Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Too, too, far ...

Many of us have nothing but admiration for Archbishop Desmond Tutu's courageous stand against the evil of apartheid in his native South Africa. But when he states [report here from The Independent] "I would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven. No, I would say sorry, I mean I would much rather go to the other place. I would not worship a God who is homophobic and that is how deeply I feel about this," not only is he doing a manifest injustice to the far from 'homophobic' theology and ethical tradition of the Christian Church which formed him, but he also seems incredibly, categorically, and, to my mind, dangerously, and even offensively, certain that his own clearly highly subjective interpretation, Nobel Prize and the respect of the whole world notwithstanding,  accurately and beyond the shadow of a doubt represents the Divine Reality. 
Oh  to possess the infallible and hubristic certainty of contemporary liberal Christians! How could God possibly not agree with them?

Monday, 29 July 2013

Royal babies and the 'democratic' case for monarchy

There has been the predictable reaction from the currently small republican minority in Britain (as usual, vastly over-represented in the voices we hear on our broadcasting channels) against the supposedly excessive coverage in the rest of the  press, radio and television given to the recent birth of Prince George Alexander Louis.
I suppose I'm a monarchist by conviction rather than by emotion (although if others want to immerse themselves in the minutiae of royal events and collect commemorative memorabilia, then good luck to them - it's a harmless enough pastime) but there is a sound 'democratic' case to be made for a monarchist constitution.
Constitutional monarchy clearly places the head of state above the inevitably murky and divisive business of party politics - it is hard to think of another way of achieving this without the party machines, established cultural elites  and celebrity candidacies  in some way muscling in - and provides a symbolic link to and a continuity with a past that is all too easily disregarded in our insular, historically amnesiac, contemporary society. 
It enables our focus of loyalty to the country itself to remain unified and separate from the world of politics which, to take the predictable examples from our recent past, a President Thatcher or Blair (or Obama?) could never hope to do. Her Majesty the Queen is now rightly held up as the very embodiment of faithful public service, and she has never been more popular, but the position she holds should be the opposite of charismatic:  personal popularity (as opposed to the assumption of popular consent) is neither here nor there in terms of its raison d'etre.
And if that means there is one office to which everyone in the country cannot aspire, then these reasons alone make it a price worth paying. What the advocates of a shallow, exclusively democratic 'modernity' cannot see is that anomalies are not necessarily flaws in a system, but can be necessary protections for our personal freedom against over-mighty and potentially oppressive  ideologies, even that of democracy itself.  
Our 'liberal' and supposedly egalitarian consensus has not prevented our society over the last couple of decades years becoming far less meritocratic than it has been in perhaps a hundred years: the contemporary rise from the ashes of the Old Etonian politician can be linked directly to the 'reform' of selective state education in the 1960s and '70s by those who ostensibly believed in social equality.

But, without trying to be snide, the very opponents of monarchy make the argument for an hereditary Head of State even more persuasive, represented as they so often are by the children of the nepotistic literary and media elites, themselves the living embodiment of the hereditary principle, only heavily disguised in hypocritical leftist clothing. I can see nothing particularly progressive in a politically powerless Windsor being replaced by even a term-limited Attenborough, Toynbee or Dimbleby ....  to pluck a few surnames out of a hat.
If there can be one institution which remains constitutionally and immovably ever beyond the reach of the hustling, 'exclusively inclusive' modern celebrity establishment, may the British monarchy last another thousand years ...

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Bax: Tintagel

Music for a summer Sunday afternoon: Arnold Bax's tone poem Tintagel (1919)  - David Lloyd Jones conducting the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Surely as night follows day ...

The growth of a culture of rights without responsibilities, and the concomitant rush to proscribe anything which can be interpreted (on the subjective feelings of the supposed 'victim,' naturally) as "hate speech" will lead inevitably to this kind of cultural madness: an American  military chaplain censured for quoting the words, not even of Scripture, nor of a spiritual classic, but of a past president of the U.S.A.  :
"...Reyes recently wrote an essay entitled, “No Atheists in Foxholes: Chaplains Gave All in World War II.” This common saying is attributed to a Catholic priest in World War II, made famous when President Dwight D. Eisenhower said during a 1954 speech: "I am delighted that our veterans are sponsoring a movement to increase our awareness of God in our daily lives. In battle, they learned a great truth that there are no atheists in the foxholes."As reported by Fox News’s Todd Starnes, when Reyes referenced this famous line in his essay, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) contacted the base commander, Col. Brian Duffy, demanding he take action on Reyes’s “anti-secular diatribe.”MRFF’s letter says that by Reyes’s “use of the bigoted, religious supremacist phrase, ‘no atheists in foxholes,’ he defiles the dignity of service members.” They accuse him of violating military regulations....."
Full report here 

Truly, as a post-Christian society, by way of paradox, we in the West are supping with the Devil - there are no spoons long enough....

Meanwhile, President Eisenhower's successor,  giving a passable imitation of the Manchurian Candidate - the last (2004) film of which neatly illustrates Hollywood's inversion of the truth  -  praises Ho Chi Minh - from the Wall Street Journal [here] and comment from Fr Z [here]
And, no, before anyone suggests otherwise, I don't think President Obama is a communist mole, just a representative postmodern liberal who, unlike his more illustrious predecessors,  has read only one side of the law faculty's reading list; we have a similar phenomenon here, except sometimes they call themselves Conservatives ...

Jean Langlais: Suite Médiévale

It's a while since we posted any French organ music.
So, for the beginning of  this summer weekend, this is the Breton composer, Jean Langlais' Suite Médiévale (1947), played by Bernhard Marx on the organ of the Dom St Blasien, Baden-Württemberg.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Bullies and the new Comintern

Prime Minister David Cameron [here] seems to see himself as the head of a kind of same-sex marriage CominternIt seems counter-intuitive, to say the least, for a 'conservative' politician to advocate the export of the sexual revolution around the world.  Where? The mind boggles. Perhaps it could be made a condition of the next arms deal with Saudi Arabia. Somehow it seems more likely that it will be the poorer, and therefore less assertive, nations of the world who will be on the receiving end of any trade-linked ideological bullying recommendations. Doesn't it make you proud to be British ...?

It's hard, it's difficult, it's embarrassingly inconvenient, but if the undoubtedly growing intolerance and intimidation of those unfashionable enough to hold on to the traditional (Scriptural /natural law)  definition of marriage (see the link below)  is not resisted, then the bullies will inevitably take away our freedom of speech and religion here at home. The problem is not so much the proponents of redefined marriage (and, it seems, on one interpretation, the new legislation itself) insisting that everyone approve of the change, but, to put it bluntly, the cowardice of us all in the face of the fear of litigation and social isolation. This is Alan Craig's take on the situation. 

