This is a recording of a paper to be given to the winter meeting of the Ecclesiastical History Society on January 14th 2023. The theme of the conference is ‘the Church and hypocrisy’, and the title of the paper is ‘Vocation, integrity and hypocrisy in a secularising society: Iris Murdoch and the clergy of the Church of England’.
I place Murdoch’s portrayal of the clergy in the context of her own understanding of the necessary role of the established church, and her extensive reading of the radical theology of the sixties, seventies and eighties. I consider some of the Anglican clergy in Murdoch’s fiction, in terms of their integrity or otherwise, to both their vocation and their conscience. I focus in particular on those clergy who can no longer assent to the doctrine of their own church, and the subtleties and evasions into which they are forced as a result. The novels in question are The time of the angels (1966), The philosopher’s pupil (1983), and The book and the brotherhood (1987).
Listen to it here; it is about 23 minutes long.
I shall submit a considerably longer version of the paper for consideration for the EHS’s annual publication, Studies in Church History. If it is accepted for SCH, it would appear in volume 60, in the summer of 2024. Before then, I should be happy to share the draft if folk would care to send me an email.