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This article is taken from PN Review 41, Volume 11 Number 3, January - February 1985.

A Word to Richard Harries C.H. Sisson

It is hardly surprising that what the Reverend Richard Harries fairly calls the 'somewhat disparate' Anglican Essays should have left him where he was. He is sympathetic and one might say at times more than benign, but he hardly touches on the book's central concern which, however elusive among the miscellaneous subjects of the essays can surely be caught sight of. The question he asks - and purports to answer - about why I have distanced myself from the Church, hardly enters into it. 'If we have reasons,' as is said in a poem written more than twenty years ago, 'they lie deep'; and the reasons for my disaffection are certainly not all set out in Anglican Essays. What those essays do is to attack a public problem through some of its aspects, leaving it to others to continue the discussion. 'There is work for a generation in tracing the consequences of what has happened,' as I put it in the 'Introductory Note', and 'what has happened' means 'the relegation of the Book of Common Prayer, the retreat from the claim to be the English Church, the concern with mere congregations instead of with the whole population.' Alas, the Dean of King's College, London turns out to be one of those 'who do not know that there have been disasters'.

The question of language and the use made of it is central and may even be comprehensive, but it is not to be disposed of by arguments ...


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