Monday, 30 May 2016

Tolkien and me...


It's many years now since I desired to meet, or to have met, any famous or distinguished person. This probably has something to do with me having largely given up culture, literature and music for a life of puritan meanness. After all, what on earth would I say? Would they be interested in a philistine like me? And am I that interested in them? The answer is no. And I reckon that if we did meet, by chance, we'd probably end up talking about the weather or the price of milk, the sort of stuff you discuss with a dying relative. However great and wise these men and women have been, they are just men and women. [For those of you curious as to why I am being "correctly inclusive," I did meet a very distinguished woman, as old as the hills and in a wheelchair, when I was 9 years old].

Liturgiae Causa is, perhaps notoriously, dedicated to a convinced, committed Roman Catholic. So was my old blog. It was my father who bought me The Hobbit as a birthday present over twenty years ago. I don't know what instinct or foreknowledge informed that choice in W.H.Smith all those years ago but it was a good choice and I have spent many years reading Tolkien who has satisfied a deep longing in me that was unsatisfied by church, or the kind of music my parents listened to (Joseph Locke for my father, and Judy Garland for my mother). My father would read mostly military history books about the American Civil War and the Great War; my mother, if she read at all, would read trashy novels by Susan Glaspell, none of which I had any interest in. But Tolkien opened to me a world of dragon fire and hoarded gold; of sacred swords and enchanted woods, of great kingdoms founded upon a deep past held in reverent memory. This changed everything. And you'll no doubt have noticed that I turned to literature because I felt, even as a religious boy (teased at school with the name "God boy"), unsatisfied by church. I didn't read the Holy Bible cover to cover until I was 17 years old. The first attempt I made at this was when, as a boy, I read my mother's "New Jerusalem" Bible and I got as far as the Hebrews in the wilderness, and gave up. I suppose, being somewhat prejudiced, I was relieved to discover, upon first reading Carpenter's biography, that Tolkien was a Roman Catholic. This confirmed my interest in his work.

I owe Tolkien a great deal; my own literacy not least. If any of you have been moved or influenced by my writing here, please know that little credit for that is due to me. And that despite my invective against the church that he loved so well. Now this is a delicate subject and it would be monstrous of me to try to pierce with fallible sight to the depths of his heart, reading between his every word in a sniveling effort to find something there agreeable to me now about his religious beliefs. Tolkien was, from about 8 years old to his dying day, a convinced, committed Roman Catholic. Do my detractors suppose that I am embarrassed by this now? Do they think that I bemoan that my literary hero was, as I have heard it said, so blasphemous and so ignorant? Heaven forbid! Popery may poison contemporary traditionalists in their basic integrity but for Tolkien he seems genuinely to have found God, to have had a clear understanding of His Word, and to have lived life in His grace. This shews in his work, over which pervades a catholicity and ghostly conviction that oft reminds me of true legendaries of the saints. What can I say? I, who am mean, sinful and ignorant, am I to stand in judgement of Tolkien in my darkness? For so the Pharisees stood in judgement of Christ!

Of course, these days I am increasingly aware that Eternity comes, and that soon. This prospect doesn't leave much room for Tolkien's work, which, howbeit inspired by the Gospel, remains modern and secular. I seem to be faced with the very same dilemma that St Jerome faced (see Epistle XXII, § 30) when he stood tortured by the fire of conscience in Hades. Will I be asked on the Day of Judgement if I am Christian or Tolkienian? "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." As I turned first to literature because I disliked church (which hasn't changed), I think it behoves me now to set Tolkien aside at long last and turn again to the Word of God, where true joy is to be found (as the Collect says). What do you think?

Saturday, 28 May 2016

What is there to like?


