Saturday, 31 January 2015

A comment on homosexuality...

Who else but Ganymede?

This is a comment I made four years ago on the "sodomy delusion" fueled by the Scholastics:

"I have my feet in both camps, you might say. I find the concept of civil partnerships (even for men and women) repugnant and offensive - it is not matrimony and so both parties are simply fornicators, and living in a state of sin. Two men cannot marry (how could they possibly marry?), two women cannot marry. Matrimony is a Sacrament for man and woman who come thereby together to form one flesh and to mirror the Triune love of the Almighty in the bearing of children. A representative of the State giving witness to a kind of pseudo-''marriage,'' between two men or two women (which can only undermine the Family and the Church) is merely bearing witness to a very odd, very wrong, union. Nature turning in on itself, marriage turned upside down - name your cliché. The two parties would do better to enter a monastery and live chaste lives. It has nothing whatsoever to do with Love, and the parties involved cannot possibly hope to live godly, upright lives in the fear of the LORD.

"However, I do not agree with the Roman church's teaching about homosexuality, neither the ancestral Sodomy delusion fueled in the Middle Ages by the Scholastics, nor the arguably worse situation nowadays where the pope of Rome is practically barring homosexually-inclined men from pursuing their vocations to the priesthood. What right has he to do that? Did the Apostles withhold the Sacraments from anybody but those who did not confess Christ? How could you possibly expect me to happily confess that my feelings (to which God alone is Judge, and He is Just) are ordered to the destruction of the Church, society, the family etc; that I am the lowest form of life on this earth, that I am worthy of a thousand anathemas? Superstition and fanaticism!

"Although there had been rulings from the Christian Emperors against sodomy, and the Fathers are quite vituperative about it, St Thomas Aquinas played a distinctive role in the onset of the "sodomy delusion." In a crucial passage of the Summa Theologica (I-II, q.31,7), he falsified material which he had borrowed from the Nicomachean Ethics (VII v3-4, 1148b). There Aristotle had explicitly stated that sexual attraction to men (venereorum masculis) could be motivated either by nature (natura) or from habit (consuetudine). In his commentary on the Latin text of Aristotle, Aquinas dutifully admitted that such unnatural pleasures could be sought and experienced "ex natura corporalis complexionis quam acceperunt a principio." But in the Summa Theologica he suppressed this concession to assert that what is contrary to nature (quod est contra naturam hominis) may "become connatural to a particular man" (fiat huic homini connaturale). "Connatural" does not here mean innate or inborn but is applied to feelings that have so fused with the personality of the individual as to become, as it were, second nature. And so Aquinas superimposed the sodomy delusion upon his exegesis of Aristotle and incorporated this into what would later dominate Latin theology well into the 20th century.

"What are my views on homosexuality and the Christian religion? Well, I dislike the label "homosexual" (a 19th century invention by Jewish sexologists), since I view the human sexual condition as on a spectrum (like autism), differing forms of deviation from the "centre," as opposed to the gay/straight pigeon hole. Greek love is the highest form of affection known to man (Wilde), in my opinion. Fundamentally, we are all called to chastity, and to put on Christ. It behoves us who are at the superior end of the spectrum (that which makes us interesting!) to channel our inclinations to something fruitful and chaste."

I agree with most of this except any references to superiority. I suppose to-day I might be classified as a self-hating queen. And equating modern homosexuality with Mos Graeciae is an anachronism.

Friday, 30 January 2015

Roman Prejudice against King Charles...

I find it monstrous that bl. King Charles the Martyr has no official status or cult within Roman Catholicism. I'd have wait, let's not be too naïve about the Ordinariates. We all know it has nothing whatever to do with Anglican tradition. That much can be perceived by any idiot who perhaps notices that "Monsignor" (very English!) Newton dresses like a Roman prelate and by a quick glance at the Ordinariate service books; a "dried up old onion," in the words of a friend of mine who is a Master of Ceremonies. And I am certainly not convinced by the enthusiasm of certain traditionalist clergy of working class Irish parents. The ancestral contempt of the Catholic Irish of anything "Anglican" (which is to them synonymous with status and taste) is well known, although interestingly that demographic is changing with the emerging middle class in Eire. But I remember before the Ordinariates were even conceived Fr W.C Mick (those of you who know me personally know exactly who this is) disparaging the Funeral Sentences of the Prayer Book as "random quotes from scripture," with a look of contempt in his face. I have no doubt that were he and I not standing upon the dais in his barn (or the sanctuary in his church) he'd have spat upon the floor.

But Benedict XVI goes into Westminster Abbey and witnesses a dumbed-down Evensong with a real liturgical procession and decent choir and all of a sudden Anglican tradition becomes desirable! And yet the Papists all deny that the personal whims of popes have little bearing on official church discipline. I beg strongly to differ. And the whims of popes change every time the wind blows. Ratzinger, inaptly dubbed the greatest theologian of modern times, is a pope, and popes have no interest in Tradition; that is almost a prerequisite for the job (Io sono la Tradizione, a saying which I do not consider to be apocryphal), so what makes people think that he actually gives a shite about the Prayer Book or the King James Bible? He doesn't, ostensibly! This "pope of Christian unity" just wanted more Roman Catholics, Roman Rite, Novus Ordo; compare his obsession with the $$PX; and the whole "treasures to be shared" line a mere red herring. I don't think you'd ever see Fellay reading The Country Parson! Unity, uniformity, communion with the See of Peter is the driving force; communion with Rome at all costs, and believe whatever and worship however the hell you want.

So, we all know that the members and architects of the Ordinariate hold traditionally Anglican works in gratuitous contempt, but what of a traditionally Anglican figure? Blessed King Charles remains the only man ever to have been canonised by the reformed Church of England; the significance of that will become apparent as we go on. Immediately upon the Restoration, the Convocation of Canterbury and York, being then free to assemble, added the name of Charles to the Prayer Book kalendar of saints with a commemoration and proper, even so:

Blessed God, just and powerful, who didst permit thy dear Servant, our dread Sovereign King Charles the First, to be (as upon this day) given up to the violent outrages of wicked men, to be despitefully used, and at the last murdered by them: Though we cannot reflect upon so foul an act, but with horror and astonishment; yet do we most gratefully commemorate the glories of thy grace, which then shined forth in thine Anointed; whom thou wast pleased, even at the hour of death, to endue with an eminent measure of exemplary patience, meekness, and charity, before the face of his cruel enemies. And albeit thou didst suffer them to proceed to such an height of violence, as to kill him, and to take possession of his Throne; yet didst thou in great mercy preserve his Son, whose right it was and at length by a wonderful providence bring him back, and set him thereon, to restore thy true Religion, and to settle peace amongst us: For these thy great mercies we glorify thy Name, through Jesus Christ our blessed Saviour. Amen.

