Sunday, 30 October 2011


I visit many churches, and know many Christians of different confessions. I don't quite fit into any of them anymore - if anything I guess I would feel most comfortable as a Mediaeval English Catholic, though that world is dead, and gone, and can only be pieced together in such places as Westminster Abbey where Common Worship is used on Sundays and feasts. I go regularly to an Anglo-Catholic church for Sunday Mass, though I can't say that I identify with either Baroque liturgy or most Anglicans. I have great sympathy with ''Western Rite Orthodoxy,'' though I am genuinely appalled at most attempts at ''Western'' liturgy by most Orthodox, and find their prejudice against everything ''Western'' more than just a bit ignorant.

Today is one of those days where you just wish that the Papacy had died out centuries ago, along with other less pernicious heresies. It is, of course, the pseudo-feast of ''Christ the King,'' and is, as Rubricarius points out, one of those more spectacular occasions where one pope contradicts another in the space of less than 15 years. If Papal authority is such a good thing, what is the use of such authority when it is scarce consistent, and one pope can undo the work of another at the stroke of a pen? If Tradition is so inextricably linked up with the will of the pope, then I marvel that the Roman Church has any tradition intact, since the popes are so wayward and have no love for it. It was hard for me, even as a ''traditionalist,'' to get enthusiastic about a feast no more than six years older than my grandmother, and fraught with so much reactionary theology. Does anybody give a crap about the ''social kingship'' of Christ as expounded in the writings of Pius XI? Lace cottas, Fatima shrines, Jesuits lurking in the shadows, name your cliché. It's all just tacky and dangerous, and it fills me with wrath.

Roman Catholics out there seem to think that my eschewing of the Papacy is something as strange and crooked in me as something else which I don't let on about. Perhaps I just can't get my head around looking thither to solve all the liturgical problems of this world, since it seems to me that the Papacy was to blame in the first place. Unless I am quite mistaken, every minute change in Liturgy and ''canon law'' was at the will and command of the pope. But no, we'll just carry on with our Joseph the Workers, and our Signum Magnums and let on, to ourselves and to the world, that what we're doing is genuinely for the good of the Church. I mean, if it's in Latin, and the altar has six candlesticks and a crucifix, it doesn't really matter whether you face the right way, or you use liturgical texts composed by some pen pusher in the Vatican, scanned over and over by a team of experts for heresy, does it? Just feel smug in your deluded sense of Tradition and look down your nose at schismatics and other non-Ultramontane types. What is Tradition compared with the will of the Dark Tower, the Holy Father, even...

For such reasons, and others, I doubt I shall ever pray with Roman Catholics again. It is their obstinacy in heresy, particularly their beliefs about the Papacy and 20th century liturgy - this is the crux of the whole argument. The Lutheran image above pretty much sums up my personal beliefs about the Papacy.

Thursday, 27 October 2011


''Life is rather above the measure of us all (save for a very few perhaps). We all need literature that is above our measure - though we may not have sufficient energy for it all the time. But the energy of youth is usually greater. Youth needs then less than adulthood or Age what is down to its (supposed) measure. But even in Age I think we only are really moved by what is at least in some point or aspect above us, above our measure, at any rate before we have read it and 'taken it in.' Therefore do not write down to Children or to anybody. Not even in language. Though it would be a good thing if that great reverence which is due to children took the form of eschewing the tired and flabby cliches of adult life. But an honest word is an honest word, and its acquaintance can only be made by meeting it in a right context. A good vocabulary is not acquired by reading books written according to some notion of the vocabulary of one's age-group. It comes from reading books above one.'' (The Letters of J.R.R Tolkien, April of A.D 1959).

Quid plura dicam?

Saturday, 22 October 2011

St Frideswide of Oxford...

I'm sorry I neglected to publish this, but this post is for my Oxonian readers. On the 19th October it was the festival of St Frideswide of Oxford, a Royal Abbess, c. A.D 650-19th October 727. The little we know about her life can be found in the South English Legendary, a 13th century hagriographic manuscript preserved (largely) in the Bodleian Library. According to the legendarium she eluded the clutches of a noble suitor, and made her life as a recluse at Bisney. She later founded a priory where Christ Church Cathedral stands today.

Liturgiae Causa is under the patronage of J.R.R Tolkien and a host of old English saints, such as Sts Augustine, Bede, Edward the Confessor, Margaret of Scotland, Æthelwold of Winchester, Aidan, Cedd of Lastingham, etc. May they bless this work and amend it.

