Saturday, 30 April 2016

Kissing the Pope's foot...

"The Emperor at once sent Boullotes, declaring to the Patriarch that he was striving on his behalf with regard to the Pope through messengers and that it was necessary that he also should resist. Then towards late afternoon, the bishops came again from the Pope and demanded the kissing of the foot. The Patriarch replied, with appropriate resistance: 'Where does the Pope have this from or which of the councils gave it to him? Show where he has it from and where it is registered. Nevertheless, the Pope says that he is the successor of St Peter. If then he is the successor of Peter, we also are successors of the rest of the apostles. Did the apostles kiss the foot of St Peter? Who has heard of that?' The bishops replied that it is an antient custom of the Pope and that everybody bestows this kiss on him, both bishops and kings, the Emperor of the Germans and the Cardinals who are greater than the Emperor and are also ordained. The Patriarch said: 'This is an innovation and I will never submit to doing it. But if the Pope wishes me to kiss him like a brother, according to our ancestral and ecclesiastical custom, I shall go to him. If he does not accept this, I am renouncing everything and turning back.' So the bishops went off to tell these things to the Pope and were away for a long time. Then they came again, saying the same things and: 'How is it possible for the Pope to be deprived of such honour?' But the Patriarch stuck to his earlier speeches and struggles. In the meantime many words were exchanged on both sides and much opposition was made about the kiss both by the Patriarch and by his entourage. In the end the Patriarch ordained: 'If the Pope does not renounce the kissing of the foot from our bishops and my cross-bearing officials, it is impossible for me to disembark from the ship. It seems to me that the present gathering and discussion is not in accordance with God's will, which is why God has brought to us such a great obstacle, whence I shall return without fail, while still in the ship, before I am troubled by other terrible things.' The bishops returned and informed the Pope of this and after a long time they returned and said this: 'His Holiness the Pope, for the good of peace and so that there should be no obstacle in this divine undertaking of the Union for this reason, sets aside his own right and behold, he invites your great Holiness to come. However, he stipulates that he wished to prepare his reception of you in a different manner, for he thought to make this in public in the gathering of officials and with a great display. Now, on the other hand, he will not do this because he is greatly robbed of his own honour and is not willing to make this obvious to all. Instead he will receive you in his own apartment, with only the Cardinals present. So come first with six of your own men with whom you wish to come and, after they have made their obeisance, let another six come and make their obeisance and, when they have left, again let another six come and make their obeisance, and let as many as you ordain make their obeisance in the same manner.'" From the Memoirs of Sylvester Syropoulos, recording the voyage of the Greeks to Italy for the Council of Florence, 1438-39 (emphasis my own).

It's unfortunate that the Pope wished to humiliate the Patriarch by having him kiss his foot in front of officials and with great display, and that only threats by the Patriarch of departure induced him to set aside his own "honour," and to greet him with the Cardinals privately instead. Does it remind my Tolkienian following of anything in The Lord of the Rings?

Friday, 29 April 2016

Dry cleaning...

I took some woolen trousers to the dry cleaners in Blackfen this afternoon. I noticed over the door to the back room a silver plaque, featuring a book with some faded Arabic script. I asked the proprietor about it, and he seemed reluctant to say what it was (I knew what it was). He said that it was a Qur'anic blessing, but his embarrassment was clear to see (he kept mentioning extremists, and that he was just "an ordinary guy"), so to put his mind at ease I told him that I owned an English translation of the Qu'ran, that I had read bits of it, which he found reassuring. But I stopped short of telling him that I was a Christian; not out of fear that he might ruin my trousers, just out of a sense of shame. If I had told him, I would no doubt have said that it was Good Friday, which would have put me in the awkward situation of trying to explain to him why I was having my dry cleaning done on Good Friday, and why I was not at church, and why I had not made even a feeble attempt at fasting, and all those other things. Also why my faith was so lukewarm. It's there, and God willing always will be, but is as embers dying in a corner of the hearth, scarce to be noticed and giving no warmth or succour.

I suppose my brief conversation with the young Muslim chap goes to shew you that opportunities to preach the Gospel always present themselves. This seems all the more reason that we should have a lively faith in God, and not the kind of apathetic, "Lord, you know how it is" faith that I have.

Let me explain the picture: it's a "micropub," Blackfen's very first. It's been open for about a year, I think. It's not often that I "plug" local businesses, considering most of my audience are in the United States of America and Russia, but anybody in the Bexley area might like to pay a visit some time. The dry cleaners is next door and rather kindly, for a Muslim-run business, promotes it too. That's called neighbourliness, a quality distinctly lacking in multicultural Britain.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Why I am not at church...

"Digory was just turning to go back to the gates when he stopped to have one last look around. He got a terrible shock. He was not alone. There, only a few yards away from him, stood the Witch. She was just throwing away the core of an apple which she had eaten. The juice was darker than you would expect and had made a horrid stain round her mouth. Digory guessed at once that she must have climbed in over the wall. And he began to see that there might be some sense in that last line about getting your heart's desire and getting despair along with it. For the Witch looked stronger and prouder than ever, and even, in a way, triumphant; but her face was deadly white, white as salt." C.S Lewis, The Magician's Nephew, Chapter Thirteen.

Or, in the plain words of Scripture: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber." John 10:1.


This is me at yestereven, wrapped in a filthy dressing gown (given to me, as are most of my clothes these days), double chin and all. I am aiming, of course, for a Dr Evadne Hinge look. I used also to have a chain for my glasses like Dr Hinge but since I am short-sighted I found the chain cumbersome and stopped wearing it. That was when I was 17 or 18. All I need now is some henna. I am not sure how that will go down with my parents, who have already compared me with hippies and even people with Down's syndrome (thank you, mother) for not having my hair short, but we'll just have to wait and see. I've never liked short hair and I really do think that there ought to be other distinctions between men and women than hair.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Michael Voris...

As so often happens with the most outspoken, fundamentalist types: they're eventually shewn up to be just as filthy as the rest of us. I've been openly homosexual for many years, often at great personal cost, and what praise do I get? But now we see that the man with the worst syrup I've ever seen is being lauded to heaven by some for his "courage" in pre-empting his archdiocesan opponents by coming clean about his sordid sexual past. I don't think that these revelations make him any more credible than they would have done had they remained in his closet with all the rest of the bones. Can any of you say that you're that surprised? He is not St Mary Magdalene! He's just another pseud.

UPDATE: I had thought that Michael Voris was the author of that disgraceful article on the Catholic News Agency website (now removed), which claimed that homosexuals were inapt to the study and practice of liturgy because of inherent ostentation, flippancy and effeminacy, but I was mistaken. That was actually another pseud called Louie Verrecchio. Nonetheless, if you can stomach the effeminacy of "JM," please do read the thread on my old post.

Monday, 25 April 2016


'"Pippin,' said Frodo, 'didn't you say that Gandalf was less close than of old? He was weary of his labours then, I think. Now he is recovering.'
"And Gandalf said: 'Many folk like to know beforehand what is to be set on the table; but those who have laboured to prepare the feast like to keep their secret; for wonder makes the words of praise louder."' The Lord of the Rings, Book VI, Chapter V.

In all the years that I have been reading Tolkien, I have never fully understood this; furthermore it reminds me of some theme I have read elsewhere. Can anybody offer a suggestion from the corpus of Christian literature? It is faintly reminiscent of something, like Reepicheep's coracle from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, or that passage from The Pilgrim's Progress about the burden being loosed from Christian's shoulders, "then was Christian light and gladsome."

