By Quincy Wright

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Faith Under Fire should not therefore be viewed as a comprehensive history of the Anglican army chaplaincy during the Great War. Nor should it be taken simply as a response to the post-war commentary on army chaplains. Rather it is an examination of the Anglican chaplain’s experience of what was, in human terms, the most destructive war in British history. com - licensed to Universitetsbiblioteket i Tromso - PalgraveConnect - 2011-04-02 24 The Church of England, the European War, and the Great Opportunity There has been a great deal of talk since the war began of ‘the Church’s opportunity’.

As Marrin remarked, ‘The working man was rarely an atheist or an agnostic, harbouring instead a vague belief in God and affection for His Son as “a down right good fellow”. 23 This vague but genuine belief in Christian ideals, concealed behind an almost complete disregard for organised religion, manifested itself quite strongly during the war and was noted with great interest by army chaplains. 24 Although nothing like the vocational heyday of the 1880s, a career in the Church of England, along with the armed forces and imperial administration, was still considered a good option for an English public school boy.

Secondly, albeit moral in its own way, it took a tilt at Victorian sexual hypocrisy and conventional English religion, both contemporary targets for attack; but it also stressed hope and selfrealisation, and so cannot be compared with the later, classic type of ‘disenchanted’ war novel. For this reason it met with the English public’s wish at that time to believe that though the war had been terrible, it had been worth fighting. 57 This last point on the question of authenticity is worth considering.

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