When Henry VIII’s dynastic and leg-over considerations led him to break with Rome, he can have had no idea what an odd institution he was creating in the Church of England, or how much anguish he was storing up for generations of sensitive young Englishmen. Three of the more anguished, the editor of the Spectator, a well-known novelist and a distinguished architectural writer sharing the same ecclesiastical sympathies, have now turned their attention to (what a title) The Church in Crisis.
But is it? The picture they present is of a church in suspended animation or perhaps in the throes of disintegration, but no more in crisis now than for decades past. Their church is as odd as ever, if not odder. It is sui generis, for ‘it is generally but vaguely known that the Church of England is unique,’ as goes the first sentence of Mr Moore’s piece, from which you might not know that he is an excellent writer. How is it so?
In three essays, Mr Moore writes about the central organisation, which means the episcopal structure and his bugbear, the General Synod; Mr Wilson writes about the clergy; Mr Stamp about the parish and its buildings. There are also three voices: Mr Moore is irritable, Mr Stamp is mournful (as well