Every blessing of pure virginity is preserved only in the fastness of a free mind, rather than in the more limited state of being physically intact. Enforced imposition upon the body can never undermine the blessing secured by an unshakeable free will.

St Augustine confirms this most elegantly when he declares: ''the sanctity of the body remains if the sanctity of the soul is intact, even when the body is overcome. Equally the sanctity of the body is lost if the purity of the soul is surrendered, even if the body remains physically intact.'' Elswhere he says that ''virginity of the heart is an unsullied faith.'' (St Aldhelm - De Virginitate).

Wednesday, 19 October 2011


It seems that Lotho of that awful, awful 'blog Rorate Caeli is praising the work of Pius X, the pope of the Liturgy, and his bull Divino Afflatu, now in its centenary year. My contribution, ''vile'' and bethought of ''bitterness'' apparently, was sadly removed. Please forgive this old traditionalist if he is less than enthusiastic about the legacy of a man who wrought more damage in the Roman Church at the stroke of a pen than anyone up to that time. Pius X is no saint, though he was canonized by Pius XII as the wheels of his great engine to drive out Tradition were turning in the offices of the Lateran. And what are the implications of that? It was not in idle fancy that the order of psalmody of the Hours, an order probably known to Our Lord Himself in the Temple, was overturned. Maybe others who know of this unfortunate reform attribute sentiments and intentions other than pure malice and the intoxication of power to Sarto, but knowing something of the history of Liturgy, and the dealings of the popes therewith, one cannot help but wonder whether that bloated Office has served any good end in the West for a very long time. A very long time indeed.

Never mind. God alone sees all ends, so I'll just surrender judgement of those men in scarlet and white, dwelling on the city with seven hills, etc, to Him. The link to Rorate Caeli has now been removed from my blogroll. I'm surprised it took this long.

The photo (which hitherto I have never seen) is of Pius X, dead or dying on his deathbed, clutching a crucifix. I would say ''blessed are the dead which die in the Lord,'' but I can't; I just can't.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

The Prayer of Humble Access...

Non accedimus ad hanc mensam tuam, O misericors Domine, fiducia iustitiæ nostræ, sed in multitudine miserationum tuarum. Neque enim sumus digni, ut colligamus micas de mensa tua. Sed tu es idem Dominus, cuius semper proprium fuit misereri. Concede igitur, misericors Domine, ut sic edamus Carnem Filii tui, et bibamus eius Sanguinem in his Sacris Mysteriis, ut nostra corpora peccatis inquinata munda fiant perceptione Sacratissimi Corporis sui, et nostræ animæ laventur in Præcioso Sanguine suo: ut perpetuo habitemus in eo, et ipse in nobis. Amen.

From the Liber Precum Publicarum, 1560.

A priest in the Church of England...

There is another, more thoughtful, post in preparation, but I am very busy and so it will have to wait. In the meanwhile it went to my heart to read this post over at Fr Chadwick's 'blog, Words from a Church of England Cleric (about the Ordinariate). Here is a sample.

I can’t see myself in this ordinariate, much as I welcomed the news of its establishment (and forthcoming “erection” – which word, along with “formation” and “evangelization”, distinguishes the true believer) when I first heard it. The first big shock was to be told that my ordination would be deferred until I had spent a year or so being “mentored” (as part of my “formation”) to familiarize me with the life of the Diocese of Middlesbrough. I had seen my vocation as ministering to C of E members who were on their way out, especially the ordinary middle-England Anglicans whom I have worked with all my life, helping to construct an authentic Anglican home for us in communion with Rome (united, not absorbed), maintaining close contact with those C of E congregations and clergy who had not decided to come out, and sharing with them as much as could be shared. When I hinted at my hopes, the Ordinary and his minder were emphatic that such a thing was unthinkable: You will not be an Anglican, you will be a Catholic. In other words, Come out from among them, and be clean; continuity is not to be looked for, and a complete break with the past is required. They said the C of E would not allow the borrowing of parish churches, but the truth is that they do not really want it themselves, unless it can be done in a watertight “we are Catholics” kind of way. (I know there are clergy round here who would have allowed the occasional or even regular use of an altar, without any edict from above.)

