We deny to claim "any Superiority to ourself
to defyne, decyde, or determyn any Article or Poynt
of the Christian Fayth and Relligion,
or to chang any Ancient Ceremony of the Church
from the Forme before received and observed
by the Catholick and Apostolick Church."

Norman Simplicity

Norman Simplicity
Click image for original | © Vitrearum (Allan Barton)

Tuesday, June 30, 2015


If these bishops have any remaining sense, they need to try and lead their dioceses out of TEC:

No Votes
Bauerschmidt, Tennessee
Brewer, Central Florida
Gunter, Fond Du Lac
Howard, Florida
Konieczny, Oklahoma
Lillibridge, West Texas
Little, Northern Indiana
Love, Albany
Martins, Springfield
McConnell, Pittsburgh
M. Smith, North Dakota
Smylie, Wyoming

Else they must engage in an utterly unwholesome embrace with these sorts of "people":

The moment is now.
It will not come again.


Love? Are you quite sure?

Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth ....

Love has no evil in mind.

Is it heresy? I think it is. It is surely blasphemy.

One hundred and twenty-nine of the bishops in the Episcopal Church (USA) House of Bishops voted yesterday to embrace blasphemy as a "trial rite" for same-sex marriages in the Church. The blasphemy begins in the rite at the point where the celebrant says to the congregation ...

Dearly beloved: We have come together in the presence of God to witness and bless the joining together of N. and N. in Holy Matrimony. The joining of two people in a life of mutual fidelity signifies to us the mystery of the union between Christ and his Church, and so it is worthy of being honored among all people.

... It was God Himself who defined marriage as between a male and a female in Genesis 2:24, and thus to invoke the name of that same God in blessing (or celebrating) a pairing that is not one that he made provision for in Holy Scripture is a blasphemy on His name.

There is even, perhaps, a stronger word: abomination. (But no one in their right mind talks like that anymore.) Instead, we only require more 'trial rites' that remove all trace of monoamory:

More here.

Here comes Mr. Jordan

Meanwhile, on the other side of the house, we just can't get it together because people are still fighting the battles of 500 years ago, viz.

Eucharistic rites that give expression to the medieval Catholic doctrines of the sacrifice of the Mass and Transubstantiation and the equally unscriptural Lambeth doctrine of eucharistic sacrifice;

So tonight we're gonna party like it's 1499!

Tonight I'm not touching that old tar-baby. But here's an even better bet. The Last Supper itself was no Eucharist, no Mass. When Our Lord said "This is my body" he didn't know what he was doing because it just couldn't be his body:

It would only lead to heresy, in my opinion, to posit that when Jesus said at the Last Supper: “This is my body,” the bread became his body. What body did it become? His physical body? That is heretical. His resurrected body? More likely… except the resurrection had not happened yet. Catholic theology has always taken temporality and history very seriously, so I think it is important that we not think that Jesus could somehow offer himself to his disciples in his resurrected form before the resurrection had even taken place!

So, the events of the Upper Room were only [a]n eschatological banquet enacting a surrogate for sacrifice. Jesus declared invalid in light of Catholic theology. Wow.

Whenever and wherever we humans wade in, disaster is sure to follow. We mix truth and falsehood together and call it good. Too bad because this part strikes me as right on the money (my emphases):

There has been a danger in post-Tridentine theology to speak of the Mass as a re-presentation of the sacrifice of Christ. But this interpretation both fails to take the book of Hebrews seriously and also misunderstands the Jewish concept of “remembrance,” azkarah. Jewish remembrance does not mean that the past event is brought into the present and enacted again. Rather, it means that those who partake in the ritual action are themselves re-presented to the past event. At the Mass, the community of believers becomes present to the Paschal Mystery. Christ is not re-offered or re-presented on the altar of the priest. Rather, the believing community is re-presented to the sacrifice of Christ and, through the power of the Spirit, made part of that self-offering to the Father.

Put a stake in it

Finished is right.

129 bishops voted in favor, 26 against, and 5 abstained. Those against included most of the Church’s Province 9 bishops, from Central America, and the few remaining traditionalist bishops in the Church’s domestic dioceses, such as the bishops of Springfield, Albany and Central Florida.

But what are these people thinking?

The Rt. Rev. Edward S. Little II, Bishop of Northern Indiana rose and addressed the house stating that as a “matter of conscience and Christian conviction” he could not vote in favor of the resolution. The Episcopal Church “did not have the authority to change the sacrament of marriage,” he stated.

However, he thanked Bishops Thom and Whalon for the “wonderful generosity of spirit” in “allowing clergy and dioceses” to say no to same-sex marriage and retain their place within the church.

He hoped that that in “three, six, nine or eighteen years time” the House would not forget this "generosity” and continue to allow “those who hold a traditional view to have a place in this church.”

Thanks? Really? How about "shove it" instead?

Rationalization? Fudge? It's still alive and well.

One of my ecclesiological taproots is that one is obligated to remain in communion with a church that engages in false teaching as long as it continues to be a church. When such a church progresses from mere false teaching into formal heresy--not just de facto heresy, but heresy enshrined in its liturgies and canons--and then persists in that heresy over more than one generation--and I would suggest forty years as a benchmark for "more than one generation"--then it ceases to be a church, and a faithful Christian is obligated to not be in communion with it. We've certainly been winding the forty-year clock. Is it now ticking?

We don't have to worry until de facto heresy becomes de jure? And then we have forty more years?

Not me. I'm done. These people are worse than a joke.

It is finished.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Into the light of things

Come forth into the light of things,
Let Nature be your teacher.

She has a world of ready wealth,
Our minds and hearts to bless--
Spontaneous wisdom breathed by health,
Truth breathed by cheerfulness.

One impulse from a vernal wood
May teach you more of man,
Of moral evil and of good,
Than all the sages can.

Sweet is the lore which Nature brings;
Our meddling intellect
Mis-shapes the beauteous forms of things:--
We murder to dissect.

Enough of Science and of Art;
Close up those barren leaves;
Come forth, and bring with you a heart
That watches and receives.

Original from here.


George Weigel:

The long-term answer to the New Normal – and to the dictatorship of relativism the New Normal is trying to impose on the universities and professions (without encountering much resistance), on traditional religious communities (less successfully, so far), and on individuals (through reprehensible but effective bullying and shaming) – is the re-conversion of the United States to right reason, moral truth, and a biblical way of seeing the world. This is a multigenerational project; it will necessarily be ecumenical and interreligious. From the Catholic point of view, the only possible response to the New Normal is a robustly evangelical Catholicism: one that displays true happiness in lives of solidarity with others; one that links that happiness and solidarity to friendship with Jesus Christ and the truths his Church teaches, inviting others to consider “a still more excellent way” [1 Corinthians 12.31].

