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Blogday 2019: Chugging along

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Today we are fourteen.
Well, I’m posting this a day early so as not to confuse it with tomorrow’s sermon. I find that if I do two posts in a day, one of them gets forgotten. While I don’t write in order to build up an audience, I do try to write to reach out to people in a spirit of evangelism and encouragement in the traditional Christian Faith. Numbers viewing are now down and decreasing steadily due to my renunciation of Facebook where I used to post much of my material. I have become so tired of the petty polemics that some seem to enjoy. I don’t miss those who criticise every detail of worship, every detail of Christian Doctrine and every detail of why I am not where I am supposed to be. Of course, it is important not to confine ourselves to echo chambers and engage in robust debate. The trouble is that we don’t get debate, but rather polemics in which we talk past each other and fail to understand (sometimes deliberately) what the other is saying. Perhaps I am guilty of this most of all.

I have noted that there are those who claim to be philosophers and theologians who try to win arguments for their point of view by demonising their opponents. There are those who challenge traditional Christian Doctrine by calling those who follow that doctrine backward or incoherent or worse. To my mind, to insult your opposition means an automatic loss of the argument. Perhaps it’s a good job that I wasn’t present at any of the Oecumenical Councils otherwise I wouldn’t believe anything!

I note that I haven’t posted as much this year. Well, that’s because it’s been a busy year. I am now a published author, albeit self-published through Lulu rather than a more established, professional publisher. I know that I am nothing in the academic world and that what I write will not reach the dizzying heights of SPCK or OUP, but then I do wonder whether that might not be a bad thing given the worrying tendency that many media outlets display in restricting content that does not conform to a politically correct worldview. There are things which we may not criticise at all, now. While I may tire of the constant cross-denominational nit-picking, I would rather walk away from it than demand that it be prohibited outright. It's best that they just get on with it and spin themselves into the ground like Abbott's king of Pointland. What I have written certainly seems to have appealed to some readers and I am very grateful for a couple of very positive reviews that I have received on Amazon. I am yet to receive the more critical reviews which I do dread, admittedly. Yet, a good Benedictine will receive the criticism in the same way as he receives praise and perhaps value it more highly. Something else I have to learn, it seems.

Nonetheless, my books have been on sale since the beginning of the year and so I don’t post as much here other than the sermons that I write on behalf of Readers. I have noticed that they have become more focussed on the issue of repentance, lately. They have also become more cerebral. I suppose that this is due to the fact that I am essentially writing for someone else and that means reducing the content which perhaps comes from my mannerisms and personality. Looking after my family means that I don’t have much time to sit and reflect as there is always someone who needs me right this second and no other second will do.

The biggest casualty has been my poor little Mission. Of course, this has been mothballed rather than written off completely, but it’s difficult to see how things change. Circumstances do change, however, and will change in ways that I don’t expect. I am still very settled as an Anglican Catholic and don’t anticipate that this will ever change. In writing Anglican Catholicism: Unchanging Faith in a Changing World, I rather think that I have eliminated any intellectual doubts that I might have had in being in a minority group. I am convinced of the integrity of Anglican Catholicism as, perhaps, the only coherent form of Anglicanism. Of course there are many more Anglican Catholics out there who aren't members of the Anglican Catholic Church but hold the same Catholic Faith as we do. The hand of friendship is happily extended and waiting for reciprocation.

The present time, admittedly, is very confusing for all who call themselves Anglican as the Lambeth Anglican Communion begins to fragment. I notice that one former Anglican luminary has departed for Rome because he can’t unite the different Anglican groups into one fold.  Quixote or sheer self-aggrandizement? Only God knows truly.

I suspect that this isn’t a problem with Anglicanism per se, but rather the Protestant nature of some aspects of it. The number of evangelical groups that are forming, all claiming to be Anglican, all claiming scriptural orthodoxy, all claiming allegiance to the XXXIX Articles, is rather baffling and I don’t understand why the Free Church of England’s Unity Forum hasn’t worked unless personality has got involved.