That the "schismatic" Church of England had the "authority" to make anybody a saint at all undoubtedly puts the Romanists out of reckoning. After all, only the pope, who holds all the keys and binds all the teachings, can manufacture saints. But the sainthood of Charles I was declared in a very traditional way; redolent of the ancestral praxis of a bishop adding the name of a local saint to a litany. The comparative "canonization" ceremonies of modern Rome, especially since the promulgation of the 1983 Code of Canon Law, are ridiculous at best, necromancy at worst. And the fact that most Papists hold obscure "saints" in reverence, relative non-persons of whose sanctity or even existence we are not altogether sure, just makes the matter worse. Look at the "Raccolta," or the Enchiridion Indulgentiarum; you will look in vain therein for an indulgenced prayer to an actual saint! If the invocation or commemoration of the saints has any merit at all then surely we are called upon by apostolic tradition to invoke the most worthy and the most eminent saints; St Mary of Bethany, the Apostles, St John the Baptist, St Stephen the Protomartyr, etc. The canonization process has instead become a weapon and an instrument of papal control, particularly where canonized popes are concerned. Look at Pius V. If he is a saint then so is Jihadi John! How can you seriously invoke a man who was a ruthless backstabber, supported Phillip II in the murder of his son, and called upon the English to murder their Queen? Or "blessed" Pius IX? A demented megalomaniac and one of the most arrogant and destructive men of the 19th century. The canonization of Pius X by Pius XII pretty much put his every action above reproach, among them the ruthless and thoroughly successful revision of the Roman Breviary and destruction of the Psalter; actions which set a precedent for still greater liturgical reforms under which we all groan to-day. Even Paul VI, a man I hold in some esteem, fell into the trap. One certainly questions the propriety of his canonizing the forty martyrs of England and Wales and conspicuously leaving out Ridley, Latimer, Cranmer, etc. But the absolute worst of them all was John Paul II, the superstar-bully-turned-vegetable who clung to life and wouldn't let go, himself now a "saint" in a scandalously botched process that trumps even Rome's accustomed arbitrariness, and a man who made a fetish out of canonizing hundreds of obscure people; people who cannot possibly rank next to the greats of Church history. But he is a "saint" now so his every action is above reproach. It is an absolute sham and serves merely to bolster some of the most repugnant actions of modern popes and the current praxis of the Papal communion.

The Necromancer himself in the act of canonizing his demonic predecessor, Pius X.

And yet Charles I, a martyr for the doctrine of episcopacy (that is the doctrine that an episcopal church polity is absolutely necessary for the existence of a true church), is not recognised. Why? Because he died in schism with Rome, and sanctity cannot exist outside the periphery of Rome's communion. It cannot be denied that Charles I was an egregiously incompetent politician but he had solid evangelical principles and his reign witnessed a reawakening of religious life at Little Gidding, standardization of liturgical praxis according to high church principles; he oversaw the restoration and adornment of cathedrals and churches, founding of charities, patronage of devotional literature, etc. He presided over the twilight of the Golden Age of Anglicanism. That he was beset with puritan foes was hardly his own fault; that was ultimately the legacy of the Elizabethan Religious Settlement which Charles inherited from his father.

One piously hopes that in a reunited Christian Church blessed Charles might have a place in the martyrology as a saint whose death meant something. To hell (literally) with all these non-persons canonized by modern popes! In the wake of Mrs Lane's ascendancy to "episcopal" rank, Charles' martyrdom has an especial significance for us to-day. God grant that he entered into Paradise to the words, "well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord."

Beate Carole, ora pro nobis!

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

King Charles...

The commemoration of bl. King Charles þe Martyr outside the Banqueting House at Whitehall will take place on Friday 30th January at 11:40am followed by high Mass and veneration of the relics. I shall be in attendance.

See the Society of King Charles þe Martyr website for more details.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Libby Lane...

A black day for the Church of England. They all look the same. This woman looks like any modern RE teacher or college chaplain; they all have this homely, grotesque look about them; the same cropped hair, the same grin, and the same warped theological views. If I were to put to you any theological argument against the ordination of women it would be that it seems to attract the most hideous harpies imaginable. And nobody can say that the lobby for the ordination of women in the Church of England put forward any valid arguments thereto; it was just pressed in the name of "equality" (a dead word), so all those photographs of smiling women in cassocks on their respective days of "ordination" just make me cringe. They're not even smiles; they're grimaces of hatred and triumph.

The ordination of women to the priesthood, let alone the episcopate, is not in the Bible and it has no precedent in the history of the Church. The Christian faith, unlike the sciences which can be improved upon at whiles by the wit of men, was given to the saints once for all (Jude, 3) and it cannot be changed. The two witnesses of the Christian faith are the Bible and Tradition. If a doctrine, custom, or interpretation cannot be proved by recourse to these two then we are certain that it is not the Christian faith and is not by any to be believed or countenanced. Nothing can be both new and true. "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom," (Colossians 3:16), "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good," (1 Thessalonians 5:21).

As for Mrs Lane and her unfortunate friends, I just cannot support her ministry and I do not wish her well in it.


If you have a spare hour I'd strongly recommend watching this documentary. It's about the Israeli lobby (AIPAC) and its monetary and political influence in the United States of America. The most interesting feature of this documentary is what Tony Judt says. Judt, himself of secular Jewish parents, speaks very frankly and intelligently of the Israeli problem and identity politics (which can be ascribed to any minority with a strong sense of being historically hard-done-by). His is also the final word, an optimistic albeit highly unlikely sentiment. But the singular most disturbing feature of this documentary is a statement made by an independent Evangelical pastor called John Hagee about ten minutes into the video. His mission is surely the work of the Devil.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

The Deku Tree...

I grew up playing The Legend of Zelda, on the SNES and its successor the N64. This was the theme tune to the first dungeon of Ocarina of Time (1998), scarcely heeded then. Oh, I know it's "new agey" (like Enya), but I like it. For me, it's the most nostalgic of the theme songs from the game. Some older readers might think it silly to feel nostalgic about a video game only 17 years old; but in 1998 I was only ten.

Saturday, 24 January 2015


As a result of the Second World War, Britain ceased to be a credible world power. In fact we were ordered to dismantle our Empire by the United States at the Bretton Woods Conference on pain of bankruptcy. We have been since then, in the words of Quentin Crisp (though he meant something quite different), an island off the coast of America. It's an unfortunate legacy for Winston Churchill, the man who spent his entire life defending British Imperial interests in his political capacities and in his A History of the English Speaking Peoples; an apologia for the British epic of liberty. It is worth reading more for its literary style and highly personal quality than for its scholarship.

My father remembers Churchill's funeral. My grandparents had bought, rather than rented, a television set for the Coronation and watched the service. A much more sober and fitting occasion than that of Diana Spencer thirty-two years later. No media-driven hysteria, no candles in the wind, no bogus eulogies; just genuine grief and deference for a man whose rhetoric in May 1940 turned cowardice into courage.

I don't really have much else to say. I have never really liked Churchill. May he rest in peace.

