Thursday, 26 May 2016

Friends...


First published on 31st January 2016 (new style) I had another one of those unpleasant wake-up-calls this very morning which reminded me of this scene.

As I sat in my pew yesternoon, watching as the other queens came in with their male partners and thinking about one, an old acquaintance who, outside the chapel, had looked me up and down and turned away, I couldn't help but be reminded of this scene from The Naked Civil Servant (starting at about 6:52). "Certainly no friends among my own kind," said Mr Crisp.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Three new posts...

See Fr Andrew's latest posts over at Orthodox England:

The New World Order and Humanophobia.
[glad to see he is in favour of leaving the EU, which is what the "new world order" is. The Antichrist will be a European Jew, I think. Will Israel wish to join the EU after Turkey's accession?
Fr Andrew mentions the Scots too. Clearly he doesn't like the idea of "Great Britain." To be honest, neither do I these days. The Union is not sacrosanct, and has been incrementally compromised since Irish disestablishment, increased devolution, and its death blow was the Good Friday Agreement. There is little point on maintaining the union when the people themselves are only too happy to sever all ties; just like the Irish. Also, why fret over our Union when the European Union has swallowed up our sovereignty and independence anyway?]

Would You Like to be a Spy, Sir? How I Failed to Become a British Spy (Twice).
[nobody has ever approached me in this way before. I'm just not important enough, and I would be as hopelessly bad at espionage as I am at my day job].

Ten More Russian Orthodox Churches for the East of England?
[I wish them well. I would, however, make a slight correction: Cambridge is not a true city because it has no cathedral. And what about building a Russian church in Sidcup, rather than East London where you have difficulty finding a white face? And why encourage the Russian ethnicity diluting Englishness on English soil? I am willing to concede to Moscow the status of Third Rome but I am by no means willing to ascribe to Slavs a kind of superiority because of that. The Church is universal, not Russian, or Roman].

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Nitpicking...


The Papal communion is fundamentally ridiculous. If it was standing at railway stations asking for money nobody would give any. And you may say that this series of posts on the latest "apostolic" exhortation has nothing to do with me but it seems a little bit sad for anybody, and not just anybody but a respectable, intelligent priest, to sift through magisterial documents with a view to choosing what to believe and uphold, and what to discard like an old newspaper. It's ludicrous! Nobody with even half a wit can be taken in by what Rome says, and the people who genuinely believe it are without exception unbelievably shallow. What holds the Papal communion together? Stupidity and tribalism seem to me to be the only two things for most Roman Catholics. Converts? Well, you just have to wonder why they would reject some fatuous document with the word "apostolic" tagged onto it if they don't actually believe everything from start to finish, top to bottom, and everything in between. What do they believe? What do they really want? Because it seems to me that such people have chased a fool's fire to the ends of the earth only to find that the sea has no shore, the grass is not greener, that their imagined utopia, the perfect society on earth, is just as spurious as the Church of England. They don't like it, in fact they hate it, but they're desperate to justify its existence by salami slicing off bits that they don't like and vainly imagining that the old temporal power will return, that some future pope will don a triple crown and celebrate a 1962 mass, and that some goddess' "immaculate heart" will prevail. It won't happen. The barque of Peter is a sinking ship. Get out while you can!

Of course you know that people despise your opinions when they don't even acknowledge or review what you say.

Friday, 20 May 2016

Photographs...

Taken on the morning of 15th September 2015 in Ballybofey. Lest it be lost forever...

Very few photographs (of the very few that were taken) of me within the last ten years have survived. This is personally regrettable but is due almost entirely to the wonders of modern technology. The last time I used a real, old-fashioned camera with a film was eleven years ago when I went to Germany, and I don't think I ever had the photographs developed. Afterwards mobile telephones and digital cameras took over. I was late in acquiring a mobile telephone. I certainly didn't have one at school. Neither did my parents in those days. And I have never owned a digital camera. My mother bought me a cheap mobile telephone as a Christmass present in 2006 because I was going into West London everyday and she thought I should take advantage of this new technology to keep in contact. It transpired that I dropped out of Heythrop at this time and I seldom used the wretched thing anyway. But despite the phone's camera facility I never took any photographs on it. Longing, stupidly, to move with the times, in January 2009 I purchased an Apple iPhone (the 3GS model), and I have been saddled with one since. It was at this time that I first joined Facebook, and Facebook was the forum to upload all the photographs you could take. Most of my friends at the time were busy uploading "selfies," which to me seemed a form of idolatry; whereas I was content to take photos of days out to the country, or visits to churches, &c. I can't recall how often this happened but my iPhone "crashed" several times, and I never had enough sense to back my photos up. As a result, and coupled with my Facebook account deletion, I have very few photographs of myself, or my family, or any occasion, roughly between the years 2005 and to-day. Even my present iPhone "crashed" over a year ago, and I lost everything, so any of the hundreds of photographs I took on my present iPhone are lost, forever.

