When the priest who wrote the libretto for “Nixon in China” writes a bumper sticker, you can bet that it will be provocative and witty. You can also count on someones disapproval.
The Rev Alice Goodman claims the word is not blasphemous but a vulgarity, and claims Dr Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, had not raised an issue after seeing the sticker on her car.
The vicar, who is married to Oxford University’s professor of poetry Sir Geoffrey Hill and is a librettist, said she had put the label on her bumper because of the “emphatic hair-tearing quality of this world of ours.”
It was exposed after an anonymous reader wrote to her local paper in Cambridge.
They said: “The Bible says: ‘But above all do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your ‘yes’ be yes and your ‘no’ be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.'”
(Actually, it was exposed when she put the thing on her car. But never mind.)
Goodman is Rector of the parishes of Fulbourn, the Wilbrahams and Six Mile Bottom and is a noted poet. The Telegraph also says that she has written the libretti for two of the operas of John Adams, Nixon in China and The Death of Klinghoffer.
She said: “—- is not a blasphemy, it’s a vulgarity, an Old English word.
“My bishop knows I have the sticker on my car, and has no difficulty with it, and I have had the former Archbishop of Canterbury in my car, Rowan Williams, and he didn’t raise an eyebrow.
“Whoever has contacted the paper anonymously about this has looked at the Hebrew text and the Micah quotation, but has only seen the letter F.”
Whether or not the Bishops chuckled has gone unreported.