And a heartfelt plea by journalist, Selina Gray [here] to Mr Cameron's deputy, Liberal Democrat Nick Clegg (happily married himself, but on this occasion not in favour of exporting the wedded state to others) not to oppose marriage incentives and to visit the housing estate where the writer was brought up in order to “witness the devastating effect on people of a society that does not value marriage”.  
Anyone who has ever worked or ministered in areas of multiple deprivation knows first-hand the social, emotional and economic problems caused to families and whole communities (particularly to that most neglected social group of all - young working class males) by the absence of fathers and the presence of (sometimes abusive) serial boyfriends. It isn't in the least 'progressive,' much less is it compassionate, to turn a blind eye to this. 
No one imagines that tax breaks for married couples would be any more than a signal - a small indication - that society cannot afford to be morally neutral where it comes to the welfare of children and the preservation of the social fabric in the face of atomisation and disintegration. It's a symbolic action, but a necessary one, and one the Church should support.  

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Tragedy in Galicia

Yesterday on the Eve of the Feast of St James the Apostle: reports of the terrible train derailment near Santiago de Compostela here and here

We ask the prayers of St James for those killed and injured

O glorious Apostle, St. James, 
who by reason of thy fervent and generous heart 
wast chosen by Jesus to be a witness of His glory on Mount Tabor,
and of His agony in Gethsemane;  thou, whose very name is a symbol 
of warfare and victory: obtain for us strength and consolation
in the unending warfare of this life, that, 
having constantly and generously followed Jesus, 
we may be victors in the strife 
and deserve to receive the victor's crown in heaven. 

Power and authority

Bishop Keith Ackerman's presidential address at this year's Assembly of Forward in Faith North America:

FIFNA's recently adopted (18th July) Declaration of Common Faith and Purpose can be found here   - and in a more readable format here
We should note particularly, as a positive development, the changes to sections five and eight of the declaration as being more representative of the historic faith of the undivided Church...

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Of your charity

pray for the repose of the souls of David and Mary Marshall, stalwart members of the Monmouth Diocesan branch of  Credo Cymru (Forward in Faith, Wales), who were involved in a car accident on Saturday on their way home from a mass and social function here. 
David was killed outright, Mary died in hospital this morning.
Jesu mercy, Mary pray.

More comment on Monmouth

The Diocese of Monmouth website has this brief biography of its bishop-elect.
Ancient Briton expresses his opinion of the result of the election here.
BBC Wales now has this article

In case anyone from outside the Province of Wales is wondering where Archdeacon Pain stands on at least one of the 'issues' which divide the Anglican world, this is an excerpt from the BBC report:
"...The Venerable Richard Pain, 56, told BBC Radio Wales that he was honoured to be offered the position.
Among the issues which needed to be tackled was declining church membership, he said.
"We need to do something about that. Our relevance for society is very important, and we need to build up better community links and encourage a sense of value and spirituality that people will find attractive."
He also said he looked forward "to a day when we're able to have women bishops for a sense of equality in the church"....
Well, quite.... 
No one who refused to make that particular prostration to the zeitgeist would now even be considered for election as a bishop in the Church in Wales...
The Diocese of Monmouth website also comments that  Archdeacon Pain is 'a keen supporter of the ministry of women as bishops....' - which perhaps is a somewhat nuanced comment on the initially more reluctant support to the 'development' offered by his predecessor.

But, however tempting it might be, we should not prejudge the new bishop's view on the related matter of finding genuine and truly 'inclusive' provision for traditionalists within Wales. The proof of the pudding and all that ....
We must also pray that the Welsh episcopal bench and the Governing Body will, later this year, take a historically literate view of the nature of Anglicanism and that they will not fall into the 'relevancy' trap neatly summarised by Fr Mascall (see yesterday's post) in this way:
"...On the contrary such a proposal needs the most searching examination; otherwise the Church may be found to have committed itself to an irreversible course of action that future generations will condemn as reflecting the ephemeral and unsubstantial prejudices of the latter part of the twentieth century. Those who dismiss the Church's past practice as socially conditioned and obsolete should seriously ask themselves whether their own proposals may not fall under the same condemnation. Sociology is a game at which more than one can play! ..."
Adequate and permanent provision for those who hold to the Church's traditional view of apostolicity would at least have the advantage that the contemporary rush to embrace the culture of the day need not be irreversible - another reason, of course, why the suggestion meets with such opposition from those whose theology expresses more liberalism than liberality.

Listen and despair

A few days late - it was broadcast as part of BBC Radio's Sunday programme, here is an interview with the retiring Church of England Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Revd James Jones. If you ever wondered what some commentators were talking about when they spoke of a profound theological crisis within Anglicanism, listen and wonder no longer... 
The following passage could act as a kind of commentary: 
".....I am not advocating that, in order to escape contamination by the perverse and ephemeral assumptions of the present day, the Church should cling on to the perverse and outmoded assumptions of the past.  What I am advocating is that the Church should be loyal, both in ordering her own life and in presenting the Gospel to the contemporary world, to the revelation which she has received from God in Christ.  And with regard to the special question with which we have here been concerned, it would be naive in the extreme to suppose that the culture in which we live has been so successful in understanding the nature of sex and applying that understanding in practice as to be capable of providing the Church with principles for deciding such a matter as that of the ordination of women.  On the contrary, the sexual chaos of the modern world would seem itself to show the need of such guidance as only the Christian revelation can give.  No doubt it is true that in matters of sex the Church has picked up in the course of her history attitudes and assumptions that cannot be justified by Christian principles.  It is all the more necessary that, having learnt the lesson, she shall explore those principles more thoroughly and not capitulate to the attitudes and assumptions of her present environment.  And of no aspect of the matter is this more true than of the relation of sex to the priesthood."
E.L. Mascall

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

New Bishop of Monmouth elected

It was announced today, following the meeting of the Electoral College of the Church in Wales, that the next Bishop of Monmouth,  in succession to the Rt Revd Dominic Walker OGS,  is to be the Venerable Richard Pain, at present Archdeacon of Monmouth.
Our prayers for the bishop-elect and for the Diocese.
A BBC report here
More, no doubt, from the Church in Wales itself when its website is functioning again ...

Saturday, 20 July 2013

The London Plan

A revised version of the London Plan is published here (pdf)
It repays a detailed study, particularly in view of the proceedings of the last meeting of the C of E's General Synod.
It would seem, though, from some of the negative comments on the Thinking Anglicans blog that those who say that many - not all - liberals (particularly, perhaps, so-called 'liberal or affirming catholics' ) won't be satisfied until the last traditionalist is driven out of the Church of England  are absolutely right.... 
The aim of course is, paradoxically, to create an 'inclusive'  theologically monolithic ecclesial community (we now know the agenda and the tactics used to implement it very well) - perhaps we could say, by way of a topical civic analogy from across the Atlantic,  something on the lines of the city of Detroit?