Friday, 23 January 2015

The sack?

Well, there's no use pretending otherwise. To-day I am being summoned to work to discuss the damning psychological report which found that a, I am grossly unfit to work with the general public, and b, I find "time management" extremely difficult too. The branch manager clearly hates me so it looks as if I am fighting a losing battle. It's interesting to reflect upon what kind of employer would want someone who is unknowingly rude at times and terribly slow but when you're that person it's by no means a pleasant experience looking for work. Even the National Autistic Society won't hire me! Needless to say that, upon receipt of the summons, I did nothing to find alternative means of income. I am already deep into my overdraft and it looks as if the Oxford English Dictionary, for which I have been saving on and off for five years, will have to be put on hold yet again.

A bank, any bank, particularly retail banking, is wholly unsuitable for me. I knew this when I applied and every moment through my training even to the day I went sick with stress. I disagree with the culture, the corporate mentality, the pace and tense of the day; I don't dislike the people but most of them are of my generation and therefore I have nothing in common with any of them. Am I to blame? When you're unemployed and you have debts piling up a job, any job, is a moment's breath. You stick with it because the grim reality, one's pretensions notwithstanding, is that there is nothing else out there. I am completely impractical. "Your trouble is you have no common sense," in the words of my kindly, tyrannical mother. I am also lazy. I don't like getting up in the morning. I don't like having to be somewhere against my will. I hate public transport and rush hour. All I want to do is write and stay at home. I know it's vain but my life has disintegrated since I left Morrisons. Nine years of relative stability, even if it came at the price of significant underachievement, gone.

It's just after six o'clock. I have been up since midnight. I am going to go over the report again before I set out at eight. What fun!

Thursday, 22 January 2015

24th May 1899...

"To-day we met at 8.45 (no early school) in the playing-fields, but dismissed owing to downpour. At 9.15 we met in the school-yard - a hot steaming day, like an orchid-house; marched up to the Castle, and after a wait got into the yard. The Queen was breakfasting in a room over the porch. The choirs sang very sweetly. We joined in the fourth verse only of the jubilee hymn, and my verse was beautifully sung afterwards. Then two madrigals, one very poor. A good many boys fainted, thirteen in all, and sat in a row, green-faced and bewildered, on a little bench under the wall. Sir A. Bigge came to fetch me to the Queen, hardly to my surprise; I was presented to the Duke of Connaught. Then we went upstairs and appeared in the corridor; the Queen sate rather in shadow, her white widow's cap showing very clear; she wore large round black spectacles. Soundy, the Mayor, preceded us; then Sir W. Parratt, to whom she made a little civil speech. Then I appeared, bowing, and drew as near as I dared. 'I must thank you for having written such a beautiful verse,' she said: 'it has been a great pleasure to me.' I bowed and withdrew, rather clumsily, as I had forgotten the backward walk, and only remembered it after a moment. However, i did not quite turn my back on the Queen, I think.

"But what was an entire surprise to me, and will remain with me as long as I live, was her voice. It was so slow and sweet - some extraordinary simplicity about it - much higher than I had imagined, and with nothing cracked or imperious or (as the imitations misled me into thinking) gobbly. It was like the voice of a very young, tranquil woman. The phrases sounded a little like a learnt lesson, but the tone was beautiful - a peculiar genuineness about it; I felt as if I really had given her pleasure. Her face was much in shadow, and confused; I couldn't see it clearly. But it was all very tremendous somehow; and though, if I had had the choice, I would not have dared to go, I am now thankful to have seen her and had speech from her." From the diary of Arthur C. Benson, pp 42-43.

It's a rather simple, sweet account of a meeting with Queen Victoria at Eton College on the occasion of her eightieth birthday. I find it interesting because I have never liked Queen Victoria, whom I have always seen as a self-indulgent and boring; easily one of the worst of the Hanoverians. Clearly impressionable, nonetheless.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015


And it came to pass in the sixth year, in the sixth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I sat in mine house, and the elders of Judah sat before me, that the hand of the LORD God fell there upon me.
Then I beheld, and lo a likeness as the appearance of fire: from the appearance of his loins even downward, fire; and from his loins even upward, as the appearance of brightness, as the colour of amber.
And he put forth the form of an hand, and took me by a lock of mine head; and the spirit lifted me up between the earth and the heaven, and brought me in the visions of God to Jerusalem, to the door of the inner gate that looketh toward the north; where was the seat of the image of jealousy, which provoketh to jealousy.
And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel was there, according to the vision that I saw in the plain.
Then said he unto me, Son of man, lift up thine eyes now the way toward the north. So I lifted up mine eyes the way toward the north, and behold northward at the gate of the altar this image of jealousy in the entry.
He said furthermore unto me, Son of man, seest thou what they do? even the great abominations that the house of Israel committeth here, that I should go far off from my sanctuary? but turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations.
And he brought me to the door of the court; and when I looked, behold a hole in the wall.
Then said he unto me, Son of man, dig now in the wall: and when I had digged in the wall, behold a door.
And he said unto me, Go in, and behold the wicked abominations that they do here.
So I went in and saw; and behold every form of creeping things, and abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, pourtrayed upon the wall round about.
And there stood before them seventy men of the antients of the house of Israel, and in the midst of them stood Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan, with every man his censer in his hand; and a thick cloud of incense went up.
Then said he unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen what the antients of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the chambers of his imagery? for they say, the LORD seeth us not; the LORD hath forsaken the earth.
He said also unto me, Turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations that they do.
Then he brought me to the door of the gate of the LORD's house which was toward the north; and, behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz.
Then said he unto me, Hast thou seen this, O son of man? turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations than these.
And he brought me into the inner court of the LORD's house, and, behold, at the door of the temple of the LORD, between the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the temple of the LORD, and their faces toward the east; and they worshipped the sun toward the east.
Then he said unto me, Hast thou seen this, O son of man? Is it a light thing to the house of Judah that they commit the abominations which they commit here? for they have filled the land with violence, and have returned to provoke me to anger: and, lo, they put the branch to their nose.
Therefore will I also deal in fury: mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity: and though they cry in mine ears with a loud voice, yet will I not hear them. Ezekiel chapter VIII.

This post has nothing to do with the curious tradition of Roman Rite deacons and gospellers proclaiming the Gospel northwards. That developed, as I recall, out of episcopal liturgy and the customary etiquette surrounding turning one's back to the bishop and to which was later appended this northward theological interpretation. What rubbish. It would be better to have the Gospel proclaimed in the midst of the congregation eastwards. This would better suit the twofold end of the Gospel as an act of worship first and for the edification of Christ's faithful second.

No, I was thinking here about Tolkien's placement of Hell (Angband) in the North of Middle-earth. He once said that that was the traditional direction of evil and no Tolkien scholar, to my knowledge, has picked up on this.

Monday, 19 January 2015

The Accepted...