Art: S. Juchimov, a Russian illustrator. Gandalf is seen in a blue mantle, like his archangelic sire Manwë. As Treebeard saluted him so movingly at Isengard: "Well, come now! You have proved mightiest, and all your labours have gone well."

Sunday, 24 April 2016

I hadn't forgotten...

See the thread over at my recent post "Seeing..."

Someone once said that people who go on about the Sack of Constantinople by the forces of Western Christendom in 1204 conveniently forget the "massacre of the Latins" in 1182 at the hands of a Greek mob. That may be true of some but it's not true of me. I am not saying that I have sentimental feelings about an atrocity that took place eight centuries ago, still less that I have any sympathy at all for greedy Venetian and Genoese merchants who grew fat off the decadence of a diminished Empire, but before we get into "who started it," I think it behoves us to remember the danger of excusing present action because of perceived collective past suffering. David Grün and Golda Meyerson knew this very well by cynically turning the "holocaust" to their advantage, and we see this also in a petty way in the kind of positive discrimination enshrined in race relations, disability and other equalities. You may not be a Nazi, or a slave driver, or a homophobe, or whatever. But that doesn't matter, your parents were Nazis, your grandparents owned slaves; there is a cultural debt. No doubt some of the Venetians pounding at the gates of the most Christian City in Europe had relatives killed in the massacre, but does that excuse what they did? What they set up? No it doesn't, and I maintain that the events of that year were among the most grievous and regrettable in the entire history of the Church. Unforgivable, even.

"'Work of the Enemy!" said Gandalf. 'Such deeds he loves; friend at war with friend; loyalty divided in confusion of hearts.'" J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Book V, Chapter VII. As ever, Gandalf is the voice of reason and reconciliation.


Christopher Tolkien's unique insight into his father's work is shewn most clearly in the fascinating introduction to The Children of Húrin, particularly in his description of the diabolical curse. I'll let him speak for himself:

"But being incarnate Morgoth was afraid. My father wrote of him: 'As he grew in malice, and sent forth from himself the evil that he conceived in lies and creatures of wickedness, his power passed into them and was dispersed, and he himself became ever more earth-bound[1], unwilling to issue from his dark strongholds.' Thus when Fingolfin, High King of the Noldorin Elves, rode alone to Angband to challenge Morgoth to combat, he cried at the gate: 'Come forth, thou coward king, to fight with thine own hand! Den-dweller, wielder of thralls, liar and lurker, foe of Gods and Elves, come! For I would see thy craven face.' Then (it is told) 'Morgoth came. For he could not refuse such a challenge before the face of his captains.' He fought with the great hammer Grond[2], which at each blow made a great pit, and he beat Fingolfin to the ground; but as he died he pinned the great foot of Morgoth to the earth, 'and the black blood gushed forth and filled the pits of Grond. Morgoth went ever halt thereafter.' So also, when Beren and Lúthien, in the shapes of a wolf and a bat, made their way into the deepest hall in Angband, where Morgoth sat, Lúthien cast a spell on him: and 'suddenly he fell, as a hill sliding in avalanche, and hurled like thunder from his throne lay prone upon the floors of hell. The iron crown rolled echoing from his head.'

"The curse of such a being, who can claim that 'the shadow of my purpose lies upon Arda [the Earth], and all that is in it bends slowly and surely to my will,' is unlike the curses or imprecations of beings of far less power. Morgoth is not 'invoking' evil or calamity on Húrin and his children, he is not 'calling on' a higher power to be the agent: for he, 'Master of the fates of Arda' as he named himself to Húrin, intends to bring about the ruin of his enemy by the force of his own gigantic will. Thus he 'designs' the future of those whom he hates, and so he says to Húrin: 'Upon all whom you love my thought shall weigh as a cloud of Doom, and it shall bring them down into darkness and despair.'

"The torment that he devised for Húrin was 'to see with Morgoth's eyes.' My father gave a definition of what this meant: if one were forced to look into Morgoth's eye he would 'see' (or receive in his mind from Morgoth's mind) a compellingly credible picture of events, distorted by Morgoth's bottomless malice; and if indeed any could refuse Morgoth's command, Húrin did not. This was in part, my father said, because his love of his kin, and his anguished anxiety for them made him desire to learn all that he could of them, no matter what the source; and in part from pride, believing that he had defeated Morgoth in debate, and that he could 'outstare' Morgoth, or at least retain his critical reason and distinguish between fact and malice.[3]

"Throughout Túrin's life from the time of his departure from Dor-lómin, and the life of his sister Niënor who never saw her father, this was the fate of Húrin, seated immovably in a high place of Thangorodrim in increasing bitterness inspired by his tormentor.

"In the tale of Túrin, who named himself Turambar 'Master of Fate,' the curse of Morgoth seems to be seen as a power unleashed to work evil, seeking out its victims; so the fallen Vala himself is said to fear that Túrin 'would grow to such a power that the curse that he had laid upon him would become void, and he would escape the doom that had been designed for him' (p.147). And afterwards in Nargothrond Túrin concealed his true name, so that when Gwindor revealed it he was angered: 'You have done ill to me, friend, to betray my right name, and call down my doom upon me, from which I would lie hid.' It was Gwindor who had told Túrin of the rumour that ran through Angband, where Gwindor had been held prisoner, that Morgoth had laid a curse on Húrin and all his kin. But now he replied to Túrin's wrath: 'the doom lies in yourself, not in your name.'

"So essential is this complex conception in the story that my father even proposed an alternative title to it: Narn e'Rach Morgoth, The Tale of the Curse of Morgoth. And his view of it is seen in these words: 'So ended the tale of Túrin the hapless; the worst of the works of Morgoth among Men in the ancient world.'"

[1] Tolkien quotes here from The History of Middle-earth, rather than the "canonical" Silmarillion narrative.
[2] Readers will no doubt recall that compelling scene from Book V of The Lord of the Rings, "The Siege of Gondor" (itself reminiscent, with its siege towers and orcish technology, of the Siege of Constantinople in 1453), when the soldiery of the Dark Lord brought their battering ram, named "Grond," in memory of the Hammer of the Underworld of old. This naming seems to contradict what the chronicler says in the Grey Annals that "the orcs made no boast of that duel," that is between Fingolfin and Morgoth, if the orcs should have named their new machine in memory of that old hammer.
[3] C.f the words of Melian the Maia to Húrin when he entered Doriath bearing the Necklace of the Dwarves out of the darkness of Nargothrond.

Art: Alan Lee. Poor old Húrin sat in that high place for twenty-eight years, "bound by the power of Morgoth."

Saturday, 23 April 2016


It's interesting that another Google widget is directing me to the pious connexion between Shakespeare's anniversary and St George's day. Why do we assume that men die on precise dates? In 1616 England followed the venerable Julian Kalendar, unlike Spain whose most famous bard (or rather novelist) Cervantes died on the same date, but not on the same day, as Shakespeare, that is upon the twenty-third day of April (new style), exactly four hundred years ago to-day. I believe that four centuries ago there was a discrepancy of ten or eleven days between the two kalendars. England didn't capitulate to the false kalendar until the 18th century and, like our antient currency and imperial weights and measures, I wish we'd go back.

My English teacher once stupidly told me that England had a Reformation, not a Renaissance. Like Tolkien, I'm not particularly keen on Shakespeare but he stands firmly against that assertion. I think my favourite Shakespeare-inspired quotation is: "prick me and I bleed." I often say that to people who accuse me of snobbery.