Sunday, June 28, 2015


So, I attended my first Eastern rite liturgy this morning. I could, quite subjectively, list the things I liked (lots of movement, participation, fluidity) and the things I didn't like (most prominently, my arthritic knees longed for many more well-defined moments for being seated). But there wouldn't be much point in that, now would there? The only possible observation is simultaneously the one most obvious and also the most subtle: it is an entirely different world.

The following contains many words that spoke most directly to my experience:

The way we approach liturgy and the values and expectations we bring to it may serve as an example. Your liturgy represents a way of responding to the greatness and the holiness of God's presence: a certain kind of sober reserve and directness and an unwillingness to "waste time." In other words, you bring many cultural values and rules of polite behavior for receiving any dignitary and apply them to worship. We do the same thing: it's simply that the rules and values we bring with us are different.

Good Roman liturgy is orderly; clergy and congregation come in, go to their places and stay there until needed. Nothing is more destructive of good Roman liturgy than someone moving around out of place "trying to be helpful." Good Roman liturgy is concise; your liturgical texts say what they have to say and they end. Take the collects or opening prayers of your liturgy as an example. They are brief and virtually all follow a model which I might typify as "God, because this is so, we ask you to do thus and such. Amen." Your Mass may be quite simply recited, or it may be quite elaborate with choirs and musical instrumental. Variety and creativity are values for you, and if you live in a typical parish you have a liturgy committee which spends a lot of time selecting hymns, planning the important liturgies of the year, etc.

We bring a different set of values to our Liturgy and we follow eastern rules of politeness and hospitality. We greet the greatness and holiness of God's presence with ceremony, every flattery. Liturgical texts are long and God can not be mentioned without including a few adjectives referring to God's goodness, mercy, power and providence. You may find our texts as prolix as we find yours terse.

I wish I had something meaningful, even brilliant, to say, but I don't. Different world, different values.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Manned up

This Church will continue to honor the Biblical definition of marriage as between a man and woman. The clergy of this church are not allowed by our Constitution and Canons to perform same-sex unions or bless same-sex marriages. Individuals with same-sex attraction are welcome in all our churches; I have met many from around the Province who do attend our congregations. But we expect them to practice the same sexual ethic as we ask all our other members -- the Biblical mandate of abstaining from sex unless it is in the context of marriage -- marriage between a man and woman.

Happy happy joy joy

Happy Ramadan! Happy Gay Pride Month! Happy General Convention!

While, perhaps, the truth shall set you free, it is very, very unwelcome. At the very least, you will get a SJW pushback, viz.

In an amazing tweet, the Bishop of Springfield said he was distinctly unimpressed with the quality of youth (millennials) and tweeted "steady progressive orthodoxy; not much Jesus. Just being honest about my experience over 5 GCs." Katie Sherrod of the alternate Diocese of Ft. Worth tweeted back, "Even if bishop of Springfield thought it, why on earth would he tweet it? Can't imagine how hurtful it was to these young men & women."

At worst, it will get you fired. I work at a place denominated a "university." If I were to say something akin to "Of course, I have nothing against gay people, being related to and friends with many, and abhor persecution, affirming the need for all necessary civil protections, but my religious beliefs would not allow me to countenance gay marriage," I would undoubtedly be reprimanded. Because I have tenure, I could not be immediately dismissed. But were I to persist, my life would be made so miserable that the emergence of a final process of removal from office could only be the most welcome coup de grâce.

The stark reality is

Obergefell v. Hodges is ultimately less significant than the Eich affair. Justice Kennedy might be sincere about freedom of religion being respected; it makes no difference if being known to disapprove of gay marriage will get you fired from your job and made unemployable thereafter. There’s not much worse the government could do to you. The First Amendment assumes a social context that makes its immunities from government coercion meaningful. It was assumed that at least one of the following would be true:

  1. Most people would be self-employed.
  2. Employers wouldn’t care about employees’ beliefs.
  3. If they did care, there would be a diversity of beliefs among employers.
  4. At the very least, government and employers wouldn’t be taking orders from the same group.

... Now the media gives the orders. Whether they’re executed by the Department of Justice or the Human Relations department of your company doesn’t make much practical difference for you. The old distinctions are now artificial. Government, NGOs, private corporations – it’s all the same group of people. They went to the same schools, read the same papers, and often openly coordinate with each other ...

Only two things affect most of us. 1) Being known to disapprove of sodomy will get you fired pretty much anywhere because “hostile work environment”. 2) Gay=good, sex=meaningless is official orthodoxy, so it is taught in schools.

Opinions -- what we used to call 'beliefs' -- are now strictly verboten!


Addendum: Any outsider suffering from the delusion that colleges and universities are bastions of freedom (and not massive bureaucratic factories of incessant brainwashing and social conformity) should read Inside Higher Education. Here are two unrelated articles from the most recent issue that, nonetheless, cover just two tiny dots of this pointillistic nightmare:

The Gaze and the Voice.

Friday, June 26, 2015


More lub.
Lub is limitless.
When three or more ...

No WASPs allowed

Judges are selected precisely for their skill as lawyers; whether they reflect the policy views of a particular constituency is not (or should not be) relevant. Not surprisingly then, the Federal Judiciary is hardly a cross-section of America. Take, for example, this Court, which consists of only nine men and women, all of them successful lawyers who studied at Harvard or Yale Law School. Four of the nine are natives of New York City. Eight of them grew up in east- and west-coast States. Only one hails from the vast expanse in-between. Not a single Southwesterner or even, to tell the truth, a genuine Westerner (California does not count). Not a single evangelical Christian (a group that comprises about one quarter of Americans), or even a Protestant of any denomination.

The strikingly unrepresentative character of the body voting on today’s social upheaval would be irrelevant if they were functioning as judges, answering the legal question whether the American people had ever ratified a constitutional provision that was understood to proscribe the traditional definition of marriage. But of course the Justices in today’s majority are not voting on that basis; they say they are not. And to allow the policy question of same-sex marriage to be considered and resolved by a select, patrician, highly unrepresentative panel of nine is to violate a principle even more fundamental than no taxation without representation: no social transformation without representation.

Our new "betters":
a parable.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Novelists

Coming back to "hermeneutics," let's re-consider this:

D. For Paul and Augustine, Scripture, tradition, and reason speak uniformly.

I assume that what was meant to be said was that they all speak univocally, with one voice. For an Anglican, then, the case is mostly closed. All burden for the contrary rests exclusively with those promoting novelties.

Where, however, such univocity is lacking, then the order is: “What Scripture doth plainly deliver, to that the first place both of credit and obedience are due; the next whereunto, is what any man can necessarily conclude by force of Reason; after this, the voice of the church succeedeth.”

