Has the 1662 Prayer Book become a subversive text? A service in memory of George Bell

Oct 5, 2016 by

by Peter Hitchens, Mailonline:

I have long thought that the 1662 Book of Common Prayer (actually its first version was written in 1549)  would eventually become a subversive document.

Increasingly, its sentiments are revolutionary not only in the Christian sense (which calls for an uninterrupted lifelong revolution in the human soul) but in that they subvert to accepted beliefs of today. In almost every conceivable way, from its insistence upon lifelong marriage to its finely-carved but stony insistence on moral absolutes, confession and judgement, it rebls against the ad hoc, temporal ethics of the day.

To attend a service properly conducted according to its order in a building of the Anglican tradition, is to see an expression in architecture, music and poetry of Immanuel Kant’s conclusion from his ‘Critique of Practical Reason’, carved on his tombstone in Koenigsberg, which has somehow survived the storms of war and Communism even while that once-pagan city became first an outpost of Hitler’s evil empire and then, after 1945,  a fortress of Soviet Communism closed to the outside world:  ‘Two things fill the mind with ever-new and increasing wonder and awe, the more often and the more seriously reflection concentrates upon them: the starry heave n above me and the moral law within me’.

Such a service took place late on Monday afternoon at the church of St Michael’s, Cornhill, in the heart of the old City of London.

It was to commemorate the day in the Church calendar in which the life of the late Bishop George Bell is supposed to be marked. Following accusations of child abuse against Bishop Bell, the Church has tended to draw back from commemorating him, removing his name from a guest house at Chichester Cathedral and from two Church schools, as well as acting in many other ways as if this accusation is proven, which it is not. Many who value George Bell’s reputation felt that there needed to be a firm answer to this, not just because his memory as man of principle is too valuable to be cast aside on the basis of a single, uncorroborated, untested allegation from many decades ago; but because his reputation as a courageous defender of truth requires that he himself is treated according to his own principles.

Read here


Related Posts


Share This