Victorian Reformation: The Fight over Idolatry in the Church of England, 1840-1860

By Dominic Janes | Go to book overview

4
Satan Transformed:
Comparative Religion

The paradox of the church of St. Barnabas’, Pimlico, like many another Gothic Revival buildings, was that it was a brand-new structure attempting to project the venerability of great age. It was therefore an attempt to provide a secure connection between a supposedly stable past and the chaotic present of the Victorian metropolis. Whilst the Ecclesiologists thought they had located a brief moment of architectural perfection in the later Middle Ages, others dismissed any such attempts as appropriations of primitive barbarism into a dynamic modern age. Opponents and proponents of ritualism were engaged in attempts to understand the past and to learn how to make use of it in contemporary society. That past was littered not simply with the astonishing mystery of the early Church and the flamboyant growth of Roman Catholicism but also with the remains of other religions. The heritage of classical paganism and its supposed relationship with Catholicism and Hinduism provided a key battleground in the disputes over the alleged impurity of Roman practices in the Church of England. It also gave rise to a sort of ecclesiastical equivalent of the eighteenth-century grand tour in which clergymen visited Italy to make up their own minds on such questions.

Rome was an interesting choice of destination for an evangelically minded Irish Protestant to take his bride on a kind of extended honeymoon. Yet for a man who was intent on never being morally off duty, it made a certain kind of sense. Ritualism was attacked for its supposed embrace of Catholicism. The latter was understood as

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Victorian Reformation: The Fight over Idolatry in the Church of England, 1840-1860
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Contents ix
  • List of Illustrations xi
  • 1 - Introduction- Victorian Reformation 3
  • 2 - Art and Sacrament 25
  • 3 - Riots and Trials in London, 1840–60 51
  • 4 - Satan Transformed- Comparative Religion 93
  • 5 - Gothic Novelties 135
  • Conclusion- the Convenient Despot 163
  • Notes 185
  • Bibliography 205
  • Index 235
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