I was in receipt of a letter from a reader of this blog the other day in which it was said that I put too high a store by "tradition" as opposed to wisdom attained by didactic methods. I wonder if this actually so. I am conservative in matters moral, political and religious forsooth but there is a lot more to it based on my own experiences. Take my autism. Any textbook definition would classify me as mentally, emotionally, and developmentally crippled. Perhaps, a century ago, I would have been sent to an insane asylum. These days, in this "care in the community" environment bequeathed to us by Mrs Thatcher, weirdos like me walk among the οἱ πολλοί like sheep among wolves. Several months ago, for example, I was subjected to various indignities on the 161 bus because of my appearance, and autism is supposed to be an "invisible" condition. But what of the invisible ingredients? Autism alters my entire worldview, the way I think and experience things, etc. Then there is the issue of my being a sexual pervert. I am blessed by the autism in this sense because autism vastly inhibits any chances of sexual union with another person which, for me, is surely a benefit?

So, in terms of tradition, of Christianity, etc where do I fit in? Do my peculiar proclivities put me at a profound soteriological disadvantage? I am not ready to be fruitful and multiply. I tend to think, as any Puritan would, that any kind of sexual compulsion is a filthy abomination and I do sincerely think that humanity should stop producing children; and trust me, if I were Big Brother, this would be enforced most severely. In terms of sexual desires, I am as much riddled with corruption as any harlot and I have often flirted with the idea of emasculation to cure this problem. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee, etc. Friends to whom I have confided this have invariably said that it would be a grave mistake and that no doctor in the country would perform such an operation on religious grounds; that is, my own. Is this symptomatic of a pathology or an obsession? Is not the desire to be rid of lust a legitimate one? David Starkey, commenting on the Castrati, once said that emasculation is an abomination to every man. I read once that Domenico Mustafà, a castrato in the Sistine Chapel choir, spoke with vociferous contempt of the doctor who had relieved him of his testicles; his wealth and fame notwithstanding. Farinelli, the greatest virtuosic singer of all time, wrote of his heartache upon falling in love with a ballerina in 1733; "Cupid again has me bound in his chains...God knows when I will be set free." He died fabulously rich, famous and alone. Well, I have neither wealth nor fame, and neither do I speak for every man, but I do have a debilitating, unfulfilled, frustrated and hideous lust that won't go away.

I suppose in terms of the accepted, conventional wisdom, that is among churchmen, I am an anomaly. I am, by nature and instinct, conservative but the nominally conservative dislike me. Even if I were married, to a woman with low expectations, I could not countenance the idea of a family. "Gay marriage," like AIDs, is a fad. I tend to agree with Quentin Crisp's cynical diatribe against human relationships. I certainly have no interest in them, even if I could tolerate constant companionship. I am far too selfish to live in such close proximity to another person. I have not only accepted my being queer but constantly protested the fact; but simultaneously I don't want to be "straight" either. Perhaps this is what the conservative churchmen consider to be the root cause of my insanity? I suppose the golden question is: is complete aversion to human relationships a moral evil? Is it a form of insanity? It certainly draws nigh to nihilism, even to sour grapes. We're all called to chastity in one form or another. Must it be so bloody bitter, though?

This post demonstrates my inability to stay relevant to the subject, doesn't it?

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Comments policy...

I don't really have one. I have enabled comment moderation because I like to read comments before they are published (a mild form of censorship) but nine out of ten comments are published without qualm, even if they are argumentative. Some published comments have even been spam, though I have made an effort to delete those. I do not allow abusive comments and readers have to have a Google or Open ID account in order to comment - I do not suffer anonymous comments.

Please comment! It is part of the joy of blogging. I started blogging in 2009 as much for myself as for you. I started blogging because I felt I had something to say that was not being said or if it was, was being systematically ignored. I have tried to keep a diary in the past but it has not usually worked and reading back past writing to myself is usually embarrassing, but at least with blogging I can share the embarrassment. I have learned much in the six years that I have been publishing online and I have also forgotten much that I thought I knew. At least, I hope, my writing has improved even if the subject matter has degenerated. One day I hope to have a book published, and possibly others, and I can only trust that my experience here has tributaried to that effort.

Saturday, 17 January 2015


Since I became "depressed" I have lost the ability to concentrate. Reading, for example. Years ago I was an assiduous reader. These days I can't read without becoming distracted by something. Sometimes I can read a page and remember nothing; my eyes go over the words, I know they have a significance but they exit the mind as swiftly as they go in. My manager asked me how I pass the time on Friday. So I said: "I just pass the time." I shook my head and refused to elaborate. But what does passing the time entail, for me?

I suppose I simply fill a void with unmemorable routines, and watch the clock. Sometimes it ticks backwards. I used to play video games, old familiar ones, because they required little effort, but I became bored with them and have not the will power to devote any time to new ones. Now the old ones are in the loft and I can't be bothered to retrieve them. Sometimes I sit staring at a computer screen; at my inbox usually, waiting for an e-mail, even if it's junk. When I have the money (more often when I don't) I buy books on Amazon or Abebooks; books I have no intention of reading or, if I do, I get bored with. I try to watch television but only University Challenge is worth watching these days, and that takes up half an hour on a Monday. Anything else is just boring or distasteful. I don't ever go out, unless constrained to by my parents, and if I need something I wait until it's dark. That way I don't need to take any care over my appearance. I don't ever cook, partly because I can't but mostly because I can't be bothered, so I live on take outs. The sum total of my life is an unbroken series of dull routines; I wake up, do something untoward out of habit and then curse the fact that I am queer, make some tea; breakfast would be nice if there was anything worth eating (I can't eat those mass-produced loaves that seem to last weeks and never go stale); just sit around all day passing the time; get as drunk as possible on no money (I never go to pubs) in the evening, and then collapse onto my bed and go to sleep, repeating the same routine the next day and the next until, God willing, I die an untimely death.

Yesterday I asked my mother, having told her what "they" said about me, whether the psychiatric profession is worthwhile. To my surprise she said that it is. "Why?" "Well," she said: "some people in life need help because they're very negative. You're very negative, Patrick."

Maybe I just can't concentrate?

Friday, 16 January 2015

An e-mail...

Dear Fr Ray,

We've never met but I saw you at Fr Tim Finigan's silver jubilee mass in 2009 and we both know Mr Malcolm Kemp who, I understand, plays the organ at St Mary Magdalene at times.

Please forgive the unsolicited e-mail (I obtained the address from your parish website) but you wrote a post mentioning Luther and the bibelregal recently, in which you called the German doctor of the church a "wicked anti-Semite" with "bowel problems." I wonder if you attributed Luther's wickedness (I don't personally consider him to have been particularly wicked, just tortured and given to invective) to his bowel problems and not his anti-Semitism, founded in his long study of the scriptures and church history? Because if the reverse is true then you might find Luther in the company of many illustrious popes and monarchs who either expelled the Jews from their realms altogether or restricted their activities and freedom to read the poisonous Talmud.

