God, of course, cannot die. He might not exist at all, though I am more certain he does exist than I am of my own existence. And indeed this has been the conviction of all the greatest minds and most creative spirits, as far as our Western civilization is concerned, at any rate, since Plato. By definition he belongs to eternity, not to time, and so is intrinsically immortal. The last Archbishop of Canterbury but one, Dr. Ramsey, appeared not to realize this when, to my amazement, at the end of a performance of Godspell, he rose to his feet and shouted: “Long live God,” which, as I reflected at the time, was like shouting, “Carry on eternity” or “keep going infinity.” The incident made a deep impression on my mind because it illustrated the basic difficulty I met with when I was editor of Punch: that the eminent so often say and do things which are infinitely more ridiculous than anything you can invent for them. That might not sound to you like a terrible difficulty but it is, believe me, the main headache of the editor of an ostensibly humorous paper. You go to great trouble to invent a ridiculous Archbishop of Canterbury and give him ridiculous lines to say and then suddenly he rises in his seat at the theatre and shouts out: “Long live God.” And you’re defeated, you’re broken.
- Malcolm Muggeridge, The End of Christendom.↵back