There is no patrimony, no tradition, or culture in the Roman church. Just a vast, hideous lust for the centralization of all things to Rome. Rome has lost her sense of tradition, but seems to confess herself an authority over all other traditions, which have come into being in spite of her. She is filled with intolerance and rage, enraged by the very existence of traditions other than the currently-defined Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms. The reason the Prayerbook and the Authorized Version contain ''errors'' is because they didn't come from Rome. The reason the New Translation of the Missale Romanum is better than the language of Miles Coverdale and Thomas Cranmer is because they weren't curial sycophants in the Vatican, stupefied by the Ultramontane drug. All Rome seeks to do by the Ordinariate is swallow up what is left of the Anglican liturgical patrimony and to spit it back into your face, saying: ''this is your tradition, the one I've just made for you.''

And all these people vainly suppose that the Ordinariate is the greatest thing since Summorum Pontificum, and that Benedict XVI is some kind of hero of ecumenism and liturgical renewal. Well, so far he's doing a bang up job: first there's the liturgical books of 1962, regularised and made immemorial ''tradition'' at the stroke of a pen, notwithstanding the liturgical legislation of his predecessors from the 1960s which demonstrably contradict Benedict's claims. Then there's this new translation, as banal, pretentious and artificial as the Benedictine altar arrangement. I'm sorry but you either face the right way, or you face the wrong way - what difference does a row of candles and a crucifix make? And then the Ordinariate itself. Rome, as generous, benevolent and as wise as a mother reaching out to estranged children. ''Come to me,'' saith she, ''and I will preserve your traditions.'' What a crock of shit!

Monday, 17 October 2011

A Reading List...

I always do this, but I just can't help myself. I am planning on doing some earnest research into the period of early to mid 19th century Liturgy in English and Irish Roman Catholic (and possibly Anglican) cathedral and collegiate churches and seminaries. Can anybody recommend a reading list?

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Principle and Compromise...

''From high places it is easy to fall low.'' (J.R.R Tolkien).

I spent a beautiful day yesterday with a dear friend of mine, who understands me better than many who are accounted wise, even those who have known me for many years. On my way home I bumped into someone else, an acquaintance from my Traditionalist days. Neither of us had much to say to the other, and upon taking leave of each other I was conscious of two things: that I had verily ''burnt the bridges,'' and that I had done good business having done so. A lot of people accuse me of fanaticism and intemperance; that I spend my time criticizing others about the celebration of Liturgy, whilst I do not actually contribute anything myself in the manner of organising practical Liturgy, conferences, training, research, or whatever. Well, that's too bad. Years ago, when I took an active part in parish liturgical life, nobody took any notice of me, and the only decision I ever got to make was over the choice of one type of Roman cut chasuble over another. My suggestion of Terce before Mass on Sundays fell upon deaf ears, for example, not to mention a host of kalendrial disagreements, ornaments, rubrics, ceremonial and, of course, lace ornamentation.

Heretofore I have let it be known that I am autistic. This was detected by an obscure paediatrician at a child guidance clinic 18 years ago. Be that as it may, my mother would have none of it, and with painfully strict correction (''look at me when I am talking to you, Patrick; LOOK at me!''), I have more or less led a ''normal'' life, and I strive every day not to live under the label, and to live life according to the social and moral principles upon which society is builded. Nevertheless I have my own principles which I will not compromise, nor will I have anything to do with people who oppose them. What was it that Erendis said to Ancalimë? ''Sink your roots into the rock and face the wind, though it blow away all your leaves.'' (I put the sense into my own words because I am sundered from my Tolkien books). This quote may demonstrate the problem.

''As children develop, they become more mature and skilled in the art of persuasion, compromise and management of conflict. They are increasingly able to understand the perspective of other people and how to influence their thoughts and emotions using constructive strategies. Managing conflict successfully requires considerable T[heory]o[f]M[ind] skills, therefore one would expect difficulties in conflict resolution for children and adults with Asperger's syndrome. Observations and experience of conflict situations suggest that children with Asperger's syndrome are relatively immature, lack variety in negotiating tools and tend to be confrontational. They may resort to 'primitive' conflict management strategies, such as emotional blackmail or an inflexible adherence to their own point of view. They may fail to understand that they would be more likely to achieve what they want by being nice to the other person. When an argument or altercation is over, the person with Asperger's syndrome may also show less remorse, or appreciation of repair mechanisms for other people's feelings, such as an apology.'' (Tony Attwood, The Complete Guide to Asperger's Syndrome).