I would also ask if, as a traditionalist, you might agree with my view that Nostra Aetate is an heretical document that contradicts two thousand years of Christian teaching about the Jews?

Best regards,

Patrick Sheridan

I can't say I'm surprised that I received no reply. This is just the sort of shabby treatment I got from the people at Rorate Caeli and the New Liturgical Movement. Just another sanctimonious priest who, in typically liberal fashion, considers himself and his novel views superior to goodly churchmen from times past.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

More blasphemy...

The late cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo were not the only ones capable of blasphemy. You may be aware that since I gave my old Spanish crucifix away I have been searching, without success, for a worthy replacement. Well, I was horrified to discover this monstrosity on eBay. The implications of this are worthy of a thousand anathemas! But I'm afraid the depressing thing is that there are ignorant people out there who would buy it and use it in their devotions.

What have I always said about ill informed pieties? Not only a waste of time but demonstrably given even to blasphemy!

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Let the people sing!

The divine Evelyn Laye singing Let the people sing by Noel Gay. The lyrics are easy to remember. I tend to hum it on the way to town. As the Exeter Book says: "less doth yearning trouble him who knoweth may songs. His possession is his gift of glee, which God gave him."

Political Correctness...

It's a term that gets bandied about a lot. When disenchanted common folk say things like "it's political correctness gone mad," you know, when a man is prosecuted for selling a pound of bananas or if they find the sight of hordes of women in Oxford Street dressed head to foot in black burkas and walking a few paces behind their husbands objectionable, the liberal elite object that everybody complains about a concept that nobody seems to understand, or if they do (we all do) that nobody is able to define it in a way that seems politically tenable. So what is political correctness? Is it just a reaction felt by people? Is it the sullen fear of a man who finds that he is unable to speak his mind for fear of reprisal in an allegedly free society? I work for a bank that takes pride in its advanced "culture" of multiculturalism, an anti-culture so advanced that a particularly inept African woman is completely immune from disciplinary action because for the bank to criticise her in any way, shape or form would instantly incur the charge of racism. In fact, I have heard this woman say to someone: "you're just saying that because I'm black." There are two ways of answering this: either you say nothing and concede defeat. The African woman does, after all, live in a society that protects her interests over the interests of the British people - and doesn't she know it! Or, you can challenge her and face the possibility of dismissal. It's a tough decision in the modern world, where length of service means nothing and conformity to the new secular philosophy means everything.

That's just one example. There are countless others. I am still, however, no nearer to defining what political correctness is. So far I have illustrated by example only the intimidation people feel in the knowledge that to be a white male Christian puts you at a profound disadvantage. I suppose by implication that if you're a black, Muslim, one-legged lesbian, ticking off the criteria for ethnic and religious minority and being a "handicapable," female homosexual, the world is your oyster! But what kind of pathetic, craven and corrupt system is this! I am outraged to live in a country that hates its own people. This arbitrary system of prioritising ethnic and religious minorities according to which has been the most historically maligned is what is one of the principle evils of our time. I suppose this is why we have gay rights marches and sporting events for disabled people. Our want-of-culture seems to revel in whatever handicap you can name. That to be white, male and Christian is a serious handicap for me and my friends and family is of no consequence.

Monday, 12 January 2015

American Thinker...

See here for a very interesting take on the Je suis Charlie nonsense. My chief complaint to-day is that I am eating a Christmass cake my mother bought from Sainsbury's that is one inch thick and smothered with icing, in deceptive packaging that made it look bigger, and they didn't even bother to call it Christmass cake - "winter woodland" seemed to suffice. I'm sure the Marxist authors of Charlie Hebdo would call me for everything for raising that benign complaint. What would be the charge? Probably incitement to religious hatred.

General Knowledge...

What is general knowledge? As somebody with a diagnosis of autism I find this extremely difficult to answer. But perhaps I can answer it by some examples. It is years since I did an inventory of my books but I guess I have something in the vicinity of six to seven hundred books, many of them duplicates (different editions, impressions, translations), most on similar subjects (liturgy, Tolkien, church history). I do not claim to possess or exhibit even a fraction of the eminent wisdom that they contain but that wisdom itself is vastly circumscribed by its own subject matter. You won't find anything in my meagre library on the French Revolution, women's suffrage or any of the sciences. I have never read anything by Harold Robbins or even Agatha Christie. I'm not interested in pop culture or which boorish celebrity is sharing a bed with another boorish celebrity. In other words, I'd probably flounder if I went onto a modern quiz shew.

My musical knowledge is very limited. I have a rudimentary knowledge of the great "classical" composers, who they were, when they lived and their particular styles. With some, however, they are just names in my head to which there are neither dates nor particular styles attached. For all I know, Strauss could be a contemporary of Gershwin but I think Gershwin was early 20th century, and American. I have a few favourite composers but I think I own less than twenty CD's in toto. I enjoy Gilbert & Sullivan but I have heard only six of the Savoy Operas (and seen only three, one of which was a concert performance which doesn't count). I like Ivor Novello and Noël Coward but can name only bits of their respective oeuvre. I know something of the life and works of Tennessee Williams, but I have never actually seen one of his plays in much the same way that I know that Terence Rattigan was an Irishman and queer; that's it.

With art history, my knowledge is again pretty routine. I can distinguish a Duccio and Giotto from icons; I can recognise Botticelli by his particular style (as unique as William Blake's), even if I have never seen a particular painting, and I can tell the difference between Raphael and his predecessor Perugino. I prefer Michelangelo's sculpture to his painting and I love Titian. I tend to confuse Correggio and Caravaggio; which was the one who dragged corpses from the Tiber? I enjoy the portraiture of Gainsborough and the landscapes of Constable. Turner could paint watery water like no other. With architecture, I have a less-than-routine knowledge of particular styles and architects. I know what Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque mean in a general sense but I could by no means give a definition that would satisfy historians or connoisseurs. I cannot tell the difference between particular gothic or baroque styles, for example, and I would look at you with polite incomprehension if you asked me about 20th century architects. I vaguely recall reading about a proposed "monument to the third international," but whether this was Soviet or Nazi, who knows. I think it was Soviet.

I have read Plato's Republic and Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics, but I cannot really say that I understood them (possibly because I read them in translation). I remember Pythagoras' Rule from school foundational mathematics but can't tell you what that might be. I have no idea who Euclid was and tend sometimes to confuse Aristophanes with Demosthenes. I know that Heracles undertook seven labours but I couldn't tell you what they were, or at whose behest they were undertaken. I never took Classical Greek and learned the vulgar stuff in my Novum Testamentum Graecae, without much success. I even used to think that Maimonides was Greek!

