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)

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Ecumenical Prospects

Some people thought Eucharistic Prayer D or Prayer IV, as contemporary renditions of the anaphora of St. Basil, might serve as a meeting point, of Protestants and Catholics, of East and West. But these versions just don't ring right, to the ear (my ear, at least). Furthermore, the divisive issues, illustrated immediately below, in the prior entry, are really more side-stepped, than addressed. If one wanted to be contemporary, the Liturgy of Lima is superior to both of these.

Here is a post-Sanctus introduction that truly might be ecumenical because it is composed almost entirely of Scriptural passages. It seeks to provide an alternative soteriology (for contemplation). It also mimics, although not to great effect, the three-fold division of the two aforementioned prayers.

Holy art thou, Father, for thou art the LORD our God: we shall know no other god but thee. Thou hast brought us forth from the house of bondage, and saved us from the wilderness and great drought. Thou filled us and our hearts were exalted. Even when we had forgotten thee, thou promised to ransom us from the power of the grave and to redeem us from death.

O Father of all, thou sent to us thy only Son, the true Light of the world. He was in the world and the world knew him not. He came into his own, and his own received him not. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. He forgave us our trespasses fully, blotting out the ordinances of men that were against us and taking them out of the way, by nailing all to his holy tree. And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. He is the head of the church, having made peace through the blood of his cross, reconciling all things to him. Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ.

For by the law of the Holy Spirit, the giver of life, we have been made free of the law of sin and death.

Naturally, it could be made much better. I just knocked it out in about an hour.

Chiasmus for 1637

Unlike the venerable Roman Canon, in the Booke, the Commemorations and Intercessions are removed to the intercessory Prayers of the People, immediately following the Offertory. With these omissions in mind, only one single interpolation is required to bring back a fully chiastic form to the Scottish Prayer (although another, also noted, may be required to "punch up" the first oblation).

1. Initial praise: R. It is meet and right so to do. V. It is very meet, right, and our bounden duty, that we should at all times, and in all places, give thanks unto thee, O Lord, holy Father, Almighty, everlasting God ...

2. Initial petition: Almighty God our heavenly Father, which of thy tender mercy didst give thy onely Sonne Jesus Christ to suffer death upon the Crosse for our redemption, who made there (by his one oblation of himself once offered) a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction for the sinnes of the whole world, and did institute, and in his holy gospel command us to continue a perpetuall memory of that his precious death and sacrifice, untill his coming again: Heare us, O mercifull Father, we most humbly beseech thee,

3A. First (descending) epiclesis: and of thy almighty goodnesse vouchsafe so to blesse and sanctifie with thy word and holy Spirit these thy gifts and creatures of bread and wine, that they may bee unto us the body and bloud of thy most dearly beloved Son;

3B. First formula of oblation: Therefore, O Lord, we pray: graciously accept these thy creatures, as Thou didst deign to accept the gifts of thy righteous child Abel, the sacrifice of Abraham, our father in faith, and, with wondrous condescension, the offering of thy high-priest Melchizedek; so that wee receiving them according to thy Sonne our Saviour Jesus Christs holy institution, in remembrance of his death and passion, may be partakers of the same his most precious body and bloud:

4A. Words of Institution (Consecration): who in the night that he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, Take, eat, this is my body, which is given for you; do this in remembrance of me. Likewise, after supper he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, Drinke yee all of this, for this is my bloud of the new testament, which is shed for you, and for many, for the remission of sins : do this as oft as ye shall drink it in remembrance of me.

4B. Anamnesis: Wherefore, O Lord and heavenly Father, according to the institution of thy dearly beloved Son our Saviour Jesus Christ, we thy humble servants do celebrate and make here before thy divine Majestie, with these thy holy gifts, the memoriall which thy Son hath willed us to make, having in remembrance his blessed passion, mightie resurrection, and glorious assension, rendring unto thee most heartie thankes for the innumerable benefits procured unto us by the same.

3B. Second formula of oblation: And we entirely desire thy Fatherly goodnesse, mercifully to accept this our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, most humbly beseeching thee to grant, that by the merits and death of thy Sonne Jesus Christ, and through faith in his bloud, we (and all thy whole church) may obtain remission of our sinnes, and all other benefits of his passion. And here wee offer and present unto thee, O Lord, our selves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and lively sacrifice unto thee, humbly beseeching thee, that whosoever shall be partakers of this holy communion, may worthily receive the most precious bodie and bloud of thy Son Jesus Christ, and be fulfilled with thy grace and heavenly benediction, and made one bodie with him, that he may dwell in them, and they in him.

3A. Second (ascending) epiclesis: And although wee be unworthie, through our manifold sinnes, to offer unto thee any sacrifice: Yet we beseche thee to accepte thys our bounden duetie and service, and commaunde these our prayers and supplicacions, by the Ministery of thy holy Angels, to be brought up into thy holy Tabernacle before the syght of thy dyvine majestie;

2. Final petition: not weighing our merits, but pardoning our offences,

1. Concluding praise (doxology): through Jesus Christ our Lord; by whom, and with whom, in the unitie of the holy Ghost, all honour and glory be unto thee, O Father almightie, world without end. Amen.

