MACLEAN’S REVIEWS

ANOTHER PEW UNDER FIRE

The Anglicans have taken their lumps. Now it’s the United Church’s turn

ALEXANDER ROSS April 3 1965
MACLEAN’S REVIEWS

ANOTHER PEW UNDER FIRE

The Anglicans have taken their lumps. Now it’s the United Church’s turn

ALEXANDER ROSS April 3 1965

ANOTHER PEW UNDER FIRE

The Anglicans have taken their lumps. Now it’s the United Church’s turn

NOW THAT THE Anglicans have made a virtue of self-criticism by hiring Pierre (The Comfortable Pew) Berton to tell them what’s wrong with them, the United Church has gone the Anglicans five better. They’ve hired six well-known Canadian writers—including Berton—to berate them, and compiled the results in a highly readable paperback called Why The Sea Is Boiling Hot (Ryerson, $1).

The main conclusion seems to be

that, whatever the United Church’s successes, it has failed utterly to reach Canada’s pop writers. Michael Barkway, who writes about the church as big business — its church property alone is worth $446 million—thinks most of its activities are “petty and tawdry.” Berton thinks the church is “far behind the times.” Humorist Eric Nicol notes that most people “ask Abby before they ask their minister.” June Callwood, Arnold Edinborough and Joan Hollobon are similarly critical, although in an essentially friendly way.

Finally, the book includes an eyeopening (to me) exposition of all the United Church is doing in the fields where the journalists say it isn’t doing enough. It indicates that the church is not only aware, but concerned about things like the New Evangelism, spiritual slums in the suburbs and— perhaps most of all—its own shortcomings. After this publishing season, Canada’s Protestant churches will no doubt continue to be accused of everything from irrelevancy to greed. But it’s going to be practically impossible to call them smug. ALEXANDER ROSS