Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Reigning from on high...

One of the ironies of this merging and mingling of Anglican patrimony into the Romish stew is the adoption of the Roman kalendar of saints days by the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. Today in the Ordinariate kalendar is Pius V. Whether or not you believe Pius V to have lived a godly life is irrelevant, but his inclusion in the kalendar of the Ordinariate presents, at least to me, a number of historical and liturgical problems. On the one hand, you have the problem of reconciling the 1559 Prayer Book with the Roman liturgical tradition, inextricably linked up with the authority wielded by two historical figures. On the other, deciding what place (if any) Queen Elizabeth I has in the Anglican Catholick tradition comparable with Pius V. Pius V, you see, had blasted Queen Elizabeth for "ordering that books of manifestly heretical content be propounded to the whole realm and that impious rites and institutions after the rule of Calvin" replace the Sacrifice of the Mass. However, Anglicanorum Coetibus says that the liturgical books proper to the Anglican tradition are "treasures worthy to be shared." Some starry-eyed Anglican Papalists might have jumped for joy to read that but in the light of the Revised Standard Version and a few trite Cranmerian phrases in the Ordinariate liturgy, all this seems very spurious to me. Hence my view that the Ordinariate is a dried up old onion. I am not an Anglican and indeed despise the Church of England but there are certain traditions and heroes of that fallen communion which be dear to me, and among them is Queen Elizabeth of happy memory.

If we are to understand "Anglican Patrimony in the Catholick Church" as the blessing of an Anglican pilgrimage towards Rome (assuming, for the sake of argument, that Rome is that Church spoken of in the Nicene Creed) then what place would Queen Elizabeth have? Pius was her enemy, declared her removed from the community of Christ's Church and sowed the seeds of sedition in her realm. For her part, Queen Elizabeth steered the English Church in the time of its growing identity; the time of Archbishop Parker who sought to align the Elizabethan Church with the faith and tradition of the Saxons ere the Normans brought Romanism to our shores; the time of Tallis, Merbecke and Byrd who shaped Anglican liturgical musick; and the time of other wise clerkes of the faith, Richard Hooker, for example, and Lancelot Andrewes whose scholarship was surpassed by none in that age. Queen Elizabeth presided over this English Renaissance. Are the members of the Ordinariate expected to anathematise her, as Pius V had done, her considerable contribution to Anglican patrimony notwithstanding? Would it not be fair to say that Elizabeth was ostensibly rather an instrument of God in the cultivation of many of the dearest of our traditions and not an usurper and persecutor of a faith driven underground and thrice worthy of damnation?

O Lord, save The Queen!

Maybe I'm talking about an Anglican who doesn't exist...or perhaps the battle going on in my head everyday? I certainly don't hold with the sanctity of Pius V. I hardly think that encouraging sedition is a catholick ideal and, assuming for the moment that he was "universal pastor," he ostensibly failed in his ministry by leaving the Elizabethan recusants to the spy master at the English court by publishing Regnans in Excelsis. C.S Lewis, in characteristic patrimonial wisdom, seems to propose an answer. In a Latin epistle to Don Giovanni Calabria he mentioned having an untold reverence for both Thomas More and William Tyndale. He says:

Ex vestris Tetzel, ex nostris Henricus VIII, perditi homines erant: adde, si vis, ex vestris Papam Leonem, ex nostris Lutheram (quamquam egomet de ambobus mitiorem sententiam darem) sed quid sentiam de vestro Thoma Moro, de nostro Gulielmo Tyndale? Tota opera et huius et illius nuper perlegi. Ambo mihi videntur esse viri sanctissimi et toto corde amare Dominum: neque huius nec illius caligas solvere dignus sum. Attamen dissentiunt et (id quod me torquet et attonitum habet) illa dissensio mihi videtur non ex vitiis nec ex ignorantia eorum, immo ex virtutibus et fidei eorum penetralibus oriri - ita ut quo optimi sunt eo maxime dissentiunt. Credo Dei iudicium de hac dissensione altius absconditum esse quam tibi videtur: etenim iudicia eius abyssus.

God grant that pious Elizabeth finds a place in the hearts of those Anglicans who have dared to swim the abominable Tiber. Remember that not all piety, goodness and tradition comes from Rome. I believe St Gregory the Great said something like that to St Augustine when he brought the Roman Rite to our shores.

Monday, 28 April 2014


We are often told that the Council of Ephesus (A.D 431) "defined" St Mary as Theotokos. In fact, it did no such thing. The Council issued no dogmatic decrees or definitions at all. The fathers condemned Nestorius as an heretic but the issue at stake was thoroughly Christological. The heresy of Nestorius lie in his position that Christ was a mere man and his teaching that St Mary was, therefore, Anthropotokos (Mother of the Man) was treated as evidence of this. But most of the evidence given against Nestorius came from his sermons that said absolutely nothing about St Mary. As Professor Price notes in his essay Theotokos: Significance in Doctrine and Devotion, the closest the Council came to defining St Mary as Theotokos was in an epistle sent by St Cyril of Alexandria to John of Antioch in A.D 433, two years after the synod, even so:

"On the matter of how we think and speak concerning the Virgin the Theotokos and the manner in which the only-begotten Son of God became man, we must state briefly (not by way of addition, but in the form of giving an assurance) what we have held from the first...We acknowledge our Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, perfect God and perfect Man made up of a rational soul and body, begotten from the Father before the ages in respect of the Godhead and the same on the last day for us and for our salvation from the Virgin Mary in respect of his manhood...By virtue of this understanding of the union which involves no merging, we acknowledge the holy Virgin to be Theotokos, because God the Word was enfleshed and became man and from the very conception united to himself the temple taken from her."