It thus remains fully Anglican -- and in accordance with my reading of the single Roman Canon -- that we offer the unconsecrated gifts to the Father, as well as "our selves, our souls and bodies."

Furthermore, the truly anti-Roman part is in the "Final petition": "We are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by Faith, and not for our own works or deservings" (XI).

Friday, January 29, 2016

The hypnotic dance of death

From Alexander Maistrovoy:

What has happened to the world, when men, women, politicians, and the elite betray their daughters and children in order to please newcomers with their baser instincts and a cult of male power?

The answer is sad -- the culture of postmodernism has managed to do what couldn’t be achieved even by the Communist propaganda machine. It has degraded the instinct of self-preservation, natural reactions embedded in humans on a genetic level, the ability to feel compassion and protect a victim – a woman, a girl, a child. An abstract ideology has suppressed the mind and senses.

Don't let it happen to you.

“Nobody knew what it meant or where it came from.”

Well, then why not give a new meaning to the season we call Shrovetide? The following are first steps in that direction. Although I prefer the original, I give here the NKJV for purposes of perspicuity. I provide Incipit; Law; Prophets; Gradual Psalm; Epistle; Tract; and Gospel. It has lectio semi-continua and a deep, cross-hatched web of themes and motifs. Most of its lections are never encountered in the RCL on Sundays or major holidays.

The Sunday called Septuagesima, or the third Sunday before Lent.

The Sunday called Sexagesima, or the second Sunday before Lent.

The Sunday called Quinquagesima, or the next Sunday before Lent.

The Enemy of My Enemy


We know who is the Establishment: it’s those brilliant folks who brought us the Iraq war, who want us to repeat our mistake in Syria, and who pine for a US-led regime-change operation in Russia to get rid of Putin and install a pliable Yeltsin-substitute in power. The Establishment, in short, is the War Party, otherwise known as the neoconservatives, and they are the tireless enemies of peace and liberty. Until and unless they are destroyed as a viable political force, either in the GOP or outside it, there will be no peace in this world ...

From a noninterventionist perspective, neither Sanders nor Trump is perfect – both are very far from that. But to nitpick over their deviations is to entirely miss the point, as sectarians of both the left and right are bound to do. These two candidates represent, each in their own way, powerful and growing tendencies on both sides of the ideological spectrum that the movement for peace can utilize to its own advantage. For we cannot change the world until and unless we begin to understand it: only then can we take advantage of such openings as it allows. What is happening in this country is a rebellion against both wings of the War Party – and that is something to be celebrated and encouraged, even as we critique its shortcoming and urge the rebels to take their insurgency further.

Dumb and Dumberer

Just. Couldn't. Resist.

Grrl Power!

Two important articles, highlighted here.

Is religion an emotion or an idea? I think Catholic Christianity is primarily an image harnessed to some sacred scripture that, as a unified complex, ends up conveying both. It strikes one, forcing both a feeling and a notion not heretofore considered seriously.

(I had to print out this particular constellation and bring it to class to illustrate (1) the very existence of the Lamentations of Jeremiah and (2) the fact that these utterances were typically applied to the Christ, two items of complete novelty to my very well-intentioned students.)

But if one of these has to take priority, it must be the latter: ideas must trump feelings. But in our time, things are completely 'bass ackwards'.

I wonder, if we are serious about attracting men to church, if the solution is ... to challenge them by teaching the rich ideas and contentious debates from the Christian tradition. Clearly there’s no shortage of important questions to be debated. Is human nature as corrupt as Calvin claimed? Is the will as free as Wesley taught? Is God as transcendent as Aquinas believed? Are the Law and the Gospel as separate as Luther wanted them to be? Is Christ as fully present in the Eucharist as Iranaeus argued?

... The riches of Church history and Christian theology are almost endless; there is always more catechesis to conduct, even for lifelong believers ...

What this looks like, of course, will vary from congregation to congregation. For some, it might mean more intellectually rigorous sermons on Sunday morning, while for others, more catechetical instruction during the week. The essence though, is this: meet people’s needs — including their need to be challenged intellectually — instead of merely seeking to fulfill their desires. Take their minds as seriously as you do their souls and their growth as seriously as you do their salvation.

But church leaders have, almost completely, chosen instead to fail utterly "to exercise their unique charism as teachers, and to teach candidates to the diaconate, the presbyterate, and the episcopate a humanistic, scientific, philosophical and theological education."

Perilously ignore this necessity and then couple this fatal lacuna with a bunch of bossy crones and the results are, I fear, something that "goes without saying." These high offices are now so degraded that no wonder Sassy Sally in the pew thinks "I could do that."

The Church of England tests my loyalty sorely. My local church clergy 'team' is almost entirely feminised. In my neck of the woods, there is literally no escaping them, or their dumbed down approach to their 'calling'. To a woman they appear to be labouring under the impression they are running a Sunday school. That is how we are treated.

With their predictable pudding basin haircuts these female clergy are, in my experience, particularly graceless. "Sit down", not please be seated, is how we are addressed at the start of the service. Forget any idea of starting with a priestly procession behind a cross or a choir.

