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This report is taken from PN Review 95, Volume 20 Number 3, January - February 1994.

Comment C.H. Sisson

The media have accustomed us all to an inextricable confusion of facts and opinions which passes for the news of the day. The same genre may be practised by those who put what they have to say into book form. There are two recent examples among books on the Church of England.

There is The Church of England, a 'portrait' by Michael De-la-Noy, in Ramsey's day the Press Officer at Lambeth. This turns out to be a patch-work of reportage based on visits to a wide variety of people -'bishops, parish clergy 'laity' monks and nuns, chaplains and those engaged in social work.' Members of the cast are largely left to speak for themselves. In this way we get some vivid glimpses of a parish where there is 'deprivation on a large scale, with drugs at the age of twelve and other classic troubles of the times', as well as of what goes on in the proliferating network of 'boards and councils, committees and commissions, funds and societies'. There is much about the appointment of bishops, about 'head-hunting for patrons', and about religious retreats. The Church of England turns out to be whatever De-la-Noy, with his great knowledge of possible view-points, happens to have spotted. It is inevitable that the result should be somewhat chaotic. The newsman's 'reasonably objective picture' of everything can leave one with less understanding than could be had from more limited observations from a source claiming to be no more than personal.
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