Our church teaches: (XXXII) Bishops, Priests, and Deacons are not commanded by God's laws either to vow the estate of single life or to abstain from marriage. Therefore it is lawful also for them, as for all other Christian men, to marry at their own discretion, as they shall judge the same to serve better to godliness. But by what right?

First, Scripture. The priests of the Jews were allowed to marry and nothing in the New Testament suggests otherwise (although, celibacy for all who can bear it is perforce also highly commended):

This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (for if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless. Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.

Now, the questions arise: What are the further constraints? May a man in holy orders who is unmarried contract a wife? If his wife dies, may he remarry? If he may remarry, ought he?

Here Scripture has no definitive answer. And so we must apply Reason. If that prove sufficient, then tradition need not be invoked (although it may be well to consider it). I think that given what we know today, Reason would suggest great discretion in such cases: while a man might licitly contract marriage, there are some very strong grounds militating against such.

Therefore, given that these three things are not on the same level, this sort of complaint really has little traction:

... those who make this appeal are not always prepared to abide by it in matters of detail. There is no record in Christian antiquity of priests being allowed to marry after ordination; yet many of those who make this appeal have themselves married under the conditions mentioned, and all of them are committed to the defence of a Church which tolerates such marriages. Can we really feel any great veneration for a principle of authority which, in practice, is so inconsistently applied?

While this Tradition may require our respect, it need not command our compliance because, in this case, Scripture and Reason suffice.

But what if Scripture and Reason can only take us so far? Then Tradition is required to go farther. And so we may, with the King, licitly say:

As for the Fathers, I reverence them as much and more than the Jesuits do, and as much as themselves ever craved. For whatever the Fathers for the first five hundred years did with an unanimous consent agree upon, to be believed as a necessary point of salvation, I either will believe it also, or at least will be humbly silent, not taking upon me to condemn the same. But for every private Father's opinion, it binds not my conscience more than Bellarmine's, every one of the Fathers usually contradicting others. I will therefore in that case follow St. Augustine's rule in judging of their opinions as I find them agree with the Scriptures. What I find agreeable thereto I will gladly embrace. What is otherwise I will (with their reverence) reject.

Whatever they agreed upon but that was not to be believed as necessary to salvation -- their physics, say -- I need have no concurrence with.

None of this works like a sausage grinder. But that is no reason for outright contempt of the Consensus Quinquesaecularis. Nor have we found grounds to conclude that, for all the fanfare, this is, in reality, nothing but sola scriptura in disguise.

It is easy to magnify the appearance of diversity in "traditions." But compared with us, there is much greater agreement than many may wish.


ROOSH: Most of my life I have based on the scientific way, facts and logic, but it wasn't giving me the answers. I don’t see the answers and I see some of it is wrong. People are structuring their life on science that in 100 years, 500 years, 5,000 years, will be shown to be a joke. Just like how humans used to think the earth was flat. People right now think that just because a study came out that this is fact, but it's not. So, what can we learn, or what is the best way to live? I think the best way to come up with that is to look at how humans have lived for thousands of years. A book like the Bible was a guide that was a manual for billions of people and it still is. It has been used for so long that maybe there is something in it that I should look at. So, I am reading it now.

VOX: It will probably astonish thousands of people to hear that! Whether you are talking about the Bible, the Ancient Greeks, or Heian Japan, there is an awful lot of wisdom to be found there simply because they lived. We don’t need to reinvent every single thought about the wheel.

ROOSH: What I don't get is why modern Western culture has been so quick to throw all that away. Throwing everything away for this experimental way to live. I am reading some of the old stuff and it makes sense. It makes sense!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Horrible sophistry

I don't find homosexuality particularly interesting, perplexing, noteworthy, or vexing. There is nothing new under the sun. And while I admit that there are both inclinations and actions that one might be tempted to tag as either 'heterosexual' or 'homosexual', if one really insisted on speaking this way, not much follows from that. There is surely a wide disjunction between inclinations and actions (generally speaking), and nothing said so far allows us to brand individuals with these terms as if they named a fixed and unvarying nature. Yet, of course, that is precisely what both sides of the debate are intent upon doing: one is, or is not, a homosexual. And if nature or destiny has spoken, who are we to judge?

This tawdry essentialism is as committed to political party denominations as are most Catholics and Protestants. And just like these two extremists groups, no subtle shading is allowed: we are to deal with this, as with everything else, as a strict binary. But this is bad thinking, bad philosophy, bad theology, and bad psychology. It is, in reality, not even thinking at all but the bar erected merely to put an end to thinking. It is as though neither Freud nor Sartre had never lived, let alone ever put pen to paper. So, from my perspective, most of what appears under the heading "Thoughts on Marriage" is simply a gross overstatement of its real contribution.

The real question for ME-ists is: what would you accept as either consistent evidence or a cogent argument against your perspective? There is none imaginable and that fact alone betrays the built-in impregnability of their position. Not only do they reject all the available evidence and all available arguments, there is no conceivable evidence or arguments that could ever do the trick. They already know better. Neato, huh?

Their "discussions" soi-disant are simply designed to show that there is no scripture, no reason, and no tradition that they would ever accept. Typically, things proceed along similar lines to this:

A. Ancient and late antique authors considered women to be inferior: socially, biologically, and ontologically.
B. The main Pauline discussions of marriage relationships assume the cultural norms.
C. Augustine reads Paul at face value.
D. For Paul and Augustine, Scripture, tradition, and reason speak uniformly.

For them, these authors are utterly wrong, grossly uninformed, hopelessly naive, and ridiculously monolithic. "Science" -- which in point of fact has very little of interest to say about what our biology really entails for us -- is more up-to-date. Therefore, 'science' -- or, really, what one takes 'science' to mean -- wins the day. All we need to deal with texts which say otherwise is a new "hermeneutic" that allows us to jigger the proverbial rabbit out the hat where it never really was. Tada.

James Cameron needs to help raise the bar, again.

Pax Romana

Hilarious. These Anglo-Catholic, who used to be the worst offenders, as full-fledged liturgical anarchs, now find solace in soft-shoe shuffling and humbly knuckling-under:

It is there, and I may as well accept it and get on with the worship of God. More, my accepting it as it is given is an act of obedience. I accept the authority of the rite as provided. As with all obedience, this involves putting self aside, which is essential training for a Christian. No one will accept the offer of heaven unless he is willing to submit to the authority of Christ, whose Kingdom it is. We need practice in this life, practice in obeying the earthly authorities which may be placed over us (parents, employers, the state, liturgical law, the Ordinary).

I guess everyone needs new experiences.

Monday, June 22, 2015


My hard copy of this really wonderful little book came today. (I don't like to read books online but, of course, one cannot complain about the wide availability of such scarce volumes.)

