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Liberal Liturgy


For a good many centuries now the Church of England has taken a passive role in the formation of government policy. Its only influence has been that of a conservative and even reactionary force. Two months ago the governors of the Church met at Malvern and formulated a set of propositions and suggestions for the post-war world which may well influence the government far more than anything the Church has done since the days of Thomas a Becket.

The trouble with the world from the point of view of the churchmen is that we have neglected the true end of man, a two-fold concept based on the sacredness of the human personality and the possibility of fulfillment rather than frustration of human nature through labor. In order to recover our balance the world must first restore man's economic activity to its proper place as the servant of his whole personal life. Second, it must reconstitute "the expression of his status in the natural world." To itself the Church delegates the responsibility for pointing the way towards a series of practical reforms--production for need rather than for profit, guarantees of security for the unemployed, free international trade, conservation of natural resources, the unification of Europe into a cooperative commonwealth, education in citizenship for the young, and a return to faith in God. For a just peace, they propose a settlement guaranteeing the real needs and just demands of nations, disarmament, and the "faithful execution of international agreements."

Stripped of its religious appeal and its call for a revival of faith, the platform of the Church sounds suspiciously like that endorsed by a good many liberals and leftists since pre-Marxian days. The suggestion that extreme inequalities of wealth, and private ownership of the means of production, may be bars between our present world and "a just order of society" is still the same when it is placed on a moral basis as when it is treated from an economic standpoint. The proposals that the proper purpose of work is the satisfaction of human needs and that labor deserves a voice in industry equal to that of capital are as cogent when called part of Christian doctrine as when published in manifestos.

For a century now there has been an attempt to bring these same practical reforms into being through the medium of force rather than religion. Perhaps it will turn out eventually that the Church is a better catalyst of progress than the Communist revolution.

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