10 April 2022

Fr Geoffrey Kirk

As well as for Confessors, Doctors, Non-Virgins, and all the rest, there ought to be a special liturgical category for Satirists. I do not feel that that there are many higher categories of ministry in the Church Militant here in Earth than that of the Satirist. Take the Apostate Bishop in C S Lewis's The Great Divorce. A fat clean-shaven man with a cultured voice. Why is he in Hell? 

"But don't you know? You went there because you are an apostate". 

It's all there in Lewis's description of the gentleman in gaiters; his Anglican assurance of status and of caste; the easy in-bred condescension; the complacent pride in his unbelief. "My opinions were certainly honest. They were not only honest but heroic. I asserted them fearlessly. When the doctrine of the Resurrection ceased to commend itself to the critical faculties which God had given me, I openly rejected it. I preached my famous sermon. I defied the whole chapter. I took every risk".

"What risk? what was at all likely to come of it except what actually came--popularity, sales for your books, invitations, and finally a bishopric?"

Lewis's prophetic description (1946) achieved uncannily precise fulfilment in some of the fashionable Anglican bishops of the next generation, and not least in the person of David Jenkins Bishop of Durham. In response to this verbose and self-assured phenomenon, Geoffrey Kirk was inspired to construct a beautiful parody of a popular Methodist hymn:

No one comes with clouds descending,/ None for favoured sinners slain./ Not a single saint attending/ In that non-existent train .... Yea, Amen! Let all ignore him,/ Neither praise nor denigrate,/ All this vain attention-seeking/ Is so cheap and second-rate./ Enfants terrible/ Are absurd at eighty eight.

Disaster can befall the satirist ... 'the real world' may attempt arrogantly to usurp his fantasy. This happened in 1999 to the Reverend April Heavisides, who in Geoffrey's chronicles was a canon of Southwark Cathedral (or, as Geoffrey's followers knew it in those Blairite days, 'Cool Britannia's House of Prayer'). But ... you may find this hard to believe ... 'Reality' invented a 'real' Reverend April ... and ... great heavens above!! ... made her an honorary Canon of ... that very self-same Cathedral ...

Kirk died on Good Friday (April 10) 2020. He was an unremitting exponent of the twaddle talked by hierarchs, Anglicans or Catholics, whose lode-star is not the Gospel but the Zeitgeist

May he rest in peace.


Cosmos said...

“Lost in the Cosmos—The Last Self Help Book,” by Walker Percy, is one of the more interesting examples in the genre.

William Young said...

Do you mean opponent, Father?

William Young

William Young said...
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