Attitudinizing that’s gotten old: A. N. Wilson would be sad to see his Church sundered by so small a thing.
Americans have been alternately fascinated and repelled by a post-Empire state of mind among many Englishmen that combined a love of “civilization” understood as decency, order and tolerance, a mild skeptical conservatism, and a total lack of understanding of human passion (“Sexual conduct is surely on the same level of seriousness as eating a bacon sandwich”—Wilson really says that). The attitude no doubt helped reconcile the English to their reduced role in the world, and it could work, after a fashion, as long as a network of inherited habits carried forward day-to-day life in England much as it had been.
It’s been obvious for a while that none of that applies any more, and people like Wilson who still talk that way do so because they have nothing to say that’s to the point. You can’t make good form and general decency your final standards when they don’t exist any more, and for Wilson it seems there’s nothing else. He’s a man who can both praise Anglicanism for its “intellectual seriousness” and say in effect that whether Christ was God or not (the Arian controversy) was a “theological [point] so esoteric that [it is] all but incomprehensible to Christians of a later generation, let alone to anyone else.” If that’s intellectual seriousness, what isn’t intellectual seriousness?