This halting post shews up just how ignorant I am of English literature, doesn't it. We read only Romeo & Juliet and Macbeth at school. When I told my Latin teacher at Heythrop she was appalled, and said that she had studied three different Shakespeare works a year, every year she was at school. I suppose we have government philistines to thank for that. The attitude that says: "oh, there's no point in memorising lists of dead kings or repeating lines of old poetry ad nauseum. We need to get a general sense of how we got to where we are instead." Mrs Granden, my Latin teacher at school, once said that she was not teaching us Latin to make us fluent, but she was grateful that I took an interest and gave me some old battered books (which I still have), books that she used to use before waves of dumbed-down new curricula took over. It's the same with Shakespeare. I now have no inclination whatever to read Shakespeare, or to see a play at the Globe Theatre, because I never liked it at school, and we were never encouraged to like it. But I would say that it would have been nice to have had the opportunity.

Friday, 22 April 2016


"Then Túrin became weary, and he looked about him, and knew the bitterness of exile; and for all the light and laughter of the Elven-halls his thought turned to Beleg and their life in the woods, and thence far away, to Morwen in Dor-lómin in the house of his father; and he frowned, because of the darkness of his thoughts, and made no answer to Saeros." J.R.R. Tolkien, The Children of Húrin, chapter V.

Far be it from me to add to where Tolkien left off but I can imagine this very vividly. Túrin would have turned away and sighed a heavy sigh, and felt as though his heart had been pierced by a burning lance. A shadow, scarce to be concealed, would then come over his fair countenance, the sun would become wan amidst the day, and he would long to be far, far away. This is called loneliness, and if my description of it resonates with you, then God knows I understand it too well. Like Túrin, I feel lonely most often in the company of others. On those rare occasions that I go to church, at work. I have felt it at a friend's house in the deep country; I have felt it at parties (that is in those far off days when I was still tolerable enough to be invited to them). I feel especially lonely in town. It seems ironic that we might feel lonely in the company of others, surrounded by people. One thinks naturally that the tonic for loneliness is people. But there is a distinction between the state of being alone and being lonely. There are times when my mind wanders, through bucolic idylls into cathedral churches in the time gone by, but then I come back, either to an empty room or to my workplace, and whatever pleasure I took in my mind's palace is gone.

Is there a cure for loneliness? Because it clearly isn't people.

Art: Ted Nasmith. It depicts the unfortunate events that took place the morning after Túrin felt the bitterness of exile.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Some Byrd...

Written, of course, for our other great Elizabeth, William Byrd's splendid anthem in honour to-day of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

God Save The Queen!
Long Live The Queen!

A Petition for Bishop George Bell...

Mr Richard Symonds has launched this online petition for Bishop George Bell, whose reputation has been smeared recently by, probably false, allegations of paedophilia. I encourage readers sensitive to this sort of injustice to support the petition, as I have.

More on Her Majesty's Birthday...

Church and State. There should be no division.

The blogger "Archbishop Cranmer" offers this sweet meditation on Her Majesty's Birthday. To quote:
"For 64 of her 90 years she has been defending the Faith, as all British monarchs have since 1521 – some better than others. 'Although we are capable of great acts of kindness, history teaches us that we sometimes need saving from ourselves – from our recklessness or our greed,' she said in her 2011 Christmas broadcast. 'God sent into the world a unique person – neither a philosopher nor a general (important though they are) – but a Saviour, with the power to forgive,' she drove home, preaching the uniqueness of Christ like so many of our church leaders no longer seem to do. She acknowledges Jesus, worships Jesus, serves Jesus, and defends the Faith by depending on Jesus. She is devoted to the service of people because she is devoted first and foremost to Christ. Her 2015 Christmas broadcast bore testimony to that dependence: 
'"For me, the life of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, whose birth we celebrate today, is an inspiration and an anchor in my life.  A role-model of reconciliation and forgiveness, he stretched out his hands in love, acceptance and healing.  Christ’s example has taught me to seek to respect and value all people of whatever faith or none."'
On a personal note I wouldn't have bothered adding "since 1521." It is the prerogative of all Christian princes to defend the Faith irrespective of papal ratification. That is the Kingdom of God on earth, with the King as supreme in Christ's Name. Nevertheless, the blogger is absolutely right. The Queen has continued in Christ's Grace where many churchmen have failed, by succinctly and rightly driving home sound doctrine in her Christmass broadcasts. Perhaps not as succinct as a 250-page document on love, written by a presumable virgin, but she does what she can!

Loyalty in the republic...

Some Roman Catholics in the Free Six Counties might despise Her Majesty and would do away with the Monarchy, but it's encouraging to see that their kindred in the South think otherwise (about 77% of the Irish people were in favour of her visit, according to one poll). These two images are from Her Majesty's state visit to Ireland five years ago, the former at a fish market in Cork, the latter at Buckingham heap, I think the same year. The fishmonger is Pat O'Connell, who is not concealing a knife, is not crying out tired, bitter republican slogans about "freedom" from British rule, and such rot. You can tell by his face that his feelings are heartfelt and genuine, and that he feels rightly privileged to be in the presence of a Christian Sovereign, the only one left, who in her turn takes a genuine interest in the variety of the fish on sale at his stall. It is my view that the republic of Ireland should return to British rule, renounce the Euro and that the Church of Ireland should be re-established, and that the Irish people should sever all connexions with Popery, which has brought them nothing but poverty, ignorance, paedophilia and is ashamed of them anyway.

God Save The Queen!

90 years!

I offer my heartfelt and sincerest congratulations to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on the occasion of her ninetieth birthday. I have not had the privilege to speak with her (my Irish grandmother has), but I have seen her from a distance twice in my life, on the occasions of her Golden and Diamond Jubilees respectively, the latter from the bank of the River Thames during a heavy rainfall when I was caught far from home without an umbrella. It was worth it to see God's Anointed in the flesh. She is quite simply the finest woman in this world. There is none other so absolutely devoted to the people, to the Kingdom and Commonwealth, and who believes more ardently in the significance of her rôle. And we are truly blessed to have her. Countries that have destroyed their monarchies have had it far worse. We had our tyranny in the 1650's and thank God we had a Restoration! Russia destroyed the Tsar and after a hundred years of misrule is slowly, but surely, returning to some vision of the Kingdom of God on earth, however broken and imperfect. All else is dark.

God save The Queen!

Monday, 18 April 2016

In answer...

A reader asked me to clarify what I had meant about the "corrupt Solesmes" chant as contained in the Liber Usualis. Since music is not my area I referred the question to an expert in sacred music, whose insightful response, for which I am very grateful, is here:

"It is a complex issue. Styles of Plainsong changed many times – often to do with fashion. Nicholas Wiseman in England pushed for uniformity and Italian pronunciations in England well before they were imposed by Pius X. The Ultramontane goal was to do away with regional – especially Gallic - variations in chant and centralise everything by coming up with a single version to be exclusively used.

"The Liber Usualis is basically based on a mediaeval style as imagined by monks who could never have known how plainsong was sung in mediaeval times. They worked on up to forty variations of a given melody and constructed a new melody on a democratic basis; so if eight of their models had certain notes at a certain part and twelve of their models had something different they would incorporate the latter.

"Performing plainsong at an almost funerial pace started in the Renaissance, as did slowings and speedings to give a word-emphasis. The slow paces, once they had been officially adopted by Solemnes, stuck.