The authors were neither fools nor rubes: they were eminent scholars aware of the "higher criticism" and they did yeomen service in collecting more than 600 lessons. Unfortunately, I don't know if this effort was ever put into practice anywhere.

So looking through a few pericopes from the Advent season, first noted below, it is really refreshing to see what an argument (in this case, for selection) looks like and to learn a few things, as well. Here are just three excerpts.

The Sheep and the Goats

Blood-dimmed tide


Even at present, as we are aware, most men, however lawless they are, are effectively and strictly precluded from sexual commerce with beautiful persons,—and that not against their will, but with their own most willing consent.

On what occasions do you mean?

Whenever any man has a brother or sister who is beautiful. So too in the case of a son or daughter, the same unwritten law is most effective in guarding men from sleeping with them, either openly or secretly, or wishing to have any connection with them,—nay, most men never so much as feel any desire for such connection.

That is true.

Is it not, then, by a brief sentence that all such pleasures are quenched?

What sentence do you mean?

The sentence that these acts are by no means holy, but hated of God and most shamefully shameful.


I don't know why I torment myself by reading what other people have to say about things. A perfect example is this which is just hogwash. (Though the trouble is that the discussion on the other side isn't any good either.) I may be an amateur theologian but I am a professional philosopher and the farrago passing itself off as thought in that link (and elsewhere) simply cannot be allowed to pass.

As usual, there are no readings of texts, if what that means is trying to unpack what the text says (and not what one wants it to say). So here is an inconvenient truth everyone is free to contemplate. Ultimately the ME side makes it all about "lub" (by which they mean some sickening feeling). As this made clear, the "love" we are concerned with is the love that can be commanded: as such, it is better glossed as a proper respect of boundaries, than some subjective emotion. (And the "ethics" elaborated there has no dependence whatsoever on any human theorist, no matter how accomplished. That's enough for me -- too much, in fact -- but obviously too little for the hopelessly sophisticated.)

But anywho, on love (not "lub"), St. Paul has a decidedly peculiar take (as usual, I quote AKJ and link to NIV):

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: for we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

Notice that this is no relation of total reciprocity. It says: husbands love -- spiritually "regard" -- your wives; and wives reverence -- bodily "submit to" -- your husbands. It does not imagine for a moment the other direction. In point of fact, in particular, its asymmetry demands that we acknowledge that women revere but do not (rationally) regard their spouses at all. In any event, "lub" has nothing to do with it. Now make this passage work with ME. Gad.

The Greeks understood this: there is Lover and there is Beloved.
No less but also no more.


UPDATE: Like a determined bee, I flit from flower to flower. It's hard to keep up with it all but sometimes one bloom points me in the direction of another. (And therein is another analogy: the bee and the flower. The bee has a purpose, the flower a destiny.)

It was ever thus.

Did humans never, before today, suffer from sexual temptation? Are Fornication, Adultery, Sodomy, problems only of our own unique and spectacularly sui generis age? What did the New Testament writers mean when they talked about porneia, moikheia, malakia? Is there something crashingly new about the capacity or incapacity of modern human beings (whether with or without Grace) to resist temptation? What is supposed to be so different about our groins and minds compared with the groins and minds of every other human generation since the Fall? What has so privileged us that we are (apparently) free to claim exemption from the Divine Commands, entolai, which were considered to bind former generations since the dawn of history?

La trahison des clercs.

... I will remind you of C S Lewis's fictional snapshot (1945) of an atheist 'freethinker', a Professor Churchwood, "an old dear. All his lectures were devoted to proving the impossibility of ethics, though in private life he'd walked ten miles rather than leave a penny debt unpaid. But all the same ... was there a single doctrine practised at Belbury which hadn't been preached by some lecturer at Edgestow? Oh, of course, they never thought that anyone would act on their theories! No one was more astonished than they when what they'd been talking about for years suddenly took on reality. But it was their own child coming back to them: grown up and unrecognisable, but their own. ... Trahison des clercs. None of us is quite innocent." (This theme, surely, is what That Hideous Strength is all about.)

Saturday, June 20, 2015


From Psephizo:

The moment I mention ‘doctrine’ I can see the rolling of eyes, in part because of the history of doctrinal dispute the has scarred European history for centuries, and in part because of a reaction against the kind of post-Enlightment rationalist approach that reduces doctrine to propositions. But, as Anthony Thiselton points out in The Hermeneutics of Doctrine, for the first Christians doctrine was about their fundamental disposition in life; the claims of the creeds and credal statements weren’t simply claims about facts, but what they based their life on. They really believed that ‘The truth will set you free’ (John 8.32). That is why doctrine matters, not least in this area of what it means to be created, male and female in the image of God, and the implications of that for sexual behaviour. If the bishops do not believe that wrong doctrine in this area is harmful, then now is the time to abandon any theology of marriage. In fact:

“Christianity is based on revealed doctrine, enabling individuals to live rightly before a Holy God as followers of Jesus Christ. He tells us how to live in all areas of life, including in areas of sexual behaviour. No denomination is at liberty to invent its own doctrine or to sacrifice revealed doctrine on the altars of contemporary fashion. We cannot be authentically Christian whilst simultaneously rejecting the teaching of the one we claim to follow.” (Rev Simon Austen, Rector of St Leonard’s Church, Exeter Diocese)

That is why the ministry of teaching is at the heart of Anglican understandings of what it means to be deacon, priest (presbyter) and bishop. That is why, in the Articles, preaching and the sacraments go hand in hand—teaching must lead to action, but action without teaching is like a ship without a rudder.

I sincerely hope that senior bishops in the Church will now speak up and correct the impression that has been given. Doctrine does underlie this issue; doctrine does matter; wrong doctrine causes harm. If they don’t speak now and publicly, I cannot see but that it will be the end of the Church of England as we know it.

Apocalypse Now

Friday, June 19, 2015

Horror vacui

I suppose some might insist upon a Hexagon (see below). LOL.

All jokes aside, here are some heart-wrenching lines from a piece containing such abject truthfulness that it is rendered very difficult to read. At least, difficult for me.

There is a stiff price to be paid for handling one’s liquor: You come to believe there’s nothing you can handle without it.

For me, alcohol is not a means to “feel better”; it is the remedy to feeling anything at all.

Ora pro nobis.

Identity and Authority

Who is an Anglican and what does he believe? Such question have, in the past, simply not arisen for substitution instances such as 'African', 'Roman Catholic', 'Female', etc. But now, it's all up for grabs. Our problem is the world's problem.

