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[ 431 Parliament and the New Prayer Book To the Editor of The New Adelphi The New Adelphi, 1 (June 1928) 345-46 Sir: I was so much interested by your admirable editorial notes in the March number of The New Adelphi that I hope you will permit me to make a few comments. I find it a little difficult to reconcile your various statements about the Church of England. First, you say that the House of Commons, in rejecting the new Prayer Book at the beginning of this year, “voiced the dormant sentiment of the nation.”1 Being struck by this remark, I read further in the hope of finding out what the dormant sentiment of the nation might be. I admit that I am not yet clear in my mind what the dormant sentiment of the nation is, unless it be a dormant sentiment for remaining dormant: in which it seems to resemble the dormant sentiment of a dormouse.2 The nation, apparently is (at least, in hundreds of thousands) attached to the Church of England: it is surely our business to analyze this sentiment of persons who, as you say, “scarcely ever take part in a Church service.” But I think, Sir,thatyoualterthecasebyassuming,asyouseemtodo,thatthenewPrayer Book represents a tendency towards “Roman sacerdotalism.”3 I have no doubt that to you, and to the hypothetical hundreds of thousands who “scarcely ever take part in a Church service,” because they are so “shy” – not because they are occupied with more important matters, but solely because of that schoolboy shyness, that precious quality which must be preserved at all costs unless the race is to degenerate – the rejected Prayer Book stands for “Roman sacerdotalism.” But I find no admission in your admirable notes, that to those who like what you (and no doubt the hundreds of thousands as well)call“sacerdotalism,”thePrayerBookrepresentsarestrictionofthis“sacerdotalism .” Accordingly, you speak of the rejection of the Book as a “blow” to Anglo-Catholicism. Yet you have read the report of the speeches in the Lords, including the speech of Lord Halifax,4 so you can hardly suppose that the “Roman sacerdotalists” received the Book with great enthusiasm. In one or two points of detail I cannot accept your statement of fact. It isinteresting,ofcourse,tohearthatLordHughCecilisanAnglo-Catholic, for I did not know that fact.5 But it is not interesting to hear that, according 1928 432 ] to the Anglo-Catholic view, Parliament has no right to pronounce upon doctrinalissues.Thefactisthat,accordingtothelawoftheland,Parliament has not only the right but the duty so to pronounce. To some of us, this is a legal absurdity which ought to be altered; but none of us question the legal right and duty of Parliament to pronounce, according to existing law. You refer to Hooker: but you must know as well as I know that the whole social situation was very different in Hooker’s day; the relation of Crown to Estates was different; and it is hardly likely that Hooker envisaged the prospect of a Commons in which Nonconformists, Jews, Parsees, Atheists and women took part.6 I doubt even whether Hooker realized that in the House of Lords an Isaacs would be a Marquis, a Smith an Earl, a Samuel a Baron.7 One other point. You say that the hundreds of thousands, who listen in or ride about in Morris cars on Sunday because they are too British in their “shyness” to go to Church, the hundreds of thousands who are too shy to take communion, the great broad-shouldered Englishmen who are such sensitive creatures that they cannot make confessions, these great generous, boisterous schoolboys, these persons constitute the Church of England.8 The Church of England is not a visible Church of communicants, but a wholly invisible Church of shy schoolboys. And yet you admit that there is a real danger to the Church of England.9 The shy schoolboy attitude does not, in fact, work. They are so shy that they will not take holy orders! It is not that they are not religious: no, there is no one more religious. No, it is that they are “educated,” the hundreds of thousands; and being educated – they cannot believe in the Resurrection. Now I wonder, Sir, whether you suppose that the “uneducated” believe in the Resurrection, and that the “educated” do not. My opinion is that it has nothing to do with education or illiteracy in the ordinary sense. I suspect that in England to-day there are...


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