COSMO LANG, Archbishop in War and Crisis

Although there are quite a few people around who were alive when Cosmo Lang was Archbishop, 1928-1942, I doubt whether there are many who have a personal recollection of the issues of the day, let alone how he dealt with them. This then is primarily historical research. The total biographical details are subordinate to Lang as archbishop, and the book has concentrated on the three dominating challenges of the day, viz the rejection of the 1928 Prayer Book, the abdication of Edward VIII, and the Second World War. He has researched his material well and used it to overturn the rather negative image that Lang has enjoyed up to now. His verdict is that Lang was not a great archbishop, but he was a good one. Lang generally tried to work quietly behind the scenes to promote the interests of the church and to keep it together; his public utterances were not always successful. The issues he had to face were of a kind we are all familiar with even if we cannot identify with the actual events – the unity of a broad church, the relationship between church and state, and Christian attitudes appropriate to the time of war. The book makes the reader keenly aware that the intervening eighty odd years have seen a vast change in the social scene and the place of the church in society, so I would assume that the book will appeal most to those who enjoy history. Or perhaps it would stir us up to find better ways of dealing with those issues than we have found up to now.

David Horton