Saturday, September 29, 2007

Does anyone hear that tearing sound?

The folk at the Continuum have reported upon the Common Cause Partnership, the alliance of conservative American Parishes opposed to the liberal excesses of ECUSA. Albion Land comments:

"In the short term, however, we face the prospect of Avignon versus Rome -- two entities vying with each other as the true face of "mainstream Anglicanism" and seeking to convince the world of their bonae fides."
Which will be the true Anglicanism? Only the Anglicanism with the roots can survive. As we remember the parable of the Sower, it is only the Church whose roots go into the deep soil that will grow and produce the fruit of love because she bears the message.

It will not be the feeble "Anglicanism" of Dr. Jefferts-Schori that just tries to reinterpret Scripture to suit the whims of the people. This will be attractive to people because it will not require them to think but rather just to be "nice" people. It will issue no challenge to live the hard Gospel. It has no teeth to challenge wrongdoing because it has already accepted wrongdoing as allowable.

It will only be the Anglicanism that faithfully holds to the Truth as it has always been taught. If she holds to this course, then there is only one, wonderful outcome: Reunion with the members of the Holy See that hold the same course and the Orthodox Churches.

The split has to happen for Anglicanism to grow. We cannot hang on to doctrinally dead weight any more.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Critical thinking!

Homily preached at Eltham College on Monday 24th September 2007

Nigel gets out of the shower,
puts on his new CK boxers,
socks, best jeans
and new silk shirt.

He decides to wear
his shirt half open
to expose the new gold chain
around his neck.


For today Nigel
is auditioning for X-Factor!

For good measure,
he empties three-quarters of a can of Lynx
all over himself,
so that Dannii Minogue
will pay him a bit more attention
and maybe give him
her phone number.

Four hours of queuing later,
Nigel finds himself
in front of Simon Cowell,
Sharon Osborne,
Dannii Minogue
and Louis Walsh.

“What are you going
to sing for us tonight, Nigel?”

“I believe in a thing called love, by the Darkness”
says Nigel knowing
that he’s going to knock the judge’s socks off
in a rendition that will make
Justin Hawkins sound
like a bag of nutty slack.

And so he begins.

The effect on the judges is electric.

Both Louis and Simon sit back in their chairs,
eyes and mouths wide open
in obvious awe at Nigel’s brilliant voice.

Sharon’s up and screaming
at him like a groupie
and the lovely Dannii,
object of Nigel’s affections,
is sitting in her chair gasping
for breath and fanning her face
with her papers.

With a flourish, Nigel finishes the song.

“Well, what do you think?”
he asks,
thinking “aha, it’s in the bag!”

Simon is the first to recover his composure.

“I’ve heard nothing like that ever in my life.”

Nigel smiles but Simon continues,
“and I hope I’ll never hear anything
like that again.

This is a singing contest,
and you cannot sing.”

“Whaddya mean?”
asks a visibly shocked Nigel,
“Sharon loved it?”

“No dear, I was standing up
and waving to get you to stop.

My ears are ringing.”

Nigel looks to Dannii, his last hope.

“No!” says Dannii,
“I’m suffocating from
an overpowering smell of Lynx.”

“But this isn’t fair,” says Nigel
his temper rising,
“I come in here and do my best
and you have the cheek to tell me
that I cannot sing!

I used to think you were good people,
that you used to be able to spot talent,
when clearly you can’t spot talent
when it’s standing right in front of you.”

“Nigel,” says Simon,
“I’ve heard many singers,
and have worked with
many professional musicians.

I am qualified to say that you can’t sing.”

Nigel storms out in a huff
leaving a cloud of indignantly smelling Lynx
wafting behind him.


A few weeks later, Nigel sits down
to watch his audition on telly.

He sees himself,
a fat middle-aged man
prancing about with his shirt unbuttoned
and his beer-gut sticking out,
screeching like a cat
who’s just fallen into a pond
of piranha
or a countertenor with cystitis!

What do you imagine Nigel’s reaction is to the truth?