Regard for any aspect of the liturgy and the conduct of the services is scant and bears virtually no relationship at all to the Book of Common Prayer. Sentences from the scriptures, collects, general confessions, or absolutions are rarity between the Christingles and all the other modern service forms. I sometimes wonder if they know the order of service at all. And when we are treated to this rarity, few of these lady priests seem capable of projecting their voices, let alone able to sing. Sacred music has all but disappeared.

No wonder the pews across England sit empty. We are no longer made to feel as though we are "Dearly beloved brethren...". This is, I am afraid, the very discouraging female face of the modern Church of England

Since I've already crossed the line, I will now recall an anecdote that I cannot at present locate:

An Anglo-Catholic priest, upon encountering a pamphlet entitled "The Place of Women in the Church," bristled and barked: "On their knees: praying and scrubbing! And there is plenty of room for both!"

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Did heresy lead to ethno-masochism?

While I'm a little sceptical of too simple a harnessing of Puritanism to Progressivism, there is a strong, shared emotional undercurrent: feel guilty for what you have. Where is Pope Francis to punch someone in the face for saying something about his mother? That's got to be OK.

All I know for certain is that the modern university is awash in this latest form of self-loathing. I've had quite enough, thank you.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Deep End

On the changes to the Mandatum: these are all questions which are out of our league ("well above our pay-grade," as Father Hunwicke would have it).

I, personally, suspect that this was originally a clergy-only function, performed by an ecclesiastical superior, which would preserve both the abasement and institution of the priesthood motifs (see comments to above link), both completely out of step with our "moderne" age.

Ignoring Petrine prerogatives, what could have motivated the following, however: the assignment of the prime significance of "the boundless love and Mercy of God to all, and not least to those on the peripheries of Society"?

All Western rites preserve the Epistle reading from I Corinthians 11. But they differ on the Gospel as well as the other lections.

  • The Ambrosian rite commences with a synaxis, featuring:

    ... a lection from the Book of Wisdom (2:12-3:8) that speaks of the plots of the wicked against the "just one," who troubles their numbed consciences by His teachings ... Another of the readings, from the Book of Daniel (13:1-64), tells of the leveling of false charges in court against the Jewish woman Susanna by two lecherous judges, whose sinful advances she had spurned; Susanna's innocence is subsequently revealed to all present through the intervention of the young prophet Daniel. The application is fairly obvious: For just as Susanna was put on trial and falsely accused for remaining faithful to God's commandments, so will Christ be bound, taken to court and falsely accused for teaching His Father's commandments ... There is also a Gospel reading at this morning service: Saint Matthew's poignantly terse account of Judas' meeting with the chief priests (26:14-16), during which he asks the terrible question, "What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?"

  • The Gallican rite uses a related Gospel pericope: Matthew 26:20-35.
  • The Mozarabic rite has as the first reading Zechariah 2:13-3:5; 11:7-14; 13:7-9, which is very, very interesting (refiner's fire), as well as emphasizing the obvious intertextuality.

The Novus Ordo RCL adds Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14, about the institution of the Passover, which seems odd. But the real change is the Collect: from "O God, from whom Judas received the punishment of his guilt ..." to "O God, who have called us to participate ... [in] the banquet of his love."

From 'test'/'guilt'/'betrayal'/'punishment' to 'participation' = Happy-Clappy


As a pre-emptive strike: Before I am accused of having capitulated to Traddie-land, let me say that, given how much is going on on that day, I would, personally, prefer some of the lost texts from above, the stripping of the altars, and the transposition to the Easter sepulchre. From my limited perspective, the main themes have always been kenosis, abandonment, and desolation, besides the institution of the Eucharist. Hard to integrate all that with happy-clappy. But, as I have already indicated: in this, as in other things, I am out of my depth.

P. S.: I seem to recall a Holy Thursday rite, at this wonderful building -- wonderful ante-wreckovation -- that featured both balloons and female liturgical dance. But, at my advanced age, perhaps I am merely hallucinating. Not much to cry about, given the major losses of that area, however.

Thursday, January 21, 2016


[S]ooner or later, as the globalist elites seek to drag the country into conflicts and global commitments, preside over the economic pastoralization of the United States, manage the delegitimization of our own culture, and the dispossession of our people, and disregard or diminish our national interests and national sovereignty, a nationalist reaction is almost inevitable and will probably assume populist form when it arrives. The sooner it comes, the better…

From Michael Brendan Dougherty:

Imagine giving this advice to a Republican presidential candidate: What if you stopped calling yourself a conservative and instead just promised to make America great again?

What if you dropped all this leftover 19th-century piety about the free market and promised to fight the elites who were selling out American jobs? What if you just stopped talking about reforming Medicare and Social Security and instead said that the elites were failing to deliver better health care at a reasonable price? What if, instead of vainly talking about restoring the place of religion in society — something that appeals only to a narrow slice of Middle America — you simply promised to restore the Middle American core — the economic and cultural losers of globalization — to their rightful place in America? What if you said you would restore them as the chief clients of the American state under your watch, being mindful of their interests when regulating the economy or negotiating trade deals?

