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This review is taken from PN Review 87, Volume 19 Number 1, September - October 1992.

A QUEST b>George Austin, A Journey to Faith (Triangle) £5.99

It is unusual for an archdeacon to be compared by one Archbishop to the Fat Boy in Pickwick Papers and by the other to Humpty Dumpty, but these honours have fallen on the head of George Austin, the eightieth Archdeacon of York. It would be exaggerated to suggest that he wrote this short book to explain that the comparisons were not well chosen, but for all his fortitude - which is considerable - he read them as attacks on his integrity.

It must be admitted that such brawls among senior ecclesiastics, as among other public figures, give a certain malicious pleasure to the world at large, but it can hardly be said to be an essential part of their function to provide such entertainment. The abuse was trivial enough in itself, but the later sections of George Austin's Journey to Faith illustrate vividly the depth and gravity of the differences which are the background to it.

These differences, in their most general form, are not confined to the Church of England, or indeed the Anglican Communion. They are those which must arise in a period when it is 'acceptable to rock the boat of traditional orthodoxy - even to open up the stop-cocks'. There is a long European history behind what has in effect become the new orthodoxy of dissent - a dissent which naturally brings with it its own positive assertions, certainly no less incredible that what they seek to displace. The earlier part ...


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