I take comfort in the fact that these early debates were fundamentally about Christ, not His Mother.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Two new saints...

What happened to the age-old prohibitions against praying with heretics, schismatics and infidels?

Do I get the impression that by these infamous canonisations people think that pope Francis has cast down a lamp and declared a new dark age to have begun? The canonisation of two 20th century popes can hardly be any different to the canonisation of Pius X, surely? The pope-emeritus has already declared Pius XII to have been "venerable." If wonders can be attributed to that man at all then they must have their uttermost origins in the Devil, whom he undoubtedly adored. Of course, it makes no difference to me. The popes can declare whomever they like to be saints; that doesn't make them so since the antient bishoprick of Rome is fallen and in any case I find the modern canonisation process quite ridiculous. It seems, to me, that the Traddies are hesitant about John XXIII and John Paul II because they are popes of the wicked Council. Quid plura dicam?

Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! For so did their fathers to the false prophets. Luke 6:26.

Many popes of Rome lived godly lives. Leo the Great is a good example. Why is he a saint? Well, perhaps because he saved the City of Rome from Attila's hordes; perhaps because he wrote the most eloquent Latin sermons I have ever read; yea more, because he tirelessly defended Orthodoxy and lived a Christ-like life so that we may rejoice humbly to cry blessed Leo, pray for us! On the other hand, if changing the Good Friday prayer for the faithless Jews or being anointed by a Hindu priestess are pathways to sainthood then never mind about what the Scriptures say! If the pope, as "supreme legislator," can change the strictest criteria of salvation then we're all just fine, aren't we! Nevertheless, as a friend of mine noted recently, John Paul II excommunicated Marcel Lefebvre so he must have had a streak of decency in him somewhere, pushed down and buried deep beneath the trappings of popery and all the shewing off for which he was renowned. John XXIII always struck me as a kindly old man largely ill-used by his subordinates.

As I have said, it makes no difference to me. I am under no delusion that God welcomed either Roncalli or Wojtyla into the Kingdom with the words Euge, serve bone et fidelis! I merely point out that the Roman church, under this popular new pope, has sunk to a new low. During the visit of pope Benedict to Britain, I saw a priest get up from his chair and kneel to receive a blessing he saw the pope give from a television screen. The fact that mine eyes were wide with disbelief is irrelevant; I just wonder if this man would do the same if pope Bogroll came onto the television and began Sit nomen Domini benedictum? It's a perfectly reasonable question. It just seems that traditionalists have a rose-tinted vision of the Papacy and its occupant which was justified during the pontificate of Benedict XVI, the time of their ascendancy, but dispelled entirely with the coming of this South American peasant. The reaction on Rorate Caeli to the election of pope Francis was surely telling. Why? Because Benedict and Francis are two very different people, and their respective pontificates are a clear reflection of this difference whether you're prepared to admit that a pope's private theological opinions or liturgical preferences can push the official church doctrinal or liturgical pendulum in the undesirable way or not. It is the essential problem of the Papacy.

By canonising these two conciliar popes, Francis is sanctifying a period in church history in which the traditionalists were largely sidelined and their bastardised rites treated (rightly) with suspicion. No wonder the Traddies can't stand it! But on a human level it's also a question of embarrassment. John Paul II was a patsy in some respects but even he had an air of intelligence and dignity. John XXIII was a fat provincial man (although to be fair in Italy that is by no means as derogatory as it would be in England). The traditionalists are embarrassed by a man who seems to have verbal diarrhoea and by consistently shooting off at the mouth is bringing official doctrine into question...not that that ever counted for much! I mean, when did you ever hear a priest preach against women wearing trousers? But heaven forbid that you didn't shew up to an abortion clinic to wave a placard! I expect only such as Richard Williamson would have the gumption to do that, having cast off all credibility anyway.

I wonder if the Traddies have begun substituting the collect Pro Papa for Ecclesiae yet? I know at least one traditionalist who doesn't recognise Francis as the "true pope," and by extension all his canonisations, decrees, etc. He is an old man but with hope the scales might fall from his eyes and he might start crawling to the doors of an Orthodox church seeking the Sacraments there. The Papacy is redundant. It is time for all to admit that the West has failed, failed utterly and to turn Eastwards in prayer, saying God, for thy great Mercy, give Grace! Have Mercy on me, a Sinner!

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Dried up...

I have said before that there is an element of vulgarity about blogging, understood as a form of journalism; as an human being, and indeed an idle one, I cannot be expected to churn out post after post of thoughtful, even the occasionally original, posts day after day. What can I say? Three months ago I began the composition of a post about elevations in the Roman Rite. This, you understand, was bethought of that page in the Canon Romanus of a 1576 Belgian missal, about which I made such a fuss. The post was going well; I was even quoting the patrimonial wisdom of Fr Hooker about the rationale of ceremonies, but in the end I gave up and retired to my bed. Like the renewal of my passport, which I have put off for four years now, I aim to accomplish my design one of these days. Similarly, the other day I was discussing with a friend of mine the rudiments of a post about the treblefold significance of the rooster in relation to Tolkien and Christianity. Blending the account of St Peter's denial, bits of antient Church hymnody and the psalter, and the breach of the brazen doors of Minas Tirith; that the cock, recking nothing of wizardry and war, heralding only the Sun of Righteousness and the hope of Men which comes with the Dawn, is the most sublime emblem of Christ. As Eliza Doolittle said, "O, wouldn't it be loverly!" Only, it wouldn't now as I have given the plot away.