The response of the Republican Establishment?


Edward Feser (paraphrasing Michael Allen Gillespie):

Renaissance humanism represents the attempt to make sense of the world post-Ockham by privileging the human realm over the divine and natural realms. The anxiety over the human condition that results from the frightful nominalist-cum-voluntarist conception of God was countered by an appropriately nominalist and voluntarist understanding of man as a self-creating individual whose quasi-divine dignity sets him above the rest of the natural world.

The Protestant Reformation, in turn, would emphasize the divine realm over the human and the natural. The latter realms could not fail to be subordinate to the terrifying God of nominalism, overwhelming in His power and inscrutable in His will. This same God was, however, the source of Luther's spiritual anxiety. Since such a God might damn one no matter what good works one performed, assurance of salvation could be found in faith alone. This put the Reformation on a collision course with the humanists, whose emphasis on man's self-mastery was seen as Pelagian and whose commitment to free will was regarded as incompatible with divine omnipotence. Hence the debate between Luther and Erasmus, the latter defending free will and the former denying it.

In light of the Wars of Religion that followed upon the Reformation, Luther's solution to the crisis fomented by nominalism fell into disrepute. The subjectivism implicit in sola fide was to be countered by a new science grounded in mathematical objectivity, and the natural world studied by this science would now take precedence over the divine and human realms. With this third branch of special metaphysics finally taking center stage, modernity comes into being. However, its precise shape was still to be determined. Descartes and Hobbes shared the mechanical conception of nature that underlay the new natural science. But, where the dualist Descartes placed God and the soul outside the mechanical order, the materialist Hobbes interpreted God as but one, albeit grand, material substance among others, and regarded human thought as merely motions in the brain. The sequel was a reformulation of the Luther/Erasmus debate over free will. Having taken the soul to be outside the causal order of nature, Descartes, like Erasmus, was able to affirm freedom. However, for Hobbes, there could be no freedom other than the freedom to act as we desire, where the fact that we desire something is itself entirely determined by material forces outside our control.

Leo Strauss:

The scheme of a good society which it projects is therefore in principle likely to be actualized by men's efforts or its actualization depends much less on chance than does the classical "utopia": chance is to be conquered, not by abandoning the passionate concern with the goods of chance and the goods of the body but through giving free reign to it. The good society in the new sense is possible always and everywhere since men of sufficient brain can transform the most corrupt people, the most corrupt matter, into an incorrupt one by the judicious application of the necessary force. Since man is not by nature ordered toward fixed ends, he is as it were infinitely malleable. This view becomes a settled conviction long before philosophers begin to think of "evolution." Since man is not by nature ordered toward goodness, or since men can become good and remain good only through compulsion, civilization or the activity which makes men good is man's revolt against nature; the human in man is implicitly understood to reside in an Archimedean point outside of nature. The "idealistic" philosophy of freedom supplements and ennobles the "materialistic" philosophy which it presupposes in the very act of negating it. The brain which can transform the political matter soon learns to think of the transformation of every matter or of the conquest of nature. The charm of competence bewitches completely first a few great men and then whole nations and indeed as it were the whole human race. Yet before that grand revolt or emancipation can get under way, the hold which the old modes and orders have over the minds of almost all men must be broken. It cannot be broken by frontal assault, for there does not yet exist an army which has sworn to the new modes and orders. Therefore a most subtle rhetoric is still needed for recruiting the highest officers or the general staff of the new army. The new philosophy lives from the outset in the hope which approaches or equals certainty, of future conquest or of conquest of the future — in the anticipation of an epoch in which the truth will reign, if not in the minds of all men, at any rate in the institutions which mold them. Propaganda is to guarantee the coincidence of philosophy and political power. Philosophy is to fulfill the function of both philosophy and religion. The discovery of the Archimedean point outside of everything given, or the discovery of a radical freedom, promises the conquest of everything given and thus destroys the natural basis of the radical distinction between philosophers and non-philosophers.

Rod Dreher (channelling Hans Boersma):

Boersma talks ... about the theological and philosophical basis of the first thousand years of Christianity. He calls it a “Platonic-Christian synthesis” — that is, the belief that all matter, all nature, is metaphysically anchored in God. That is, that everything that exists receives its very existence from God, and subsists mysteriously in God.

This changed radically in the High Middle Ages for a number of reasons Boersma detailed. The most significant of them were the rise of univocity and nominalism. I’m greatly simplifying here, but univocity means that God is not Being itself, but a category of Being. He sits atop the hierarchy of Being, as its supreme entity. This served to crack the metaphysical bond between God and Nature. As Boersma writes, no longer did earthly objects receive their reality from God’s own being. Rather, they possessed their own being. This effectively makes the created order independent of God.

Then came nominalism, which denies that there is an intrinsic essence in anything. Matter has meaning through an act of will. Ockham and the nominalists did not deny God’s existence, but they said that insofar as anything meant anything, it was because God willed it to be so (this, as distinct from the view that it is part of His nature, because he is in some sense united to Nature). Move God out of the picture and then man’s relationship to Nature is one in which we can do anything we want with it, bound by no natural laws. There is no natural teleology.