Will he deny it, or will it hurt him deeply?

What do you think is the real source
of Nigel’s embarrassment?


We’re all talented at something
- Football,
playing the organ,
or running a school.

Some of us have other talents
that aren’t immediately recognisable
but which mean a lot to those around us
– the ability to listen
or to make peace in an argument,
the ability to introduce people
to others
or simply to be a good friend.

Each one of us has something
to give to the world.

The difficulty is how far
can we reasonably expect to take it?

Perhaps you can sing.

Not like Nigel who couldn’t hit a note
if it were stapled to a 10 foot-wide punchbag,
but really sing.

How far do you want to take your singing ability?

In order to find out,
you have to assess how good you are
and how much it will cost you
to improve your voice.

If you’re good at soccer
and you want to play for Man United,
is this just a pipe dream
or do you know what you have to do
in order for Sir Alex Fergusson
to say “Yes!”?

It does mean taking a risk,
a risk of embarrassment or rejection,
the possibility that our attempt
will leave us feeling smaller
than a mouse’s iPod.

There’s no way of knowing
what we’re capable of until we try.

Nigel thinks he can sing
but until he tried he wouldn’t
have known for sure.

However, it’s important
to receive any criticism
we get with honesty,
even if that criticism appears to be unfair,
and be fair, Simon Cowell
does ham up his criticism for the telly.

But Nigel refuses to accept the truth
from experienced music producers.

If he finally realises that
his singing upsets the dogs half a mile away
then he may find a way
to overcome the problem.

Perhaps his voice
isn’t suited to The Darkness,
perhaps he might make
another version of The Streets.

He will only improve
if he takes a risk and receives
his criticism with honesty.

The same goes with anyone of us
– if you want to find out
whether you’re going to be good at something,
then take a risk,
but be honest about the outcome.

Christians believe that any little talent
has the possibility of changing the world,
and if we exercise our talents for God,
then we change the world for the better.

Whether you are a Christian or not,
you will be surprised at just how talented
you really are
if you are just willing to risk
a trial and learn from your critics.

How well can you take criticism?

Is this something you need to improve upon?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

O Sabbath Rest by Galilee...

Well, that's my last sermon at Church for a little while, though I've homilies to preach at school.
I've decided that I need a six-month Sabbatical from my Readership owing to the many pressures, physical, intellectual and spiritual that are impinging on me at the moment. There has to be something wrong when you leave church feeling worse than when you went in, so I'm taking a break to rethink things.

I'll keep blogging as best I can as I find that it's the best way to offload all the thoughts that come to me, and indeed from the valuable comments that I'm getting (though not enough) I learn much.

Please pray for me at this time.

Beaux people.

Sermon preached at St Peter and St Paul’s Church Swanscombe on 16th September 2007 based on and St Luke xv.1-10

It’s six thirty in the morning,
and the sheep need to be out grazing.

Sam packs his provisions for the day -
food, drink and Bible -
and, for the first time in his life,
prepares to move the sheep off
to their usual pasture .

He doesn’t have
very many sheep to look after, just 27
– all belonging to Mr Roache the farm owner.

As he lets the sheep loose into the pasture,
Sam counts them,
remembering that Mr Roache was only joking
when he told him to count the legs
and then divide by 4.

It’s when he reaches a count of 26
that he realises that the smallest sheep,
barely a lamb, has disappeared.

Sam remembers the parable of the shepherd
who leaves 99 sheep to find the missing one.

“Ah, “he says,
“that must be the right course
of action to take.”

So, he leaves his 26 sheep in their usual pasture
and wanders back to find the one missing.

It takes Sam an hour before he finds it
caught in a hedge where it has tried
to grab a blackberry just out of its reach,
so he disentangles it
and makes for the pasture
And the other sheep.

What do you think he will find
when he returns?


Well, not surprisingly
Sam returns to find the pasture empty.

Apart from the small one
that he’s brought back with him,
the hill-side is a sheep free zone.

Well, you can understand
that Sam is upset, can’t you?

