At the core of protestantism is the idea that every person can pursue a personal relationship with their God, based on their understanding of the Bible. It saw the rise of many Christian denominations, sects etc all pursuing different ideas and pathways to salvation.
Of course, this is a shocking idea that presented a direct challenge to the 1500 year old Catholic Church that billed itself (and still does) as the one true and apostolic church whose clergy interpreted the Bible for its followers, and heresies were frequently and ruthlessly suppressed.
The Catholic Church feared a breakdown in Christian civilisation as people did their own thing and spent their time with other people who shared their views about the Bible.
Today, the Catholic Church continues to thrive and new protestant churches (think Hillsong) arise and often find considerable popularity.
The idea of a personal relationship with god has gone much further these days with many people treating religion and spiritual ideas as a sort of supermarket in which they shop for whatever seems to work for them.
This personalisation was made possible by the printing press and the far wider distribution of Bibles (and more recently religious texts from all over the world).
I recalled this stuff this morning as I watched Mark Colvin's excellent Andrew Olle address on digitalisation and the media.
Of course the comparison only works in its broadest outlines.
But it does seem to me that we are living through something akin to a protestant reformation in our media worlds.
We now have the tools to access the media, even shape it, to suit our needs and views. We no longer need rely on a media clergy to interpret everything for us and ensure we are confronted by something journalists like to call the 'facts', a very difficult notion indeed but much loved by the Gradgrinds of this world.
As the media reformation proceeds at breakneck speed we are seeing the media world fragmenting into a multitude of sources and voices. We can, like those little protestant churches, talk only with those who share our opinions, if we choose - or we can take the spiritual supermarket pathway.
Fragmentation makes consensus about those things called 'facts' very much more difficult. Who is to say what the 'facts' are in pluralistic world?
To young people, digital natives, fragmentation is a good thing, it is exciting, it is just the way things are.
For some older folk, especially those in the paid media, it can all seem like the passing of the world of certainty and the emergence something a little unnerving and certainly regrettable. Priests rarely relish questions and doctrinal confrontations with 'their' congregations (or audiences).
The media today often reminds me of that old protestant joke about St Peter taking some new arrivals on a tour of heaven, when they come across an area enclosed in walls and barbed wire someone asks with surprise who is in there? St Peter responds that's where the Catholics are they like to think they are the only people here.
Or perhaps we could just echo Yeats and say everything has changed utterly, a terrible beauty has been born.
While I understand (sort of) the nostalgia that fills people like Mark Colvin, I think overall it is time to let go and move on.