On Anglican Piety

On Anglican Piety


“Her intellectual temper,” W H Auden  said, “is summed up in a remark by one of her bishops, ‘Orthodoxy is reticence”

Auden believed that “at its best,” Anglican piety “shows spiritual good man­ners, a quality no less valuable in the religious life than in so­cial life, though, of course, not the ultimate criterion in either, reverence without religiosity, and humour (in which last trait it resembles Jewish piety).” “Like all styles of piety,” he said, “it becomes detestable when the fire of love has gone out. It is no insult to say that Anglicanism is the Christianity of a gentle- man, but we know what a tiny hairbreadth there is between a gentleman and a genteel snob.” Auden suggests the same at­titude, though less as a matter of manners, in discussing the imbalance in S0ren Kierkegaard’s piety, his “overemphasis on one aspect of the truth at the expense of all the others.”

He strongly criticizes Kierkegaards neglect of ordinary human affections and quotes as correctives Dietrich Bonheoffer s declarations that “we ought not to try and be more religious than God Himself,” and that “we should love God eternally with our whole hearts, yet not so as to compromise or dimin­ish our earthly affections, but as a kind of cantus fermus to which the other melodies of life provide the counterpoint.”

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