These and other factors at work in the West laid the groundwork for the ongoing exile of God from, well, life. (Interestingly, Boersma points out that almost all of this took place before the Reformation, though the Reformation, and the Counter Reformation, accelerated the process already underway.) In the Great Tradition, nothing existed on its own; everything was really connected in God and through God. Modernity — starting with the Late Middle Ages — progressively unraveled the “sacramental tapestry.” Boersma says that only a return to the sacramental vision of the Great Tradition can save the church today from dissolution.

Now put it all together ...

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

“He Oughta Know That by Now”

From Louis Bouyer:

What, then, is the source of the element in Protestant theology of a God forbidden to communicate himself to his creature, of man unable, even by the divine omnipotence, to be torn from his own solitude, from the autonomy of his so arrogant humility, of a world and a God inexorably condemned to the most utter “extrinsicism” ? To the historian, the reply is obvious. The Reformers no more invented this strange and despairing universe than they found it in Scripture. It is simply the universe of the philosophy they had been brought up in, scholasticism in its decadence. If the Reformers unintentionally became heretics, the fault does not consist in the radical nature of their reform, but in its hesitation, its timidity, its imperfect vision. The structure they raised on their own principles is unacceptable only because they used uncritically material drawn from that decaying Catholicism they desired to elude, but whose prisoners they remained to a degree they never suspected ...

Whether we take the theory of extrinsic justification, or the completely subjectivist view of faith (shutting faith up in itself, instead of seeing it as the means enabling the human mind to be drawn to God and to transcend itself), or that of the sovereignty of God confused with an arbitrariness fundamentally due to anthropomorphism, or a conception of the Word of God that both opposes it to any ecclesiastical institution and makes it incomprehensible, and even incapable of formulation—none of this is a Protestant innovation. All these strange, in a sense unhealthy, monstrous conceptions, to be so soon applied to the religious principles of the Reformation, disfiguring them at the outset, had been elaborated long before the Reformation. The Reformers merely took them over as they found them …

Our conclusion from this chapter is that the negative, “heretical” aspect of the Reformation neither follows from its positive principles, nor is it a necessary consequence of their development or vindication, but appears simply as a survival, within Protestantism, of what was most vitiated and corrupt in the Catholic thought at the close of the Middle Ages.

"The Western Dilemma"

by Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn:

… one needs above all a thorough understanding of the true significance of the Protestant Reformation. It is too frequently regarded … as the beginning of liberalism and democracy with their various sequels, such as the United Nations and medicare; yet it was, to the contrary, a conservative revolution. The birth of the Reformation was not in 1517, the date on which Luther nailed up his ninety-five theses, but a half dozen years earlier in the winter of 1510-1511 which Luther spent in Rome. It was there in the Eternal City that the German Augustinian friar made his first contact with modernity. Before then he had encountered Humanism only in its literary form; in Rome he found himself face-to-face with the synthesis of Christianity and Antiquity, whereby the mediaeval concept of the world as a circle with God as its center had been replaced by the concept of an ellipse with two focal points -- God and man. Luther had no patience with what Karl Barth has called das katholische Und, “the Catholic And.” Neither could he accept the Catholic-Humanist doctrine that everything true, everything beautiful, whatever its origin, had to be embraced and integrated into the treasurehouse of Christianity. To Luther the spirit and climate of the Renaissance were a treason to Christ. The new age, visibly perfected in Italy, was the revival of paganism; it represented a triumph of rationalism, estheticism, and secularism, all of which he detested and rejected.

Thus it is a mistake to think of Luther as “the first modern man” -- a designation more appropriately applied to Nicholas of Cusa -- or as “modern” in any sense; rather he was a Gothic man who came from a very new German university in a truly “colonial” area, for from the wall of Wittenberg one could then look over the thatched roofs of the cottages of the indigenous Slavic inhabitants … Thus it is clear that the Reformation began as a reaction against Humanism and the spirit of the Renaissance. In Germany the movement was distinctly illiberal and anti-intellectual. It supported royal absolutisms as against the later mediaeval conception of the monarch restrained by law, the principle of rex sub lege; but at the same time Lutheranism was an organic outgrowth of the mediaeval spirit. While Catholicism moved on from the Renaissance to the Baroque, and from the Baroque to the Rococo, the world of the Reformation continued to adhere to the Gothic style, to the old order and the common law. For a long time the Reformed Church remained the most conservative force in Europe.

The Gothic style.


But now?

An important emphasis of Anglicanism has always been the need to serve the common good. This history has important implications for our current listening process. For many more liberal minded Anglicans, there is no real sense of a sharp divide between ‘culture’ and ‘church’. Rather, the two are always in a mutually enriching dialogue. Anglican Evangelicals (the inheritors of Puritanism) tend to view the claims of the Gospel as being inherently counter-cultural (oppositional) (p.54)

Saturday, January 16, 2016

"The coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord"

Wine into water: that is the achievement of the modern lectionary. The RCL looks like more but it is actually less: by snipping and clipping and re-arranging to satisfy some notion of lectio continua, it produces happy-clappy. Happy are they!

