Saturday, 1 January 2011

Don’t suggest we read the King James Bible, Rowan - make us do it!

I’m about to break my first New Year resolution – by mentioning the Archbishop of Canterbury. But he left me no option: he opened his mouth and said something. Inevitably, what he said was badly expressed and exceedingly silly.

The Archbishop’s New Year message centred on the King James Bible (if you don’t know that 2011 marks its 400th anniversary, you’ve been in a coma):

"Things move on but it's good for us to have some long-lasting furniture in our minds, words and images that have something a bit mysterious about them and that carry important experiences for us that we can't find words of our own for.”

So, the King James Bible is like an old chair. And it’s got something a “bit mysterious” about it.

Good Lord! Is this wet drivel really the best you can manage? 

If anything, the King James Bible is a magnificent, sprawling mansion full of glorious, light-filled rooms, with a huge, dark, terrifying cellar and an mysterious, rather scary attic where a poke-round will reveal a wealth of half-hidden spiritual riches: the whole building is riddled with false passages and stairs that lead nowhere, and others that bring you back to the room you just left, or to rooms you never knew existed, and the whole place is full of marvelous paintings and music and horrors and delights and despair and beauty and peace. 

“A bit mysterious”? “Long-lasting furniture”?

I was going to quote more of the old booby’s witterings, but I can’t bring myself to. Basically, we should stop and celebrate the King James Bible, he thinks,  because it will give us “the big picture” which is a bit like the “Big Society” our Prime Minister has been banging on about (to little purpose).

If you’re so damned fond of this remarkable work, and feel we should all be reading it, Rowie, here’s a thought: reintroduce it for all services in all Anglican churches. Now. This minute. Promulgate!

Yes, that’s right – banish all those awful management-speak versions which haven’t attracted a single convert. Reverse the single greatest act of cultural vandalism this country has seen since those Puritan bastards went round desecrating churches in the 16th century by letting your flock return to that towering mansion of the imagination we were thrown out of simply because some prissy little failure of an Anglican cleric - who wanted to make himself feel important - forced through a despicably plodding rewrite of the most beautiful book in the English language.

For once, Dr Williams, make yourself useful. Let us hear the poetry again:

             John 1:32 
               1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,                                         
                   and the Word was God.

               2  The same was in the beginning with God.

               3  All things were made by him; and without him was not any                   
                   thing made that was made.

              4  In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

              5  And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness         
                  comprehended it not.

It may be a bit of furniture to you, mate – let me assure you it means a hell of a lot more than that to your flock.


  1. The perception that "things move on" and the only hope is for the Church to follow; the acceptance of a secular equality and diversity agenda to keep the Church err...relevant in a real sense in this day and age; the abandonment of the choral tradition and Latin anthems in particular as the less erudite won't understand them so um..let them reflect on the deep spirituality of "Kumbaya Lord" instead; and the air almost of apology for being a Christian at all in a multi-faith society.

    Yes, Dr Spacely Trellis has taken over.
    Monday, January 3, 2011 - 04:25 PM

  2. After Lady Diana got herself killed by a drunken French driver, the Royal Family came in for some real stick. But they pretty much stuck to their guns, and now, thirteen years' later, they seem to be riding fairly high in the public's affections. It's odd that the Church - another ancient British institution - doesn't consider taking the same approach (i.e. not moving with the times) and seeing how it works. In fact, it would be a great relief if all our institutions were to follow this policy for at least the next two decades: they might be surprised at the positive public reaction!
    Tuesday, January 4, 2011 - 10:28 PM