"Personally, much plainsong – the way it is now - I find unbeautiful and depressing. I think monks probably always sang it at a slow pace because there was no rush but that was not the case outside where a lighter and faster pace was common.

"This has not really answered your question but the extracts from the following book might be of help:"

On a personal note, I might also recommend this channel on YouTube, which has a trove of chant traditions, both Eastern and Western.

Sunday, 17 April 2016


Dr Henry Chadwick relates this in his seminal East and West: The Making of a Rift in the Church:
"We owe to Syropoulos a touching description of the pain felt by the Greeks as they looked at the walls of San Marco in Venice plastered with Greek loot from St Sophia at the time of the Fourth Crusade. These treasures in the west had been stolen by barbarians." p.265.
Not one of the Greeks could actually have remembered the "loot" that was stolen, the horses of St Mark, for instance, plate and vestment, and doubtless other treasures of worth. The Greek retinue passed through Venice when the Council of Ferrara was in session, over two centuries after the Fourth Crusade. Nevertheless they would have remembered those things in song, much as Gimli and the rest of Durin's folk remembered their antient mansions at Hadhodrond (which became Moria in its darkness), though they had never seen them. As Tolkien says:
"'I need no map,' said Gimli, who had come up with Legolas, and was gazing out before him with a strange light in his deep eyes. 'There is the land where our fathers worked of old, and we have wrought the image of those mountains into many works of metal and of stone, and into many songs and tales. They stand tall in our dreams: Baraz, Zirak, Shathûr.
'Only once before have I seen them from afar in waking life, but I know them and their names, for under them lies Khazad-dûm, the Dwarrowdelf, that is now called the Black Pit, Moria in the Elvish tongue. Yonder stands Barazinbar, the Redhorn, cruel Caradhras; and beyond him are Silvertine and Cloudyhead: Celebdil the White, and Fanuidhol the Grey, that we call Zirakzigil and Bundushathûr.
'There the Misty Mountains divide, and between their arms lies the deep-shadowed valley which we cannot forget: Azanulbizar, the Dimrill Dale, which the Elves call Nanduhirion.'
'It is for the Dimrill Dale that we are making,' said Gandalf. 'It we climb the pass that is called the Redhorn Gate, under the far side of Caradhras, we shall come down by the Dimrill Stair into the deep vale of the Dwarves. There lies Mirrormere, and there the Rilver Silverlode rises in its icy springs.'
'Dark is the water of Kheled-zâram,' said Gimli, 'and cold are the springs of Kibil-nâla. My heart trembles at the thought that I may see them soon.'
'May you have joy of the sight, my good dwarf!' said Gandalf." The Lord of the Rings, Book II, Chapter III.
May you have joy of the sight...

Later, after the Fellowship hardly passed through Moria, they were guided into the fastness of Lothlórien, and were summoned to the lord and lady. Galadriel, holy and queenly, then said, as though she had read Gimli's mind from afar:
"'Dark is the water of Kheled-zâram, and cold are the springs of Kibil-nâla, and fair were the many-pillared halls of Khazad-dûm in Elder Days before the fall of mighty kings beneath the stone[1].' She looked upon Gimli, who sat glowering and sad, and she smiled. And the Dwarf, hearing the names given in his own ancient tongue, looked up and met her eyes; and it seemed to him that he looked suddenly into the heart of an enemy and saw there love and understanding." Ibid, chapter VII.
What a pity that when the Greeks, impotent, isolated, desperate and yet with the memory of greatness, came into the West they encountered no such love or understanding but lofty contempt and suspicion. What a pity they had no joy of the sight of their antient treasures as the Venetians croaked in mockery. What a pity that, under imperial pressure and compromised by Italian hospitality, they signed up to a union that deep in their hearts they loathed and despised. What a pity that this false union availed not to stem the ineluctable Turkish tide, and that God's judgement was revealed most clearly in the victory of Christ's enemies on that dreadful day in May 1453. What a pity that the mighty Roman king fell beneath the stone, a schismatic.

Still, where the Greeks have failed, the Russians have taken over.

[1] This last seems to echo Gimli's song in Moria. One wonders about the reach of Galadriel's thought.

Saturday, 16 April 2016

At Florence...

A while ago I had claimed (without evidence) that even at the Second Council of Lyons (1274) the Greeks had been scandalised by the decadence of the Latin liturgy. I made this claim having vaguely remembered reading a footnote somewhere that suggested this. I haven't been able to find it, nor do I even own a detailed study of the council save two chapters in Henry Chadwick and Adrian Fortescue's hyperbolic and certainly biased account. But I have been able to find this:
"While the long months dragged on in this strange land [Italy] the Greeks got very homesick; they understood nothing of the rites they saw around them, they complained that when they went into a Latin church they could make nothing of the ikons, there was not a single Saint they even knew by sight, the crucifixes were solid statues, all they could do was to chalk up two lines on a wall cross-wise and say their prayers before that. Indeed by this time the liturgy of either side had become a deep and suspicious mystery to the other. Towards the end of the council [of Florence] the Pope was to assist in state at the Byzantine Liturgy. Then he said that he was not sure what they did and that he would like to see it all done in private first before he committed himself to a public assistance. Naturally they were very indignant. On this occasion the Emperor let fall the astonishing remark that they had come all this way to reform the Latin Church. The Greeks could not bear our plainsong, but they had the comfort of being able to wear far more gorgeous vestments. The old Patriarch Joseph never went back to his own country. He died while the council was going on (10th June, 1439), having first written down his acceptance of the union and his acknowledgement of the Roman Primacy. So he was buried with great honour at Florence in St. Maria Novella. There he still lies, far away from his city, among the Latins whose ways he could not understand, and a set of Latin verses over his tomb still tells the traveller of the strange chance that brought 'Joseph, the great prelate of the Eastern Church,' to be buried here." Fortescue, The Orthodox Eastern Church, pp.213-214.
The trouble is, this is not what I remember. I was sure it was at Lyons that the (undoubtedly few) Greeks present had found the Latin liturgy, rather sumptuous compared with its mediocre Tridentine descendant, distasteful. I wonder what it was? Low Mass? It can't have just been plainsong, which in those days was unlike the corrupt Solesmes stuff. They were experimenting with polyphony at Notre Dame de Paris in the 14th century. Still, I expect it was just ignorance, rather like that ridiculous, if well intended, epistle the Greeks sent to pope Francis imploring him to renounce his heresy. To properly critique the Latin liturgy, it takes somebody who experienced and practised it for years - like me. As for such ephemeral things as statues, I rather like "solid statue" crucifixes, and the "ikons" unfamiliar to the Greeks in Florence were probably painted by some disciple of Duccio or Giotto, perfectly apt to be used in divine service. The finest church in Western Europe is the royal chapel of the Kings of France, the Sainte Chapelle, which glories in those Latin things so anathema to the Greeks, three-dimensional images, and stained glass. There is, or rather was, a unifying spirit of liturgy common to both East and West in the Middle Ages. Would that legitimate custom were allowed without prejudice, and superstitions rooted out (as well as false doctrine), then the history of the Roman Empire might not have been cut so tragically short.

Friday, 15 April 2016

Disney meets the Black Shirts...

