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Decently Writ, XIV

June 13, 2013

One of the joys of belonging to the warm-hearted Church of England, safely but not too tightly folded into the cope of Canterbury, is the jokes about ourselves. A sense of humour is a sense of proportion. I hold no brief for those solemn people who are so shocked by ‘high’, ‘broad’, ‘low’ and the various subtleties of ritual and verbal expression in the Church that they refuse to be amused by them. Such solemnity argues a lack of proportion. And if the variety of the Church of England is regarded as something too painful to be contemplated, let those who feel like this read these verses by Father Forrest before taking the plunge to the Pope or Mary Baker Eddy or Total Immersion. The yardstick by which humorous verse about ourselves as a Church must be judged is the yardstick of charity. If we can laugh about ourselves we can love one another.

Sir John Betjeman (1906-1984; Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom), from the Preface to What’s the Use by the Rev. S.J. Forrest, (Mowbrays, 1955.)

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