Here's a shot. An Anglican is a follower of Christ who holds simultaneously to all of the following, in a kind of dynamic tension, as forming collectively an irreducible sine qua non:

(a) the public reading of the Scriptures in a language understood by the people and instruction of the whole people of God in the scriptural faith by means of sermons and catechisms;

EVANGELICAL: The Holy Scriptures, as containing all things necessary to salvation [but not, of course, everything to be found in the world, including dinosaurs and Kings of England];

(b) the use of the two sacraments ordained by Christ, Baptism with water in the threefold name, and Holy Communion with bread and wine and explicit intention to obey our Lord's command;

SACRAMENTAL: The Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion [which is not to exclude other sacraments, sacramentals, and rites but only to give proper precedence to the two Dominical sacraments as our models and for practice];

(c) the use of forms of episcopal ordination to each of the three orders by prayer with the laying-on of hands;

EPISCOPAL: The historic episcopate, locally adapted, and the three holy orders [acolytes ('epistollers'), lectors ('clerks'), and deaconesses being 'lay ministries', with the last strictly pastoral and non-liturgical];

(d) the public recitation and teaching of the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds; and

CREEDAL: The Creeds (specifically, the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds), as the sufficient statement of Christian faith [also including and emphasizing their traditional theological expressions in the Thirty-Nine Articles]; and

(e) the use of other liturgical expressions of unity in faith and life by which the whole people of God is nurtured and upheld, with continuing awareness of ecumenical liturgical developments.

LITURGICAL: The rites of the received Prayer Book, deriving from two main models, Scotland 1637 and England 1662, locally adapted [with the traditional faith and practice completely enshrined therein] and the associated heritage of historic lectionary, minor propers, and ceremonial deriving from the Sarum use.

The Quadrilateral was lacking an important side: we need a Pentagon, instead. "Papists" (a completely made-up enemy) could dispense with (a) and (e); "Puritans" (likewise) with (c) and (e). And this certainly isn't the all: it is only the without which not, without which empty.

Tria sunt

or, Leitourgia II (before this gets completely lost).

The consistent use of the Decalogue in the rite is one of the peculiarities of our common prayer. Probably borrowed from the Strasbourg liturgy, it allowed Cranmer to move further away from the overtly Roman model of 1549. But, in all events, this oddity has pretty much disappeared altogether, wherever you go. Why it ever rose to prominence, in the first place, is the question.

The "Ten Words" had been purged from Jewish liturgy by rabbinic Judaism. And they weren't of much interest to Western Christianity -- intent on touting its own superiority to what came before -- until around the twelfth century. Why it began to emerge from the shadows is a mystery, although one can point to any number of possible factors, social unrest and the rise of mandatory confession being only two of the most prominent.

Aquinas had written:

Three things are necessary for man to be saved: (1) knowledge of what is to be believed [scientia credendorum], (2) knowledge of what is to be desired [scientia desiderandorum], and (3) knowledge of what is to be done [scientia operandorum].

The first is taught in the Creed [symbolo], where knowledge of the articles of faith [articulis fidei] is given; the second is in the Lord’s Prayer [oratione dominica]; the third is in the Law [lege].

This has the form of the practical syllogism: P1 = belief, P2 = desire, and C = action. But these three areas are here further circumscribed by what we should believe, what we should desire, and what we ought to do.

(1) Belief is regulated by the Creed (and the Articles of Religion). These say nothing about demons or witches nor indeed of any form of personified evil. What we believe is characterized not by gloom and despair but by hope and expectation. It is a synopsis of the content of the Good News.

(2) Legitimate desire is articulated by the Lord's Prayer, in which we are told we may ask only for four things:

Holy Father:

Your kingdom come;

Give us (each day) our (daily) bread;

Forgive us our sins;

Save us from the trial.

We don't need anything else. And hence we are now and radically free.

From these two things alone, (3) right action should (ideally) follow. But it would be good to have a crib sheet, just in case. Fortunately, we have two distinct glosses -- one positive, the other mostly negative -- that nonetheless neatly correspond.

"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength."

  • Thou shalt have no other gods before me
  • Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image
  • Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain
  • Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy
  • Honour thy father and thy mother

"Love your neighbor as yourself."

  • Thou shalt not murder
  • Thou shalt not commit adultery
  • Thou shalt not steal
  • Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour
  • Thou shalt not covet

The laws of worship and piety and the laws of charity and justice. Pretty simple really. This is the love that can be commanded: it is called respect. It is an attitude, a comportment -- not a feeling.

Another way of parsing it all: the law of belief comes from the Church; the law of desire from the New Covenant; and the laws of action from the Old Covenant. But, once again, why weren't the first two alone sufficient?

That comes clearer from a third way of dividing up the territory: belief concerns the individual; desire the family and the (near) neighborhood [the particular]; and action the stage of the greater society or nation [the universal]. And so we would do well to acknowledge the following state of affairs:

The late medieval era therefore gave rise to wave after wave of reformers who called for instruction, social discipline, and the establishment of order.

Under such circumstances it made a whole lot of sense increasingly to turn to the Old Testament as a guide. Unlike the New Testament, which was written to congregations of individuals and families who had voluntarily embraced their calling to be separate from the broader society, the Old Testament was written to a nation of millions, steeped in idolatry and pagan practices, kept in the faith in large part by political authorities. Unlike the New Testament, which could assume a thoughtful devotion in response to grace on the part of Christ’s voluntary disciples, the Old Testament used rewards and punishments to curb idolatry and promote righteousness. Unlike the New Testament, which emphasized teaching and growth in maturity, the Old Testament featured the prominence of ceremony, pageantry, and symbolic instruction at the hands of a select priesthood.

In these ways and so many others the medieval church found its situation to be far more analogous to that of ancient Israel than to that of the early church. It was probably inevitable, under these circumstances, that the Old Testament would increasingly become the paradigm for the life of the medieval church. Reformers increasingly demanded decisive action on the part of those with power, looking to Israelite kings as examples. They called for the authorities to extend their coercive power over institutions and realms of life not previously subject to temporal authority.

In a word, political realities demanded a re-emphasis of the Old Testament. In particular, the Decalogue provided the appropriate medicina mentis of the moment. That time will not come again, no matter that the final upshot remains in force: "reformers" demanding the government to extend its coercive power over every aspect of ordinary life. The rest of us? Back to the bunker.

The Last Man on Earth

Thursday, June 18, 2015


[B]ecause we maintain our own distinct heritage and traditions, we are Catholics who maintain our distinct Anglican Tradition within the Roman Catholic Church.

Except, of course, that an essentially Tridentine mass with some Cranmerian prayers and faux "Tudor" usage grafted on isn't all that Anglican.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Fix

Our collects are adapted to the lectionary. You can't change one without the other. So, everything must remain as is, status quo ante, but with these enrichments:

  1. Full restoration of the Octaves of Christmas, Easter and Pentecost;
  2. Full restoration of the four Ember Weeks;
  3. Filling out of Ferias iv, vi, and of the Sabbato, especially in Advent and Lent; and finally
  4. A thematic revision of the Lectionary for Mattins and Evensong, as per example which follows

These selections are, in fact, the same for the revised Table provided to the proposed English 1928 Prayer Book (and, apparently, our own 1928).