I'd never seen this before. It's the Other Hitchens' programme Diana - The Mourning After, about that terrible week in British history in which tawdry, mob-/media-simulated grief shook the nation and a song about a rose-candle, rain-sodden and blown in the wind whilst striding over the hills became a one-hit-wonder. As Mr Hitchens rightly says: "the dignity that was lost that week can never be regained." This programme is well worth watching, particularly the analysis of Mr Spencer's risible eulogy in Westminster Abbey.

Where was I when I heard the ghastly news? I think I'd come home from school and I was annoyed to find that CITV weren't broadcasting the cartoons I was used to watching, and I was instead subjected to the endless teddy bears, and a sea of cut flowers in honour of a woman I didn't much care for in life. And do you know, now that I think about it, probably the main reason I dislike William and Henry is their mother. Isn't that terrible?


Silence is golden, silence is awkward, silence is many things. But it is not liturgical!

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Peter Hitchens...

It's hard not to admire Peter Hitchens. His articles are bethought of a mind both subtle and profound, and very sharp. He knows much more than I do about British constitutional history and politics, and has a sincerely felt conviction in the defence thereof against the ineluctable tides of secularism, indifference and philistinism. I don't agree with his every view, particularly his commitment to Zionism, but he argues for his positions with clarity. I know from experience that he doesn't suffer fools gladly. I wrote to him once about a painting in his house (I assumed it was his house) which reminded me of the view of London from Shooters Hill, with a few other comments about his latest book "Short Breaks in Mordor." I was amazed that within ten minutes I had a reply, which was both strangely complimentary and condescending. The impression I got was that because I didn't have an encyclopaedic knowledge of his every published work, I was an idiot; although I must stress that he did not say that. I felt "stung;" that seems the best word. I never wrote back.

He has recently been very spirited in the defence of Bishop George Bell, an heroic and saintly man cheaply discarded by the Church of England on an (almost certainly false) accusation of paedophilia. Mr Hitchens is to be commended on this. He also occasionally appears on BBC's The Big Questions, a faith discussion show hosted by Nicky Campbell on Sunday mornings. I seldom watch this because the BBC scrapes the multicultural barrel of Britain to undermine the sanctity of the LORD's Day by discussing such things as: "is there more truth in Shakespeare than the Bible," and "is it fair that we have bishops in the House of Lords?" at a time when we all should be in church. But Mr Hitchens' forbearance is formidable, and he once said, in response to some hackneyed feminist drivel, "no wonder nobody goes to church these days, if they believe this sort of flim flam is what goes on on Sunday mornings!" He is absolutely right.

Mr Hitchens, very much like me, is a lonely voice in a howling wilderness. I would there were more journalists like him. Presently the only one I can think of is Polly Toynbee, but she is only like Mr Hitchens in the sense that they are of a similar standard, class and generation. Their views couldn't be more different, and, unlike Mr Hitchens, Toynbee represents a worldview I heartily detest. As usual, I digress.

There are two articles by Mr Hitchens that I would recommend. The first, from 2011, a response to the "riots" we saw in London that summer. The next, a response to the parliamentary vote to bomb Syria in December. He's a good egg.


I had a very active Facebook account until about four years ago, when I deleted it. I had initially set up my account to keep in contact with friends of mine from Heythrop who were moving away, moving up in the (mostly ecclesiastical) world, because at the time I became acutely aware that Facebook was fast becoming the sole means of maintaining human contacts in a globalised world. I can't say that I didn't enjoy using it. I uploaded lots of photographs, was "tagged" in quite a few too. Many people found my posts humorous and insightful, as they sometimes do here. These are all gone forever now, even if I can remember half of them or see them in my mind's eye. You see, as sometimes happened with my books, I purged them completely. I didn't simply request that my account be deactivated, to be restored at any time I fancied to return, I deleted everything manually (which took some hours), and then submitted a request for permanent deletion.

Why did I do this? There are many reasons. One was my near obsession with using the service, which is never a good thing. Upon waking I would instantly turn on my iPhone and go through the app, checking notifications, looking at friends' posts and pictures, and so on. Another was the pent-up envy that came of being constantly exposed to the lives of people better off than myself. "Look at me, I'm on holiday!" or: "we're having a brace of lobsters for dinner tonight, and champagne." What was also apparent, and certainly depressing, was the absolute contrast between my work and my social life, which came together on Facebook. People at work would send me friend requests, just as my real friends would (and not seldom people I'd never met). Most of these I accepted, just to save face. Since we spend most of the year with our work colleagues it wouldn't do to offend them by letting them hang! But I found this mingling of the two worlds troubling, not because I am a different person in either but because I wanted to keep work and leisure strictly separate. I remember feeling distinctly embarrassed when a friend (of a friend), a rather obsessive chap, made a number of verbose comments on a photograph in which I had been tagged by my friend Nina. When I next saw her she asked who he was, and I could see that she also found the situation embarrassing; a situation exacerbated by my attempt to delete his comments, which was met with: "my comments seem to have disappeared. What I had said was," &c.

Occasionally, although I later stopped caring, I would ask work colleagues what they thought of "my Facebook." The general consensus was: "well, I don't understand your posts most of the time." One woman, Mary, even said: "I don't like it when you use big words," which made me feel very sad for her. Having, therefore, work colleagues as Facebook friends just exemplified how different I was from them and by extension how lonely and peculiar I was by nature.

After I deleted my Facebook account I sent a circular e-mail to many of my old friends explaining my decision. Some wrote back with promises of contact, even meeting up, open invitations to visit them, and such things. None of them ever materialised, and even the few who remained in contact with me whittled away one by one, sooner for those who genuinely didn't care, later for those who made some effort. Some begged me to come back, one ostensibly on the grounds that she found the traditional means of contact (such as writing) a waste of time! I don't have sentimental feelings about these people to-day. People move on and if my list of friends has shortened considerably to a small nucleus of true friends then I think my decision to end my connexion to this suspicious online mob was a good one.

Of course, now that I am in a new job (since October) I am having to reject repeated intercessions from new colleagues for me to set up a new account. Karen (with whom my manager thinks I am having an affair!) is especially keen. The girls are doing a Cancer Research walk in the summer. As I think I said here, I can think of worthier causes than that but registration was through Facebook, and it would have been nice to have been asked. I do but pay the price for my conviction, I guess.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Vintage Dame Edna...

This is from the Parkinson Show, sometime in 1982 (before I was born, if you can believe it!). I want that tea pot!

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

"Game of Thrones"...

My brother watches "Game of Thrones," and keeps trying to get me to watch it. "It's right up your street," were his words. I sometimes marvel that even members of my own family don't understand me, or have any idea about my taste. The little that I have seen of this series, the gratuitous depictions of sadistic sex, the foul language, the pseudo-mediaeval setting, a pagan pantheon, poor acting and just a general sense of arbitrary, tawdry nastiness together make this one of the programmes I am least likely to watch, let alone enjoy, right up there with Downton Abbey and Jerry Springer. But then I am not particularly keen on any contemporary television programme, for any number of reasons. It might use the metric system; it might have an ethnic presenter; it might be politically-correct in other ways. If it isn't bad enough leaving my house to be confronted with the modern world, I'd rather not see it on my television screen. And what I have seen of this "Game of Thrones" series suggests that it very much caters for a modern audience, who see nothing wrong with fornication, and bestiality, and not believing in the true God.

Do any of my readers watch this series?

Sunday, 10 April 2016


"Less doth yearning trouble him who knoweth many songs, or with his hand can touch the harp. His possession is his gift of glee, which God gave him."