See if you can make the linkage that is now totally destroyed and unavailable. (If you think this is pointless, then I suggest you try to interpret the 'secret gnosis' of David Bowie's final lyrics, for that is a task for which you are much better suited!)

Malachi 3:1-5 Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts. But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: and he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in former years. And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the Lord of hosts.

James 5:7-12, 19-20 Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door. Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy. But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation. Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.

Matthew 11:2-15 Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, and said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another? Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: the blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me. And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind? But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet. For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

“I was not jealous of his intelligence — he is entirely superficial, which is why he never knows what to look like. Or what music to make. Or whether to be a boy or a girl.”

Friday, January 15, 2016

Acta Pilati

A consideration of the Johannine signs in the liturgy, of course, proceeds from a modern and quite theological bent. Which, of course, may be completely anachronistic. How many are prepared to include in their cogitations "a famous apocryphal document which has exercised a great influence upon art, literature and theology, the so-called Acta Pilati" (p. 43)?

One lectionary tradition includes "The Feeding of the Five Thousand" as the last gospel before Advent. Because that tradition's Advent pericopes lead off with Matthew 21:1-9, the connection must be "Jesus ergo cum cognovisset quia venturi essent ut raperent eum, et facerent eum regem, fugit iterum in montem ipse solus." Jesus was to become king ... but not by force.

It would be lovely to discuss these and other issues with the scholars of the day. But who are they? Who takes up topics akin to the following?

Earlier I proposed some amateur hypothesis about the pre-1955 Palm Sunday rite. But peeking into a Cistercian missal suggests that things are much more complicated. There we have (1) a Benedictio Ramorum; (2) a Dominica in Ramis Palmorum [Philippians 2 and Matthew 21]; and then (3) a Passio Domini Nostri [Matthew 26].

The first of these -- the blessing -- seems to be copied directly from the Mozarabic.

In any event, the Gallican readings for that day are quite interesting, and a beautiful example on how the Prophecy fits with the Gospel in some detail, whereas the Epistle is a theological exposition of themes of the liturgical cycle. (Naturally, only the Epistle makes it into the RCL (on a Sunday or major feast day). The rest is probably too harsh or maybe deemed anti-Semitic. Shame.)

Isaiah 57.1-4a, 13b

The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come. He shall enter into peace: they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness. But draw near hither, ye sons of the sorceress, the seed of the adulterer and the whore. Against whom do ye sport yourselves? against whom make ye a wide mouth, and draw out the tongue? But he that putteth his trust in me shall possess the land, and shall inherit my holy mountain.

1 Peter 2. 21-25.

For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

John 12.1-8, 12-16

Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead. There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him. Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray him, Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein. Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this. For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always. On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord. And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written, Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass’s colt. These things understood not his disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto him.

Boo Hoo

Yesterday, the Primates released a statement from their gathering in Canterbury where the prophetic witness of the Episcopal Church regarding full inclusion of LGBT persons in the life of the church came under sanction. The majority of the Primates gathered saw our decisions in favor of marriage equality at last summer’s General Convention to be a step that works against the spirit of communion.

Much of the immediate reaction amongst Episcopalians have been expressions of anger and hurt. It absolutely is hurtful to be rebuked for seeking justice. Michael Curry, the Presiding Bishop, spoke eloquently of this hurt when he said to his peers; “I stand before you as your brother. I stand before you as a descendant of African slaves, stolen from their native land, enslaved in a bitter bondage, and then even after emancipation, segregated and excluded in church and society. And this conjures that up again, and brings pain.”

Primates behaving badly.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016


From Fr. Hunwicke:

Be in no doubt: the call for Married Priests is but a surrogate and a tactical preliminary for the real battle: the struggle for the admission of women to Holy Order.

Women Priests; and Abortion; and Dissolution of the bonds between Sexuality, Matrimony and Fertility; are the unholy and inglorious Triad with which the Enemy at this particular historical moment plots the de radicibus destruction of the whole state of Christ's Church militant here in Earth. People who can't see that are a major part of the problem.

Believe me, I know. I've spent most of my life as an Anglican; and we refugees from Old Mother Damnable know exactly how these things are managed. The tools include Gradualism (give people time to get used to the idea: if you spring things on them too abruptly they might discover that they have principles). And Dialogue ("We just want our voices, our experiences to be heard; why can't we all just talk?").

Saturday, January 9, 2016

"What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee?"

Just a mishmash on signs, miracles, theophany, supersessionism and the Eastern versus Western notions of the Epiphany. I haven't sorted any of this out except for two distinct points.

First, the way the Johannine signs are evidenced and handled in the liturgy.

Observations: Roman and Sarum in lock step (except for the Feeding of the 5000); severe loss due to absence of most ferial days in BCP; and a more "Eastern" take in various non-Roman treatments. Additionally, much agreement that three of the aforementioned are not signs at all (and hence are assigned to sacral functions or as part of the resurrection events).

Second, putting the replacement of the synagogue by the church to one side, there is Biblical evidence of the messiah as the full fruition of Jewish ritual, viz.