This would allow the necessary supplementation of missing material without changing or lengthening the Sunday or Holy Day Eucharist. The work has already been done. And it would result in a thoroughly rigorous and demanding regula.

For example, here is one possible rendition, which lengthens some selections which were obviously shortened because of controversial passages. This is an ever-present danger even in our 1928, where harsh or hard readings were replaced. This allows a fuller representation of end-time, apocalyptic elements (yellow) and, as mentioned, is a fairly rigorous amount of work for the average layman.


Back to the old Adventus Domini. I've made a kind of table of epistles but I had to put the sources all in quotes because who can say just what these sources actually are? For the Ambrosian and Mozarabic, I used this rendition. For the Medieval, I just backed in the old forgotten Sundays after Pentecost and, for Wuerzburg, I put in the epistle of Ember Saturday, as that Sunday was vacat. Then I colour-coded both near hits and misses.

I'm very interested in this single pericope, which survives only in a bowdlerized form, on an obscure weekday, in the RCL (the red is what is now omitted):

Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord [adventum Domini] Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ [dies Domini] is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming [adventus]: even him, whose coming [adventus] is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

This seminal passage, which features prominently in the other three, is totally missing from our tradition, where not a single lection from 2 Thessalonians survives. But what is being said here? Something critical. But I'll just let Wikipedia do the talking (my emphases in red):

The katechon (from Greek: τὸ κατέχον, "that what withholds", or ὁ κατέχων, "the one who withholds") is a biblical concept which has subsequently developed into a notion of political philosophy.

The term is found in 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7 in an eschatological context: Christians must not behave as if the Day of the Lord would happen tomorrow, since the Son of Perdition (the Antichrist of 1 and 2 John) must be revealed before. Paul then adds that the revelation of the Antichrist is conditional upon the removal of "something/someone that restrains him" and prevents him being fully manifested. Verse 6 uses the neuter gender, τὸ κατέχον; and verse 7 the masculine, ὁ κατέχων.

The interpretation of this passage has raised many problems, since Paul does not speak clearly ...

In Nomos of the Earth, German political thinker Carl Schmitt suggests the historical importance within traditional Christianity of the idea of the katechontic "restrainer" that allows for a Rome-centered Christianity, and that "meant the historical power to restrain the appearance of the Antichrist and the end of the present eon." The katechon represents, for Schmitt, the intellectualization of the ancient Christianum Imperium, with all its police and military powers to enforce orthodox ethics (see Carl Schmitt, The Nomos of the Earth in the International Law of the Jus Publicum Europaeum, G.L. Ulmen, trs., (New York: Telos, 2003), pp. 59–60.) In his posthumously published diary the entry from December 19, 1947 reads: "I believe in the katechon: it is for me the only possible way to understand Christian history and to find it meaningful" (Glossarium, p. 63). And Schmitt adds: "One must be able to name the katechon for every epoch of the last 1,948 years. The place has never been empty, or else we would no longer exist."

That imperium is now falling away and with it the power of the "restrainer." Expect the arrival of the Man of Lawlessness. His footfall is almost upon the doorstep.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Epic fail

OK -- I'm a failure. I cannot keep even my own strictures. But I think I must be losing my mind. It may be the heady combination of Emma Sulkowicz (aka Mattress Girl), Caitlyn Jenner, Rachel Dolezal, and Godfrey Elfwick (*no* links here!). I washed them down with gin and cough syrup and the result was both potent and toxic. I suffered auditory hallucinations of sodomites with unpleasant accents and had strange visions of members of the church of 815 wearing lace and cappa magnas!

Dear Father D: You don't have to be Katholic to be Krazy!

So when I discovered that The Seventh Annual Provincial Conference of the "Society of Catholic Priests" will take place on 7-10 October 2015 here in Denver, Colorado, I lost my composure altogether. I may never recover completely.

Here is three of their line-up (*no* links *here* either). I think pictures speak louder than words.

Nadia Bolz-Weber

Frank Griswold

Alberto Cutie


Cisgendered? Black? Wildebeests? Who can tell!

Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015


Back when the Church of England still possessed "brilliant men," Dom Gregory invented his "Four Action Shape of the Liturgy," or Offertory, Consecration, Fraction, and Communion. Dr. Tighe succinctly summarizes, as follows:

If The Shape of the Liturgy has one dominant argument, it is that the Eucharist is not primarily a ritual by or through which individual communicants come to have an individual experience of “communion with the Lord.” It is the corporate “coming” of Christ to the faithful, through the Eucharist of the Church, his Body. It is a deepening of the union of the faithful with him in his Body, his Body being both the Church and the Eucharist. This argument resounds throughout the book, and it has been accepted (where it was not already accepted or traditional) across wide swathes of Christianity—Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant.

An important theme concerns the “four-action shape” of the classical Christian Eucharist. The argument runs as follows. At the Last Supper, before the supper Christ took bread, blessed it, broke it, and distributed it. After the supper he took a cup of wine, blessed it, and distributed it. Subsequently, the apostles and their immediate successors combined the “bread ritual” at the beginning of the meal (“This is my body, which is for you; do this for the remembrance of me”) with the “cup ritual” at the end of the meal (“This is my blood of the New Covenant ... do this for the remembrance of me”) and separated them from the meal itself, which continued for several centuries as the “church supper” or “agape meal.” Thus, the Eucharist assumed the form that it subsequently followed in all primitive Christian traditions: the celebrant (1) takes bread and wine, (2) blesses them, (3) breaks the bread, and (4) distributes the blessed or consecrated elements to the communicants.

Dix is pretty down on Cranmer (and I am too, as a theologian, not as a stylist). His disdain leads him ultimately to such provocative pronouncements as this:

If Baxter's Reformed Liturgy be compared with Cranmer's it will be found abjectly inferior to it alike as a literary composition and from the standpoint of practical 'usability'. But it is nevertheless a whole stage nearer to the catholic tradition, in its conception of the eucharistic action and in its close attachment of the eating of the Body and drinking of the Blood of Christ to the reception of the consecrated species.

When I read that, I thought, "that is very rum but, after all, I have been wrong before." You can decide for yourself:

1. Offertory

2. Consecration

3. Fraction

4. Communion

A Puritan rite filled with just the moderate realism designed to make Low churchers turn heel and run. And no hint whatsoever of Cranmerian "receptionism." Very rum indeed.

