Nobody's Perfect

By de Lisle, Leanda | The Spectator, November 1, 1997 | Go to article overview

Nobody's Perfect


de Lisle, Leanda, The Spectator


I only believe in God every other day and my holy days don't always fall on a Sunday. If I go to Mass it's with the same kind of `I'm-making-a-real-effort-today' feeling that I have when I'm preparing a Yorkshire pudding for lunch.

However, the strangest thought occurred to me during our early morning happy clappy service this weekend: I realised I was happy to be there. Don't worry, I didn't see the light or anything like that. God forbid, if one can put it that way. No, it was just that it all seemed so cosy and familiar: my youngest son complaining about being bored, the church band twanging away on their guitars, the anorak brigade crossing the church to shake our hands, the promise of coffee, home-made cakes and a chat with that nice old lady whose name I can never remember. Really, I think we have the best little church in Christendom. But what, I wonder, would my friend Cristina Odone make of it?

Cristina's first reaction would surely be similar to my own, `Oh, yuk, clapping, and I can't believe this service is as long as High Mass at the Brompton Oratory.' But I suspect she'd fall for it in the end too. She's as warm as toast and the full pews in our church are like nothing so much as toastracks for people as generous in nature as she is. You can smell it.

I realise those of you who have read reviews of her latest novel, A Perfect Wife, must think me mad. She's written a diatribe against what is described as the `happy clappy' movement. But it's not wishy-washy modern hymns that offend her. 'I want to alert Britain to the danger of Christian fundamentalism,' she told the Times. Well, her description in The Spectator of parishioners from Holy Trinity Brompton publicly confessing to having had oral sex is certainly a warning of sorts. Many people feel, however, that the Church of England, to which Holy Trinity Brompton belongs, suffers not from too much fundamentalism but too little. …

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