I started this job in retail banking just over a month ago. I never was so convinced of my incompetence. It's one thing to be utterly incapable of passing for a "normal" person, it's quite another to be taken for an intelligent person by a well-meaning display of articulateness and then to appear utterly foolish by the inability to perform even the simplest tasks. I don't understand the concept of money. I cordially dislike new surroundings. Nobody can understand that I have no ambition and the reasons for that. Nobody understood my profound disgust with a man forty-two years my senior threatening to leave the bank for the sake of a "better rate" which amounted to a few points of a point of interest (incidentally, another concept wholly over my head). Woe is me that I am in the midst of a fierce, modern world of Mammon in which I want no part. On Wednesday morning I felt so depressed I was giving very serious thought to throwing myself under the next fast-moving train.

My mother came to the rescue. We went to see La boheme at the Orchard Theatre in Dartford. My contempt for Puccini notwithstanding, the evening was enjoyable on a number of levels. The average age of the audience seemed to be 75. I found this funny because I had heard an advert on the wireless earlier that day in which it was said that a large portion of old people have had no contact with friends, neighbours or enemies for over a month. I was not alone in finding this funny. My father, who turned 57 on Easter Day, laughed and said "good for them!" Perhaps I am just used to the comparatively high standard of Covent Garden but everything about the Orchard was tacky. For example, I don't think that you can really hold it against a provincial theatre for having piss-poor stage art; but the irony of Act II, in which the Bohemians were mocking Musetta for taking up with an elderly gentleman (played by a man of 30) and then her defection to Marcello (played by a man of about 55) was too much. The only gin at the bar was Gordon's rinse water (I thought better of paying £40 for a bottle of champagne), not to mention the standard of the performance. The libretto was cheap, predictable, rather shallow and given to lasciviousness and the musick was abysmal. Volunteers from the Salvation Army contributed their skills to Act II. The evening was a success on account of the sheer lack of dignity and I went home with a smile on my face and takeaway Chinese food and the thought that while I may have become insensitive to all else, my sense of taste is still in tact.

Nothing much else to report, really. My brother has bought whichever hobbit film is out on DVD at the moment and has twice asked me to watch it. I simply will not do that. I feel as strongly about Peter Jackson as I do about Pius XII; both men eviscerated great works of art, to their irredeemable shame, and I will not countenance their works. Anyway, another day past means another day closer to the grave. If death is oblivion, a sleep of everlasting forgetfulness, then God is indeed a merciful God!

Art: I think that's John Bunyan's Pilgrim; I forget. It's been in my pictures for some time. No need to name the artist.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Two Ronnies...

I thought something light-hearted for Bright Monday would hit the spot. This is, without the shadow of a doubt, the funniest Two Ronnies sketch I have ever seen. I laugh out loud every time I watch it. Enjoy!

Sunday, 20 April 2014


From the Hours of Alice de Reydon of Wherstead in Suffolk, circa 1324.

In the spirit of Spenser's poem, may I wish you all the temporal and spiritual blessings in the Risen Lord on this most sacred solemnity of Pascha. Happy Eoster everyone!

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Of the first fruits...

Most glorious Lord of lyfe, that on this day,
Didst make thy triumph over death and sin:
And having harrowd hell, didst bring away
Captivity thence captive us to win:
This joyous day, deare Lord, with joy begin,
And grant that we, for whom thou diddest dye,
Being with thy deare blood clene washt from sin,
May live for ever in felicity.
And that thy love we weighing worthily,
May likewise love thee for the same againe:
And for thy sake that all lyke deare didst buy,
With love may one another entertayne.
So let us love, deare love, lyke as we ought,
Love is the lesson which the Lord us taught.
Edmund Spenser 1552-1599, Eoster.

Friday, 18 April 2014

My talent...

I have several talents. As a boy, it was Irish dancing and when I was 10 years old I won the World Championship for the Under 11's. Having mastered Irish dancing, I had wanted to take up ballet but my father decided that I was already too much of a "pansy" for it to be safe for me to go down that road. When I was asked to leave the Irish dancing academy (you see, I was a pariah even then) I devoted myself wholly to Tolkien, at which I have always considered myself, next to Christopher, the world's leading authority. But there has always been another talent, slightly less gratifying, namely my talent for attracting publick ridicule. This has been with me since my earliest days; from my first trip to the post box at the end of the road with an A4 brown envelope (I spent approximately ten minutes trying to fit the thing in the hole, eventually going home with it and asking my mother what to do; she took it, folded it, and then told me that she despaired of my woeful lack of "common sense") to walking into a pub in Farningham with my mother some years ago and a table of young men erupting with laughter at my appearance. To-day an otherwise very patient woman sighed and had to stamp a set of documents I was carrying for me because I couldn't work out how to do so or where to stamp, then pointed out that it was "perfectly simple" to fill out an envelope, that I had put cellotape over the wrong side of the envelope (to be fair, I was by this point sweating with stress and there was a slight tear at the top right-hand side which I mistook for a fold), then when I went back down to the other office to retrieve the cellotape I managed to cellotape over the address, which I had in any case written on the wrong side. It was a good day.