A reader has left an impassioned plea for tolerance on my part for the Roman Catholic church. I'll let "hisperic" speak for himself:
"Patrick, you gave a very fair-minded assessment of the Church of England in a comment a few posts back: 
"'It was never the "true" Church, or even a branch thereof, but it maintained dignified worship down to my grandparents' time, and was a force for good in terms of education through liturgy with the Prayer Book and the King James Bible. Not to mention the towering figures, true men of Christ, in the history of Anglicanism; Hooker, Andrewes, Baxter, Ussher, Swift, and closer to our own time Hope Patten, Frank Weston, Dom Gregory and countless others who shaped Anglican eucharistic and liturgical thought. One cannot forget the historical and liturgical undertakings of the Henry Bradshaw Society, Dr John Wickham Legg, William Stubbs, Dr Pusey, even Newman before he poped. The Church of England has made an enormous contribution to the broader Christian Church that cannot be forgotten or underestimated.'
"This seems very fair. Is the Roman communion so destitute of virtues and laurels that it does not deserve a comparably measured and charitable assessment? Are its liturgical errors so grave that it has been no better than a circus for the last six centuries? Are its doctrines so thoroughly corrupt that it did no good for that duration of Western Christendom in which the Pope was a figure of power? Are its errors so noxious that none of its saints, thinkers, and teachers count for anything? The Roman heritage is complex and variable, and though we can all agree that the overwhelming taste of its modern residue is as bitter as the muddied dregs of an bad wine, we must also recognise that not everything in the history of Roman church had this same evil flavour. I think that in abominating Rome outright you are falling prey to the same absolutism of attitude that leads the traddies you despise to accept its claims outright. I think your approach to the established church would serve as a better model of the right understanding of Rome than your current attitude of vehement hostility."
First of all, let me qualify my use of the terms "Papal Communion," and "papist." I don't use these terms in an invidious sense or to cause needless offense but there seems to me to be no other accurate way of expressing the Roman principle that obedience to the pope is the articulus stantis vel cadentis ecclesiae. The fact that schism is defined in Roman canon law as "the withdrawal of submission to the Roman Pontiff," to me, speaks volumes about the centrality of man (and therefore superstition) to this religion. A man who claims the fullness of apostolic power and authority on earth as God's "vicar" (which is Latin for substitute). A man who claims to be infallible. A man who claims to himself full, actual and immediate jurisdiction over you, me, his bishops; every man, woman and child in this world, emperors, kings, imams and rabbis, irrespective of rank or station. No wonder the first English Protestants cried with furor in their new liturgy for the good Lord to deliver them from Popish tyranny! As for me, I look forward to the deaths of popes for the blessed period of sede vacante, during which not a single rational soul in this world claims such authority to himself. The trouble is Benedict XVI has set a very bad precedent. Now there are two old gentlemen in white! One a middle-class, mediocre octogenarian, whose alleged "ill health" doesn't seem to have killed him three years after he resigned for that reason; the other a flippant old Peronist whose many scandalous remarks have conspicuously not been condemned by the other, despite their outward difference.

Now, you may say that I digress but I don't. The Papacy is, besides sin, the one principal dividing force within Christianity. Upon no other person or doctrine rests so much controversy, so much arrogance, so much hubris, so much pretense and above all so much blasphemy. A triple crown, I have heard it said; one for blasphemy, one for schism and one for heresy. There are still apologists for papal supremacy out there, mostly idealogues with rose-tinted spectacles. Fr John Hunwicke is one, who often says that Pastor Aeternus put limits upon papal authority by a farrago of linguistic subtleties and nuances. That may be so but Magna Carta put limits upon the King of England, and history shews that Henry VIII wielded more power than King John. Just as Pastor Aeternus, allegedly, put limits upon the Pope of Rome, so Pius X and Pius XII wielded more power, effectively, than their mediaeval predecessor Innocent III. They may not have deposed kings or placed empires under interdict but their legacy of violence and innovation will outlast Innocent III, and will last for all time. Their reforms, completed by their successors Paul VI and John Paul II, will not be reversed by any future pope or council, as have few ecclesiastical reforms at any time. As for Benedict XVI, what can I say? I am astounded, and I lay awake some nights thinking about it, that this blatantly disingenuous man has achieved such success. Like his old friend John Paul II, he has been the most "establishmentarian," or party-line, pope since Pius XII. The words "Vatican II," and "Novus Ordo" run through him like a stick of rock and yet he has managed to pose, since the mid-1980's when he was the old Inquisitor, as a kind of reticent critic of both these things, with a few off-the-cuff remarks, and a few haphazard gestures not unlike pope Francis; the difference being that, in the form of published books, they seem better thought-out than Francis' verbal diarrhoea. (On this subject, before I forget, it behoves us to remember Cardinal Burke's treatment, a man whose unbelievably shallow opinions and dogmatics run counter to the reforming spirit of the past fifty years and, unlike establishment Ratzinger, he is not promoted to the highest bureaucratic office of the Curia but is exiled to Malta). One day Ratzinger would accuse Gaudium et Spes of Pelagianism, the next day he would celebrate Mass (in the Novus Ordo, of course), ad orientem out of choice rather than duty, in a fine, embroidered chasuble, with the papal fanon and a 19th century crozier. No substance at all, just an arbitrary veneer. I distinctly remember that disgraceful Mass in Westminster Cathedral during the papal visit in 2010 which my fellow parishioners in Blackfen all acclaimed as so wonderful, "reform in continuity," or whatever the phrase is, and they couldn't understand my disgust with it, or the disparity I pointed out between it and the service of "ecumenical" Evensong in Westminster Abbey, which was dumbed-down and abridged and yet was still far superior in standard. What is it about this rancid old queen that people find so appealing?

