27 March 2023

Dr Arnold castrated

"Bredon [a nominal Anglican faced with meeting a Catholic Bishop] tried to rearrange his ideas about Bishops. He remembered the ceremony of being confirmed at school; a long, tiresome service, with an interminable address, in which he and fifty of his compeers were adjured to play for their side. He remembered another bishop, met in a friend's rooms at Oxford; a hand laid on hs shoulder, and an intolerably earnest voice asking him whether he had ever thought of taking Holy Orders."

A gloriously neat description of Public School Religion, with its pathetic attempt to combine bankrupt fag-end folk-Protestantism with those remnants of the Muscular Christianity which Eric Kemp, quondam Bishop of Chichester, used to describe as "the religion often linked with the name of Arnold".

On meeting the Catholic Bishop, Bredon felt that "You did not feel that there was the slightest danger of being asked whether you meant to take orders. You did not catch the smallest hint of policy or of priestcraft."

There is a jolly tale of Dom Gregory Dix arranging an Anglican Confirmation service, with a bishop who believed in "Making The Clergy Stick To the Prayer Book". Seriatim Dix explained that they need not waste time selecting hymns, because there would be no hymns; that there would be no Address ...

Eventually (most Anglican bishops were not and are not very bright) the poor old fool realised that Dix, in a neat (Lockean) Argumentum ad hominem, was drawing his attention to the fact that that the lawful Prayer Book Confirmation Service contained none of those elements which the right reverend nitwit had been accustomed illegally to interpolate. 

Collapse of Gaitered Party, as Punch might have put it. 


motuproprio said...

No citation, but probably Ronald Knox.

jaykay said...

Motuproprio: it is indeed R.A. Knox. "The three taps: a detective story without a moral".

It can be downloaded in various formats here:


Marc in Eugene said...

The series of novels by Ronald Knox whose private eye protagonist is Miles Bredon, I believe, although I don't know which one-- it has been a very long time ago.