Thursday, 18 July 2013

'Indaba': Andrew Carey tells the truth...

From the Church of England Newspaper ( thanks to Anglican Mainstream) My emphasis:
"..... At the Lambeth Conference the obsession with ‘Indaba’ meant that the entire emphasis was placed on having a ‘good’ process at the expense of decision-making and truthfulness. So-called Indaba disguised differences but did not ameliorate the divisions in the Anglican Communion merely making it easier to hide them under a veneer of civility.  Liberal western bishops felt good about themselves because they were appropriating the consensus decision-making meetings of African villages. They ignored the fact that genuine Indaba is about coming to a decisive conclusion.
In that sense the small groups operating at General Synod on Saturday at least had a purpose – to decide legislation on women bishops which can carry assent through the General Synod process. But it’s difficult to see what these kinds of structured exercises in reconciliation actually achieve when the final decision-making is still enacted through an adversarial process of standing orders, voting and politicking.
In fact, only 48 hours after these small groups a series of amendments intended to improve provision for traditionalist consciences were being voted down one by one. Speaker after speaker stood up to assure their opponents that they wanted them to be a full part of the Church while at the same time defeating every measure that might have given them some space for flourishing.

These sorts of small group-driven conversations, Indaba and attempts at reconciliation provide the illusion that a real conversation has taken place and people have listened to each other. In reality, they merely substitute process for truth-telling."
He is right - the substitution of 'process for truth-telling' is an accurate description of what has happened.

One could go a little further and say that Anglican as opposed to genuine 'indaba' is a endless conversation deliberately designed by Western 'churchmen' to continue their very successful war of attrition and wear down the opponents of change (the test is to ask yourself whether you can imagine for one moment Anglican revisionists ever admitting that perhaps their actions have been precipitate, much less ill-judged.)  
It saddens me to say so,  but, in view of the developing situation with which we are faced, it is hard to see that indaba was ever intended, except by a naive few, to promote a meeting of minds, or to engage rigorously and constructively with the issues which divide us, but only to delay and ultimately prevent effective opposition by the application of a tortuous, evasive and time wasting process in which neither side has any confidence or expectation.

A matter of weight

In preparing for the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in September, weight has become an issue. Not my own (although, come to mention it...) but that of of necessary items to be carried in my backpack.
All the available information states that 8 kilograms is the maximum one should carry on one's back. 
Volume three of the Divine Office unfortunately weighs in at 1.3 kilograms.
Of course, I do have a basic Kindle; but the Divine Office isn't available to download, and all the other available alternatives seem to be either very difficult indeed to negotiate in an electronic form or to lack certain essential elements of the daily office. Those more traditional breviaries which have been adapted are simply too time-consuming to attempt to say while trying to walk more than fifteen miles a day, find accommodation, eat, shower and get a decent night's sleep. And, before you ask, the ibreviary isn't available for my BlackBerry, which, in any case I don't want glued to my hand for a month or so ..... it defeats the object of the pilgrimage to be so constantly 'connected.' 
So, how to fulfil the obligation of saying the office - even in an abridged form - while on the Camino?
The solution seems to be to take my old copy (given to me as a teenager) of the considerably smaller A Manual of Catholic Devotion, For Members of the Church of England (1962)  suitably fitted out with ribbon markers, and weighing rather less than 400g. Together with a selection of office hymns for (BCP) Morning and Evening Prayer, an RSV bible and an ordo all on the Kindle, it will just about serve. An unvarying form of the lesser offices are included in the Manual together with the Coverdale psalter, Marian antiphons, a great deal of devotional material and much of the text of the Anglican Missal.  
Far, far, better than nothing ....

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

'O brave new world....'.

from The Telegraph
"MPs cheered in the House of Commons as it was announced that royal assent had been given to the new Bill, paving the way for the first same-sex weddings next spring.The Queen, who is the Supreme Governor of the Church of England, gave her formal approval to the Bill – one of the most radical pieces of social legislation of her reign – this afternoon.But it marks the end of the centuries-old understanding of marriage as being solely between a man and a woman in the UK.The Roman Catholic Church described it as a “watershed” in English law and said that it marked a “profound social change”.Ben Summerskill chief executive of Stonewall, said the move would “bring joy to tens of thousands of gay couples and their friends and families....”
The full report is here

The statement by the Archbishops of Westminster and Southwark following on today's Royal Assent is here

Anglican Mainstream and Thinking Anglicans both have developing links to further comment ...

Now we must wait and see what kind of effect the new legislation will have on both freedom of speech and the employment prospects of those who, for whatever reasons of conscience, cannot approve of it.... and, depressingly, how many of our fellow countrymen will care.

Both in Church and State we are now embarked upon a perilous experiment to prove beyond doubt that a mere numerical concept of 'democracy,' (involving, in both cases, the ruthless manipulation of the majority by a soi-disant social and intellectual elite who effectively control the means of education and communication *)  without an accompanying respect either for the rights of religious minorities or the inherited wisdom of the ages, is the enemy of true freedom.  
Such is the measure of the decline of our civilisation, and the extinction of any commonly held sense of history, that the past is not just 'another country,' it's another planet...

* Not an advanced case of paranoia, but merely an observation that there are vast swathes of our broadcasting media and our state education system where conservative or traditional views - religious or political - are simply unheard.

Makeovers: 'Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine...'

The recently retired Bishop of Monmouth, the Rt Revd Dominic Walker OGS,  has said in a BBC Wales interview [link here] that he attributes at least part of the decline of Christianity in Wales to its Calvinistic and 'life- denying' image with the general public.
As you might imagine, I have a certain degree of sympathy with his comments - although I'm not sure that it has been wholly accurate to describe Welsh Christianity in precisely those terms for several generations or more. The Church in Wales, at disestablishment in the 1920s, became a distinctly non-protestant, even Prayer Book Catholic, Province until the efforts of the present generation of our leaders - something reflected in the Prayer Book of 1984, still thankfully, despite its flaws, the province's doctrinal and liturgical standard - even if some would prefer it were not.

Equally, of course, it could be said that as a Celtic people the Welsh require a certain passion and mystery in order to engage their interest in the practice of the faith - something which both revivalist Protestantism (even Calvinism?)  and traditional forms of Catholicism (whether 'Roman' or Anglo-Catholic) tend to possess in their very different ways.