I don't know what it is. Perhaps neuro-typical people have struck some balance between principle and compromise to which I simply cannot aspire. I know from experience that arguments I've had with people always end up with a great degree of resentment or estrangement, on both sides. Whereas I am bewildered by arguments others have had, where later they are seen to be getting on as though nothing has happened.

In the universal endeavour to restore ''traditional Liturgy'' (whatever that may be) it behoves all of us who love Truth and the Tradition of the Church to cultivate various qualities; honesty, patience, forbearance, hard work, etc. I bided my time, waited for a change of days, of dispositions, and prayed earnestly, but came to nothing. This was precisely because I was working with, and praying with, people who didn't desire with their hearts the things of my own. I desired the tradition of the Church unmolested by the will and commands of the pope; they didn't. I desired the spirit and patrimony of the Middle Ages; they didn't. These were Roman Catholics, those Ultramontane types who prefer intellectual assent to the pontifications of a foreign bishop with a bloated office to the actual Tradition of the Church. With many a Sieg Heil to encyclical this, motu proprio that, and it's 1955 all over again. Problem solved! I have reached the stage now where I wish them ill and that all their works perish from this world - that may well be realised when the next pope comes along and renders all the liturgical legislation of the current one void. I tried other communions but to a great extent they just emulated the problems of the Traddies.

The parish church of St Margaret the Queen at Old Buxted. St Margaret is, incidentally, one of the patron saints of this 'blog.

So with whom, exactly, do I work to restore the tradition of the Church, when few seem to agree with me? The restoration of Liturgy is, in spite of the prejudice of the Sackville-Bagginses, an ecumenical affair, as much the province of Anglicans as Orthodox and Roman Catholics alike. Yesterday I was stood in a house chapel, no bigger than a walk-in wardrobe, and I thought then that the Church was verily driven into new catacombs, and that it had gone unnoticed by the great mass of many who claim, or aspire to, the name Catholic. If the Church is indeed to be found at all then I daresay it is in tiny pockets of liturgical orthodoxy around the world. In which case the work of restoration is indeed going to be hard. My friend and I were talking about the history of Liturgy on the way to a 13th century country church yestereve. We both agreed that it was a sad story, ''as are all the tales of Middle-earth,'' as Aragorn said. What saddens me is that most people don't see it, and seem bent on the exaltation of a period and ethos in the Church opposed to the spirit of the Sacred Liturgy. In sooth then did Tolkien utter those words.

The painting (by Ted Nasmith) depicts Maglor, one of the Sons of Fëanor, casting a Silmaril into the Great Sea. It is haunting for me since it depicts the ''end'' of the Elder Days, and I spent a good while thinking about it today. Those of you who remember the terrible oath of Fëanor and his seven sons might glean some similarity with my thoughts...

Friday, 14 October 2011

Rest eternal...

The church of St Magnus the Martyr at London Bridge will be celebrating Vespers of the Dead with the Funeral Sentences of the Prayerbook on Wednesday 9th November at 6:30pm. I encourage you to put this into your diaries; last year was splendid. Thanks to Ex Fide.

I appreciate that the image is not of the Vigiliae Mortuorum or of Vespers, but it is beautiful and I have never used it before.

Thursday, 13 October 2011


The Oxford English Dictionary defines ''Middle-earth'' as ''the world regarded as a middle region between Heaven and Hell, or as occupying the centre of the Universe.'' As you know, it is no more an invention of Tolkien's than Dwarf, Elf or Gnome, and he certainly did not use the term to convey the idea of an imaginary world. In a letter to W.H Auden, he wrote:

''I am historically minded. Middle-earth is not an imaginary world. The name is the modern form (appearing in the 13th century and still in use) of midden-erd>middel-erd, an ancient name for the oikoumené [from which, as you know, is derived ''ecumenical''], the abiding place of Men, the objectively real world, in use specifically opposed to imaginary worlds (as Fairyland) or unseen worlds (as Heaven or Hell). The theatre of my tale is this earth, the one in which we now live, but the historical period is imaginary.'' (The Letters of J.R.R Tolkien, no.183).

According to The Ring of Words by Gilliver, Marshall and Weiner, the compound has a long history and pre-history. It is a Germanic formation, found in the oldest Germanic language Gothic, raised to the eminence of liturgical use and of which Tolkien was enamoured, as early as the 4th century in the form midjun-gards, meaning, roughly, ''the middle enclosed region.'' The Old Norse equivalent was Miðgarðr or Midgard, referring to the world of Men between the encircling seas, accounted one of a number of separate regions, such as the more familiar Ásgarðr or Asgard, the dwelling place of the gods.