Then I came home and read this! Perhaps I ought to have said that when I read the works of Joseph Pearce, while I found his style banal, I agreed with the general thrust of his arguments because I was still then a Roman Catholick. Some time ago I began to re-read many of the old books in my library in order to reappraise their value in the light of my views now. I never bothered with Pearce for the reason I have just given, but that's clearly funny!

Thursday, 17 April 2014

What happened?

You know, these days there are only three liturgical services in the Roman Rite to which I would go gladly. They are the ceremonies of Palm Sunday, the ceremonies of the Paschal Vigil on the morning of Holy Saturday, and Pontifical Mattins and Lauds of the Resurrection (the latter simply because it no longer exists and not out of especial preference). I find the rest of the Roman Rite rather grotesque, to be frank, and so irretrievably riddled with popery as to be not worth one's trouble. Still, I suppose it is fitting to compare the "achievements" of Pius XII to the lands about Mordor:

"Before them dark in the dawn the great mountains reached up to roofs of smoke and cloud. Out from their feet were flung huge buttresses and broken hills that were now at the nearest scarce a dozen miles away. Frodo looked round in horror. Dreadful as the Dead Marshes had been, and the arid moors of the Noman-lands, more loathsome far was the country that the crawling day now slowly unveiled to his shrinking eyes. Even to the Mere of Dead Faces some haggard phantom of green spring would come; but here neither spring nor summer would ever come again. Here nothing lived, not even the leprous growths that feed on rottenness. The gasping pools were choked with ash and crawling muds, sickly white and grey, as if the mountains had vomited the filth of their entrails upon the lands about. High mounds of crushed and powdered rock, great cones of earth fire-blasted and poison-stained, stood like an obscene graveyard in endless rows, slowly revealed in the reluctant light.

"They had come to the desolation that lay before Mordor: the lasting monument to the dark labour of its slaves that should endure when all their purposes were made void; a land defiled, diseased beyond all healing - unless the Great Sea should enter in and wash it with oblivion. 'I feel sick,' said Sam. Frodo did not speak." (The Lord of the Rings, Book IV, Chapter II).

C.S Lewis, upon reading this passage, remarked that no one could have conceived of this landscape had he not seen the battlefields of the Western Front. When first I made this comparison, however, I still loved and revered the Roman Rite. Now I would say that Pius XII changed the situation, not the landscape. If we're conditioned to believe that the Tridentine innovations in Holy Week (brought in, I suppose, to drag the antient ceremonies of this solemn and serious time down to the level of the rest of the Roman Rite), for example, are essentially beautiful and necessary when in fact they are ruthless grotesqueries forced upon us by the tyranny of bad theology, then really we were already in the graceless wilderness to begin with. A rose by any other name, but in reverse, if you like. On Spy Wednesday of 1956 Tolkien bemoaned the senseless violence wrought against Palm Sunday (I have deduced that since nobody had yet experienced Good Friday (in my opinion the worst of the lot)), and I share his frustration. I really do. But I think now that defence of the Roman Rite, in whatever form, is tantamount to defence of the Papacy since the two are so inextricably linked over centuries of misery. I suppose what I am trying to say is that there is a fundamental cognitive dissonance between accepting the Filioque and all subsequent liturgical and doctrinal developments in the West and objecting to Urban VIII's hymns or the Pius X breviary or Palm Sunday in red, whatever you like.

Besides, by going to church you risk having a conversation with someone.

Art: Ted Nasmith. I couldn't find anything else. Ithilien is too pretty and would not illustrate the point.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Spy Wednesday...

"When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death; and when they had bound him, they led him away and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor. Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, what is that to us? See thou to that. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself." Matthew 27:1-6.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Valiant for Truth...

Who would true Valour see
Let him come hither;
One here will Constant be,
Come Wind, come Weather.
There's no Discouragement,
Shall make him once Relent,
His first avow'd Intent,
To be a Pilgrim.

Who so beset him round,
With dismal Storys,
Do but themselves Confound;
His Strength the more is.
No Lyon can him fright,
He'l with a Gyant Fight,
But he will have a right,
To be a Pilgrim.

Hobgoblin, nor foul Fiend,
Can daunt his Spirit:
He knows, he at the end,
Shall Life Inherit.
Then Fancies fly away,
He'l fear not what men say,
He'l labour Night and Day,
To be a Pilgrim.

The original rendering by Bunyan is much nicer than that of the 1906 English Hymnal. It's one of my favourite hymns.

Monday, 14 April 2014


Turning back the clock on this world by deleting social networking accounts, avoiding television and not renewing one's mobile phone contract is a good way of culling unwanted people from your life. It also eliminates conversation. When people ask, "are you on Facebook?" You say, "no..." They then ask if you saw the latest on...whatever is latest in the news, and you say, "I don't watch television." Then they ask what your plans are for the weekend, and you say, "nothing." You can't really proceed from there and your annoying questioner has no choice but to walk away. This is because most people have an active Facebook account; if you have no part in that then that closes off one avenue of useless talk. Everybody spends their evenings by letting the television wash all over them; if you don't watch television, you have nothing to talk about. Finally, if you're perfectly frank about keeping your activities to the absolute minimum this too will eliminate any possibility of forming a connexion with your ungodly questioner. People will then see you as a terrible bore and want nothing whatever to do with you. Then the work is done! Solitude is the elixir of life.