This, of course, also raises the uncomfortable question of why, if Bishop Walker's analysis is even partially correct, the Welsh Anglican Bishops have been presiding over a period in which their province has become progressively more 'protestant'  - both in theology (the neo-puritanism of 'liberal inclusivity') and in the outward expression of its worship - and during which the 'permissible' boundaries of Anglicanism have markedly shrunk, and will shrink further if they get their way.

Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that it is contemporary 'bureaucratic' liberal protestant blandness and its accompanying lack of clear and passionate conviction and teaching, and also the absence of mystery in our modern 'horizontal'  liturgies which at least partly explains (there are many other factors) the faith's decline in the Principality.

As for Christianity in Wales being seen as life-denying:

"Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine, 

There's always laughter and good red wine. 

At least I've always found it so. 

Benedicamus Domino! "

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

This is how bad things will get

Following on from the post about Bishop Bo Giertz of Gothenburg last week, there's some interesting information here about the 'Confessional Remnant'  among Lutherans in Scandinavia  - some, refugees from the state churches, others desperately trying to hang on within their structures.
There is an alarming report here concerning the virtual repudiation by the bishops of the Church of Finland of the (female) Christian Democrat  Interior Minister (trained as a doctor) who has had the courage to question the country's extreme liberal abortion laws. However the State Church begs to differ:
"CoF Archbishop Kari Mäkinen emphasized that Räsänen was not expressing the CoF’s viewpoint. Mäkinen tweeted, “One may agree with her or be of a different opinion, but her views should not be confused with the Church's position. No more than the opinion of any other church member you might meet on the street.”
CoF Bishop Björn Vikström found her statement that sometimes one must put the Bible above civil law “especially problematic” in view of her position as a government minister. Her Interior Ministry’s responsibilities include church affairs. Vikström was particularly critical of Räsänen ’s assertion that sometimes one should obey the Bible rather than civil law.
Regarding the right of healthcare workers to abstain from participating in abortions and euthanasia, a right supported by the Council of Europe and the Finnish doctors’ federation, Vikström again distanced himself saying, “We must agree on the rules of the game and legislation before one can act.”
Turku's CoF Bishop, Kaarlo Kalliala, also distanced himself somewhat from Räsänen, saying that although she has a right to her personal opinion, he would “not necessarily have expressed himself in the same way.”
One of the difficulties some of us may have with the Lutheran tradition is its somewhat, how shall we say, counter-intuitive theologyin terms of the wider, universal,  Christian tradition, of the relationship between Church and State - persisting even, dare we say it, after Bonhoeffer.  
There are, of course, other theological strands within the Scandinavian churches - again, see above and also here;  however, they have been almost entirely forced out of the established churches in the face of revisionist 'entryism' in much the same way as the Anglo-Catholic tradition or Conservative Evangelicalism are currently being marginalised within Anglicanism by the heterodox cuckoo in the nest.
However, if we recognise that the bishops quoted above are first and foremost civil servants, whose primary duty is to defend the contemporary culture of society against all comers, then their radical disobedience to the Christian faith becomes somewhat more understandable - if not exactly  forgivable.
Another glimpse of the future of British Anglicanism .....  
You think it is impossible here? 
In the United States, TEC has needed neither establishment nor a theological tradition of subservience to the State to go the same way...

Monday, 15 July 2013

By what authority do we throw over authority?

An article from the New Oxford Review of December 2005 by the continuing Anglican priest, Fr Robert Hart has been recently brought to our attention. 
His argument is important, particularly for those of us who now belong to increasingly 'disobedient' ecclesial communions, because - yet again  - it has never been satisfactorily answered. Fr Hart sums up the fundamental objection which, for many of us,  lies behind our continued opposition to (historically) recent and radical departures from traditionally accepted apostolic norms, whether it be in the case of holy order or moral theology or the (related) threats to credal orthodoxy.
Here is an excerpt: the full article, entitled 'Question Authority,' can be found here
"...In August 2003, within minutes after the approval to elevate Vickie Gene Robinson to the office of bishop in the Episcopal Church, the news was flashed across the world that a divorced and openly "gay" man, living with his homosexual lover, was going to be a bishop. An Episcopal priest who was present at the General Convention in Minneapolis that had done the deed by majority vote, stood beaming from ear to ear as he answered questions put to him by Bill O'Reilly of Fox News.
"What about the biblical injunction against homosexuality?" asked O'Reilly.
"The Scriptures aren't the final authority in Anglicanism," said the cleric, "the Holy Spirit is."
From the many apologetic responses that were subsequently issued by Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold, and by others, it is clear that what this priest said to O'Reilly was the simple version of their defense. In the final analysis, they were claiming to have been led by the Holy Spirit to overthrow 2,000 years of Church teaching from the Bible. Any such claim only makes sense in light of the promise that Jesus Christ gave to the Apostles, "When He, the Spirit of Truth is come, He will guide you into all truth" (Jn. 16:13).
In an ecclesial body which claims for its validity the Apostolic Succession, this promise of Christ has to be connected to a claim that that body is at least part of the "One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church." As such, when they insist that the Holy Spirit made them do it, it means that their very liberal-sounding agenda is that we must question every commandment of God and the whole authority of the Church in a Tradition going back past the Apostles to the Lawgiver of Sinai. And, also, that this anti-authoritarian agenda has been ordered by the Highest Authority. So that now "Question Authority" is clearly seen to be the command that it is, and a command from on high no less.
A further irony is that a change of Tradition in an ecclesial body that claims the Apostolic foundation is impossible without adding to itself the exclusive title, The One True Church. Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy make this claim, and each has reasons for doing so. But Anglicans have never made this claim about their whole Communion, let alone one national church -- until now. What was alleged to be simply another General Convention of the Episcopal Church resulted in this rather shrunken little denomination acting as if it were holding the Ecumenical Council -- in Minneapolis, of all places.
And this was not the first time. This Council should properly be called Minneapolis II, because the "First Ecumenical Council of Minneapolis" should be the name by which we remember the General Convention of 1976. It was held in the same city, and was seen to have exercised the same authority to question authority concerning that other milestone "leading of the Spirit," women's "ordination." Hear the word of the Lord: Thou shalt question authority.
If we take a close look at the policy of the Episcopal Church in the years that followed, we see that the situation grew from one in which dissent was not only tolerated, but treated with provisions out of respect for the consciences of parishes and dioceses, to one of outright intolerance of challenges to its authority. The Diocese of Quincy and the Diocese of Fort Worth found themselves under pressure from the headquarters of the Episcopal Church in New York to find a way to accept women "priests" in order to come into uniformity with the denomination as a whole. The fact that these Anglo-Catholic dioceses, and their respective bishops, could not conform without violating their consciences became unimportant.
In 2001 Acting "Bishop" Jane Dixon of the Diocese of Washington, D.C., had sued St. John's Parish of Christ Church in Accokeek, Md., in order to force out its Rector, Fr. Samuel Edwards. This because he was known to be opposed to women's "ordination" and could not, therefore, accept her position as a bishop in the sacramental sense, even though he had declared his willingness to accept it as a fact of Episcopal Church Canon Law. This is not the only case in which the promoters of the liberal agenda acted in a very authoritarian manner to force their will through legal power or through denominational pressure. The liberals are not very liberal, especially when it comes to issues of power.
The Episcopal Church is a very easy target to strike, and lest it seem that this article is unfair for picking on a little denomination, let me point out that this problem is wider in scope...."

