‘Amusing and erudite’ says the New Humanist

Francis Beckett reviews the book in the May edition of the New Humanist. This is how he starts: “Cole Moreton can smile now at the young man he once was, mystically certain about his God and messianic about persuading everyone else. When he was 15 he and his friend Stu bunked off school and heard a siren which they mistook for the end of the world. He looked around in vain for the woman of his dreams who would want to spend her last four minutes on earth making frantic love to a teenage boy, “which would, obviously, leave an awkward post-coital silence lasting three minutes and fifty seconds.”

He looks back now and sees that the established church – the Church of England – is an ass. He sees that it is damaged below the waterline, destroyed, ironically, by Thatcherism. The Thatcherites fell on it and tore it to pieces when it briefly remembered the poor and timidly criticised the greed-is-good philosophy. Then the church commissioners got carried away with Thatcherism, and gambled greedily with their church’s money until they lost a very large chunk of it, and an even larger chunk of their church’s credibility.

He sees that the idea of a state-supported church survives only because we are too lazy to provide the coup de grace. He sees that an organisation which still thinks its top positions may be reserved for men does not deserve to survive. He watches a prince of the church, a bishop, meeting a gay priest and bellowing in his face: “Father, I pray that you deliver him out of homosexuality.” He tells the recent history of the Church of England with fluent and well-informed humour, and skilfully binds it in with his own youthful foolishness.  If telling these stories was the extent of the task he set himself, I would count the book a success. But it is not.”

Beckett then reveals what he believes to be the flaws in the ending of the book, which he disagrees with. That’s fair enough. If you want to know what they are, do please have a look at the review in full. In the meantime, I strongly recommend Francis Beckett’s book on the Miners’ Strike, Marching To The Fault Line. He ends his review with good grace, saying: “Still, it provides a good deal of amusement and erudition along the way. “

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