Towards the end of the First Age the remnant of the Sindar and the Gnomes were constrained to fly to the Isle of Balar to seek refuge from the soldiery of Morgoth. Would that there were an island to which I could fly! We are a small island already but I sometimes wish that God would shew forth his power and destroy it for an example to the eyes of posterity.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Palm branches...

"As I walk'd through the wilderness of this world, I lighted on a certain place, where was a Denn; And I laid me down in that place to sleep: And as I slept I dreamed a Dream."

I had quite forgotten that it was Palm Sunday to-day. This morning I awoke at just after seven o'clock with the sensation that I had drunk too much gin the night before, so I went back to sleep again and got up after ten. I trust you all had your palms blessed and received them from the hand of the celebrant and didn't rather pick them up at the back of the church? I actually find it odd that we use dried palm branches in England at all. Why not make use of local foliage instead? I shan't repeat any anathemas for the malefit of those of you who did not bother celebrating Christ's going into Jerusalem in violet. Who am I to judge? I sat at home this morning. As I think that celebrating Palm Sunday in violet is as much an act of hypocrisy under the aegis of Summorum Pontificum as wearing bright red dalmatics and tunicles, what would be the point? It is a nice day for a procession, though.


Publick perception bewilders me. For example:

Adam: "I figured you for an atheist."
Me (slightly amused): "Why?"
Adam: "Because you're very clever."

I am not "clever." I narrated this incident to my mother and she rolled her eyes. Adam, as you might expect, is an atheist. He is four years younger than me (with younger people I am always careful to state this quite clearly) and we had a discussion over lunch about the existence of the Soul relative to "brute beasts that have no understanding." We chose this subject because he had studied Zoology at St Andrew's. His contention was that the Soul does not exist or, if it does, that it is a unifying principle that pervades over all organic matter. Mine was that my problem with the idea of the evolution of Man is that the Soul, understood as a rational, calculating and empathic principle (the "breath of God" in us), is essentially what distinguishes us from the beasts of the field (even dogs) and that, consequently, there had to have been a first man, namely Adam. I don't think that, as a Christian, you can really set a very high store by evolution by natural selection given that it is implausible from both sides. A Darwinian cannot contend that the last "mulier erecta" gave birth to the first "homo sapiens;" evolution simply doesn't work like that; likewise, a Christian cannot say that the last homo erectus did not have a Soul whereas the first homo sapiens did, if we understand the presence of a Soul is the principle that separates Men from beasts. In terms of beasts, I am in two minds. My late dog Lucy, for example, seemed to be very wise and understanding. At times, I felt as Sam did about Bill in The Lord of the Rings; I expected her to speak with words. She never did. But I do not believe that that negated her understanding or her capacity to love. All my conservative instincts dictate that there was a gulf that separated us. As I watched her sleep or wade through a shallow river my mind would go back the Days of Creation and forth to the End and I wondered whether we would ever meet again and perhaps be on "equal terms." I believe that we shall. After all, it cannot be denied that dogs have been ennobled by their ancestral attachment to Men.

There was a young South African woman in the class. Africaans is her first language. She described herself as "Christian," though she was clearly of the wishy-washy apostate type; someone who had embraced the world, someone who if given the choice between fire and denying Christ would choose the latter. Her lack of taste was seen most clearly in her love of Starbucks. Conversations with her always lead to awkward silences (on her part). She once asked: "what are your thoughts on the Oscar Pistorius trial?" So I said: "I couldn't really care less." I thought better of breaking the awkward silence by articulating my opinion of the so-called "paralympics," (my post on the subject was hardly popular). Same-sex marriage was another hot topic. She complained that people were so judgemental and that her gay brother had been teased at school and that "it doesn't matter who you fall in love with" (that is verbatim). At this, I had to make my disposition known because in the presence of other faiths I cannot tell you how much it angers me when Christians deliberately misrepresent the Faith, so I said: "That is not what the Christian faith teaches," and proceeded to clarify the Christian teaching on Marriage for the benefit of the others. Nobody said anything. The girl did eventually say that she was glad she had met me, and even tried to hug me. To my explanation that hugging a person whom you've just met is an intolerable intrusion she simply said, "oh." Nice there any lower form of life?

One of the core values of this new job is "Diversity." I expect you all know that I am by no means enthusiastic about diversity, multiculturalism and such rot. For one thing, I don't recognise anybody's "right" to hold erroneous religious beliefs. Something is either true or false and you can't say that there is any practical or ethical reason for believing falsehood aside from the traditions of your fathers. If you believe something which is a palpable lie then you're stupid and, from my perspective, your "right" even to breathe is diminished. My father has often said that I am very intolerant. I don't deny it. I wonder what the future holds for people like me in this diverse, multicultural, pluralistic world? Am I a relic of times past? The answer is, of course, nobody cares! They, the real people, are out there; I am in here, in my room, wrapped in a filthy dressing gown. Therefore I don't really think that the ideals of "diversity" extend towards people like me.