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Friday, 12 July 2013

A better Swedish model ...

It seems the Anglican provinces in Britain will soon follow the Church of Sweden (to simplify matters somewhat - at one time a "High Church Lutheran" ecclesial body with claims to a valid apostolic succession) into - unarguably - a complete abandonment of the apostolic tradition of holy order.
Perhaps here - courtesy of the Ohio Anglican Blog - is a rather better Scandinavian example to follow, that of Bo Giertz, Bishop of Gothenburg from 1949 to 1970, theologian, novelist, and outspoken opponent of the liberal trajectory of the Swedish Church.
"The Church is and exists, first and foremost, in that moment when the bishop as a heavenly instrument stands in his congregation's midst and celebrates the liturgical mysteries, full of joy and light and life. In this way the Church is for these people the shining city on a hill, whose walls are always brilliant with light... Here I understood better than ever the very nature of the Church: she is not an institution for grievances, not a protest organization, nor a device for social improvements or any other "goal"; she is the heavenly joy's sanctuary, in which we enter, filled with overwhelming joy..."
You can find a brief biography here and a bibliography here

Yet, of course, despite his resistance, the Swedish Church is still as it is today and a warning to us all .... I was going to write, 'before it's too late,' but on second thoughts...

Thursday, 11 July 2013

For the feast-day of St Benedict

Part of the office of Compline sung by the monks of Ampleforth Abbey ....

This is why the future is so uncertain

Thanks to the Revd John Richardson at the Ugley Vicar for giving wider publicity to these comments by The Revd Colin Coward, the Director of 'Changing Attitudes:'
".....The Church of England knows it has a crisis on its hands. It thinks the crisis might be solved by gently persuading enough conservatives to overcome their convictions and vote yes for women bishops. I am convinced the problem is far deeper than that. I think we hold dramatically different understandings about the nature of God and they are irreconcilable. I believe in a God of love. They believe in a nasty, rule-bound, vindictive God who despite everything they say, hates gays. Until they overcome their prejudice, they will continue to drive the church towards a precipice. Until people, especially in Synod, have the courage and awareness to proclaim that God looks totally different from the conservative’s version of God, the majority of people in this country will treat us with disdain and many church members will continue to abandon the church....."
As you might expect I don't recognise either the caricature of traditionalists as intolerant bigots or the essentially private revelation (no doubt 'prophetic' or 'Spirit-filled' or some such self-referential justification) which seeks to dismiss the insights of both scripture and tradition and evade their implications...

 John Richardson is, of course, right when he says that those like Mr Coward regard the faith of traditionalists as not only radically different but morally deficient. We can go further and see his views as both indicative of the kind of liberal fundamentalism of which we have recently been complaining and as the overriding reason why we cannot go along with those who constantly urge us to show more trust and confidence in those who disagree with us. 

The mask has slipped; I am by no means convinced that Colin Coward's opinions are as unrepresentative as some have alleged. They are put forward in an extreme way, yes, but their underlying ideology, even if expressed more gently,  is now fast becoming the established consensus throughout the liberal 'western' Anglican world.  
It does seem a different religion, certainly; and it is one which views with utter disdain much of the Christian tradition which has been handed down to us. Moreover, it is the reason why traditionalists (Catholic or Evangelical) - or even those caught in the middle who wouldn't regard themselves as 'paid up' traditionalists at all - will never have a secure place within 'first world' Anglican structures until there is a well-defined measure of separation between them and those who regard the faith of the ages in this way and accordingly seek to proscribe it: "I believe in a God of love. They believe in a nasty, rule-bound, vindictive God ..."
This passage is also rather revealing:
"....So long as the majority of members at Synod fail to open themselves in confidence to God’s infinite, loving, creative energy – and talk about their experience of God with passion – debates will fail to ignite and Church of England policy will continue to be small, narrow, unconvincing and impoverished....."
It's curious, but because of its rapidly diminishing theological breadth and depth, as Catholics and other 'tolerant conservatives' are forced out by the current intolerant revisionist take-over of our provinces, it seems to this observer that the Anglican tradition has never in its post-Tudor history seemed so "small, narrow, unconvincing and impoverished" as it does now....

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

A.C. Grayling takes the bait ...

The populist media philosopher du jour, A.C. Grayling (he of the coiffure which indicates either an enormous ego or very bad eyesight) takes a predictable swing at the Church of England:
“I think the argument that any secularist might put is that a religious organisation, a church, should be considered an interest group, it’s a lobby – like a trade union or political party or even the Women’s Institute,” he said.
“It should have of course every right to exist and every right to put its point of view, every right to try to persuade others of its point of view, but it should have no more rights, no more privilege than any of those other interest groups or lobbyists in society.
“And of course for historical reasons, and in our own country for constitutional reasons, religion has been given a massive megaphone. Its footprint in the public square is out of all proportion to the actual support that it has...."
Read it all here at The Telegraph 

However much we might seek to distance ourselves from Professor Grayling's extreme and repugnant secularist views on  virtually every other subject (being one of the most vocal apologists of the ' culture of death'), here he  may have a good point, particularly since our leaders seem intent on making the Church identical to the W.I. in every respect .... 