I could go on and on like this but I really have digressed now. Hisperic asks whether the Papal Communion is so destitute of virtues, that it's liturgical errors are so grave, and its doctrine so corrupt that it warrants no measure or charity on my part. Measure and charity are overrated in dealing with such an institution but I'll do my best. I've dealt enough with the Papacy, which both Napoleon and Garibaldi had the opportunity to destroy but sadly didn't, so where do you start? Well, since it's that time of year, what about Corpus Christi? A feast that not only renders obsolete and irrelevant the Mass of the Lord's Supper in its proper Holy Week context but since mediaeval times has been a scandal, an occasion of superstition, of frolicking about in the summer sun like Bacchus and Silenus, of prostration before a round piece of wafer (like the Sun), suspended in a monstrance in a sun-golden hue, with rays coming from it (like the Sun)...seems very pagan to me. A piece of wafer which we're told contains the full sacrament of Christ's Body and Blood; which profoundly mistaken view, like enforced clerical celibacy, led to a sharper disparity between priest and people than was ever intended by the Gospel. This was only corrected in the Latin Rite within the lifetime of my parents. Or what about the cult, so central in popular Popery, of the "Sacred Heart?" An extravagance and heresy condemned by two Ecumenical Councils. Or the absolute and irrevocable decline of liturgy following the reforms of the Council of Trent, which recognised low Mass as a legitimate form of divine service and not a mediaeval abuse, as it should have done; not to mention the other shortcomings of that disgraceful synod. The maintenance of divine worship in a tongue not understanded of the people, which had Rome authorised the use of vernacular tongues might just have stimulated a renaissance of liturgical piety and devotion in the people, and might even have successfully countered the Reformation. The continued denial of the Chalice to the laity; the transfer of liturgical regulation from diocesan bishops to the Papacy, and thence to a central committee; the setting up of the "Index of Forbidden Books" to stifle free debate. We're constantly told by apologists of the "traditional Latin Mass" that the Tridentine reforms were minimal, but go into any major cathedral church in Europe and you will not find a Rood Loft or chancel screen, which were all used in divine service before the Reformation. Why? They were mostly dismantled and destroyed following the introduction of the reformed Missal and Breviary, and so any visual continuity with the Middle Ages has disappeared from the most prominent churches on the continent. During the 17th and 18th century a period of liturgical revival against these Ultramontane encroachments flourished in France and elsewhere, misnamed "Gallicanism," which was soon condemned and crushed by Rome, and then ridiculed by Dom Guéranger, one of the most arrogant and destructive men of the 19th century.