I only say that the loss of these photographs is regrettable because when I was in Ireland back in September I was delighted to spend an afternoon going through my grandmother's many voluminous photo albums, handsomely bound, precious troves of memories. Looking at the photographs (many of which she hadn't seen since they were taken), she would say something like: "Oh, let me think. That was taken, erm, before I went to Spain with Frederick [my grandfather], and you can tell that it was taken before 1965 because I was wearing those pearls, which were an anniversary present." Or to another photograph, she would say: "Oh, I remember this! That's Antony Tudor and me at Covent Garden, about 19....59, I think." To a very old one (with a drop of white paint on it) she said: "That's Fiddy [my great uncle Fidelis] and me, when I was about two."

These photo albums were locked in a cupboard in one of the upstairs bedrooms. That is to say, they occupied a physical space, were treated with some care and reverence, and seeing them brought back emotive memories. It seems to me that with the loss of my own photographs "into the stratosphere," as O'Brien might say, I have nothing to look back on in the dark years to come with fondness. Who is to say that some other tragedy, like the loss of the 755 pictures in my iPhone "camera roll" now, are not going to be lost forever? Except the few that I have uploaded to this blog, the rest are gone forever. And it seems to me also that with the modern fetish for "selfies," and junk photographs, uploaded daily to social media which get a quick "like" from friends; the memories most people have of life are cheapened significantly. You can say the same about e-mail. I visited a friend of mine in London some years ago who shewed to me a letter, dated, I think, 1991. It occupied a physical space, was preserved with care against dust and wear, and was quite old. I have no e-mails now beyond the year 2012 (due to another technological tragedy), and albeit I have tried to go through the best of them, and saved them, printed a few, it's just not the same as a one-and-only, kindly epistle from some distinguished person who can write decent prose in good will. We're entering a very ethereal, unreal future. To what extent is the Internet real?

Perhaps Fr Chadwick might say that this has some Gnostic influence? I don't know enough. But I do know that I was somewhat envious of my grandmother who had all those old cards and pictures.

Riddles in the Dark...


This thing all things devours:
Birds, beasts, trees, flowers;
Gnaws iron, bites steel;
Grinds hard stones to meal;
Slays king, ruins town,
And beats high mountain down.
J.R.R. Tolkien

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Now is the month of Maying...


And my English teacher (a Papist) told me that England never had a Renaissance, but a Reformation instead.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Jesus of Nazareth...


I never thought to find this on YouTube but this is the complete "Jesus of Nazareth" mini series. My mother bought me the DVD (when DVD's were quite new-fangled), which I now know to be an abridged version. I am torn on the subject of any man, however good an actor, impersonating Christ or the propriety of turning Scripture into theatre, but I found this series to be generally good, and with a superb cast (James Mason, Lawrence Olivier, Anne Bancroft, Peter Ustinov, and, of course, Robert Powell). One criticism I would venture to make is the inconsistent use of Scripture. The series doesn't seem to follow a single translation, or one that I know of, and fluctuates between archaisms like "who art in heaven" in the Sermon on the Mount and a more modern style in other parts; although that probably has more to do with intelligibility and reaching a wider audience than a director's oversight. The King James Bible is perfect for preaching and rote memorisation but transported into a television series and it could have an undesired effect; that is to say, people might say "people don't talk in that lofty way in everyday life." The trouble there is that for people like me, who learn much better by listening to a text or piece of music over and over and over, is that we might commit to our memories an unsuitable translation no older than the 1970's. There is no clearer catholicity than in uttering the Scripture in the same words and structure as our long fathers of old.

Another criticism would be the sort of Miltonian, anti-hero treatment of Judas Iscariot. The Gospel is quite clear that Satan entered into him (John 13:27), whereas in the series he seems disillusioned, idealistic and somewhat naive.

Anyway, if you haven't already seen it, please do. It's much better than that Mel Gibson film, which was sadistic tripe.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Audrey...