Of course, it may be a case of the pot calling the kettle black. After all, didn’t the original Anglican Church of North America arising from the Congress of St Louis in the late 1970s split up along High Church – Low Church lines? What about the splitting of the Continuing Churches in the 1990s? I agree. These are a major embarrassment, but they are the fruit of their time and the product of men in whom the fires of outrage at the heresy of the Episcopal Church were still burning. It has taken us forty years, but we are coming together. We are all in communion. We have the greatest respect for each other. We share resources. We hold joint synods. We may be separate organisations but we are as we have always claimed to be – a small part of the One True Church. True Unity is Christ-centered.

And we all have some legitimate claim to the adjective “Anglican”. This does not lie for us within any confession, nor accident of history, nor the pages of a book, though these have shaped our Anglicanism and given it voice. For us Continuing Anglicans, Anglicanism lies within the totality of our heritage that comes from the Christianity which set foot on this rain-soaked archipelago sometime in the first or second centuries. It cannot be pinned down, but can only be lived out. Yes, the Book of Common Prayer is a vital part of our heritage. While I don’t use it explicitly for my private prayers, it is something that I will readily use for Morning and Evening Prayer and my Benedictine Breviary for my private prayer is centred on this central Anglican text and aspects of Sarum which also grounds the Book of Common Prayer. We have the Book of Common Prayer, but we also have the Missals and Breviaries that accompany it. The 1928 American Book of Common Prayer is a beautiful expression of Anglicanism within the American Church but it is American in its culture and therefore inappropriate for global use. In England, we have the 1549 Book of Common Prayer, though some of us use the American book.  There is, even within Anglican Catholicism, a breadth and latitude that perhaps embodies our Faith. What we do not compromise on is our faith – everyone believes the same core doctrine found in the Creeds.

To the CofE, that is far too restrictive. Their tenet is that you should believe what you want. There are atheist priests in the CofE. There are those who believe that the Resurrection is a purely spiritual event, not an historical one. Uniformity in doctrine gives a backbone to our lives. It doesn't mean that we don't think for ourselves, but rather that we have a mechanism which brings us to the feet of Christ as disciples, supplicants and/or mourners. Uniformity of doctrine is an antidote to the intellectual hubris that infects the Church in the West. Many of the hot topics are about inclusivity and diversity in which people are told they can live their lives how they want and God will pick up the pieces for them. Inclusivity is effectively infantilism in which the nobility of struggling with God is replaced with an anodyne existence save only to "call out" the bigotry of those who are prepared to struggle against this infantilism. The words that get bandied about in such discussion are "privilege" and "entitlement". These are words that arrive from envy but then I would hazard a guess that much of the left-wing philosophy being peddled today is a philosophy of envy. St Benedict saw this problem and called it murmuratio, the murmuring that Moses encountered from Israel in the wilderness. If the language that we hear most is empowerment then it is not of the charity that we read about in I Corinthians xiii.

What, then, are the aims for this year? Every year I do wonder whether I can keep this blog going or whether it will be the last. I am tempted to sink into silence through sheer grief at the destruction of sensible theological discourse in the "mainstream" churches and through sheer fear that my airing a controversial opinion could result in me being censored or even my poor innocent wife fired from her job. The injustice is that my wife has her own opinions and I have mine which are not the same. She is a member of the CofE and I most certainly am not. And yet, the toxicity promoted by social justice warriors aimed against my words could damage her. How is that fair?

I am still writing and have a book in progress, though progress is slow mainly through having to care for my family, and that the material is stretching my poor little understanding to its limit. Also, I continue to support the network of Readers in providing sermons. I will continue to watch the CofE dissipate slowly and call it out on its immorality as is my duty. What I do pray, however, is that I may have the time and opportunity to develop spiritually and not just intellectually as I fear that I am perhaps puffing up rather than building up. 

To the Holy and Undivided Trinity,
To the crucified Humanity of Our Lord Jesus Christ,
To the fruitful Virginity of the blessed and glorious Mary Ever-Virgin,
To the whole company of the saints
be everlasting praise, honour, power and glory from every creature.
And to us may there be the remission of all our sins forever, world without end. Amen

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