So says the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, as quoted by J.R.R Tolkien in one of his letters. I am terribly glad that my head is full of hymns, madrigals, poems and large chunks of the Psalter. Boredom is something we all feel at whiles but at least with the memory of these things we can stave it off. I have a very mind-numbing job. "Pick, scan, pack, scan," that's my routine four hours out of the day, four days a week. As I undertake my menial tasks my mind naturally wanders. I can walk in the glades of Ithilien with Legolas as he sings of Nimrodel, breathing deep of the abundance of parsley, sage and lily flowers that grew there in peace and listening to the distant music of water falling over stone in swift cataracts; or I could sit in choir in Notre Dame de Paris (circa 1450) on some high feast as the Cantor bids the clerks of Mattins begin the first nocturn with his rod of office. That pious longing and profound regret is, to my mind, the beauty of holiness, but to others is "liturgical fetishism." But I digress.

As I sat on the bank of the River Darent the other week I listened to the swift-flowing river and thought of Ulmo, that kingly yet lonely Ainu who kept in his heart most faithfully the will of God. It's said that in water, Ulmo's province, is heard yet an echo of The Music of the Ainur. For those of you who don't know, The Music of the Ainur is Tolkien's cosmogonical myth, the primeval angelic chorus in which was conceived the world and all its history. Before all things God had made the Ainur, the holy ones, and taught them many things, and the greatest of them was music. Now he would speak to them, propounding to them themes of music and joyous hymn, and their minstrelsy arose in splendour about the divine throne. On a time God told the Ainur of a great theme, unmatched in its vastness and glory than aught else that he had revealed before, and he bade them "make a great and glorious music of this theme," whereat the harpists and lutanists, flautists and pipers, organs and countless choirs singing with voices began a great music, and God listened. Has anybody thought about this in detail? Has anybody endeavoured to conceive of the majesty of this music, its length and structure, or its intricate subtleties and harmonies? How did it begin? Did it begin with thunderous acclamation like "fecit potentiam" of Victoria's eight-part Magnificat, or quiet and sweetly like Morley's summer madrigal "Now is the Month of Maying?" Was it liturgical? Readers will not be surprised to learn that this is my conception of The Music of the Ainur! Like the twenty-four elders with their harps and vials before the throne in prophecy, this music was both adoration and proclamation, a telling of things known from eternity and yet new, with each chord in praise of the divine majesty. But who read the lessons? Who superindended the service? Who ruled the choir? Was time observed in some way? There was no moon, sun or stars. Singing of something so grand as the world from its infancy to the days of eternity must have taken some time, maybe even the six days of Genesis. We're told that those with the deepest understanding of the Music were those who sang not but hearkened, like archdeacons in a mediaeval choir. Perhaps these (among them Gandalf, as he became) were the proto-theologians and liturgists of Middle-earth!

Oh, I know The Music of the Ainur is myth but I do think that Orthodoxy (that is right worship), just as water in any stream, salty sea or mill pond, is redolent of it. And isn't that the whole point of divine worship? To make it as a mirror image of the angelic chorus and liturgy in heaven? Those who say otherwise, be they slack modernists who say there is no point or time in the fullness of liturgy, or traditionalists who say likewise (those apt to label me a "liturgical fetishist," for example), have profoundly missed the point. I put it to you that the prime purpose of life is to worship God in spirit and truth, and the beauty of holiness...and it seems to me that a low mass, without song, just doesn't come close.

I go over these things constantly, as I follow the "pick, scan, pack, scan" routine or sit watching a shallow river in rural England.

As a curious aside, please note what Ilúvatar says of existence: "those things that ye have sung and played, lo! I have caused to be - not in the musics that ye make in the heavenly regions, as a joy to me and a play unto yourselves, alone, but rather to have shape and reality even as have ye Ainur, whom I have made to share in the reality of Ilúvatar myself." Aquinas, anyone?

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

A question of sport...

To-day's Google widget is a reminder of 120 years of the modern Olympic games. If you ask me, Theodosius Augustus was right to abolish the Olympic games with all the other pagan relics of the antient world, and their "revival" is most unfortunate. I have nothing against physical fitness and healthy competition but when these things become, as they have ostensibly become in our time, obsessive, and occasions of pride and lust (not to mention obscene - the so-called "paralympic" games are an abuse of human dignity), I think it behoves us to remember Christ's words to the Pharisees about making clean the outside of the cup (the physical body) at the expense of that which is within (the soul). I used to work with a girl called Emma. Pleasant enough as godless people are to-day, she knew little of Jesus, but spent a considerable amount of her time going to the gym, watching her calories, moisturising her skin, flossing her teeth (she used to brush her teeth after every meal), waxing her body hair, getting drunk and fornicating with various men. She made no efforts at all to read books, or to to listen to (real) music, or go to the theatre. She was a cultural and spiritual desert; an impressive-looking but hollow shell. Anybody in this world can lift weights, or run a distance, but if you are ignorant of the literature and musick of your country, you cannot really be conversant with its history or character; you know nothing at all about what your ancestors thought and believed, and crucially you cannot pass that onto your children. To read, to listen, to experience; these things make us who we are, not contests of sport or Weight Watchers. And if you are ignorant of the Bible, what sense can you claim to be civilised?

I would quite happily see the abolition of the modern Olympic games, not because it is a revival of paganism (would that it were! At least pagans had the natural light, ere the Gospel encompassed the Empire), but because I see it as tacitly encouraging the kind of person Emma was. A hollow shell, apt to be filled with the modern world. Not much room there for the Gospel. Beauty fades, the body soon withers. We're stuck with our souls for eternity.

This is becoming all too frequent...

"The reality is that the Gangster Bankers who created and financed Communism also control the 'British' Parliament from behind the scenes. The House of Commons is no more than a House of Traitors. For years politicians of all parties have furthered the plans and ambitions of the Money Power, not looked after the interests of the British people. There could be no more clear evidence of this than Coloured Immigration.

"Against the clear wishes of the indigenous British people and in a manner which can only be described as treasonable, an estimated 10 million racially unassimilable aliens have been brought into our already overcrowded island. The incomers include: West Indians, Africans, Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Iranians, Vietnamese, Tamils, Philippinos, Arabs, Egyptians, Indonesians, Malaysians, South and Central Americans, Chinese, Greek and Turkish Cypriots, &c; not to mention vast numbers of 'nearly-Whites' from southern Europe. Now we face the prospect of further millions from Hong Kong—and Turkey, if Turkey's application to join the 'European' Common Market is successful. The hostility which these various ethnic groups bear for us, the 'host' community, is often only exceeded by the imported ancestral hatreds which they nurture for each other.

"Why is this being done to our country? Because the almighty International Bankers—Rothschilds, Warburgs, Rockefellers and their associates have decided that all the peoples of the world are going to have a World Government imposed on them whether they like it or not, and breaking down the identities of the various sovereign nations is best achieved by mixing up their populations. As the pro-World Government spokesman Rabbi Abraham Feinberg put it: 'One World—One Race: the deliberate encouragement of inter-racial marriage.'

"Britain has been selected by the Bankers to be their first victim nation in the context of the Common Market and other developing World Government structures. To ensure that the planned destruction of our nation is total and permanent the Bankers have determined that our unique Anglo-Saxon-Celtic people must be obliterated as a distinct ethnic group by means of forced race mixing with hordes of Blacks, Browns and Yellows who are being deliberately brought into our country for this purpose.