After all, he’s tried to be a good shepherd
and follow what the Lord Jesus
tells him in the Parable.

“"What man of you,
having a hundred sheep,
if he loses one of them,
does not leave the ninety-nine
in the wilderness,
and go after the one which is lost
until he finds it?”

Sam loses his temper, “O God,
I’ve tried to follow your word
and treat these sheep just as you’ve wanted.

You tell me to leave my sheep
just to come after this one who went missing.

Now they’ve all gone missing
apart from this one little sheep
who has returned with me.”


There is a rustle behind him that makes Sam jump.

He turns and he sees Mr Roache,
the owner of the sheep standing behind him.

“What are you having a go at God for?

Is it His fault that you’re in this mess?”

“Well, yes,” says Sam indignantly,
“I merely followed what He says in the Bible.”

“And look where it’s got you!”
says Mr Roache,
“all in a pickle.

Since when has the Bible
been a comprehensive manual
for the herding of sheep?

You might as well use Moby Dick
for tips on whaling
and “A very hungry caterpillar”
for breeding butterflies."

Is Mr Roache right?


"Read the passage again,”
says Mr Roache.

“"What man of you, having a hundred sheep,
if he loses one of them,
does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness,
and go after the one
which is lost until he finds it?”

“Now,” says Mr Roache,
“where does it say he left the 99 sheep?”

“Well, according to the text,
it says in the wilderness,” says Sam,
his faith shaken.

“Right,” says Mr Roache,
“but what you’ve got to understand
is that the wilderness was the best place
for pasturing sheep in those days!

The sheep would have known
that place like the back of their hooves.

The Good Shepherd is not going
to leave the sheep on the edge of a cliff,
or a minefield
or in a place with a sign saying
“Wolf Enclosure” is he?”

“But what about all the sheep?

I can’t see them,” asks Sam, rather agitated.

“Call ‘em up,” says Mr Roache, “just like I taught you.”

Sam gives the call.

One by one,
the sheep appear out of the various nooks and crannies,
looking rather bemused at being called back
after only a few hours grazing.

But it’s Sam who looks sheepish.

“You see, Sam, the sheep know this pasture very well.

They can disappear into all their usual haunts
all safe and sound.

But I am pleased with you
‘cos you saw that little Doris was missing
and you did exactly what
any good shepherd would do
– left the sheep somewhere
where they would be safe,
and went to find the missing one.

I’m glad to see that you value all the sheep the same,
that just because one gets lost on the way
doesn’t mean that you forget it.

You could have said,
‘blow Doris, I’ve got the majority of the sheep,
that’ll do me,’
but instead you know that
all of these sheep matter equally.”

And it is at this point that Sam understands the parable.


The Lord Jesus is the Good Shepherd
and seeks to bring back any lost from the fold.

It’s not that He does not value the 99 sheep
– they are the ones whom He loves and keeps safe –
but He will seek out those who are lost
and rejoice when they are found.

He does so because He loves them
and will not allow any single one
to be overlooked.

Is the Lord Jesus looking for you?

What will you do so that He can find you?

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Don't shine, Jesus, Don't shine.

I was recommended this by David Straw on the Anglo-Catholic Central message board.

I'm in thorough agreement. Why at university I had to be part of a "worship band". To be honest, I'd rather have been playing the vapid and saccharine music instead of singing meaningless words which, in some cases verge upon the heretical. There were times when I could only cope with the tripe by playing Renaissance instruments. My renditions of "All over the World" on Soprano Krummhorn and "One shall tell another" on Bass Rackett have probably faded from memory.

But the purpose of modern church music is clear; it acts as entertainment in order to goad people into worshipping God by playing on their feelings. The overarching result is sheer superficiality and isolation into one's own experiential circle. There is no grappling with deep issues, there is no education into praxis, there is no engagement in the Divine beyond the "clap hands, here comes Jesus" phenomenon.

Pass me my cornemuse, please!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Is there a justification of Anglo-Papalism?

