Only Christian faith will save Europe, Anglican bishop says after Paris attacks

Is more secularism the answer to Islamic terror? Certainly not, a retired Anglican bishop who works on behalf of the persecuted church says. The only force he says is capable of unifying Europe and preserving western civilization is Christianity.

Source: Only Christian faith will save Europe, Anglican bishop says after Paris attacks

This was first published a year ago, but it’s just as true now as it was then.

“The truth of the matter is that Europe needs to recover its grand narrative by which to live, by which to determine what is true, good and beneficial for its people. The nostrums of Marxism and Fascism have brought frightful suffering for its people. Now another totalitarian ideology threatens. A truly plural space can only be guaranteed by intrinsically Christian ideas of the dignity of the human person, respect for conscience, equality of persons and freedom not only to believe but to manifest our beliefs in the public space, without discrimination against or violence to those who do not share them,” Nazir-Ali writes. Continue reading “Only Christian faith will save Europe, Anglican bishop says after Paris attacks”

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Yes, the Old Mass is ‘rigid’ – that’s one reason young people love it

Source: Yes, the Old Mass is ‘rigid’ – that’s one reason us young people love it – CatholicHerald.co.uk

While this refers to the Latin (“old”) form of the Roman Catholic Mass, a lot of what the author says here can be seen to apply to the classical Anglican tradition of Common Prayer, as well, as I hope to show by some judicious “tweaking” of the linked article:

“First of all, the [classical liturgy] is simply more beautiful than the modern one: better vestments, more solemn songs, more reverence. Beauty is an attribute of God. If beauty decreases, it becomes more difficult to see God.”

The classical, traditional Anglican liturgy is beautiful, dignified, and reverent: “Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness” could have been written with it in mind!

“Second, the [classical Prayer Book liturgy] provides a deeper sense of [Anglican] identity. [Public worship] in many parishes today has become too similar to [generic] Protestant celebrations. And if we wanted to be [generic] Protestants, we could easily convert.”

The liturgical movement has blurred distinctions between churches. The liturgy in many contemporary Episcopal churches, for instance, is (intentionally, on the part of the reformers) difficult to distinguish from a Lutheran, Methodist, or Presbyterian one. Sameness, uniformity, is boring and dilutes the distinctiveness, energy, and integrity of authentic traditions. Continue reading “Yes, the Old Mass is ‘rigid’ – that’s one reason young people love it”

The Need for Common Prayer and Family Oratories

“Families are traditionally the base unit and structure of the Christian church as they are the church-within-a-church and the first unit of individual cells gathered together. Therefore, it is crucial that family prayer not only occur, but also catechism occur so that the children in families understand what their faith means and believes. Only by being shaped by the waves of daily prayer and catechism can one’s mind be transformed so that their lives conform to the love that only the Spirit produces over and against the carnal self we are all born into.”

Source: The Need for Common Prayer and Family Oratories

I would only add one quibble: while it is true that, as Anglicans, “our common worship is a broad orthodoxy that bridges the divide between Lutherans and Reformed bodies,” that is only part of the equation: we are also a Via Media between the Church Catholic – in both its Eastern and Western manifestations – and the churches of the Protestant Reformation. We are, in fact, Reformed Catholics: and while our reference point as Anglicans is the Common Prayer tradition, our reference point as Christians is or ought to be the “ancient and undivided Church” of the First Millennium of the Christian era.

That said, there is much of wisdom in this essay!

“Spoiled goodness”: a reflection for Advent II

Found this quote on a friend’s Facebook page, and it sparked some thoughts:

“You can be good for the mere sake of goodness: you cannot be bad for the mere sake of badness. You can do a kind action when you are not feeling kind and when it gives you no pleasure, simply because kindness is right; but no one ever did a cruel action simply because cruelty is wrong – only because cruelty was pleasant or useful to him. In other words badness cannot succeed even in being bad in the same way in which goodness is good. Goodness is, so to speak, itself: badness is only spoiled goodness. And there must be something good first before it can be spoiled.”

~ CS Lewis, Mere Christianity

Lewis (as is generally the case) makes a good point. I am reminded of the premise that evil is not a thing in itself, but rather the absence (or lack) of good, just as darkness is not really a thing in itself, but the absence (or lack) of light. And as the above points out, we can never really be completely evil, because even our most evil actions are predicated on the pleasure or satisfaction they on some level bring to us – and causing enjoyment is itself a good, even if in that case it is fundamentally misdirected (disordered).

So even our worst actions contain a seed of good! Not that that makes them good in and of themselves (they are “spoiled goodness,” as Lewis points out), but it does mean that they – and we – are not utterly and irredeemably evil, contra some radical Protestants (“utter depravity”). That makes sense, if we are indeed created in the image of God, for how could creatures created in the image of Absolute Goodness ever descend to irredeemable badness? That would be, in effect, un-creating us!