In Old English, between the 8th-12th centuries, the form was middangeard, which meant simply, as Tolkien says, ''the world in which we live.'' This form appears both in the Old English translation of St Bede's Ecclesiastical History (in Cædmon's hymn, which refers to the Creation of the World), and in the poem Crist of Cynewulf, even so:

Éala, Éarendel, engla beorhtast, ofer middangeard monnum sended. (Hail Earendel, brightest of angels, over Middle-earth sent unto men). Compare Frodo's invocation in the Pass of Cirith Ungol, far from the living lands: Aiya Eärendil, elenion ancalima!

This verse of Christian poetry was the seed of Tolkien's legendarium. Tolkien attributed the name Earendel to St John the Baptist, who served to herald the advent of the Lord. I will not belabour the obvious parallel with Eärendil the Mariner, who was the herald of the Two Kindreds, but it is nevertheless, in my opinion, another example of Tolkien's genius, at once to so meaningfully connect the legends of Eä with Christianity, but more specifically, with Christianity of an English flavour. From the Voyage of Eärendil to the symbolism of the ennoblement of the simple in the character Samwise Gamgee, Tolkien's legendarium is at once thoroughly Catholic, and thoroughly English.

By the beginning of the 14th century, the form had changed, and in Middle English the form was ''Middle-earth.''

Tolkien did not use the term Middle-earth in the earliest writings of the Legendarium. In The Lost Tales, for example, Tolkien refers to what later became Middle-earth as the Great Lands, the Outer Lands, or the Hither Lands. Neither does Middle-earth appear in The Hobbit. It appears that Tolkien adopted the term in the mid-1930s; we can glean this from its occurrence in the Anglo-Saxon Annals of Valinor found in Volume IV of The History of Middle-earth. I like the form personally, it is fitting philologically and geographically, but I also use the terms Outer Lands or Great Lands - if only in mere comparison to the smaller, but pleasanter, land of Aman in the West. The term ''the Outer Lands'' has a rather negative connotation, quite deliberate I am sure, adopted by the Eldar of Tirion to denote the cold lands under the domination of the Dark Lord, who came from Outside.

St Edward the Confessor, pray for us.

Art: Ted Nasmith.

The duty of a Christian King...

In the name of the Holy Trinity, I promise three things to the Christian people, my subjects:

First, that God's Church and all Christian people within my dominions shall experience true peace.

Second, that I forbid robbery and all crime to every class of people.

Third, I promise and order laws based on justice and mercy, that the gracious and merciful God may forgive us all our sins.

The duty of a Christian king is to judge no one corruptly, to defend widows, orphans and strangers, and to abolish immoral marriages. He must drive out those who practice magic, and who murder their kin, or commit perjury. He must feed the needy, and have old and experienced men for his counsellors, appointing honest servants. He will be answerable on the Day of Judgement for the crimes of his servants done in his name. (From the Coronation Oath, preserved in tact from the time of St Edward the Confessor).

A very happy feast day to you all.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011


Edwardtide (the Octave of St Edward the Confessor) began this afternoon at Westminster Abbey, and I was present for Evensong (broadcast live on BBC Radio 3). I shall be busy on Saturday with other commitments, and so I shall miss the National Pilgrimage to the shrine of the Confessor, but I encourage readers to go along for any day of the Octave. The Abbey, unlike the grotesque pseudo-Byzantine edifice ten minutes up the road, tends to do Liturgy rather well.

For more information see the Westminster Abbey website.


Blogger is being its usual self and won't publish comments. Below is a comment left by a reader (he is in fact a Lector in the Orthodox Church) in my post Please do as I say!

I fully accept that Han was using the words ‘sin’ and ‘discipline’ in a Roman Catholic sense for the purpose of argument. According to his own, earlier, explanation—this was “Because Catholics tend to talk about sin in forensic categories, and because Catholics have historically dealt with fasting ‘discipline,’ as JM put it in his post, within the framework of sin”. Indeed, in his most recent post, Han mentioned another example of Roman Catholic legalism: the distinction it attempts to make between “mortal” and “venial” sins. No real criticism of Han was intended on my part; and, again, I commend him on, what I considered, a most erudite exposition. My only concern was that Orthodox readers—understanding ‘sin’ and ‘discipline’ in the sense that the Church does—might take exception.