A reader has brought these pictures to my attention. Rare photographs from the Spring of 1950 of a young Audrey Hepburn in the flower of her beauty in Kew Gardens and Richmond Park. She was my "divine woman," as Marlene Dietrich and Greta Garbo were (although not simultaneously) to Quentin Crisp. As of now she reminds me of a time gone by, not her own time, but a time when I still valued beauty for its own sake and still aspired to it. It's not altogether a welcome reminder. Charles Ryder experienced something like this when he revisited Brideshead, if you remember.

Friday, 13 May 2016

Women's ordination...


I'm not made of stone. I enjoyed The Vicar of Dibley just as much as the next bourgeois, metropolitan trendy. Brought to us by Richard Curtis (he of Four Weddings and a Funeral), the eponymous Rev. Granger is portrayed as a very nice woman (that's important), attractive, chubby, vivacious; qualities brought very much to life by the one and only Dawn French, and it's implied by Granger in the first episode that these are qualities one wouldn't ordinarily look to find in a typical male (presumably Evangelical) village parson with the words, "beard, Bible and bad breath." The conservative parishioners are portrayed as backward and dim-witted, or as stuffy old snobs. Eventually, as the series concludes, they all warm to her and the general consensus is: "well, women's ordination can't be that bad; we've had it rather good here." What a clever way to soften the blow of this revolutionary change in ecclesiastical polity: smother it with humour! I wonder if, when Francis or his bourgeois, metropolitan trendy successor ordains women, we'll see an Italian version of The Vicar of Dibley? No, I don't think we will. It wouldn't be as good as Dibley, and I really, really doubt if, by 2031, anyone will care that much about women's ordination in that private taboo and burden that a tiny remnant of "society" (if there is such a thing then) takes on themselves, which used to be called Christianity. Like Bibles in basic English, women's ordination seems to be a desperate trump card used by semi-Christian institutions to drag back a few curious, fair-weather Christians to the pews who, when they see the howling disaster of such a change, go back to secularism and materialism, even more disillusioned with the obvious charlatonry of mainstream Western churches and how irrelevant they are to their lives. Can you blame them?

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Rome WILL ordain women...

Look at these disgusting harridans...

I predict that within the next fifteen years women will be ministering, as priests, in Roman Catholic parishes. This is very good news indeed, not because I am in favour of women's ordination but because any move by pope Francis to undermine the bogus "one true church" claim has my every sympathy, and I cannot wait to witness the the sullen whinging of all those charlatans and frauds, the tradunculi, and anybody else who believes in the crap as they themselves witness their beloved "church" go the way of the Church of England. And I don't think that "saint" John Paul II would be spinning in his grave either, or Ratzinger when he kicks his ecclesiastical clogs, and may that be soon.

You can read the news here. Thanks to Ad Orientem for the link.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Antiphons...


My friend Rubricarius sent me some proper antiphons for a martyr this morning which I read with delight. The first antiphon, Granum cadit, I thought rather pedestrian at first but when I read it back to myself that impression changed and I thought how Protestant my attitude was. This is the antiphon (in my translation):
The seed falleth and bringeth forth an abundance of grain; the alabaster jar is broken and its fragrance is released.
Seems rather sterile at first, doesn't it? No real insight here...but what a fool to think that! The antiphon is in praise of a martyr (of the Investiture Controversy, but leave that for the moment): this is fundamentally important. The two parts of the antiphon are truncated verses from the Gospel, from John 12:24,
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit."
And Mark 14:3,
"And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and poured it on his head."
This, right here, is the genius of the Roman Rite. I don't know enough about the theology of martyrdom to comment further, the crown of life and all that, so I'll let the antiphon unfold and take shape in your minds. But just think for a moment. The martyr died (like the seed), his body was broken (like the alabaster jar), and his blood (like spikenard) gushed forth. It's succinct, rich and uplifting. My mind is ennobled just to read the words. This antiphon was no doubt composed by some devout, prayerful monk with a clear grasp of Scripture, and its use in churches (at Vespers, not constant Mass) served exactly the same purpose for the people of the time gone by as it did for me this very morning. And it is Old, as old as the bloody hills; not quite as old as Sts Philip and James which some perfidious types are celebrating to-day out of time, out of dark to the day's condemnation, but still much older than the spectacle of a man in white, leaning over a balcony as if to strike his devotees, and saying: "you must believe this, in exactly the way I am telling you."

Which, therefore, seems to you the more impressive? A liturgist (of the real, authentic kind, someone who prays and loves what he knows) composing this succinct antiphon, which is not overflowing with putative "correct" doctrine...or the other thing I have just described? And people accuse me of "liturgical fetishism" for being moved by such quaint things as...antiphons.

The martyr in question is Thomas of Canterbury, by the way.