St Michael and Pope Francis

For obvious reasons I've always had a great devotion to St Michael the Archangel. I still miss his disappearance from the confiteor (especially at Compline, at least in most modern usages)
But here is Pope Francis invoking his aid in combating the evils of corruption - from Vatican Radio [here]:
To the joy of Vatican City State workers, Friday morning Pope Francis was joined by Pope emeritus Benedict XVI in the gardens for a ceremony during which the Holy Father blessed a statue of St Michael Archangel, at the same time consecrating the Vatican to the Archangel’s protection. 
Following a brief ceremony, Pope Francis addressed those present noting how St. Michael defends the People of God from its enemy par excellence, the devil. He said even if the devil attempts to disfigure the face of the Archangel and thus the face of humanity, St Michael wins, because God acts in him and is stronger:  
"In the Vatican Gardens there are several works of art. But this, which has now been added, takes on particular importance, in its location as well as the meaning it expresses. In fact it is not just celebratory work but an invitation to reflection and prayer, that fits well into the Year of Faith. Michael - which means "Who is like God" - is the champion of the primacy of God, of His transcendence and power. Michael struggles to restore divine justice and defends the People of God from his enemies, above all by the enemy par excellence, the devil. And St. Michael wins because in him, there is He God who acts. This sculpture reminds us then that evil is overcome, the accuser is unmasked, his head crushed, because salvation was accomplished once and for all in the blood of Christ. Though the devil always tries to disfigure the face of the Archangel and that of humanity, God is stronger, it is His victory and His salvation that is offered to all men. We are not alone on the journey or in the trials of life, we are accompanied and supported by the Angels of God, who offer, so to speak, their wings to help us overcome so many dangers, in order to fly high compared to those realities that can weigh down our lives or drag us down. In consecrating Vatican City State to St. Michael the Archangel, I ask him to defend us from the evil one and banish him..... "

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

The response from Forward in Faith

to the General Synod decisions on the woman bishops process can be found in full here

Despite our misgivings, we can understand the need to be involved in the process while there is still a game to be played. As long as this involvement does not imply an inevitable acceptance of  what (little?) will be left on the table for traditionalists at the end of this synodical negotiating process all well and good. 
But, as we know, the reaching of a 'consensus' (one of the aims Forward in Faith has made much of in these negotiations) can be interpreted in varying ways depending upon one's stance, and there are times when an outright rejection of proposals which can offer no continuing and secure future is preferable to being tied into a process which will only lead to the disappearance of the Catholic voice in the Church of England. 
There are far worse things than being accused of intransigence or disloyalty to an institution which has itself become deeply disloyal both to its own history and traditions and to the wider Catholic consensus fidelium.

So even against the background of an understandable need, in a highly politicised atmosphere, to facilitate discussion and put the traditionalist case as sympathetically as possible in order to win over waverers, in many ways this response can only be described as disappointingly weak in its tone. One hopes that, even now, there is a plan 'B' and that moves are being made to hold the Catholic Movement together when, as many now predict, the final outcome of this process is to say to traditionalists 'accept what is on offer or leave.'

On another, but related, matter, this is probably 'politically' the worst possible time to leave the membership of Forward in Faith (and Credo Cymru in Wales) without one of its vital sources of information, the newspaper Forward Plus. It's always far easier to close something down than to set it up again, particularly in the kind of situation in which we now find ourselves....
I'm sure plans to produce a  successor publication of some kind are well advanced; keeping the membership in the dark would not be the best strategy to encourage a wholehearted commitment when that is precisely what will be needed in a future fraught with uncertainty.

However, the most significant part of the Response, however, is probably this: 

"...In later votes even larger minorities, especially in the House of Laity, rejected key elements of the approach preferred by the House of Bishops and by the most uncompromising supporters of women bishops. In the end, 25% of the Synod declined to endorse even the drafting of legislation on that basis. The logical conclusion is that to do so would result in a repeat of last November's failure...."

How one convinces the liberal fundamentalists and (evidently) their episcopal fellow travellers of this and of the need to avert it by a generous display of Anglican inclusivity  is another question altogether....

Monday, 8 July 2013


Today has seen a highly significant defeat for traditionalists at the York Synod of the Church of England: the promise of 'provision' becomes ever more vague.
Let us hope that the defeat is not followed by a similar * capitulation.

"....But history and contemporary experience shows that detailed arrangements not only embed division, they are also unworkable and lead to frequent and prolonged litigation...."
Archbishop Justin Welby: Monday 8th July 2013 [here]

Far from ensuring that "all parts of the Church of England may flourish" this will most likely lead to the crushing of opposition and the expulsion of opponents: it has become very clear over the last few years that the majority simply lacks the necessary "commitment to mutual flourishing" for which the Archbishop calls. All the bold words about the need for an 'inclusive approach,' ''consensus building' and for provisions (if I read Lambeth Palace's clarified version of the speech correctly)  to be 'robust' and constitute "an electrified ring fence" are expressly designed to be simply words and no more. 
In any case, electric fences are of little use if the fox is already in the hen coop.
However, the Church of England can rest easy. The likely proposals which will come before the Synod in November will, of course, produce peace - in the sense that the so-called dissident elements will fade away.  But it will be the peace of the ecclesial graveyard, the ultimate 'inclusive' consensus of all... unanimity itself.

'O put not your trust in princes, nor in any child of man: for there is no help in them'

Saturday, 6 July 2013

'Whoso dwelleth under the defence of the Most High ...'

Sleeping with the enemy...?

More on the dangers inherent in intellectual flirtation with ideologies alien to the faith from The Telegraph [here]
Reporting on the new Archbishop of Canterbury's presidential address to the Church of England's General Synod in York, John Bingham writes: 
"....In a deliberate echo of Harold MacMillan’s (sic) 1950 speech which attacked apartheid in South Africa, the Archbishop warned church leaders that they needed to reassess their own attitudes to gay people – even if they do not “like it”.
While insisting he had no immediate plans to change policy on issues such as gay marriage, he announced a major campaign to curb anti-gay bullying in the Church of England’s more than 5,000 schools.
He is understood to have approached Stonewall, which led the campaign in favour of gay marriage, to invite it into church schools to teach up to a million children about homosexuality.
“We may or may not like it but we must accept that there is a revolution in the area of sexuality,” the Archbishop said....."
'Journalese' aside (since when was the Church's theology of human sexuality a 'policy?'), this can only be the signal (and an open encouragement) for an impending change in the Church of England's stance and another departure from traditional Christian teaching which will have profound ecumenical repercussions. 
If such organisations as Stonewall were to be invited into Anglican schools, how would it be practically possible for the Church of England's educational establishments to maintain and defend (as far as the law will allow) the Church's 'current'  teaching on human sexuality, something the Archbishop admits already provokes widespread 'noticeable hostility?' 
I suspect there is really no intention of so doing and that we are seeing the beginning of a not-so-subtle shift by the Church of England (following - always - in the wake of its counterpart in the U.S.A. ) in favour of  current secular social attitudes, something, of course, increasingly demanded of it by the British State. 
One correspondent has described Archbishop Welby's speech [here] as 'Erastian idiocy;' I will make no comment on that except to say that the address seems theologically and intellectually full to the brim with irreconcilable contradictions, none of which can possibly (one hopes) have escaped its author... *

* I don't want to be unfairly dismissive of the Archbishop's address in total; he said some necessary things, but there is always a danger, when speaking about such a highly politicised situation as that of modern Anglicanism,  that one simply ends up treating those (for us - as a Communion)  elusive concepts, truth and error, as opposite extremes, both of which are equally divisive and unacceptable to an establishment concerned mainly with keeping the institution afloat with the minimum of disruption. 
Our essential problem, of course, is that we have now no commonly accepted doctrinal or 'magisterial' standard or  reference point by which even to identify truth from error - we are back to the question of authority again; it's always authority...