I must also commend Han on having pre-empted me: he selected the very same two passages that I should have chosen in a response to Bryan. I think that those passages speak for themselves. Nevertheless, the pedant in me cannot resist the temptation of questioning the translation of the Prayer of St John Chrysostom that Han quoted. Following that translation, I am required to state that “I confess that Thou art truly the Christ, the Son of the living God, who CAMEST into the world to save sinners, of whom I am first.” The word that I have emphasized indicates the use of the second-person singular at that point. This represents a serious grammatical error: the THIRD-person singular should have been used. First, one addresses Christ in the second person: “I confess that Thou art truly the Christ, the Son of the living God”. One then states what He is: “[He] who CAME into the world to save sinners, of whom I am first.” One may find numerous examples of the correct use of this particular construction in the Coverdale Psalter and the Authorised Version of the Bible. The translation of this prayer with which I am most familiar uses of sin the expressions “witting and unwitting” and “known and unknown”. These strike me as more satisfyingly Anglo-Saxon.

Finally—lest I be accused of hypocrisy—, I must bring myself to task. I stated that “The amount of food eaten at any particular meal-time has never been restricted by the Canons of the Church.” I have, since, recalled that both the Typikon and the Lenten Triodion specify that at the end of the Vesperal Liturgy of St Basil on Holy and Great Saturday the cellarer is to distribute six figs or dates to each of the brethren. That is in addition to a specified amount of bread and quantity of wine.

Nevertheless, it is a moot point whether this particular collation represents a “meal” as such. It is analogous to the distribution of bread and wine during the ‘Great Reading’ between Great Vespers and Mattins at an All-Night Vigil. Exactly the same prayer of blessing is used—though on Holy Saturday there is no blessing of oil (uniquely, this is a Saturday on which oil may not be consumed)—; and, in both cases, the brethren remain in church, and do not retire to the refectory.

The Artoklasia (the breaking and distribution of bread together with wine) really serves the purpose of sustaining the faithful through a service that is, in theory, meant to last through a long winter night. During the summer months, the distribution of this bread and wine is postponed until the end of the Liturgy. A rubric in the Pentecostarion prescribes “that beginning with the Sunday of Saint Thomas, the breaking of the bread doth not take place after the Blessing of the Loaves, due to the brevity of the night.” On Holy Saturday, the figs, dates, bread and wine are, likewise, provided for the sustenance of the faithful—who would, otherwise, not eat, in theory, between the meal after the Vesperal Liturgy on Maundy Thursday afternoon and that after the Paschal Liturgy celebrated very early on Easter Sunday morning.

On the other hand, the Typikon—in Chapter 35—does refer to the Artoklasia at a Vigil as a third meal. Normally, two meals per day—one after the Liturgy (if any) and another after Vespers—are prescribed. On stricter days of fasting, one meal—after Vespers (or after a Vesperal Liturgy on those days that such be celebrated)—is prescribed.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Mighty Atheismo...

Dixit insipiens in corde suo, non est Deus. (Psalms 53:1).

Can atheists hope to live moral lives in any meaningful sense? If so, from whence does their sense of morality come? If not from some underlying Principle, a Supreme Real and arbiter, then whence? Conscience? Reason? Who decides reason? The Philosophers? Men make mistakes. Having eschewed the authority of God, the Church and the Bible, to what do atheists look to decide right from wrong? Example (leaving aside issues of abortion and euthanasia for the time being): to wantonly murder someone is wrong. Atheists and Christians can agree on that; but why? A Christian would appeal to the natural law, to the Divine Law, the laws of the Church, to conscience, fundamentally to the authority of God. To what would an atheist look? The dictates of society, which differ from place to place, and from time to time? Truth is not relative, nor does it become less ''true'' when it seems inconvenient, and assent to the legislative principles laid down by particular nations is not a moral activity - it is simply the bald (albeit reasonable) assent to a set of socio-political principles, which may (or may not) be inspired by the dictates of a religion long since neglected by most people, and actually discouraged by example and social custom. Oh I don't know, maybe I am just being my usual triumphalist self, but the way I see it: belief in God is not simply the mind reaching the zenith of its inherent purpose, it is a moral activity. Atheists are, ipso facto, immoral people.

The cartoon is of Professor Farnsworth from Futurama, who in one episode prayed to ''almighty Atheismo.''