Fast forward to 2015. On the morning of Sunday 13th September I went into two churches in Ulster, one an Anglican church, the other a typical Roman church. In one there was hearty congregational singing of "The Royal Banners forward go," at a dignified service in honour of the Holy Cross; naughty that it was a day too early but I forgave them that considering what came after. At the other, which had a choir, I was bemused to see a priest in his late sixties struggling to read from his newly-imposed English translation, which his congregation declined to use, and the choir treated us with the "Butterfly Song," one stanza of which began: "if I were a wiggly worm." No prizes for guessing which church was the Papist one. Now, this twenty-minute service is no older in ethos than the 1960's; in text it is, what, five years old? It was spoken (not sung) in a language that is banal, artificial and pretentious. It was said facing the wrong way, by a priest in a hideous chasuble, on his own, except for two altar girls and two lay extraordinary ministers. It was an embarrassing dialogue by a priest using one language with an apathetic congregation using another, without really understanding the meaning, who stand, sit and kneel at different parts as though these postures (except standing) have some significance, who then shake hands with each other, and then queue up to be given the booby prize for turning up, a stale, tasteless, sticky wafer that gets stuck between your teeth, which is apparently the most precious thing on earth. It was, as "hisperic" said, no better than a circus, although I vaguely remember from my earliest days being at least mildly entertained by circuses.

What's the alternative in the Latin Rite? Well, there isn't one in rural Ireland, unless you're prepared to defect to the Anglicans (which my uncle did). In England and America you've got the Lefebvrists, if you like the company of repressed homosexuals, or else some other church, tolerated (perforce!) by the local bishop, as hideous as the church I have just described but in a sort of chipped statue, brick Gothic sort of way; for another said service, mumbled in Latin, &c, &c, and a parody of the pre-Conciliar church. And these people aren't like the majority of Roman Catholics, whom I have always found to be congenial, genuine people; most of them are nasty; they have an axe to grind with the Established Church ("they're our churches, really..."), they're Jacobites, they bemoan the victory of their own country against Spanish aggression in 1588, and they see nothing schismatic or scandalous about having a hierarchy in a country that is already Christian against the hierarchy that was established here in the 7th century. As Littledale says: "they set up altar against altar, deny the rightful claims of the native Church, and endeavour to entice away its members; and that not to a purer religion and a holier standard, but to heresy in doctrine, idolatry, or at least gross superstition, in practice, and an altogether lower level of Christian ethics." If they've really gone they live life as though it is 1955 all over again!

In many ways, "hisperic" complains about an institution that was. Many of the objections I have raised against Rome are out of date. Indeed, many of the objections raised by St Photius the Great, the Reformers themselves, and polemicists to-day are futile, having been perfunctorily addressed by Rome or having simply fallen into abeyance by neglect. Popular religion has taken over completely within the Papal Communion. It has degraded to a tribal cesspool of credulity and superstition. It has very little power left, but like a toothless snake can crawl where it will. Liturgy is no more; Tradition has been legislated out of existence by the "living magisterium." Who now, except the traditionalists, believes in Papal infallibility? And that belief must surely quail at every utterance of the pope! The whole thing is stone dead. There were, aforetime, men of good will and sound mind who took heart against the liturgical wilderness and sought to revive a sense of traditional praxis. Arthur Crumly was one. But their efforts were stopped by philistines who complained to the powers that be (...ordained of God?...) that their actions were schismatic, illegal, and very, very naughty. The whole thing is stone dead. As St Tikhon of Moscow said of Lenin's tomb when the sewage system leaked: "the balm accords with the relics."

As for the many distinguished men and women of the Papal Communion, poets, essayists, liturgists, theologians, historians, philosophers, artists, &c, who am I to judge? I can't perceive with living sight to the depths of their hearts, and who are we to say that their talents would not have been in the service of some other church, had the circumstances of their birth or time been different? I rejoice in the beauty of Michelangelo, Dante and Victoria. But whenever I think of Popery to-day, instead I see Torquemada, I see the Spanish conquest of the Americas, Magdalene laundries in Ireland. Is my attitude of vehement hostility justified, then?

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.

Sovereignty vs Europe...


"I do not believe that this nation, which has maintained and defended its independence for a thousand years, will now submit to see it merged or lost. Nor did I become a Member of our sovereign Parliament in order to consent to that sovereignty being abated or transferred." Enoch Powell.