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Friday, 5 July 2013

On the brink .... Rabbis, cardinals and alien ideologies ...

As we pray fervently for a last minute change of heart on the part of the majority in the Church of England who would marginalise and eventually proscribe Catholic orthodoxy in faith and order, the Revd Dr Peter Mullen surely has it right when he speaks of  our being conquered by alien philosophies, absorbed into our Christian lives little by little....
"...All this goes far beyond a piddling little issue of ecclesiastical niceties about which ordinary people care nothing; a bit of churchy crinoline and old lace. For these last 200 years and more we have been living through a period of revolutionary historical and social upheaval. Our banners now are not led by the cross of Christ – which is the cross of St George – but they are emblazoned by slogans which owe their origin not to the counsels of God but to an increasingly overbearing and dictatorial atheistic state. 'Diversity' has replaced the Ten Commandments.
The revolutionary change from a Christian society to an overbearing secular authority is profound and it will not be reversed – and certainly not by some supposed natural process such as 'the swing of the pendulum'. When we look to discover how this catastrophe has come about, we should turn to the philosopher and poet T.E. Hulme. At the beginning of the 20th century, he wrote: 
“We have been beaten because our enemies’ theories have conquered us. We have played with those to our own undoing. Not until we are hardened again by conviction are we likely to do any good. In accepting the theories of the other side, we are merely repeating a well-known historical phenomenon. The Revolution in France came about not so much because the forces which should have resisted were half-hearted in their resistance. They themselves had been conquered intellectually by the theories of the revolutionary side. An institution or a civilisation is beaten only when it has lost faith in itself, when it has been penetrated by the ideas that are working against it....” 
Read it all at Cranmer [here]

The Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks on BBC Radio 4's Thought for the Day [here]  this morning had some interesting comments to make about true freedom being far more than mere majority rule but something which places limits on power. Quoting J.S. Mill, he said that the danger of democracy is that it can lead to the tyranny of the majority and hence the oppression of minorities, going on to speak about the necessity of exercising self-restraint in imposing our views on others. It is necessary to make space for the people not like us.
Of course, he was speaking about the situation in Egypt: equally he could have been reflecting on the Synod in York... 

And on broadly the same subject, the all-conquering and intolerant 'democratic' ideology of our day (no 'civilised' dissension is possible: opponents are all mired in bigotry - the modern version of 'error has no rights' but taken to the vicious extreme of 'no one whom the zeitgeist deems to be in error has rights') , Cardinal Caffara of Bologna lets the city's mayor have it with both barrels on the subject of same-sex marriage [here]: 
"The statement by the Mayor of Bologna regarding the right of gay couples to marry and adopt children is so egregious that it warrants reflection.
What the mayor has prophesied to be the inevitable destiny of our country, to at last become civilized by recognizing the right of homosexual couples to marry and adopt, is an impromptu comment which comes cheap, since recognition doesn't depend on the mayor anyway. 
But this does not lessen the seriousness of the stand taken publicly by the person who represents the entire city.  Where do citizens who differ fit in? What about those who, not out of a phobia, but prompted by motivated reasoning, think that marriage is what has been defined as such from the dawn of civilization? Or those who think that what must be of concern to us all is not a right to adopt but the right of every child to have a father and a mother ? 
Must these citizens, their culture and their arguments, really be considered uncivilized and outside the bounds of history, condemned to feeling like foreigners in their homeland, because they can't keep up with this so-called progress?
Naturally there will be those who, mouthing platitudes about the separation between Church and State (which is a much more serious issue than this!), are bound to accuse us of wanting to impose a religious doctrine. But this has nothing to do with either religion or parties: this undermines the foundation of a civilization which is coextensive with the world and as ancient as history itself; and perhaps there is not enough awareness of how much is at stake.  
To say that to society and to children it makes no difference whether couples are homo or hetero is to deny something so obvious that to have to explain it makes one want to cry.  We have reached such a dimming of reason that we seem to think that truth can be established by law, such a blotting out of common good as to take one's every desire to be his/her fundamental rights."

Not a few of us have been accused (unfairly, I think) of taking an 'extreme' conservative position on these matters. Not so: our 'problem' is that we see all too clearly that the fundamentalism of contemporary ideological liberalism is the mortal enemy of human freedom.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

"A new disobedience..."

Hats off (birettas, even) to the Vicar of Purgstall who tells it as it is:
"...The spirit of the Oxford Movement was that it persisted through disapproval, censure, persecution, prosecution, and betrayal before, finally, the very things priests were locked up for doing began to be accepted in the mainstream of the Church of England. Birmingham priest R. W. Enraght went to prison for using candles on his altar - I can't think of a cathedral that doesn't use candles now. The movements these radicals attracted because they were acting in all good conscience against an institution that couldn't, through thought, writing, the media, or through parliamentary legislation, inhibit their spirit continues to be an astonishing thing.  
So the question remains whether this New Erastianism needs to be met by something, and I venture to suggest that a New Oxford Movement would get trapped in the academic, the theological, and the social. What is actually needed is a new disobedience from the present culture and institution: if we are not prepared to be censured and prosecuted for protecting apostolic order, then we are not really walking in the way of R. W. Enraght. We have, in the present movement, outstanding priests who build great enterprises and great 'peoples of power', but once those figures have disappeared or moved on and the pockets of exciting growth settle back into normality, to what do we make appeal in order that the whole body might thrive?"
[Read it all here]
The new disobedience it is, then ...

Wales: organ donation: presumed consent

Again, the sacrifice of our our traditional freedoms to the all-consuming embrace of the modern 'democratic' State continues. The undoubted worthiness of the cause of increased organ donation can never justify this. Who owns our bodies?
I'm just going to refer you to a post at Bridges & Tangents without the need to add one word...