Baxter’s achievement in this liturgy is the combining of elements of the liturgy of Geneva with that of The Book of Common Prayer. At the same time he uses some of the more ancient liturgical material, such as the echoing of the Agnus Dei in the fraction. The Savoy Liturgy has been described as being “nearer to the historic Western tradition than the conception which Cranmer embodied in the Communion Service of the Prayer book of 1552” (Ratcliff, 1962: 123). Despite all this The Savoy Liturgy had little impact on the conference to which it was submitted and equally little impact on the revision of the Prayer Book which resulted in the 1662 BCP. The Savoy Liturgy in spite of its rejection displayed a mood of adoration, sometimes missing in other Reformed liturgies, more noted for sombre attention to human sinfulness. It was also scriptural and incited the faithful to holiness of life. It blended Reformed and traditional material in a creative manner. Its efforts and qualities were however, to no avail (Thompson, 1988: 383). Perhaps as Jasper and Cuming suggest, it was too far ahead of its time (Jasper and Cuming, 1987: 272).

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

A recipe for success!

Declining numbers at services should not necessarily be a cause of despair for churches because people will still “encounter God” without ever taking their place in a pew, the Church of England’s newest bishop designate has insisted.

Fire sale! All items must go! No offer refused!


Before continuing the thoughts of the last post, happy happenstance has intervened. One of the most noted peculiarities of 1552 is the radical disordering. Some people assume that this was simply polemical in nature, or Cranmer's attempt to counter Gardiner's assertions (if only he had kept his mouth shut). But if radical disordering was all that was wanted, then anything goes might have prevailed. But it, most obviously, did not.

Could there have been an unrecognized theological motive for the insertion of the Prayer of Humble Access immediately after the Sanctus? One writer highlights an intriguing thought (p. 106):

I was prone to be dubious until Father D -- it's not all satire, you know -- shared the following, from Saint Ephrem the Syrian:

The Eucharist as Burning Coal (Isaiah 6:6)

In your bread hides the Spirit that cannot be consumed;
in your wine is the fire that cannot be drunk.
The Spirit in your bread, the fire in your wine:
This is the wonder that our lips welcome.
The seraph could not get his fingers close to the hot coal,
which was only held close to Isaiah’s mouth;
his fingers did not take it, nor did the lips swallow it;
yet for our sake the Lord deigned to do both things.
The fire rained down with anger to destroy the sinners,
but the fire of grace comes down on the bread and remains there.
Instead of the fire that destroyed man,
we have eaten the fire in the bread and we have been revived.

Monday, June 8, 2015


Official, sacred, service, public, ministry.

From the NLM:

The liturgy is the Church’s public and lawful act of worship, and it is performed and conducted by the officials whom the Church herself has designated for the post — her priests. In the liturgy God is to be honored by the body of the faithful, and the latter is in its turn to derive sanctification from this act of worship. It is important that this objective nature of the liturgy should be fully understood. Here the Catholic conception of worship in common sharply differs from the Protestant, which is predominantly individualistic.

Objective, corporate, public vs. subjective, personal, private. An important distinction, to be sure, but one completely falsified through the employment of the party terms 'Catholic' and 'Protestant'. Nor are they mutually exclusive as when an 'objective' service is performed "in a tongue not understanded of the people": the resultant mass subjectivity, issuing in a host of private devotions, proves that. Note that our service may be prayed in English but also in Greek, Latin, or Hebrew, where those tongues may be understood, as in college chapels. (And, peradventure, isn't the new subjectivity the same as the old subjectivity?)

No, the difference between "common prayer" and the (other) world inhabited by Papists and Puritans is located instead in its embrace of certain tenets of the modern age (argument borrowed from here):

  1. Anti-superstition, or a careful pruning back of an overwrought supernaturalism which saw human beings as daily subject to the malevolent or beneficial workings of highly active but completely unseen spirits. Accordingly, there is found in its pages no exorcisms and no invocations of saints.
  2. Anti-authoritarianism, or a greater acknowledgement of individual liberty and self-determination that nonetheless avoids the other extreme of Anabaptist-style communism or radical egalitarianism. Tokens of this are the common cup and the repudiation of foreign interference.
  3. Something else new that might be called Anti-fatalism,

Something else follows from this last fact, when combined with the other two. But that will be the subject of a different post.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

"Aren’t you all entitled to your half-arsed musings on the divine?"

More inclusive.

The Love Boat

or, The Lutheran Blowed-Out Department.

This is the end of this discussion, although several interesting questions remain. As John Beeler points out:

Hooray for the LCMS: originally German (not originally "the conservative church," just "the immigrant German church"), founded to preserve confessional Lutheranism vs. an indifferentist merger in Germany, now American Lutheranism's conservative magnet and with a Lutho-Catholic (they don't call themselves that) minority actually well grounded in Lutheran theology. American Lutheranism's always had a tension between the distinctive semi-Catholicism of the original Lutheranism (using the crucifix, for example: the LCMS explicitly defends it) and blending in with American Protestantism. I think the worship war in the LCMS is between high and low, the Lutho-Catholics vs. those who want to copy American evangelicalism (Lutheran liturgy vs. praise band, etc.).

They don't say "high" or "catholic"; they seem to prefer liturgical.

Apparently they aren't afraid of vestments, genuflections, elevations, or, even, Franciscan-style devotions such as Stations of the Cross. Or offertory prayers:

Lord God, as we prepare to receive the holy Sacrament, we pray You, bless and sanctify, with the power of Your Holy Spirit, this bread and wine, which you have given us, that through our Lord’s Words they may become His body and blood, the food and drink of eternal life.

Grant that we may receive worthily this sacramental mystery, the New Testament of our Divine Redeemer, for He is the Lamb of God, who gave Himself once and for all, as a holy, immaculate and perfect sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sin and for the life and salvation of the whole world.

Through Him we beseech You, Father, to look upon us with favor and to receive our thanksgiving for so great a Gift, as You once accepted the offerings of Your servants Abel and Noah, the sacrifice of Abraham, and the bread and wine offered by Your priest Melchizedek. In union with them, we pray that Your holy angel would carry our prayer to Your altar in heaven and unite us in the unending liturgy of Your servants of every time and place; through Christ, our Lord, from whom all good things come.

Through Him, with Him and in Him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is Yours, Almighty Father, forever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

The Wrong Impression

It's easy to get. I don't mind Lutheran ideas because, you see, I like ideas. But then there are fads. Fads of the Sixteenth century and fads of today. Such as liturgical dance. If you ever need to make yourself sick, merely type that phrase into a Google image search.

Evil Vicar says:

Consequently, the "new" can be just as hackneyed as the "old." It amazes me that anyone ever needed the "New Perspective on Paul" to go right. Simply read the text itself. Um, duh?

Anywho, the NLM loves Duncan Stroik. I don't get that either (like so, so many things).

First, begin with something truly horrible, viz.

Almost anyone could do better than this. Blech!

