Church Going Gone - a biography of religion, doubt, and faith
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In this colourful memoir, from 1950's childhood to the COVID crisis, Brian Mountford describes his life as a priest, which has spanned a period of immense social change and seen the secularisation of Britain to the point where 52% of the population say they have 'no religion'. Opening with a vibrant account of London in the Sixties, he moves to Cambridge college life in the Seventies, Suburbia in the Eighties, and thirty years as Vicar of the 'most visited parish church in England', the University Church, Oxford. Rich in humour and anecdote, he unpacks his liberal theological ideas on the way, addressing questions such as God, the meaning of life, sexual ethics, and the relationship between doubt and faith. A central idea is that the abandonment of organised religion has not eradicated spiritual questioning and, following Philip Larkin's poem Church Going, from which the book takes its title, people of all ages are forever 'surprising/A hunger in (themselves) to be more serious.' Both the story and the essay content will fascinate many, many more people than actually go to church.