With antient Rome, my ignorance improves a bit. I have read Caesar and Cicero. I have read Virgil (arma virumque cano, and all that), the Eclogues and Georgics; I like Catullus and know something about Tacitus. I struggled to read Horace and still do. Similarly with Roman Britain. I have seen the Vindolanda Tablets and I've been to Fishbourne; I've read about Spanish Hadrian and his wall; about Claudius, the most unlikely Emperor to cow the British chieftains. I know about Cogidubnus and how the Romans dispatched with Boudica (but I think she dispatched herself). I know something vague about the coming of the Saxons to Britain and the withdrawal of the legions and subsequent incremental "collapse" of the Empire in the West. Did St Leo the Great really impress Attila by rhetoric and persuasion alone, and not ransom the City with money?

With British history, again I can claim no expertise in any era. I greatly reverence St Bede the Venerable and much enjoyed his histories and scriptural commentaries. I have a vague knowledge of the wars between the Saxons and the Danes, the Vikings, the coronation ceremony devised by St Dunstan, St Patrick, St Cuthbert, St Caedmon, St Hilda and the great Synod at no means in that order. Like Tolkien I bemoan the Norman Conquest and the subsequent, inevitable adulteration of our language, the subjugation of the English Church to Papal legates brought over by bastard William and the contemptible treatment of the Saxon nobility and peasantry by the Norman conquerors for the next two hundred years. Even so I am fascinated by the 12th century and by its adventurous, pious characters; Orderic Vitalis, John of Salisbury, Eleanor of Aquitaine. The 13th century history remains somewhat mysterious to me and, while I can name a few events like Magna Carta, the provisions of Oxford, the parliament of Simon de Montfort, Good King Edward and the Edict of Expulsion, I remain generally ignorant of the time. The 14th century, again, I can name a few events and persons; famine, plague, peasants' revolt, Watt Tyler, John of Gaunt, the Lollards, Wycliffe, Edward II and III, the Dispensers and their grim deaths, Richard II. And so on and so forth into the 20th century. History, for me, is less a narrative as a map of obscure names fixed to obscure places; altogether very random, even if I enjoy history.

I know nothing about nature. I did read David Attenborough's Trials of Life with some interest as a boy because my father owned it, and I also enjoyed my brother's books about dinosaurs, but I know nothing about geological ages or even how old the earth is. I am not, like my father, green-fingered either. When, as a boy, my father allotted to my brother and me small patches of garden with which we could each do as we pleased I planted snowdrops but nothing could have induced me to scratch, let alone dig, the soil at any other time. I can recognise silver birch but I cannot really distinguish most trees one from another, even though to alleviate this problem I own a number of books about trees. I can distinguish roses from tulips and poppies from pansies but that's hardly distinguishable for the average gardener. Only the other day my father pointed out something about plants that hitherto hadn't occurred to me...and I've forgotten what that was. Beyond pigeons, robins, game birds and the obvious ones like ostrich, penguins and parrots I cannot tell birds apart.

With literature and poetry, I am again a tabula rasa. I know some songs, ballads and rhymes and I can take a guess at quotations and by whom they were first said but my memory is so bad that I am often stumped in conversation. I have read some Shakespeare (hasn't everyone?), Donne, Spenser, Byron, Burns, Hardy, Owen, Yeats and others. I have read Dante, Chaucer, Milton, bits of the Kalevala and Icelandic Eddas; and, of course, Pearl. With most of these grand works I cannot claim to have had any real understanding beyond a general impression of the sense thereof. I found Paradise Lost an impenetrable work and didn't really know who Milton was or what he thought. When I read Dante I was 13 or 14 years old. What did I know then of Italy, of its mediaeval past, let alone of Dante's guide through Hell? I remember getting to the end of the Inferno and wondering who Brutus and Cassius were. These days I'd have said "pearls before swine," and lamented my education. Tolkien was, with C.S Lewis, a member of the Oxford Dante Society; a measure of both their genius. By comparison I stand no chance!

I suppose, for "general knowledge" this is enough to be going on with but there are other kinds of knowledge. Even so I have come no nearer to defining what it means. Does it mean simply the ability to recall obscure dates from history, obscure quote from literature or obscure facts about nature? If that is so then you might say I have a working "general knowledge." But if it means something more profound than that then I can say that I am thoroughly ashamed that I am so ignorant, so rustic and so untutored.

I suppose the photograph at the top of this post (of me in April 2012) illustrates my point. What a boring person I must really be!

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Zuhlsdorf the Great...

According to Dr Joseph Shaw, he will be at Corpus Christi church in Covent Garden on Monday next. Had I known this contemptible charlatan was within twenty miles of my house I'd have left the country. Still, I've no doubt that his celebrating Mass in that dingy hovel of a church, littered with dirty chipped statuary and with a noticeable stench of stale urine, will attract scores of eager sycophants ready to buy him beer in the Coal Hole afterwards and hang onto his every word. Still, his state visit would be occasion to picket outside and throw eggs and rocks at him as he comes out.

Awful, awful man. Why anybody listens to him and his half-baked drivel, I have no idea.

Secundum carnem...

Nativitas carnis manifestatio est humanae naturae; partus Virginis divinae est virtutis indicium. Infantia parvuli ostenditur humilitate cunarum: magnitudo Altissimi declaratur vocibus Angelorum. Similis est rudimentis hominum, quem Herodes impie molitur occidere; sed Dominus est omnium quem Magi gaudent suppliciter adorare.

None the worse for having been used here aforetime.  For those of you who keep to the old customs, may I wish you all the temporal and spiritual blessings in the Infant Christ on this most sacred solemnity of His Birth.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Another comment...

And the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures,
And ascended into heaven,

I reproduce here a comment I left on Fr Chadwick's blog apropos of the real presence, elevations and all that rubbish:

In answer to some points above about my post, I deliberately left blank any reasons, whether theological or liturgical, for the nine points I submitted for sound enough reasons. I am not a sacramental theologian and leave the “machinations” of Grace to God. I hope you would agree that were the nine points put into any kind of practise they would successfully lift any vestiges of belief in the doctrine of transubstantiation clean out of the liturgy. That is the sole ultimate objective.

I do not come from a Roman Catholic family. Half my family are Anglicans. My upbringing was quite strange in the sense that my mother, whose mother is Anglican and father a lapsed Catholic, took my siblings and me to a Roman Catholic church on Sundays (never on holydays) and while she insisted that we all (with the strange exception of my sister) “made our sacraments,” that is penance, first communion and confirmation, she became increasingly annoyed as the years went by that I took it “too seriously” and not as this sort of cultural rite of passage that she undoubtedly thought it all was. We never prayed at home. My mother made no effort to instruct any of us in the faith herself. In fact, she stopped attending church more than fifteen years ago at around about the time that my brother was confirmed. My father is an agnostic/atheist of lapsed Anglican parentage. My brother “believes in something,” but is largely apathetic about religion. My sister is an outspoken atheist. So, in terms of my immediate family, I really am the exception. I still remember the horror with which my mother greeted the news that I was going to university to study Divinity!

