»  The American Spectator

March 2013

  The Church of Somewhere

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Our Church: A Personal History of the Church of England
by Roger Scruton

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When I mention religion, I mean the Christian religion; and not only the Christian religion, but the Protestant religion; and not only the Protestant religion, but the Church of England.

Thus Rev. Thwackum, the schoolmaster in Tom Jones. That was the 1730s, or about halfway through Roger Scruton's Our Church. The Rev. Thwackum is drawn satirically, but his smugness was well justified.

The religious passions of the previous century had subsided or been pushed off to inconsequential border territories in Ireland and the North American colonies. The Church of England had been incorporated into England's unwritten constitution. Her — the gender of that pronoun is explained by Scruton — bishops sat in Parliament. Her clergy, typically younger sons of aristocrats or landed gentry, were comfortably knitted in to the English class system. ("The Church or the Army" was the rule for those drawing short straws in the primogeniture lottery.)

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