"Eustace Mullins, in his book History of the Jews, quoted a speech by Rabbi Rabinovitch in Budapest forty years ago, which shows clearly what the intentions of the Jewish Bankers are: 'Mixing the dark with the white means an end of the White man..... thus the White Race will disappear and our most dangerous enemy will become only a memory.'

"The politicians you vote for have been fully co-operating with the Bankers in this strategy. To speed up the process of the destruction and decay of our race and nation and to create room for more new alien immigrants, the British people are being deluged with mass media propaganda to induce them to reduce their numbers by means of abortion, sterilization, vasectomy and contraception. Remember that mass media hacks, like Parliamentary politicians, are simply the obedient servants and handsomely-paid hirelings of the International Jewish Conspiracy.

"Our race and nation is now being destroyed. What are you doing about it? A vote for any of the Parliamentary political parties is a vote of support for the Satanic Bankers and the destruction of your own kind." The Longest Hatred: An Examination of Anti-Gentilism.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Send in the clowns...

See here for David Sullivan's succinct analysis of what I've spent the past week and more complaining about. Sedevacantism is far more sensible than mainstream traditionalism but it cannot exist outside the framework of modern Romanism, the construct of 19th century Ultramontanism, which is why it is inherently fallacious as a position. Traditionalism is worse in that it seeks to be respectable, where Sedevacantists can be dismissed (unfairly?) as fanatics, but it seeks justification for its existence by recourse to positive legislation of the contemporary "magisterium." Tradition simply doesn't come into it, to say nothing of the bogus "hermeneutics" (a posh word for reading what you want to read) traditionalists apply to contemporary magisterial texts, on such things as "climate change," or references to dubious 20th century genocides.

It seems to me that if you want to be a Roman Catholic, just be an ordinary one. Swim with the tide, and faster. To be a "traditionalist," of whatever sort, is both to have given up the struggle, and to be too selfish to move on. They're both the same. Since the Western patrimony is objectively dead and found only in the libraries of cathedrals and universities, I don't really see how to identify as a Roman Catholic, and to believe in Roman Catholic teachings, has anything to do with concern about such ephemeral things as the hymns of Prudentius or where the thurifer stands at solemn vespers. Prudentius never belonged to the modern Roman church anymore than Luther did after he proclaimed his heresy. Would either of them have believed in papal infallibility, or accepted the teaching implicit in Nostra Aetate (to pick one document) that we're all the same, really? Here my detractors would point out Newman's "doctrinal development" and say that I am being cynical. Maybe I am cynical. But what is "doctrinal development" but relentless progress? Just like the evolution of mankind or scaling that skyward tower built by the sons of men. One pope, in the seventh century, might have (rightly) condemned episcopal hubris; and then another, over a thousand years later, proclaims himself the embodiment of the whole Church. It's a non sequitur!

If you accept all this as divinely sanctioned, following the only scripture pericope known to most Roman Catholics (you know which one), that's up to you. You are at liberty to do so. But what I don't understand is the attachment people feel, who accept this "doctrinal development," to the externals of what tradition they think fitting to hold onto. As such, I have come to be deeply suspicious of anything even remotely "high church" within Roman Catholicism. Why would you be concerned about the hymns of Prudentius, Ambrose and the other Latin Christian poets when these have been replaced by divinely-sanctioned authority? Or arbitrarily brought back as the case may be! Why feel regret at all about the passing of much that was so sure and venerable by swift and nondiscriminating legislation? Surely communion with your local priest, that's right! the trendy one who insists you call him "Bob," is more important? Why not avail yourselves of the treasures at his command? Join the fun! Swim with the tide! Because by fighting against the tide you're surely putting yourself at variance with the mind of the Church? Sentire cum ecclesia, and all that. What did we say about relentless progress? If the church has said: "Oh, we don't pray in this way, or believe such things, anymore; that's how Christians prayed and believed in savage, politically incorrect ages," then surely it is your bounden duty to obey without question and ignore the tradition, doctrine or discipline that has latterly been driven into a vast, underground lumber room, like so much embarrassing furniture (like Limbo, or the sale of Indulgences), and the doors sealed? Otherwise you're just doomed to despair, to be forgotten within a generation. Just as before railways each town had its own "time zone," reckoned by a sundial, so before the Council of Trent there was a rich plurality of liturgy and tradition in each town and province. Who remembers it?

Rome has no intention of ever undoing the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, or abolishing the Novus Ordo. To do so would be to undermine her self-proclaimed infallibility. Like the discords of Melkor in The Music of the Ainur, these things have simply been taken up into her narrative, except that this narrative will not end in the triumph of good but the declension of noticeable difference between Roman Catholics and people of other faiths, even atheists. In purely business terms, if you're not with this programme, if you're not fully flexible, adaptable, if you do not embrace change and diversity...then you might as well just pack up and leave!

Or you could remain Sedevacantist, or Lefebvrist, or neo-conservative, or traditionalist. But what do you have that cannot be found, better and healthier, within the Orthodox Church?

Monday, 4 April 2016

Under the yoke...

I have often been ridiculed and insulted for holding fast certain of my views. I have been proscribed, banned from commenting on certain blogs and, where I am not (yet) banned, simply ignored. I am also used to ridicule in civil life; mostly from people I have worked with (nearly always my own age), though not seldom strangers around town. I have been heckled and abused on the bus, refused service in a wine bar, even assaulted in my own home. I am used to it. I recently deleted a comment left by a renegade priest in the Netherlands who said that I was a "crackpot," whom "nobody could ever take seriously," and then suggested that I should be locked up for life in an insane asylum, gagged and muzzled and denied access to the Internet. To have elicited such shameful contempt, I think, says more about the abuser than the abused. Is he fearful of my words as those of a true seer? Why do my views touch a nerve so raw in him that he must make recourse to such harsh censure?

What views might they be? That the Pope of Rome is the Antichrist? That this can be proven from Scripture and even the testament of past Bishops of Rome, most notably St Gregory the Great and Preacher of Dialogues? Or my view that Lefebvrism is a pagan cult? Or that Mother Teresa was morally depraved? That Lady Diana Spencer was a dull ingrate whose death was both timely and many times deserved? Or perhaps people find my political views, or my views about Jews, blacks and the adulteration of British culture by mass immigration and secularism distasteful? I am not apologetic about holding these convictions. I regard myself as having a coherent, defensible moral position, and I think that if I did nothing else but breathe, eat and sleep people would still find reason to hate me. It is not unreasonable to imagine that some of my detractors genuinely wish I was dead.

The man who left the unpublished comment is one of the more enthusiastic proponents of the "social kingship of Christ," that disturbingly modern ideology (very much like Joseph the Worker) with its uttermost source in Papal hubris before God, and before the Italian people. I don't think I have discussed this before but the "social kingship of Christ" is a ruse. What it actually means is papal hegemony, the theocratic manipulation of world politics by priestcraft and sorcery, and power. Power of him in this world over me. Power to have me locked up in an insane asylum, gagged and muzzled, &c, and you might ask why? Free thought? For holding popes, garlanded with so many titles and responsibilities, to high standards? For being openly queer, perhaps? And people wonder why I'm not keen!