Perhaps the misconception that Dale makes about my “Lutheran-influenced” doctrine of the Eucharist comes from what I said about the Hypostatic Union. I reject the Lutheran confessions as lukewarm. Luther was a great man but a tortured one I think and in later years found the maelstrom of the Reformation too much out of his direct control. My own view of the Eucharist is that it is a divine mystery, largely cheapened by historic and contemporary Roman Catholic praxis. For clarity’s sake, I will say the following: I am not a Jansenist. That was an heresy within Roman Catholicism. I publicly left the Roman church four years ago after a series of abortive attempts to reconcile my waning faith in that system with a bunch of damned hypocrites in Blackfen. If I have expressed Jansenist tendencies then I can say in all honesty it is not intentionally Jansenististic; at least no less than saying that a Jansenist is a Chrsitian because he professes belief in Jesus Christ. I am not a Lutheran either; I have no experience of Lutheranism besides a one off visit to a Lutheran church when I was in Cologne in 2005. Fr Chadwick is correct to say that I am influenced by the classical Anglican Divines, particularly Parker, Hooker, Andrewes and, of course, Laud. I greatly admire the writings of Dr John Wickham-Legg and, while I do not share his political views, I am also a great admirer of Percy Dearmer. I don’t have the text handy so this is not verbatim but I rather agree with Andrewes when he said that the Scriptures and the first four General Councils determine the boundary of our faith.

Tolerance again...

The comment thread on Fr Chadwick's post referencing my own curt post on elevations and reservation, and what I would do, has become increasingly annoying. It all seems to come down to questions of tolerance, an issue about which Fr Chadwick and I are oft at variance, and I have to say I find that kind of cosy, inbred and condescending disposition largely informed of politics that have nothing to do with the Gospel. It's almost as if I were to present my case forcefully and convincingly before a panel of snooty clergymen, who then discuss it in my absence, and then summon me back only to say loftily, "oh, all very interesting, Patrick, but we rather think we'll keep our heathen totemism; but by all means go off and put your ideas into practise on your own!" Which is but to say "bugger off, we aren't interested." And you can imagine the one in the middle waving his hand dismissively. It's like the argument I had with the Traddies about Signum Magnus/Gaudeamus in a pub on the Strand in the summer of 2011. I won the argument by appeals to Tradition, theology, reason and moral uprightness; and I had everybody at the table (with one exception) convinced against Pius XII. What difference did it make? None whatsoever! I concede that they were all convinced and would singly look thenceforth with renewed judgement on the new propers; but would any of them put up a spirited defence of tradition if their parish priest dictated that they would use Signum Magnum until the End of Time? Of course not! The euphoria and clarity are fleeting and seem only to last while I am around myself. Why? God only knows that, but I expect the spinelessness around their parish priests has something to do with clericalism and the fact that any sound arguments for tradition tend to come from people like me; notorious Patricius, whom everybody knows but whose existence is kept a stark secret.

The reason I find this whole issue annoying, well to the point of rage actually, is because my views are nowhere manifest in this world and so whenever I raise a point on liturgical and eucharistic heteropraxis for consideration, and thereunto that it might, heaven forbid, be put into practise, it might be discussed airily by a few people but is still treated with the kind of condescension I have described above. Some might say, "well, why don't you march with soldiers into a pub like Hitler in 1923 and impose your ecclesiastical views by rebellion!" What can I say to that? It's ridiculous. All I can say is that I have been part of a parish but it was a failed experiment; I was turned out actually. During the three and a half years of my time in that parish (whose menace is, thank God, no more), do you think that any one of my views was taken seriously, still less put into practise? Of course not. For example, my suggestion that we might have Terce before Mass on Sundays was met with the harshest criticism. Think of that! A very short, probably ten minute, service to make the LORD's Day more fitting and even the suggestion was unthinkable. Another suggestion that we might reduce the number of torch bearers similarly fell upon deaf ears. Throngs of miscreant kiddies on the sanctuary naturally add to the dignity of a celebration.

Over my time there I put forward similar suggestions, none of them too radical, and they were all summarily dismissed. I would ask therefore, were any of them unreasonable? If not, and they are not, then why on earth should I be tolerant of the dissenting view? Maybe I would be more tolerant if I could go to a church and find there something even faintly agreeable. As it happens, I cannot and have often come away from such churches feeling nauseous.

UPDATE: There are now more comments on Fr Chadwick's post, one of which says that I offer here no theological justification for the nine points. I have deliberately left questions of theology blank for two reasons; 1, I am not a sacramental theologian and; 2, my rejection of such things as Corpus Christi (ruinously popular) is logically a rejection of the supreme liturgical maxim turned in on itself. I shall deal more on this in a subsequent post.

Monday, 5 January 2015


People often say (my own mother especially) that if you don't vote, you have no right to criticise the democratic process or any government policy. They also add the cynically manipulative remark that failure to vote makes you somehow lack a sense of civic responsibility which, by default, makes you apathetic about public life. That I don't believe in "rights" notwithstanding I would say that whether you vote or not makes no difference whatsoever and that furthermore I can criticise whomever and whatever I want. There are exceptions, of course, but it is long since Members of Parliament represented their constituents. Who represents my beliefs and sentiments? No one but myself. So why should I assent to the least of the evils presented to me in a voting booth? The major political parties in the United Kingdom are barely distinguishable so, in effect, what I am being called upon to do is choose between three competing secular liberal collectivists bent on the obliteration of Christian values. The fringe parties, like UKIP (with which I have some sympathy), will never form a government and so making the trip to the local school to tick that option would be a waste of time. They can all go hang as far as I am concerned.

Principled abstention has nothing to do with "apathy." A "right" to vote which does not allow the right to abstain is completely meaningless. Ask any North Korean. The only civic responsibilities of which I am truly conscious are my obligations to obey the law, pay my taxes and pray for Caesar - whoever he (or she) is; and Caesar has almost always been a monster. Remember that God called even Nebuchadnezzar "my servant."

"The strongest poison ever known, came from Caesar's laurel crown" William Blake.

God save The Queen!

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Octaves and Vigils...

"Now, my dear, as to my name. It is John: a name much used and loved by Christians, and since I was born on the Octave of St John the Evangelist, I take him as my patron - though neither my father, nor my mother at that time, would have thought of anything so Romish as giving me a name because it was a saint's." J.R.R Tolkien, 1969.

Of course, in 1892, the year Tolkien was born, the Roman liturgy was still recognisably intact; in letter (for the most part) if not in spirit. All the more interesting then that even so many years after all those antient octaves had been legislated out of existence at papal command Tolkien still reckoned his birthday according to the traditional Roman kalendar of saints days. Another point for Mistress Custom, methinks. Down with heretics and twopenny bookmen! Pass another mince pie!

St John the Evangelist, pray for us!

Friday, 2 January 2015

Just a thought...

I don't think I'll ever understand what a "godly conversation" means.