On the subject of being clever, I asked my mother what she thought and she said: "well, you're clever in some respects but in others you're very stupid." It's hard not to agree with that, eh!

Thursday, 10 April 2014


My Gmail account appears to have been compromised in some way. I logged into my account this evening to reply to some messages and was suddenly in receipt of a number of "failed send" messages. I then received an e-mail from a contact, saying that the content might be a virus. I checked my outbox and reported 84 messages spam as they were not sent by me. I read some of them and they seemed to be about Harry Potter.

If anybody is in receipt of any spam/suspicious e-mails from my Gmail account, I apologise unreservedly. I have changed the password to the account as a precaution but I fear this might have something to do with the fact that we don't, currently, have anti-virus software. In all honesty, we can't afford it at the moment.

I don't know what else to suggest other than that it might be worthwhile deleting any messages you receive from my Gmail account unread within the next few days until I get a response from Google.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014


There is really nothing else for it, people. I have embraced Puritanism. Not, I hasten to add, the kind of theological Puritanism espoused and propagated by Cromwell or Baxter (I am not a Calvinist and drink to excess far too often), but my own brand of "nothing." A new Dark Age is upon us and if we would distinguish between good and evil then it behoves us to become impervious to all influence of any kind, if we can find the mastery. The safest place in the world is the place where nothing else can come in.

Therefore, by the authority of Almighty God, I exhort you to dismantle any and all unnecessary trappings of the modern world in your homes! Stop watching television, stop reading newspapers, delete your social networking accounts, stop using your mobile phones except in extreme cases of emergency (and even then, try and find an excuse not to use them), curtail the amount of time you spend on the Internet, make yourselves completely oblivious to everything and everyone around you; then wrap yourselves in a dressing gown and lie down on your bed and just wait.

Monday, 7 April 2014

A Letter to a psychologist...

Dear Dr Attwood,

My name is Patrick, I am twenty-six years old and I have Asperger Syndrome. I bought your book, "Asperger Syndrome: The Complete [sic] Guide" in 2008 upon my diagnosis at the Maudsley Hospital. I enjoyed your book chiefly for your clarity of style and the many case studies investigated which helped illuminate such concepts as theory of mind. However, I have often found much of the literature surrounding Asperger Syndrome to be out of my own experience. While I share some of the characteristics of most autistic people I cannot really say that I have much sympathy for them. I am not a mathematician, for example, nor do I have any savant capabilities. You might say that my "special interests" are the literary works of J.R.R Tolkien, for which my expertise is, while not "internationally" recognised in the sense of successfully-published books (I have no capacity for success), is at least appreciated overseas by a minority of religious people. For example, a regular American reader of my weblog said in a comment in 2012:

But, your differentiator, as it were, that which one can't find readily elsewhere, to say nothing of being even halfway well done, is your ability to bring Tolkein to life historically, linguistically, culturally, religiously, etc.

This was a response to an article about certain elements of the Battle of Hastings in the Pelennor. Another "special interest" would be ancestral forms of the Roman Rite and liturgical reforms between the 16th and 20th centuries relative to these and the modern Roman Rite. I hasten to add that I am by no means an expert in this latter since most of the stuff exists in manuscript form in far-sundered places like the British Library and the colleges of Oxbridge, for which appointment is required, so I tend to rely mostly on secondary sources like the publications of the Henry Bradshaw Society, the Alcuin Club, etc. My lack of understanding (or empathy if you like) of most autistic people and their peculiar interests lies in what is essentially the monotony and fruitlessness of many of these pursuits. To what purpose, for example, is the setting to memory or recitation of camera serial numbers? I think Dr Baron Cohen alludes to that in one of his studies. Or the fictitious case study in your book about the boy who joined the byrding festivities of a young girl; the boy with the battery obsession. You may say that batteries and camera serial numbers, devoid of a general interest in electronics or photography, represent comfortable routines designed to obviate feelings of distress in autistic people who are doomed to live in a world largely cut off from routine. In which case, to what extent are they forms of escapism? Many people assume that autistic people despise fiction because it is not "true." On the contrary, if literature (good literature, mind you) is to serve any purpose it is the enshrinement of certain truths that otherwise find no meaningful expression in waking life, and to this end I love Tolkien, in whose works I have found my escape as much as others find in counting ad infinitum every conceivable prime number. But to what extent is the pursuit of knowledge a part of these routines and special interests? (As a curious aside, I too attended a birthday party at the behest of a girl called Laura when I was very little. Apparently, I spent the afternoon flushing the toilet of the upstairs bathroom. Laura's parents later asked my mother if I had had any "stomach bug," to which she said no and that I was just obsessed with toilets. Needless to say, subsequent birthday invitations were never extended my way).