"Government, Whitehall, and the whole of Fleet Street are still trying to brainwash the British people, of all people, into believing that we are quite unfitted to exercise the same basic right of self-determination." Anthony Wedgwood Benn.

Many people who go to vote in the upcoming referendum on Britain's membership in the European Union will have immigration on their minds. I know this to be true of my family. I haven't decided yet on whether I am going to vote at all - I don't believe in referenda; the concept is repugnant to our constitution - if I do vote, it will be to come out. But the issue for me is not one of uncontrolled immigration (which a cessation will scarcely fix anyway), but a democratic principle, the principle of Britain's sovereignty as a nation, which is absolutely precious. A thousand years of history is in the balance, and I am not so apathetic about the United Kingdom that in fifty years time, when I am as dotard as the serfs of Hithlum under their own foreign masters, I will look back at June 2016 and say that I did nothing to uphold the principle of Britain's sovereignty, without a sense of regret. Of course, my conscience tells me that it matters not at all whether we leave the EU or not. The damage to our common morality, economy, constitution and general way of life has already been done, is irreparable and cannot be made as though it had never been. But that doesn't mean that we shouldn't try and, despite the obvious risks and uncertainty, leaving the EU seems the best stimulant for a revival of Britain's greatness, to reassert our democratic rights on the world stage. The only other option would be for Britain to be absorbed into an anti-democratic, unaccountable continental oligarchy over which we have no veto, no control, no say; and what a pitiable end to a nation that has contributed so much in the way of literature, law, liberty and liturgy.

Of course, we won't leave the European Union. It is almost inconceivable. The "out" campaign has no credible establishment support, and is out-financed and out-manoeuvred by the "in" campaign which has the enthusiastic support of the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition (after a political career of consistent, old-fashioned Labour opposition to Europe), virtually all business magnates, the President of the United States, the Pope of Rome, so far as I know all European heads of state, and so on. Because of this I predict that the result of the referendum on EU membership will be a resounding "yes," to remain vassalled to Brussels with all the malefits of membership; eventual monetary and economic union, open borders (and with the inevitable accession of Turkey to the EU we would then have a border with Iraq and Syria!), &c. This is because people will vote to keep the status quo. They're deathly afraid that Britain, alone, an island (off the coast of...America?) will not survive, and will lose international influence. The fact that our membership in this godless utopian project destroyed our farming, fishing, and manufacturing industries, small businesses, disunites people despite its apparent aim, and costs us billions per annum seems not to worry them.

For all this rhetoric, it's over anyway. I suppose this is a roundabout way of saying what others more experienced than me have been saying for years. We're finished no matter which way the vote goes. Our fate was sealed forever when Mr Heath (former MP of my constituency) deceived the nation about the true political ambition of the then Common Market and brought us in, when, had he been honest about European federalism, political and economic union the British people would never have agreed to it. Fundamentally, this referendum is about our democratic right to self-determination. Do you want to be governed by unknown foreign bureaucrats or by your known, elected representatives in Parliament? It's that simple. You can attach all the qualifications and what-ifs you like but I would much rather be a subject of a true sovereign nation than to live in England, but to have this constant reminder that it's not really my own country anymore.

Sunday, 8 May 2016

More on the mayoral election...


Moments ago I actually deleted a draft post about Sadiq Khan. I wish I hadn't now because I have just seen this brilliant and succinct post over on Fr Andrew's blog, which sums up everything that I would have said. He writes:
"What the foreign-controlled British and EU media did not report was that the other main candidate to be Mayor of London was, like David Cameron, an Old Etonian of Jewish origin. Son of a billionaire and one of the richest men in the UK, he is also married to a banking heiress, a Rothschild. Had he been elected, would there have been headlines, ‘Jew elected Mayor of London’? Of course not. Significantly, in the last few days, the foreign-owned British media have launched a vilification campaign both against the new Labour Muslim Mayor of London and against the Labour Party, accusing it of anti-Semitism, whereas in reality it is simply pro-Palestinian (we should note that the Palestinians are Semites) and anti-Zionist (We should note that, according to the UN, Zionism is racism, and we should add that many Jews are anti-Zionist and most Zionists are Non-Jews)."
Absolutely. Far be it from me to add to where Fr Andrew left off, but I would say also that the smear campaign against Mr Khan's own honest campaign really plays into the hands of the Islamists. Probably one of the principal reasons they attack us is our cynical tendency to identify as extremists/terrorists/Islamists, whatever you like, any Muslim country, organisation or person that we simply do not like. For example, I can think of people close to home who hate Muslims and voted for the Old Etonian billionaire Jew just to keep Mr Khan out for no other reason than he is a Muslim (and universal suffrage is a good thing?). How strange for a socialist (the person I have in mind), who decries privilege and constantly extols people who work their way up in this world. There's a word for that: bigotry.