As the Eastern Orthodox phrase it, evil effaces, or “paints over,” the image of God within us, but it cannot destroy or remove it. Repentance, such as we should be practicing in the “Little Lent” which is Advent, cleans and restores the image of God within us, which sin has effaced. But just as “there must be something good before it can be spoiled,” so there must be something good before it can be restored. Otherwise would would need to be totally re-created ex nihilo, and thus be something other than we are.

All of which reminds me of one of Ma’s old sayings: “There is so much good in the worst of us, and so much bad in the best of us, that it ill-behooves any of us to talk about the rest of us!”

Snowden: Stop Putting So Much Faith (and Fear) in Presidents | Intellectual Takeout

Whistleblower Edward Snowden recently popped up and offered his take on the presidential election.

Source: Snowden: Stop Putting So Much Faith (and Fear) in Presidents | Intellectual Takeout

I found this interesting! Whether one considers Snowden a hero or a traitor, he often has useful things to say, and these comments are among them:

“Snowden highlighted Obama’s failure to close Guantanamo Bay and end mass warrantless surveillance as specific broken campaign promises. Snowden said he was bringing up these points simply to drive home a larger message.

‘We should be cautious about putting too much faith or fear into elected officials,’ said Snowden. ‘At the end of the day, this is just a president.’

“He said if people want to change the world, they should look to themselves instead of putting their hopes or fears in a single person. ‘This can only be the work of the people,’ Snowden said. ‘If we want to have a better world we can’t hope for an Obama, and we should not fear a Donald Trump, rather we should build it ourselves.'” Continue reading “Snowden: Stop Putting So Much Faith (and Fear) in Presidents | Intellectual Takeout”

Recent acquisition

I am very pleased to have found this lovely English teacup and saucer, at the “1844 Shop” – a consignment shop for gently used items of worth – at the 2016 Mistletoe Mart (Church of the Ascension, Episcopal, in Westminster, Maryland), earlier this month.

Markings read “Cauldon Ltd England” stamped in black, and N, either Y641 or 4641, x, in vertical series, appearing hand-painted in red. I’m sure the design is printed, but it’s attractive! My second such acquisition, the first one being a Limoges set.

My brother John, my “resident expert” in British porcelain, comments:

“It dates to c. 1905-15. (Note that any item that has “England” on it is post-1891, when the US passed a law requiring the country of origin to be indicated.) It’s in the ‘London’ shape, which dates to almost a century before that (c. 1810-20). So it’s an example of an ‘antique’ shape being used for ‘modern’ china, which is now of course an antique in its own right!”

So, Edwardian era, then. Nice! One of my favorite periods, although I’d be hard-pressed to come up with an era of English history I didn’t enjoy (as the name of this blog suggests…), at least up to and through WW II.

Where did Advent Go? – Maria Von Trapp | Finer Femininity

The events that come to mind when we say “Christmas,” “Easter,” “Pentecost,” are so tremendous that their commemoration cannot be celebrated in a single day each…

Source: Where did Advent Go? – Maria Von Trapp | Finer Femininity

Tomorrow being the First Sunday of Advent, this seemed appropriate!

“The events that come to mind when we say “Christmas,” “Easter,” “Pentecost,” are so tremendous that their commemoration cannot be celebrated in a single day each. Weeks are needed.

First, weeks of preparation, of becoming attuned in body and soul, and then weeks of celebration. This goes back to an age when people still had time–time to live, time to enjoy.

In our own day, we face the puzzling fact that the more time-saving gadgets we invent, the more new buttons to push in order to “save hours of work” – the less time we actually have… 

This atmosphere of “hurry up, let’s go” does not provide the necessary leisure in which to anticipate and celebrate a feast.

But as soon as people stop celebrating they really do not live any more – they are being lived, as it were.”

Worthwhile and challenging words from the matriarch of the real-life Von Trapp Family Singers!

That said, one must also strive to avoid excessive rigorism and rigidity. As one commenter pointed out,

“It’s really difficult to take care of Christmas shopping before Advent. Also, my H thinks it is unnecessarily gloomy to wait to decorate until Christmas Eve, and be associated with non-believers with their dark houses.”

The response was also worthwhile, I think:

“I do understand that. I think each family has to figure out what is best for them while trying to incorporate as many Advent customs as possible. We will listen to Christmas music through Advent but only the classical ones with no words, until closer to Christmas. That’s something we’ve figured out through the years. Only in the past 5 years have I been able to get my gifts before Advent. I think we have to be careful of rigidity….. though pulling back and making it a more spiritual time is always a good thing, if done with charity.”

Indeed so!

I, too, endeavor to listen primarily to instrumental classic Christmas music, and Gregorian chant, along with what Advent music I can find, during that period of preparation and watchful anticipation. But it can be challenging to try to keep Advent — and then to keep Christmas! — in today’s secular and “multi-cultural” world. But then, when has being Christian not been challenging…?