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

A necessary dissenting opinion

At First Things, there is an insightful On the Square column, focusing on a dissenting opinion on the  U.S. Supreme Court bench with regard to same-sex marriage - to summarise somewhat inelegantly, it's about liberty, stupid! 
Mr Justice Antonin Scalia's opinion unmercifully  exposes the dangers to freedom and the right not to conform inherent in both the kind of legislation and judge-made law now appearing throughout the western world.
Here are a few excerpts (the first is a quotation from Mr Justice Scalia himself) - but read the whole article here:
"....In the majority’s judgment, any resistance to its holding is beyond the pale of reasoned disagreement. [It is to] “dis-parage,” “injure,” “degrade,” “demean,” and “humiliate” our fellow human beings, our fellow citizens, who are homosexual. All that, simply for supporting an Act that did no more than codify an aspect of marriage that had been unquestioned in our society for most of its existence—indeed, had been unquestioned in virtually all societies for virtually all of human history. It is one thing for a society to elect change; it is another for a court of law to impose change by adjudging those who oppose it hostes humani generis, enemies of the human race...."    
 "....Scalia’s passionate opinions flow from his pen like lava, seemingly indiscriminate, but nevertheless finding every curve and crevice of what lies before them. Often referred to as the “most conservative” of the Supreme Court jurists, Scalia spends part of his Windsor dissent arguing in defense of what used to be considered a most “liberal” notion: that human beings have a right to express their point of view without fear of reprisal; a right to dissent from conventional wisdom; a right, even, to be wrong. It is a sentiment that free-thinkers (of even the recent past) would often express by quoting Evelyn Beatrice Hall’s summary of Voltaire’s thinking: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
Kennedy’s opinion makes it clear that the days of defending the freedom of others to think and speak outside of the ever-narrowing corridors of what is permissible are numbered; the line of delineation he sketches out is stark, bare, and singular: there will be one (correct) thought or there will be Bad People.
Whether the Bad People who argue for tolerance of their own viewpoints will remain “full and equal citizens, etc” remains to be seen. A recent Department of Justice memo on Gay Pride Month chillingly suggested otherwise when it instructed employees to be vocal and visible in their support because, “silence will be interpreted as disapproval,” even if one does not especially disapprove. The threat of payback for perceived disapproval did not need spelling out....."

The full text of Scalia, J.'s  dissenting opinion is here on a link to a pdf file, beginning at page 35 - or page 55 if you prefer to skip some of the American constitutional / legal 'technicalities' - but it's well worth trawling through the document to find it.
Here's another taste:
"...By formally declaring anyone opposed to same-sex marriage an enemy of human decency, the majority armswell every challenger to a state law restricting marriage to its traditional definition. Henceforth those challengers will lead with this Court’s declaration that there is “no legitimate purpose” served by such a law, and will claim that the traditional definition has “the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure” the “personhood and dignity”of same-sex couples, see ante, at 25, 26. The majority’s limiting assurance will be meaningless in the face of language like that, as the majority well knows. That is why the language is there. The result will be a judicial distortion of our society’s debate over marriage—a debate that can seem in need of our clumsy “help” only to a member of this institution.As to that debate: Few public controversies touch an institution so central to the lives of so many, and few inspire such attendant passion by good people on all sides.Few public controversies will ever demonstrate so vividly the beauty of what our Framers gave us, a gift the Court pawns today to buy its stolen moment in the spotlight..."

'Seek him that maketh the seven stars'

The anthem by Jonathan Dove, I regret to say previously unknown to me until I read a review in this month's New Directions
Here the work is performed by Tenebrae under the direction of Nigel Short, with Jeremy Filsell on the organ:

Seek Him that maketh the seven stars and Orion 
and turneth the shadow of death into the morning. 
Alleluia, yea, the darkness shineth as the day, 
the night is light about me. 

[Amos 5:8;  Psalm 139] 

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Minarets and episcopal vacancies...

Cranmer reports that Channel 4  is to broadcast the Islamic call to prayer, the adhan,  during the coming Muslim season of Ramadan.
Although the broadcaster has previous form in this regard, I'm sure there's no agenda here beyond a wholehearted and gloriously inclusive embracing of multi-culturalism, and I look forward eagerly to hearing, say, the Regina Caeli throughout next Eastertide, or the Athanasian Creed, perhaps, when it is prescribed by the Prayer Book. As for Channel 4s commitment to serving cultural minorities, we are always being told - with a great deal of relish - that Christianity is now a minority religion in these islands .... 
Or, perhaps, those Islamic states, Sunni or Shia, Saudi Arabia or Iran, could be persuaded to reciprocate and devote a few minutes to broadcasting, on their independent and free broadcasting channels, the sound of church bells, as the BBC still does on Sundays - although you do have to be up rather early to hear them ...

On a different subject, Thinking Anglicans has a posting about the astonishing number of  episcopal vacancies either existing or pending in the Church of England, the latest being that of  the suffragan see of Plymouth (Exeter), now that Bishop John Ford has been elected Bishop of the Murray in Australia. Our congratulations, prayers and good wishes go with him; many 'traditionalists' in the south-west and beyond have cause to be grateful to him. 

Do as I say, not as I do .....

There's a delicious piece here, from the Provost of the London Oratory, which touches on the subject of some people's  somewhat hypocritical distinction between what is good enough for the worship of God and what is appropriate for them in their personal lives.
Having been brought up very much in the tradition of  'nothing but the best is good enough for God,' the opposite kind of attitude, of which we see rather more in parts of the Anglican tradition, often masquerading behind a theological preference for a reformed plainness and simplicity, always comes as a bit of a shock. 
It usually seems to be those who complain most vociferously about "High Church" ceremonial who have the most expensive cars and the most lavishly furnished of houses - sometimes, dare I say it, almost idolatrously so. 
I think it was Father Maconochie who, in the Victorian era, during his long struggle with the virulently intolerant, protestant, not to say puritan, Church Association, who made the comment that protestant principles seemed to be highly, and conveniently, conducive to the acquisition of private wealth. The Catholic liturgical tradition addresses the whole person, the senses as well as the mind, and is a mirror held up to the worship of heaven itself. There's no contradiction whatsoever here with a necessary evangelical concern for the poor and the needy; the Catholic faith (wherever we find it) is a religion of 'both, and' rather than than either, or'....

Anyway, here's the relevant passage, originally posted by Fr Ray Blake:
"...Recently the Oratory Fathers were taken to task at the end of a Sunday High Mass. An elegant woman marched towards the Provost through the lingering fog of incense and demanded to know what we Oratorians thought we were playing at. The causes of consternation included expensive-looking flower arrangements at the Lady Altar, vestments and golden vessels that had been spotted in the Sanctuary. Surely these extravagances were from funds that should have been given to the poor?
It was explained that the flowers were leftovers from a wedding the day before and that the silver gilt chalice and ciborium had almost certainly been picked up for a song in the 1850s when ecclesiastical Swabian rococo was not much in vogue. The vestments are thread-bear from a century and a half of use and, while still charming for their faded beauty, are too far-gone to fetch good money at auction. The dialogue ended in a slightly more serene atmosphere than it had begun and the articulate woman drove away placated in a gleaming new car which Google searches revealed to have cost £90,000...."