A quick reply... some of the objections raised to my post on elevations. Let it be known that I say nothing on this blog that I do not believe sincerely; that is insofar as my beliefs are worked out (and some of them aren't very popular!). I suppose we all of us reach a kind of idiosyncratic set of beliefs and morals, based on experience and "gut instinct." I have always been "instinctively" conservative, intolerant and pessimistic and so my worldview naturally proceeds from that. Seen also from the context of a sense of innate intellectual triumphalism, is it any wonder that I look aghast at popular forms of piety? My liturgical interests tell me that where these pieties take over, it is where the liturgy itself has ceased to fulfill its proper function. I think that liturgy can be constructed and done well and so I am inclined to think that I can do it. This presents the problem that we living in a world far removed from the England of 1549. I cannot compel (much as I'd like to) people to attend the services that I provide on pain of stiff fines and imprisonment. But I think it is only fair that people take me seriously.

With regard to the nine points I raised, you can draw your own conclusions but the sole ultimate object would be to remove any vestiges of belief in the doctrine of transubstantiation - that's it. As the 28th Article of Religion says in its wisdom:

The Sacrament of the LORD's Supper was not by Christ's ordinance reserved, carried about, lifted up, or worshipped.

A Latin class...

My Latin teacher at school was Mrs Granden, a patient elderly woman with some dignity who wore those ornate old dear glasses with a gold chain (she even let me try them on once) and long skirts. I liked and respected her enormously because she was authoritative, in a kindly manner, and knew her subject with the kind of effortless tenacity that only comes with forty years of teaching experience. In short, I wanted to work hard for her.

The only occasion where she fell foul of me was when the word "paravisti" came up in a text we were translating. We each took turns on a sentence and I had done very well by translating "appropinquaverunt" without recourse to a dictionary or grammar and it was somebody else's turn. James' in fact. James was both the class simpleton and stinker. We were all held up for about ten minutes on this one simple word. This is obviously not verbatim but this is the general gist of it so far as I can remember:

Mrs Granden: "Think back to the perfect tense. Do you remember -i, -isti, -it?"
James: "Yeah..."
Mrs Granden: "Right, so do you remember the second person singular?"
James: "Yeah!"
Mrs Granden: "Right, so in this sentence what person does the verb take?"
James: "I don't understand."
Mrs Granden: "What don't you understand?"
James: "I don't understand what the person is."
Mrs Granden goes to the blackboard and picks up some white chalk. "Okay, let's go over it again." She conjugates paro in the perfect tense. Pointing with the chalk to two columns, singular and plural, she underlines paravisti in yellow. "What is the second person singular?"
James: "Paravit?" (He pronounced it pa-rawit).
Mrs Granden corrects his pronunciation. "And that's the third person singular. See! one, two and three? I, you, he, she and it. Do you understand?"
James: "But that's five..."
Mrs Granden: "It doesn't matter. He, she and it are all one person." She writes numbers next to the words. "James, what is the second person singular? I promise you, it is not a trick question."
James: "I don't know."
Mrs Granden: "Let's start again, then." She picks up some chalk and writes down the grammatical persons in English adjacent to the Latin column. "Repeat after me, everyone: I, you he, we, you, they. I, you, he, we, you, they." She starts a rhythm going by tapping the table for each person. "Right, James only now; I, you, he, we, you, they."
James repeats this four times.
Mrs Granden: "Look at the board." James looks up."If paravi is the first person, and paravit is the third person, what is paravisti? Remember, I, you, he!"

Dead silence.

Bearing in mind that the actual meaning of paro hadn't even been mentioned yet and that this stuff was so basic that we covered it in the first lesson, my patience had run out and I thundered: "Oh, come on! It's perfectly simple!"

At this, Mrs Granden gave me a stern look and asked me to leave the class. Afterwards, I was rebuked for disrupting the class and humiliating someone who was "clearly struggling" (that is verbatim). It was evident that I had made him cry because he left the class shortly after me and rushed towards the library with that dewy face that says complete incomprehension and frustration.

What I found incomprehensible and frustrating was that the answer was there, for all the world to see, and yet his mind couldn't assent to the answer. It still bothers me to-day.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Mistress Custom vs Mistress Newcome...

During the darkest days of Puritan ascendancy, Old Father Christmass was outlawed and a spray of holly was scorned as the detestable token of popery. The Royalist poet John Taylor (1578-1653) composed his many apologia for Christmass during this triumph of rebellion, most famously his Complaint of Christmass, in which Father Christmass went from town to town and saw no signs of holyday, the people thereof, mad and seduced to have arisen against God and King, and forbearing to keep any respective memory of Christ's birth. In London Father Christmass complained to a Mammonist merchant about the weakness of the beer, and is thereto told:

Alas, father Christmas, our high and mighty ale that would formerly knock down Hercules and trip up the heels of a Giant is lately struck in a deep consumption, the strength of it being quite gone with a blow from Westminster, and there is a Tetter and Ringworm called Excise doth make it look thinner than it would do.

Things were cheerier in the Devon farmsteads, where the poor went nimbly dancing, some to cards, some to carolling and good cheer. He left, exhorting them to call home exiles, help the fatherless, cherish the widow, and restore every man his due.

Taylor composed another in December 1648, a dialogue betwixt Mistress Custom, a victualler's wife in Cripplegate, and Mistress Newcome, an army captain's wife living in Reformation Alley just off Destruction Street. It was entitled Women Will Have Their Will or Give Christmas His Due. This, for me, is the most interesting as it questions the rightness of blind obedience to authority especially where cherished traditions are concerned. Mistress Newcome finds Mistress Custom decorating her house for Christmass and they discuss the feast. Quoth Mistress Custom:

I should rather and sooner forget my mother that bare me and the paps that gave me suck, than forget this merry time, nay if thou had'st ever seen the mirth and jollity that we have had at those times when I was young, thou wouldst bless thyself to see it.

When Newcome rejoins that Christmass custom ought to be put aside, being the writ of Parliament, Custom replies:

God deliver me from such authority; it is a Worser Authority than my husband's, for though my husband beats me now and then, yet he gives my belly full and allows me money in my purse... Cannot I keep Christmass, eat good cheer and be merry without I go and get a licence from the Parliament. Marry gap, come up here, for my part I'll be hanged by the neck first.

Newcome then responds, saying that putting the authority of Parliament aside puts her in the path of that "honest godly part of the army," to which Custom replies in delicious rhyme:

For as long as I do live
And have a jovial crew,
I'll sit and rhat, and be Fat,
And give Christmass his due.

It's reminiscent of my own arguments against papal authority to legislate dearly-held customs and traditions out of existence. If I am Mistress Custom and the Traddies are Mistress Newcome, which of us is right? Because it seems to me that Mistress Custom would be held in scorn by the Traddies which is ironic since they claim to be the godly elect and defenders, staunch in long years of trial, of that which has been set aside by the Bugninis of this world. God deliver us from papal authority indeed...

I hope that during this Christmasstide you raise your glasses to Mistress Custom and to Old Father Christmass whom she held so dear.