The importance of coffee
Sir: When, oh when will The Spectator grow out of its truly ossified stance on spiritual matters? Charles Moore's latest article, 'The hungry sheep look up and get their coffee' (Another voice, 9 March), is only another in the continuing Spectator hate campaign against the modern Angli- can Church.
Quite apart from the weekly bang for the 'Church in Danger' (itself an absurd fear) on the classified page, there is a dreadful oversimplification at work here; namely that the slightest advance on 'that strange and beautiful achievement of politics, piety and aesthetics which was the Church of England' (Mr Moore) automatically entails a complete loss of reverence, total denial of the intellect and, in short, nothing less than unbuttoned guitar-swinging down the aisles.
As a regular Anglican communicant, may I offer an example to the contrary from personal experience? I am a firm believer in the importance of coffee after a corporate service, expecially a Commun- ion service: it seems to make perfect sense that, after sharing in the Body of Christ, one should then spend time with other members of that Body, before returning to one's individual home and the week ahead. This does not mean, however, that I am left unmoved by a piece of Scripture such as Hebrews vii (Melchizedek and all that); on the contrary, my intellect is stimulated, and my soul enlightened.
In the same way, while I can appreciate the literary beauty of the King James Bible and the BCP prose, I cannot deny that modern translations of the Bible, and the ASB liturgy are more immediate in their impact. Clarity is the issue here. Jesus's parting challenge in St Matthew's Gospel was that we should make disciples of all the nations; if we are even to begin to achieve this, it is our duty above all to be compre- hensible in what we proclaim. Yet it does not follow from this that the aesthetic has ceased to have any value for me: Indeed, I am by profession a concert pianist, with a marked preference for the transcendent in music (above all, J. S. Bach).
It really is time to put an end to your blinkered approach, which sees everything in terms of black and white. As in all other spheres of human activity, there is a multitude of greys in between, represent- ing the majority of believers. That the Church of England is ready to assimilate all these differing shades is precisely its greatest strength. Far from enhancing the worship of God, The Spectator's spiritual role is now that of museum curator.
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