Sympathetic unbeliever John Derbyshire visits Dover Beach with Roger Scruton.
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That is all very well; but does the somewhere that the Church of England is the Church of, still exist? It is poignant to read Scruton, early in his book—he is writing about the Norman and Plantagenet kings—say this: “Our common law is inimical to laws made outside the kingdom.” Not anymore it isn’t, pal. England is currently bracing itself for a flood of immigrants from Romania and Bulgaria, who from January 1, 2014, under EU rules, cannot be denied entry, common law be damned.
THE CHURCH HERSELF has been losing market share for decades. Entire large districts of English cities and towns are under occupation by foreign immigrants who give not a fig for the Church, nor indeed for Christianity. News stories about the installation of the new archbishop of Canterbury are decorated with gloomy asides about dwindling church membership.
Part of the problem, Scruton notes, has been the Empire, which diffused the Church over vast territories, but whose English inhabitants later melted away, taking their Englishness with them; or in the case of the North American colonies, rebelled…but then again, American Episcopalianism was birthed in Scotland, not England—an offshoot of an offshoot. The Church of Somewhere became the Church of Everywhere, and therefore, of course, of Nowhere. As Scruton writes glumly, “Its most important controversies today—those over women priests and homosexuality—are being fought out between American liberals and African conservatives, with the old English establishment looking on in mild astonishment at the fuss.”
Our Church is full of good things. Scruton writes fluently, with many memorable touches. I especially liked his recollection of his teenage self at Communion, listening to the organist’s improvised sequences: “It was as though the Holy Ghost himself were present, humming quietly to himself in an English accent.” He has provocative insights, too, as when he writes of “the pagan heart of the Roman Catholic liturgy.” He is only occasionally tedious, mostly when writing about theology, a subject in which I, along with most Anglicans (admittedly lapsed, in my case), have zero interest.
I liked this book. However, I was raised, like Scruton, in mid-20th century England, in a culture now as comprehensively extinct as that of the Moabites. Whether Our Church will find favor with, or even be comprehensible to, readers of different nativity, I would not venture to speculate.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?