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This review is taken from PN Review 34, Volume 10 Number 2, November - December 1983.

ANATOMISING THE CRISIS FOR CRANMER Ian Robinson, Prayers for the New Babel: a criticism of the Church of England Alternative Service Book 1980 (Brynmill Press, 15 Cobwell Road, Retford, Notts.) £6.60

Ian Robinson published some years ago an essay on what he called 'Religious English'. He then already knew that 'the appreciation of religious language cannot be purely aesthetic . . . that it is improper to have the feeling without some substance'; he has now shifted his ground so far as to say that his 'attachment is to the Prayer Book's proven capacity to save souls'; his 'doubt about the new liturgies is that they may put stumbling-blocks in the way of salvation'. He reasonably maintains that this is 'an opinion that is not being taken into account, and which must be taken into account'. It must, unless "the bishops and the Synod are merely literary critics. At the same time, he rightly regards 'the anti-cultural elements in the contemporary church' as a sinister sign. 'The shrugging off of the well-merited contempt in which A.S.B. is held outside the church', he says, 'is a way of committing suicide as the national church.' This is unfortunately a suicide which many Anglicans are burning to commit, so little understanding is there of the virtues of the Prayer Book system. They will learn to regret their folly as one by one the old problems of sectarianism and political Romanism re-emerge, as they assuredly are doing.

Robinson points out that the ASB is 'licensed for ten years from 1980' and he looks forward to the time when that licence expires. It is not too soon. He boldly makes a case for ...

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