a history of trying to be down with the kids, so some sort of YouTube activity in the build-up to the big day was inevitable (thank you Sheffield), but the Anglican "rap", played on radio stations throughout Britain, was a shocker: "Don't look to make no airs and graces, faked-up smiles and masked-up faces. No need to make no innovation, please accept this as your invitation." What were they thinking, those bishops? Did they think that their track would kick ass in Brixton? Did they imagine the tough nuts in Tower Hamlets suddenly seeing the light?
The only Anglican who seemed to sense that "Back to Church Sunday" might backfire was clever old Rowan Williams, who pointed out that just because this one is "Back to Church Sunday" doesn't mean that all the others can be church-free. (Drat.) But I'm afraid that there are much bigger worries than Williams's. For instance, the gaping hole at the heart of the campaign. An exhortation to come to church, but no explanation as to why.
Why should we go back to church? What will we find there? What does the Church of England actually believe? Here, the church stops clapping and rapping and looks at its feet. It doesn't know. It hasn't known for a while. Behind the jolly façade, there's barely a single doctrinal point on which its evangelical wing and its liberal wing can agree, and within these two factions there are other just as vicious divides. Heaven? Who knows. Hell? Hotly disputed. Does God even exist? Some Anglican clergy have open doubts.
There's only one real reason to go back to church tomorrow, and it's not because Jesus might or might not have shopped in Asda. It's to keep the poor old C of E company during its now inevitable demise.
Darwin doesn't travel well, apparently
The new Darwin flick, Creation, starring Paul Bettany and his lovely wife Jennifer Connelly, opened in Britain yesterday – but not in the US where it won't be seen at all.
The Bible Belt is hostile to the theory of evolution, and so greedy, cowardly distributors won't touch any film that celebrates Darwin for fear of making a loss. Isn't it a strange state of affairs? One not even Darwin could have anticipated. As the American coasts continue evolving, becoming ever more sophisticated, so the bit in between sags further and further back into superstition.
And, oddest of all, no one seems to care. Those two great power bases, Hollywood and Washington, seem happy to keep middle America in the dark, pandering to it while they milk it for cash and votes.
We have no monopoly on bad public art
Is it uncharitable to be pleased that another country has finally produced a piece of public art that's nastier than ours? I had thought that Brief Encounter, the pair of 30ft-high bronze snoggers who frighten our French friends when they arrive at St Pancras, was unbeatably bad, but it's not a patch on Dakar's new bronze, pictured right. It's of a mother, father and flying baby and it manages to be aesthetically and somehow ideologically revolting at the same time. What's more, it's three times as big as ours and cost 30 times more. Hooray!
Strange noises from the Conservatives
To my great surprise, and slight irritation, my faith in the Tory party has been restored. For the past few years I've shared the general consensus that they are essentially in it for themselves. On Tuesday I sat next to an eminent criminologist who told me that he'd received a call from the office of the shadow Home Secretary, Chris Grayling. "Chris has been very influenced by Professor Moffitt's dual taxonomy theory," said the voice, "but we gather you have an alternative thesis. Would you have time to come and talk it through with him?" The criminologist was amazed. "I don't think I've ever come across a Home Secretary who's even heard of Moffitt, let alone one who wants to discuss her ideas," he said. Perhaps there is hope after all.
Leaders' wives rule
Instead of 24-hour coverage of the G20 leaders why can't we have a whole show devoted to the G20 wives? Not just because they're fiercely competitive on the fashion front, but because they're such a gripping mixture of tough, clever women and the totally unhinged. There's that shrewd Sarah Brown and down-to-earth Michelle, pictured, but also Carla Sarkozy and Japan's fabulous Miyuki Hatoyama who claims to have visited other planets in her sleep. I'd pay to watch Michelle and Sarah nodding in an interested way whilst Miyuki explains how her soul travelled to Venus on a triangular-shaped UFO.
Mark Wakefield is Deputy Editor of 'The Spectator'Reuse content