It seems to this old cynic that if we're going to take the Islamist threat seriously then it is better that we have a Muslim at the helm than a pro-USA, pro-Israel billionaire Jew.

The trials of life...


On the bookcase in our living room is an old book; not as old as some of my more recently purchased books going, in a few cases, back to the 18th century, but old in the sense that I have had it for as long as I can remember. It's David Attenborough's The Trials of Life. It's a BBC hardback, and on the dust jacket I can still see the scars it has borne over the years from the days when I used it as a thing to lean on when drawing castles and cathedrals or writing nonsense stories based on Tolkien as a boy. But I have read it too, not for a very long span of years, but I remember clearly from the chapter "Living Together" Attenborough's description of large animals:
"Most large animals, in fact, are not the single individuals they seem to be. They are walking menageries, whole communities of different species which, in their various ways, are committed by evolution, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, to live together."
That contrasts most sharply with his vivid description of a fight between two grizzly bears over a small carcass in the next chapter, but his mastery of narrative is clearly inspired by Cranmer, very grand, very English. I think he is wonderful, probably the last good thing about the BBC. It's his 90th birthday to-day and I wish him many happy returns, and thank him very sincerely for his fascinating life, and contribution to our understanding of nature, bringing small miracles of life to people like me, who otherwise would not see, still less know of, them.

Magna Opera Domini!

Saturday, 7 May 2016

The new mayor...


Notwithstanding my strong belief that the position of "mayor of London" should be completely abolished, and that all constitutional reforms passed under the Blair government should be immediately reversed, I am relieved that Sadiq Khan won the mayoral election and triumphed over the disgraceful smear campaign of his "conservative" opponent, the Jew Zac Goldsmith. As a polite nod to the Church by Law Established he has even chosen his "inauguration" to take place in Southwark Cathedral. Religion, and indeed a conservative religious voice, is still going to be safeguarded in London. And, to quote a rather sensible man whom I only know vaguely through a friend of mine, "London is a little safer now than it was yester-day." God alone knows what would have been the case under the other mayor-elect, had he won. I have no doubt he'd have filled the assembly with rich Zionist cronies and our battle with radicalized young Muslims would have been much bloodier and more grievous.

So, congratulations Mr Khan. You didn't get my vote (I didn't vote) but you have my every sympathy.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

An elected mayor...


This is Peter Hitchens on a good day. I am just back from the polling station. I was constrained to go by the will of my parents, and I did not actually vote at all, but spoiled the ballot. I don't care either way who wins the election, but I think it speaks volumes about the state of Babylon London that the contest is between a Muslim and a Jew.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Shift the Ape...