I seem to be dwelling on some of the sticking points between Roman and Anglo-Catholicism, mainly because of blogs like the Continuum and All Too Common, there have been recent criticisms of Papal Anglicanism largely through criticising Cardinal Newman especially in is Development of Christian Doctrine. I want to be able to address these issues because they make valid points! Again, the trouble is my lack of education. You may have noticed that I can only really tackle issues from the perspective of a rational philosopher or Biblical text.

To begin with Andrew Bartus (erstwhile of All Too Common) asks every Anglo-Papalist the following questions:
  • Who is the final authority in Rome? The Magisterium?
  • Well who interprets what is and is not infallible? The theologians whose opinions change with the breeze? The Apostolicae Curae example is the most obvious.
  • If you reject these two and still are an Anglo-Papalist, then how can you stay out of communion with the Holy Father, considering Unam Sanctam?
For those unfamiliar (like me!) with Unum Sanctam (a papal Bull issued in 1302 by Pope Boniface VIII), the central tenets are:
  1. There is but one true Church, outside of which there is no salvation; but one body of Christ with one head and not two.
  2. That head is Christ and His representative, the Roman pope; whoever refuses the pastoral care of Peter belongs not to the flock of Christ.
  3. There are two swords (i.e., powers), the spiritual and the temporal; the first borne by the Church, the second for the Church; the first by the hand of the priest, the second by that of the king, but under the direction of the priest (ad nutum et patientiam sacerdotis).
  4. Since there must be a co- ordination of members from the lowest to the highest, it follows that the spiritual power is above the temporal and has the right to instruct (or establish--instituere) the latter regarding its highest end and to judge it when it does evil; whoever resists the highest power ordained of God resists God Himself.
  5. It is necessary for salvation that all men should be subject to the Roman Pontiff--"Porro subesse Romano Pontifici omni humanæ creaturæ declaramus, dicimus, definimus et pronunciamus omnino esse de necessitate salutis".
So what are the answers to Andrew's questions?

Well, first, what is the identity of Anglo-Papalism? Anglo-Papalism exists in order that it should not exist which is rather unique when it comes to ecclesiology. It sees itself first and foremost as a transitional body seeking to bind Catholicism from its inherent schisms. That in itself is its problem theologically and ecclesiologically. Anglo-Papalism exists because Schism exists and without Schism there is no Anglo-Papalism. Thus Anglo-Papalism exists where there is contradiction over the differences which keep the Schism alive. Anglo-Papalists accept Unum Sanctam but they are not out of communion with the Holy Father, rather the Holy Father is out of communion with us. That sounds petty, but what this means is that the Pope once chose to excommunicate the antecedents of the Anglo-Papalists and, in the Anglican melee, he does not see the movement as being sufficiently indicative of the desire of all Anglo-Catholics to resume those that communion.

The Anglo-Papalist subjection to the Roman Pontiff is manifested in its drive to steer Anglicanism back to Rome, not to be absorbed by Rome but to bring with it that same Anglican character which pioneered the view of Confession that the Roman Church has today. As Fr. Brooke Lunn says, there is no disloyalty of Anglo-Papalists to Anglo-Catholicism, but rather the opposite. We're not advocating "wholesale surrender to Rome" but rather seeking to first bridge and then close the Schism preserving both of these Catholic identities.

As I intimated below, Anglo-Papalists accept all the Infallible statements of the Pope. There have only been two - the Immaculate Conception and Assumption of Our Lady. The Pope has not yet said infallibly that the Anglo-Papalist position is untenable If he does, then clearly we must secede. However, I don't believe that he is able to make that pronouncement infallibly!

I do agree with Andrew Bartus, the whole of Anglo-Papalism has a confused ecclesiology and that is because it has the ecclesiology of contraditions. However, these contradictions may turn out to be (in the ideas of Bernard Riemann) removable singularities, on the other hand they may not. However it is our hatred of Schism within the Catholic Church that makes Anglo-Papalism exist and we must exist. So here's praying for our non-existence!