I have also read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon. I hated it. Like a lot of other literature about autistic people the protagonist just apes a lot of stereotypes to the extent that the book is written in an atrociously matter-of-fact, immature style and presents a boy with no characteristics of his own. I could identify with neither the boy nor the circumstances of the story. Similarly, I have taken part in psychological studies at the Maudsley Hospital in which I have had to watch videos of simulated scenarios acted badly (probably by the students compiling the study themselves!) and then asked a set of questions designed to gauge my understanding of facial expressions, intentions and emotions, and all those other things. Most of these are so poorly presented in the videos that they are indistinguishable from the other emotions and so this impacts upon the study in a serious way. Your intention (I assume it's an intention of clinical persons in the study of autism) to establish a uniform criteria of understanding any of these things is doomed if the instruments with which they are measured are riddled with artificiality. For one thing they're embarrassing to watch. I suppose what I am getting at here is the ethics of labelling. An A4 piece of paper with fifty ticked boxes does not encapsulate a person anymore than their wage slip. And I expect the same could be said for Christopher Boon. Can you really paint a picture of an autistic person using general characteristics and not make him seem a grotesque caricature or a monster? The more I think about my diagnosis, the more I think it a ligament. Susanna Kaysen said that when was informed by her clinicians that she had a "character disorder." Would it therefore be gracious of us to accept these images of ourselves postulated to us by clinicians?

My feelings of separatism and, to a certain extent, hauteur stem from my sheer lack of enthusiasm for most documented cases of autistic people. I find myself constantly at variance with other people. I am homosexual (a moot subject) but cannot stand the LGBT community because we have only the fact of our sexual abnormality in common. Otherwise, I find homosexuals generally very ostentatious, immoral people. Similarly, with autistic people we just share a few common traits. I certainly don't think that the society of autistic people is a thing to be sought because of that. Do you think I have much time for Tolkien fans? No, of course not! The vast majority of them are bloody hippies with inferior understanding. Similarly with "liturgical" people; most people who have an interest in the Roman Rite are Roman Catholicks, who represent a religion which I reject. In addition, most of them take a relativistic and cavalier disposition to the practice of liturgy (largely because of their faith). Do you think that I have much in common with them? I certainly don't. You might say that I am in a kind of self-imposed exile away from the very few people with whom I have anything remotely in common.

I should like to know your thoughts on this matter and whether a sense of triumphalism in respect of this world is a common autistic trait. I understand that we've never actually met but an educated guess bethought of your profound experience of autistic people would be greatly appreciated. I cannot even pass for a "normal" person in the real world and so my cutting myself off from the society of gays, autistic people, Tolkien fans and "liturgical" people might seem strange to some. Does it seem strange to you?

Sincerely yours,


(I think what I'm complaining about, chiefly, is that I haven't read my own biography written by someone who worships me).

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Switched off...

Well, my O2 contract has expired and I am now cut off so if anybody has tried to contact me by phone in the last two weeks, I have been happily unable to answer. Since possession of a mobile phone is universal nowadays, and I know my own mobile number by heart, I shall still indicate that number on forms and such things forever and a day until I am found out and compelled to find a cheap replacement for my iPhone 4S. God grant that this day never comes. What is so awful about wanting to be left in peace? Mobile phones are as much an occasion of sin as social networking sites and just as useless.

Are you, perhaps, worried that I am I turning into a Puritan?

Saturday, 5 April 2014

The stick in the mud...

Yesterday we were learning about Home Insurance; compliance and all that. Apparently not enough branches have been dealing out insurance quotes and they are desirous that us new people lead the way. After going through the 72 page booklet (fortunately less than halfway) we were asked by the training manager to pose any questions we might have. Mine was the most useful. I asked: "what if somebody has a moral or religious objection to insurance of any kind?" This was greeted with near-universal squirming among my fellow colleagues; one of whom even said: "you have a moral objection to everything!" I found this strange, especially as this comment came from someone with the surname "Islam." It's hardly surprising, then, that he had never read the Book of Job. Perhaps it was an allusion to my earlier reservation about eating in a restaurant that served halal meat. You see, I had been invited (probably as an afterthought) to a kind of "graduation" supper next week and the Muslims were concerned that they eat somewhere without the haraam problem. Nobody gave much thought to the fact that somebody might object to eating the flesh of a beast cruelly slain, then turned by a cleric to face Mecca and sacrificed to Allah. What does St Paul say about that?

But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. 1Cor 10:20.

So I am not going. I think they decided upon Nando's, which would be an assault upon my sense of taste anyway. "Islam's" comment could also have alluded to my question about "dress-down day." In exchange for a donation of £1 we can wear our home clothes on Monday. Our donation would go to a charity. At this point, I raised my hand. "Yes, Patrick," quoth the manager. "Could I just ask, to what charity is our money going?" "Good question. Probably one of two, Macmillan Cancer Support or The British Heart Foundation." "Ahh, I see. I just ask because somebody might have an objection to either of those charities because of their policies about certain things." I would have added that donation to charity in such an in-the-open way detracts somewhat from the act of giving, which should proceed from charity and mercy, or that feelings of common pride as a result of this make void whatever funds we have given, but thought better of it; I would also have said that an expectation to donate to charity in the midst of an economic recession is a bit much but my reputation as a stick in the mud has already been established.

Moral of this story? Well, if you're prepared to eat halal meat, which is at variance with the Scriptures, then be prepared for fire and brimstone. And don't ever donate your money to charity.

Friday, 4 April 2014

The wrong job...

This tree is by no means significant. I tried to find something reminiscent of Tolkien's description of Gandalf before the Balrog in Moria; you know, the wizened tree before the onset of a storm, but Google Images yielded nothing worthwhile, and this sunset is unduly optimistic.

