The Watcher Cat

The Watcher Cat

Monday, July 20, 2015

St Barts in Literature

St. Bartholomew's Church Summer Streets.jpg
"St. Bartholomew's Church Summer Streets" by Beyond My Ken - Own work. Licensed under GFDL via Wikimedia Commons.

Well, that trailer's dated, I admit, but the Clarence Day stories are still pretty amusing. (The trailer dips the sole thing into a glutinous sentimentality lacking in Day's prose.) The movie scores 91% with critics and 79 % with audiences on Rotten Tomatoes

Still, Clarence Day had his vogue, and his day--he's still in print, mind--but it was rather a surprise to run across my parish in his God and My Father (1935):
In the City at this same later period Father went to St. Bartholomew's, and there too the various clergyman suited him though not so well [as in the country parish]. The church itself was comfortable, and the congregation were of the right sort. There was Mr. Edward J. Stuyvesant, who was president of three different coal mines, and Admiral Prentice who had commanded the fleet, and old Mr. Johns of the Times; and bank directors and doctors and judges--solid men of affairs. The place was like a good club. And the sermon was like a strong editorial in a conservative newspaper. It did not nag at Father, it attacked the opposition instead; it gave all wrong-headed persons a sound trouncing, just the way Father would have.

Mother didn't enjoy these attacks. Denunciations upset her. She took almost all denouncing personally, as directed at her, and made it feel so full faults that she trembled inside, though she looked straight at the preacher, round-eyed and scared but defiant. She preferred something healing, and restful; some dear old tale from the Bible. But denunciations satisfied Father. He liked something vigorous. And in general he took to the Established Church pattern--a church managed like a department of a gentleman's Government. He liked such a church's strong tory flavor and its recognition of castes.
My, how things have changed! And you know what they say about the more things change--
But nothing is perfect. After Father had made himself at home in this reliable temple, he discovered too late that even here a man wasn't safe. The rector began talking about the need for what he called a New Edifice. . . .
(Pp. 21-22). There's more--Father's horror on discovering he was expected to contribute to the Edifice ("He said he might have known it was just a damn scheme to get money"), his horror at the amount he was expected to contribute, and his speculations on the pew market.

But as one of those who glory in the New Edifice, I'm glad Vinnie made Clare ante up.

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