Cherie Blair, wife of the more famous Tony, hosts the final episode of Christianity: A History. Blair is a smart cookie in her own right, asking the question 'why is Christianity in decline in the West?' First she dismisses the idea that two world wars were the critical factor, then lights on the phenomena of the 1960s as the real culprit. Convinced?
The programme begins with a strong Catholic flavour. Blair was raised in Catholic Liverpool where these days churches are being closed as the faithless faithful stay away in droves. The lights have gone out since holy mother church took fright and rolled back the initiatives launched by Vatican II. Having sampled the despondent nature of mainline Christianity in Europe, the scene shifts to the United States and a celebrity lineup of talking heads: Laura Bush, Jesse Jackson and Harvey Cox. Blair seems entranced by the 'vibrant' nature of what passes from Christianity in the US, and seems awed by the operation at the Willow Creek franchise. She is impressed by the greater involvement of women - something unlikely to happen anytime soon in Catholicism - and sees the Willow Creek-type model as a template for what needs to happen back in Britain.
Which is, when you stop to think about it, a remarkable conclusion. Bill Hybels burbles on at length, and Blair decides that a radical overhaul is needed on the other side of the Atlantic. That goes without saying, but mainline churches are in decline in the US too, and Blair shows little awareness of the negatives associated with mega-churches.
I'm not sure she nailed the question, but it was still fascinating viewing.