On Monday 17th March I started a new job...for a bank and in the branch network. An odd choice, confessedly, for somebody who doesn't understand the concept of money and holds the general publick in contempt. Until recently I was happily oblivious to such things as interest rates and premiums. Now, since this Mammon stuff is now needful for me to know, I have found that it is forcing a lot of useful things out of my head; things like dates of birth and trying to draw a square with a St Andrew's cross amidmost without going over at least one line twice. I have been in the branch for these two (or is it three?) weeks now. On the first day I fainted after the 10 o'clock meeting and was taken by ambulance to hospital - a first for me. I went back the next day, having successfully made a memorable first impression, and found that I have significantly less in common with my new colleagues than anybody else. My appearance has certainly raised a few eyebrows. I took off my glasses to rub some sleep from my eyes and one of the managers said: "have you thought about contact lenses? You're quite handsome without glasses." This I took as less a compliment or, worse, a flirtation as a veiled attack on my deliberate Dame Edna Everage look, which I will not change. I said "no," as though I had answered fully, and moved on. A young Russian woman is also in the branch. I had to do some observations one morning and watched as she typed out a memo or e-mail. She made a spelling error, which I corrected, but she complained that I was being racist or at least that was the "danger" explained to me by my line manager, to whom she turned being, understandably, deeply hurt and offended. It's outrageous! Imagine a native speaker of English, in a moment of kindly remonstrance, daring to correct the spelling of somebody whose introduction to the language was probably some council estate! When my manager informed me of this and asked for my thoughts I didn't give them - I wrote about a cheese sandwich on here instead - I just agreed to make more of an effort to...what did he say?...reach out and connect with people and be more wary in future. Clearly, I am doomed. I cannot even pretend to be a normal person online let alone in the flesh.

They're not all bad. A Nigerian man is very jolly. He is a practising Baptist with a seemingly encyclopaedic knowledge of the Bible. I complemented him on being a Baptist because, for a protestant sect, they baptise people in a traditional manner. I think he assumes I am a Baptist too since I haven't told him where (or even whether) I go to church and he seemed satisfied with a few scriptural quotes on my part. He and I are both fond of pope Francis; he for the pope's apparent lack of pretence, me for the fact that his piscatory ring is wrought of silver - a far worthier substance than gold (unlike gold, silver does not have a Morgoth ingredient). Another Nigerian Baptist, a woman, is very kind; always concerned about whether I have eaten and that I am comfortable. A young Indian man has also been very helpful.

To-day (Thursday) I was away from the branch, on a training programme. The training manager is funny and actually quite attractive, which makes attendance easier, but I find it difficult to comprehend how he can parrot all the acronyms, mantras and hackneyed lines, on a seemingly day-to-day basis, about being courageous and acting with integrity, connecting with people and all those other things without losing something like his hair or self-respect. To-day he spent at least an hour talking about how we can help customers realise their "hopes, dreams and ambitions." I was talking to an equally disillusioned new recruit, a woman the same age as me (but with the added baggage of two children), and we both agreed that banks are sterile, mortifying places we'd rather have nothing to do with. Even more perceptive, somebody else wondered how we could possibly advise customers with a net worth in excess of £100,000 on how to manage their finances given the obvious discrepancy in our incomes. I am certainly in no position to do this given my cavalier attitude to my own accounts. I don't even open letters from my bank.

I applied for this job because I was unemployed. When I made the application I had no real hope that I would even be shortlisted, let alone be successful at the interview stage. Now that I have gotten the job I am worried. I am worried because of my woeful ignorance of the financial sector; I am worried because I was in my last job for eight and a half years and I am, therefore, not used to being new and ignorant. When I worked in that God-awful supermarket I was respected for my knowledge and experience and even feared - by most men, I am told (this may have had something to do with my being queer but it's more likely to have been a case of reporting directly to the general manager). I think that my oddities were tolerated because I was like the furniture and shewed no signs of leaving. But I did leave. I don't like change or starting anew. It took years for me to accustom myself to that piss-poor job; now I have to do that all over again. The money is slightly better but the responsibility is treblefold. I hope I can find something else, even within the bank, where the virtue of laziness is meritable. Who wants to work for their living?

This is Ted Nasmith's rendering of the battle between the Elven-king Fingon and Gothmog, Lord of Balrogs. It could also be my staring the monster of publick contempt in the face? No prizes for guessing who wins the contest...

To-day we were asked to elaborate on our own "hopes, dreams and ambitions." I had to be frank when I said that I had none. I never did. You see, life is something for which I never asked and to date I have had very little enjoyment of the process of life. But people don't understand this. Some people don't even believe that I am autistic. When you're constantly at variance with other people, and yet you depend upon them for your survival (this is not necessarily an allusion to my parents), what happens to your character? Do you know that I get lost at times even in London? I cannot visit places to which I have never been without doing a "dummy run" with somebody else (usually my mother) beforehand, in order to determine various things like the location of the bus stop, the number of street lamps, etc. So you can imagine what starting a new job is like. I haven't had these experiences in nearly ten years and hoped never to have them again. So regarding having any such hopes, dreams and ambitions, maybe it's enough for me to hope that by the time I am thirty (only four short years away), I am not jobless and entirely alone. I have no real future plans. I certainly don't waste any time or money upon preparation for a barely tolerable old age in the form of a pension plan. I guess I just want to be able to stagger on in peace.