Bernard Green

Was It All Just a Meme?

Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast: The Evolutionary Origins of Belief

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Faber & Faber 288pp £12.99 order from our bookshop

Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon

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Allen Lane 464pp £25 order from our bookshop

The Great Transformation: The World in the Time of Buddha, Socrates, Confucius and Jeremiah

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Atlantic Books 496pp £19.99 order from our bookshop

I recently took a sprightly, 98-year-old friend of mine for an afternoon drive. He wanted to visit the village of Longworth, about twelve miles from Oxford. In the mid 1930s, he had known the widow of a former Rector of Longworth, a notable theologian called John Illingworth, and hoped to find some trace of him. Sure enough, in the churchyard we found the graves of Dr and Mrs Illingworth – he had died in 1915, having served as rector of the parish since 1883, and his wife died in 1938. Illingworth, it turned out, had been a Fellow of Jesus and one of the first college tutors at the newly founded Keble College in the early 1870s. Standing in that graveyard at Longworth, I felt the decades, and even the whole twentieth century, drop away.

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