I must say the "social kingship of Christ," as I have described it, sounds an awful lot like the Islamic "Pact of Umar," or the old "dhimmitude." Albeit somewhat relieved by the Turks (largely under pressure from Britain and France), the principles of dhimmitude were observed throughout the Muslim world wherever there were people of other faiths, mostly Christians and Jews. It was systematic humiliation. Dress codes (of inferior cloth), doorway height, permitted mounts, an inferior legal status, the exaction of punitive taxes, and even the occasional ritual slap in the face, all served to reinforce the dominance of the Mosque and the humiliation of the Church. Christianity was tolerated in principle, but Christians were not allowed to build or repair churches, they were not allowed belfries and they were certainly not allowed to proselytise among Muslims. Dhimmitude was also an effective means of weaning converts to Islam. If you reverse the names, change Muslim to "traddie," and "Christians" to "Patricius," and you can tell what kind of humiliation people wish to see me suffer. And I have no doubt at all that some, perhaps all, traditionalists wish for the revival of the old Temporal Power in this way so that they can heap these humiliations upon their foes. Not all traditionalists are embarrassed by the Fourth Lateran synod, as Fr Hunwicke said the other day.

Thank God for the liberty of the Gospel, that's all I can say!

Saturday, 2 April 2016

The first time...

It didn't look that clean when I was there! What must have been fifty years of corrupt, Wahhabi fuel was caked on the walls.

The year 2003 was a very formative year for me. I was 15 years old. When I had a meeting with the school's "careers adviser," I had said that I wanted to do something "religious" for my "work experience." A week later she approached me in one of the corridors and said that there was a vacancy at St Paul's Cathedral, and I jumped at the opportunity. From my earliest days I had been fascinated by Wren's church, and I used to draw it a lot. Its indomitable dome, with its splendid galleries, the iconic statue of St Paul over the portico. As I recall, it was always disappointing that the church was Anglican instead of Roman. I had been there as a little boy, of course, and on a clear day I could see it (as one cannot see it now, what with shards and gherkins obscuring the view) from the top deck of a bus going over Shooter's Hill. On my first real tour of the cathedral, on my first day, the virger had told me that the empty vaults about the nave were designed for statues of the saints, were Britain to become a Roman Catholic nation again. When I think about this assertion now I'm not actually so sure, and think that the vaults might have been designed for secular memorials instead, like the scandalous Wellington monument with its ugly equestrian figure. Although I do recall that there was a movement in Anglo-Catholic circles in the mid-20th century (my old friend Jeffrey was part of it) to have the High Altar moved to beneath the dome, in tawdry imitation of a pagan basilica in some other country. Does anybody know aught about that?

On my first day I had a meeting with the HR Manager, who gave me three options about placement. The first was to work in the cathedral shop, the second was to work with the Cathedral Stewards, and the last with the Virgers. I chose to spend my two weeks with the Virgers. I then had my first meeting with the Dean's Virger, who then beckoned the youngest on his staff (only eight years my senior) to give me a tour of the place. I reckon the two weeks I spent at St Paul's as two of the most enlightening and privileged of my life. I met the Bishop of London, +Richard Chartres, on one of the morning rounds. We were delivering mail and I knocked at the door of his house at the Old Deanery, expecting some secretary or servant to answer, and there he was in the flesh, a towering and truly episcopal character, and a nice man. He asked me some routine things about my school, and aspirations (in those days "respected theologian and canon lawyer," quite normal for a boy of 15), and I saw him celebrate a liturgy in the cathedral on my last day, although I cannot remember the occasion. I met an Anglican nun during my stay too. I have forgotten her name but I do remember feeling embarrassed eating with her. She had a frugal lunch and I had brought a large piece of chocolate with mine. I had never heard of Anglican religious before then. One of the older Virgers was very interesting, and tested my hagiographical knowledge as we went through one of the vintage copes together. I didn't do so badly but my former prejudice that Protestants knew less about saints than Roman Catholics was dashed on that afternoon.

My two weeks at St Paul's was also the occasion of my very first Latin liturgy. On one afternoon, one of the Anglo-Catholic Virgers (incidentally, that's how they spell it there) and I went this is embarrassing because I can't remember the name of the church. It was within walking distance of St Paul's, it was an Anglo-Catholic church, and it was for a service of Benediction. I think it was St Alban's, Holborn, but I'm not sure. I remember enjoying the Latin, which I had studied at school, but looking aghast at these Protestant chaps prostrating before their mute host at veneremur cernui (of course, these days I would look aghast at anyone who bowed before a round, bewitched disk). This was in stark contrast to the sober Evensong I attended at the cathedral that evening, which was a special service for retired yeomen, I think.

My Irish grandmother came up to see me on one of the days. We went for lunch south of the river to a French restaurant and on the way back we met the Dean, Dr John Moses. He had seen me about the place and, like the Bishop, asked me the politest questions. He didn't know my grandmother but they clearly knew some of the same people and got on rather well.

I miss the two weeks in June that I spent at St Paul's. I liked it so much that I would go into town an hour early to catch the end of the said Communion service in St Dunstan's chapel and help out in the vestry. I learned much more about liturgy there than I ever did in my own parish church, and it wasn't until the November that I attended my first "traditional Latin Mass" ('62 vintage), a low Mass, at the London Oratory and came away, thoroughly dissatisfied, and thinking that the Church of England did it better.

Friday, 1 April 2016


I've been asked to retract what I have said about Marcel Lefebvre as so much vindictive, even hysterical, nonsense. With the greatest respect to those who have asked this of me in good faith, I don't have any intention of retracting what I have said. Do you suppose that I do not mean what I say? Are you perhaps jealous of the alleged good person and sincerity of Archbishop Lefebvre, and his cause, which has been manifestly divisive and the cause of abiding hatred? Over the years I have inveighed most sharply against the liturgical books of 1962 as the monstrous, lukewarm, utterly contemptible creature, and indeed the bane of my life. Why then would you think that I would be reticent about the man chiefly responsible for the exaltation and dominance of these books? This man laid waste the tradition he claimed to defend! He has exerted such an horrible influence over the traditionalist movement, which might, but for him, have born fruit in blessedness, that I sometimes wonder if he had sold his soul to the Devil! I hold Lefebvre indirectly responsible for my own expulsion from Blackfen, which was a complex and painful matter but was largely to do with the sundry objections I raised against 1962 interpolations into the rite we celebrated as a parish, as a Christian community. I also hold him responsible for that disgraceful letter, signed by, among others, Mgr Andrew Wadsworth (who had a hand in that grotesque new translation) and Fr Sean Finnegan (ironically mad about Sarum), which put a permanent end to the late and much-missed Arthur Crumly's heroic attempt to recall tradition at Corpus Christi Maiden Lane.

And so, for my "character assassination" I am so far from being sorry that I have come to despise the remonstrance of men, however sincere, in this matter and am resolved to persevere in vehement zeal, according to the example of Christ, who, in His zeal, called His adversaries a generation of vipers, blind hypocrites, and even children of the Devil. What could be more intemperate, or "hysterical" or "vindictive" than this? Is this soft generation so accustomed to flattery that we have become numb to genuine outrage? What about Truth? Are we so accustomed to lies dripping with honey that when Truth stabs into our minds as a light into a dark place we shriek with terror? Do men not attribute bitterness, recrimination and such things to me unfairly? Christ saith: "Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men." Far be it from me to add to where Christ left off, but what's the use of salt if it is not pungent, or the sword if it is not sharp? What did the Angel of the LORD say to the church of the Laodiceans? "I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth." Let the man who does the work of the LORD deceitfully be accursed!

Am I to be thrown into the fiery furnace for not bowing down before the image of Archbishop Lefebvre? Just like the Prophet Daniel and the three Holy Youths who would not do obeisance to the image of Nabuchodonosor.