Jewish Feasts A major theme is the replacement of Jewish Feasts and institutions by Jesus' own person. Thus

  • in 2.1-12 he takes the place of the Law by turning the water of the Law (the water of purifications) into the new wine of the messianic wedding-feast
  • in 2.13-22 Jesus replaces the Temple itself
  • in 5.1-18 he takes possession of the Sabbath, claiming that as God has the right to work on the Sabbath (he must continue to bring the new-born to birth and to judge the dead), so has he.
  • in 7-8 at the Feast of Shelters he claims to provide the living water which was an important feature of the ritual, symbolising the blessings of the messianic age.
  • in 9 perhaps in giving light to the blind he is alluding to the aspect of the Sabbath as a feast of light, the light of the Law.
  • in 19.24 by locating the crucifixion at the hour of the slaughter of lambs for the pasch, Jn shows that Jesus' sacrifice replaces that of the paschal lambs.

Too much to think about and I am supposed to be finishing a lengthy book review. Over and out.

Moral Paralysis

From Spengler:

All the promises of heavenly bliss are not worth the torment of a single child, said Ivan Karamazov. The image of one drowned boy overwhelmed Europe. Only a few hundred thousand people have died in Iraq and Syria during the past fifteen years, but zeros could appear to the right of the death toll before long. Whether the migrant tidal wave arose spontaneously, or whether it was channeled by Turkey, is a secondary question. The Christian mind cannot absorb the horror of human suffering on an apocalyptic scale, and what we see now is tiny compared to what is likely to come next.

Judaism is more resilient in the face of horror, I think, because it assigns to humankind a higher degree of freedom, that is, the radical freedom to enter into partnership with the creator of the world and transform nature itself. The God that Judaism encounters in the world in which we find ourselves–this God, and not a God that satisfies the sensibilities of philosophers or theologians–left Creation intentionally incomplete so that man might have the freedom to become a partner in the work of creation. Chaos in the natural world and human wickedness are a divine challenge to humankind to rise to the status of co-creator. The possibility of radical freedom, of course, also implies the possibility of radical evil.

The Christian is reborn into the Church and enters its community as an individual. The Jew already was present in the congregation at Mount Sinai, where all Israel, including all future generations, heard the voice of God from the fiery mountain. The Christian ponders why bad things happen to good people; the Jew prays each morning in good times and bad, “How fortunate are we. How good is our portion, how pleasant our lot, how beautiful our heritage.” The deliverance at the Sea of Reeds is not a past event and Israel’s ultimate redemption is not a mere future: Judaism is simply the construction of a present in which all generations rejoice in Israel’s inheritance, and provide a context against which an individual’s suffering is measured. One might ask with Ivan Karamazov whether all this is worth the suffering of a single child. In the Jewish perception, it is worth it to God–not an abstract God, not a designer God to whom we attribute our own sensibilities, but YHWH with whom Abraham and Moses spoke ...

A final thought: At one end of the Christian spectrum, the doctrine of universal salvation requires us to believe that everyone is potentially good, or at least receptive to the good. Merkel is inclined towards this view, as are most German Christians (who believe that for them to be forgiven, everyone has to be forgiven). I suspect that Pope Francis thinks this way, too. George W. Bush, a mainline Methodist, also is a universal salvationist, judging from his Second Inaugural Address. At the other end of the Christian spectrum we have the Calvinist assertion that grace is given only to an Elect. America's Civil War was the great Calvinist crusade against evil, when Union soldiers sang a paraphrase of Isaiah 63. If we insist on believing that there is an inherent good in everyone, the likes of the Nazis, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and ISIS will provide massive evidence to the contrary, and we will be paralyzed with horror--like Germany's leaders today.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Le Camp des Saints

Plot summary from Wikipedia:

The Camp of the Saints is a novel about population migration and its consequences. In Calcutta, India, the Belgian government announces a policy in which Indian babies will be adopted and raised in Belgium. The policy is reversed after the Belgian consulate is inundated with poverty-stricken parents eager to give up their infant children.

An Indian "wise man" then rallies the masses to make an exodus to live in Europe. Most of the story centers on the French Riviera, where almost no one remains except for the military and a few civilians, including a retired professor who has been watching the huge fleet of run-down freighters approaching the French coast.

The story alternates between the French reaction to the mass immigration and the attitude of the immigrants. They have no desire to assimilate into French culture but want the goods that are in short supply in their native India. Although the novel focuses on France, the rest of the West shares its fate.

Near the end of the story the mayor of New York City is made to share Gracie Mansion with three families from Harlem, the Queen of the United Kingdom must agree to have her son marry a Pakistani woman, and only one drunken Soviet soldier stands in the way of thousands of Chinese people as they swarm into Siberia. The one holdout until the end of the novel is Switzerland, but by then international pressure isolating it as a rogue state for not opening its borders forces it to capitulate.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Replacement Theology

This is that time of year when I believe I have lost my way: for what used to be is no longer. (Of what is now, I shall not comment.)