Now, shoehorn in your standard set design, composed of a quite literal pastische of homely elements:

This guy makes Albert Speer look like a virtuoso!

Of course, design is about the big picture and it is hard to get a sense of that in a blog post. But let's take only one little detail. I can't think of enough words to describe this: trite, turgid, fake, cutesy, contrived .... But it is just about perfect for someone's ideas about how to "play church."

My tabernacle has a cupola and yours doesn't!

Taste or ideas -- there's no accounting for either. And there are more of both these elements in, say, this (from another of my least favourite artisans):

Friday, June 5, 2015

Dance, Lutherans, Dance.

Surely no one can blame me for ...



From catholicity and covenent -- read the whole thing:

And that was 'high' as it got - surplice, stole, north-end, 1662. Definitively low church. Perhaps one could describe it as 'Prayer Book evangelical'.

Here it was, however, that I became a 'Prayer Book catholic'. The rubrics said 'priest' - and the Ordinal was explicit about ministerial priesthood. The Prayer of Humble Access of course taught a Real Presence: "Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his blood". Eucharistic sacrifice? Of course, the Prayer Book said so: "mercifully accept this our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving". Private confession and absolution? It's what the Prayer Book taught: "let him come to me ... that by the ministry of God's holy Word he may receive the benefit of absolution, together with ghostly counsel".

All this grew for me amidst the quiet, dignified reverence of traditional, low church Communion services. The Prayer Book was followed: no replacing of the Prayer for the Church Militant with open prayer, or more 'relevant' petitions. Year after year, the collects proclaimed the turning points of the liturgical year. The Eucharist commenced not with the secular banalities of 'Good morning' but with "The Communion Office begins on page 138 of the Book of Common Prayer. Let us pray. [Silence.] Our Father ..."

I think if you had asked those attending, after the Prayer of Consecration, 'Is this just Bread?', there would have been a shy, but probably quite clear response: 'No, it's something more than that'. What - Who - would not be stated. But with reverence and quiet devotion, the Holy Communion was received. Week after week. Year after year.

So this year on Corpus Christi I felt a profound gratitude for those years in the low church, Prayer Book evangelical parish of my youth. It has changed, of course, almost out of all recognition - because evangelicalism in Irish Anglicanism has changed almost out of all recognition, particularly in its de facto rejection of the sacramental and the liturgical. The parish no longer has Early Communions. From what I gather, liturgy is tolerated - barely. Cranmer's prayers are looked upon as antiquated oddities, of infinitely less meaning than yesterday's praise song or next week's prayer meeting.

... gratitude for a simple Prayer Book liturgy shot through with richly patristic and catholic characteristics.


The new rites of the ACNA are "decidedly unreformed Catholic." Everything from a Dominus Vobiscum to the specific Words of Distribution are chock loaded with unpleasant "theological freight."

I've come to appreciate 1662 which, of course, is strikingly different from USA's 1928. But the adherence of "evangelicals" to 1662 is mostly a sham, for two reasons.

First, if we are going to have a prayer book, it must be 1662: but, in reality, we want no prayer book at all. Like the Puritans, these people secretly desire no set liturgy but instead seek its wholesale replacement by "comprehensive rites and services that embrace the entire spectrum of conservative Anglican thought and are geared to the conditions on the North American mission field and the needs of frontline congregations." Plug in those amplifiers: It's show time!

Second, if they were really true to their principles, they would insist on 1552. But let's look at what changed in the intervening 110 years (these points following collated from the Wikipedia article, hyper-linked below):

  • The Ornaments Rubric;
  • At Holy Communion, the words from the 1549 book, "the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ" etc. were combined with the words of Edward's second book, "Take eat in remembrance" etc.;
  • The Black Rubric was first removed and then significantly changed, on reappearance. It now declared that kneeling in order to receive communion did not imply adoration of the species of the Eucharist nor "to any Corporal Presence of Christ's natural Flesh and Blood";
  • Thanksgiving -- but not intercession -- for the dead returns to the Prayers of the Church;
  • Partial restoration of the Offertory. This was achieved by the insertion of the words "and oblations" into the prayer for the Church and the revision of the rubric so as to require the bread and wine to be placed upon the table;
  • The so-called "manual acts", whereby the priest took the bread and the cup during the prayer of consecration, which had been deleted in 1552, were restored; and an "amen" was inserted after the words of institution and before communion, hence separating the connections between of consecration and communion which Cranmer had tried to make; and
  • After communion, the unused but consecrated bread and wine were to be reverently consumed in church rather than being taken away for the priest's own use.

It may very well be that: "By such subtle means were Cranmer's purposes further confused, leaving it for generations to argue over the precise theology of the rite." But that is what we are arguing about: theology. If their view were obvious, these changes would never have been made.

Anglicanism is neither Catholicism without a Pope nor Presbyterianism yet with Bishops. But a lot of people just didn't get that memo, it seems. (It is also not the Church of Cranmer, either.)

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Katy Lied

Cause célèbre. Much heat. Little light. I have not come to praise Bruce Jenner. But neither have I come to bury him. I pronounce him 'symptom' and -- please, call me Herr Doktor -- I seek only to diagnose.

I am no rube. I know life is complicated. I know that the script, as written, is a little hackneyed, with some of the central characters lacking all depth. I also believe what people say: there are many, many things outside the control of the individual. Among those things are most probably what people are prone to call 'gender identity' and 'sexual orientation'. The question is: what follows, if anything, from that fact?

In our culture, blind affirmation.

Whether I'm right or whether I'm wrong
Whether I find a place in this world or never belong
I've gotta be me, I've gotta be me
What else can I be but what I am?

I have another suggestion.

Following Kant, whatever impels us to act in a certain way is, strictly speaking, nonmoral. It is neither moral nor immoral. But, consequently, it is also not-us: it is part of heteronomy, or other-determination. Yet, as a factum brutum, it is also of absolutely no interest to us. What is of interest is what we can control.

What can we control? Not much. But although exceedingly narrow in scope, this is of the greatest interest to us. Call it autonomy (self-determination) or free will or what you like. It is this -- and only this -- that has the possibility of being moral. You cannot control the hand you have been dealt but that hardly renders you completely powerless: there is still space to manoeuver.

We can wish things -- and, perhaps, the world itself -- to be other than they are. We can imagine how much more good we could have done if only .... But here we err grievously (although quite humanly). It is not a question of degree but of whether or not. Have we, despite our innate incapacities, tried to do good? Yes or no? No ifs, ands, or buts.

In Christianity, one cannot earn one's salvation. All one can earn is damnation. By not trying, by not lifting the proverbial finger. Once we acknowledge our powerlessness, our utter dependence, we can accept the freely given gift. That was not earned. There is no trading with God and we can never render him justice. All we can do is try to pay the debt that can never be made good. This is called piety.