Shift is C.S.Lewis' Antichrist or false prophet character from The Last Battle. Some have said that he bears some resemblance to the bishop of Rome, as he lead the donkey in and out of the stable in the lion skin to the foolish beasts, pretending it was Aslan; just as a Roman priest might expose and conceal a wafer from a tabernacle for credulous people, pretending it is Christ. There may be some truth to that interpretation. But I think that Lewis was influenced more by his old friend J.R.R.Tolkien, and by Charles Darwin, than by polemical Puritan teachings about the pope. Shift is an ape that pretends to be a Son of Adam, and lies in his fancy and claims to be hundreds upon hundreds of years old to explain his appearance. Darwin's theory needs no introduction here but it seems to me to be very apposite to have a talking ape in so deceptive and treacherous a character. I don't know what Lewis thought of Darwin's theory but he will no doubt have understood upon first reading Tolkien's meaning in that marvelous poem Mythopoeia, written for him in 1931:
I will not walk with your progressive apes,
erect and sapient. Before them gapes
the dark abyss to which their progress tends
if by God's mercy progress ever ends,
and does not ceaselessly revolve the same
unfruitful course with changing of a name.
I will not tread your dusty path and flat,
denoting this and that by this and that,
your world immutable wherein no part
the little maker has with maker's art.
I bow not yet before the Iron Crown,
nor cast my own small golden sceptre down.
Darwin is not a subject I have often broached on Liturgiae Causa but I should like to know what readers think. Do you believe that Men evolved from extinct apes with obscure Latin names? If so, where does that leave Eden and the flaming sword? Original Sin? Our sense of exile, and the purpose of Christ's Incarnation? The works of Redemption, the operation of Grace, and so on. Ultimately, is Darwin's theory compatible in any way with Christian teaching? Because I don't think it is.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Rather brilliant...


Alteration by atrophy, from a member of the Ordinariate. This is exactly what is happening in the Papal communion, and it is devilishly cunning, yet so obvious to those of us with eyes to see and independent minds. It's as Søren Kierkegaard said (although I believe the original quotation is longer and more complex): "A passionate tumultuous age will overthrow everything,  pull everything down; but a revolutionary age which is, at the same time, reflective and passionless, leaves everything standing but cunningly empties it of significance."

To the members of the Ordinariate I would say: I'm sorry but you signed up for it, so why are you complaining? You fell in love with one pope, thoughtful but insincere, and now you have a new pope, as unlike the old as can be, yet sadly not to your liking. If you're willing to accept all that the Papal communion teaches, then you have to also accept that this swings like a pendulum depending upon the contemporary occupant of the see of Rome. This is how it has survived to the present day; not by divine grace but by cynical, glacial alteration, even alteration by atrophy. Sometimes it's more obvious (anyone remember Limbo? Or Leo XIII's "let's rally to the French republic!"); sometimes a scandal (three rival popes, each excommunicating the other), but there is always change because Rome is the fount of all change, all corruption. But you signed up to it. It reminds me of the audience Quentin Crisp gave in Los Angeles in 1982 or 1983. He was asked whether in his view Adolf Hitler had "style," and he said: "yes, of course Hitler had style. Why else would we have a Germany, full of elderly people saying, 'I can't think what came over me!'" It seems to me that this is exactly what these Ordinariate people are saying. They might not regret their decision to enter into communion with the putative successor of Peter, but they both rue and lament it!

Monday, 2 May 2016

A "special" relationship...


It seems to me that our "special relationship" is with the wrong nation. These pictures should tell you why. 

Sunday, 1 May 2016

To feel that joy...


"'A great Shadow has departed,' said Gandalf, and then he laughed, and the sound was like music, or like water in a parched land; and as he listened the thought came to Sam that he had not heard laughter, the pure sound of merriment, for days upon days without count. It fell upon his ears like the echo of all the joys he had ever known. But he himself burst into tears. Then, as a sweet rain will pass down a wind of spring and the sun will shine out the clearer, his tears ceased, and his laughter welled up, and laughing he sprang from his bed." J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Book VI, Chapter IV.

My Irish grandfather was a "retired" Christian, like me. My father says it was a combination of things that drove him from the Roman church, his education by the Christian Brothers, brutal even by Irish standards, and other things that I don't know. But to-day, the Day of Days in the Christian kalendar, in my own troubles I recall the story I was told of him one Easter morning many years ago. An elderly lady from his parish, who was late for the Mass, found him sat on a wall outside the church unwilling to go in. She besought him by all the means that she could to go in with her, but he couldn't, and he picked up his cane and went home. So far as I know that was the last time he went near or by a church as living man.

This is roughly where I am. I would like to share in the joy of Easter, rejoicing that Christ hath beguiled Death by Death, but I can't. My heart is stone within me.