I don't have the answers but notice how the mystagogic readings of the first two columns have gradually given way to the clearly theological spins of the last two. (Interesting too that the Gallican preserves the Byzantine lections, as highlighted in yellow.)

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Dead Letter

Read the whole thing.

Prolegomenon: A word about which universities I have in mind, because not all universities are the same. I wish to speak about third- and fourth-tier ... schools that are primarily undergraduate institutions. Historically, these schools have had few graduate programs and have focused their curriculum on the liberal arts and sciences. Today they are abandoning this tradition at an alarming rate in favor of professional programs like engineering, nursing, education, and business ...

Simulacrum: There is no real education anymore, but I still have to create the impression that education is happening. Students will therefore come to class, but they will not learn. Professors will give lectures, but they will not teach. Students will receive grades, but they will not earn them. Awards and degrees will be granted, but they will exist only on paper. Smiling students will be photographed at graduation, but they will not be happy ...

Nihilismus & politesse: ... Once our youthful, grad school illusions wore off in the trenches of a real academic job, it became clear to us that what we were doing did not matter either to those in power or to many of our students and colleagues. In the intervening years the culture had declined so precipitously that to argue, say, that the work of Albert Camus offered an important critique of the contemporary cult of efficiency that merited serious consideration would be met with silence, incomprehension, or even ridicule. I remember making such an argument in a large undergraduate class taught by multiple faculty members only to have one of my colleagues respond by asserting that what I was saying was merely “fluff.” How is one to respond to such a claim — made in a university classroom? According to the reigning ethos, politely, as it turns out. When it comes to a fair fight the barbarians are … well … barbarians. Incapable of virtue, they insist hypocritically on etiquette — and the powers that be are so vigilant about keeping up the appearance of civility that they may even suspend you or charge you with harassment should you have the temerity to call them on their hypocrisy and refuse to play nice ...

Mission accomplished: University administrators have discovered that a “successful” classroom is only in exceptional circumstances positively correlated with the academic excellence of the person instructing it. In fact, the two are increasingly inversely related — the more academic excellence, the more work, the less fun (of the type I’m describing, at least — for some of us, real effort is fun), the poorer the ratings, the lower the subscriptions, and therefore the less “success.” So why care about academic excellence at all?

Narcissism: Under-educated instructors fill university classrooms, compromising the value of your sons and daughters’ education. But these instructors also allow administrators, many of them without PhDs, to weaken and destroy real academic departments, thereby giving themselves a free hand in setting a curriculum that has far less to do with knowledge than with pandering to market forces and student whims. The curriculum that results from this practice is more a mirror than a book or other object of study. When you look into it you encounter no enigma, no question or “other” luring you from your solitude, but only a precise reflection of yourself.

Lying liars and their lies: Universities, like people, are duplicitous and loathe having their duplicity exposed publicly. They therefore seek ways of obscuring the truth of their decline while also creating the impression of ever-increasing achievement. But how is this grand trompe-l'œil to be sustained? How can you cease to do, or at best do very badly, what you claim is the raison d’être of your institution — cultivating intelligence and learning — while still persuading people to pay you large sums of money for your services? Without putting too fine a point on it, you lie, obfuscate, and “redefine” your mandate so as to hide the truth of your institution.

Spin control: Consider, for instance, the growth of university Public Relations Offices, or Communications Departments, as they are more often called these days. These Offices and Departments work directly for the upper administration, and so do its bidding without resistance. They advertise the university, inflating its accomplishments and spinning its failures so as to maximize exposure and limit damage. And they are often quite well resourced. At my university, which is a small, primarily undergraduate institution with a student population of roughly 4,000, this department has a full time staff of 12 in addition to whatever operating budget it receives.

Functional Birkenau: None of what I am describing here is ever said in so many words. It doesn’t need to be, because in this regard the university operates much like a reality television show in which overt scripting is unnecessary, because everyone — the participants (students) as much as the directors (professors and administrators) — knows the script by heart: be outrageous, stupid, vulgar, and then cloyingly sentimental to bring the whole story to a satisfactory conclusion. The university’s narrative is not quite so lowbrow but it is just as scripted and just as empty: fill your classrooms with the rhetoric of experiential learning, e-learning, student-centered learning, lifelong learning, digital literacies and so on, and then top it all off with superlative grades to confirm the truth of the rhetoric, QED. Thus you may dispense with real learning and real intelligence, just as reality television has dispensed with reality.

Send in the clowns: The older administrative cast, with its sobriety and its appreciation of the real ends of the university, no longer exists. Today presidents and vice presidents act like bosses and CEOs as they jet around the world, post pictures of themselves on their institutions’ websites receiving clown checks, cutting ribbons, and shaking hands, and build around themselves large cadres of expensive staffers dedicated exclusively to serving, well, them. What they and their universities’ boards of governors fail to understand is that we don’t really care about their strategic plans and new programs and buildings projects because we do not recognize their authority to do these things. The university does not belong to them, nor does it belong to us; it is a public trust, a beautiful idea to which all of us who inhabit it subscribe and to which we must subordinate our own interests in order that its real work may be done. Anyone who violates that trust violates also her place in the institution and forfeits her right to act on its behalf.