Thursday, August 23, 2007

The row revisited
I came into the church in the center of the old "high and wide" churchmanship, the sort that characterized many of the big east coast cathedrals thirty or more years ago. Or perhaps forty-five years would be more apropos. Back in those days the Broad issue was racism, a cause that allowed it to be easily allied with the Anglo-Catholics. When the Broad issues turned to the middle class (sexism and homosexuality), Anglo-Catholics became the enemy, because they were bound to teaching what they had always taught.
CGW (more here, here and here — he gets it)

The anti-apartheid movement — Desmond Tutu’s and Steve Biko’s mentors — was Catholic. I knew a priest (pictured) who was thrown out of Namibia in the 1960s. By the end of his life he was supplying in a Continuing parish.

Fr Tobias Haller gives some insight on the Pike trial:
Pike was seen as a peripheral and tragic figure, allowed to keep his seat in the House of Bishops more out of charity than conviction.
It reminds me of Black Narcissus when the demons invisibly working on the nuns took even virtues and turned them against them (every temptation is for an apparent good: isn’t that how it always works?): the kind-hearted infirmarian who disobeyed her superior and went into the village to try and save one child ended up turning the village against the convent when the child died. Here the English and Anglican virtues of kindness, tolerant conservatism and sticking together (the old boys looking out for one of their own) set bad precedent with unintended consequences.

But the blowback is not as severe or fast-acting as some on the Protestant and RC neocon right say. (‘Get out now!’)

There are still Central and even Catholic people and places ‘under the radar’. Reminds me of St Paul’s by the Lake in Chicago.

In the past year online and occasionally in person I’ve read and become acquainted with several people often younger than me (in another nine years I’ll just be a fogey) who unlike the two generations before them have an amazing sympathy for the Catholic religion. You can describe at least some of them as post-modern.

Here Fr Haller seems to speak for them:
I can affirm each and every statement that Fairfield describes as “Classical Biblical and Anglican theology” and reject the doctrines he attributes to Modernism... in which few progressive Episcopalians will recognize themselves portrayed.
The ex-Christians are nowhere near as strong as they and the mainstream media like to claim.

Spong’s ‘bright sixth-former’ recycled C19 scepticism is only popular with some of his generation and some boomers. ‘God is dead.’ Wow, man.
It is often said that you can only have a reasonable discussion with those with whom you disagree when you can state the opposite side’s case in language they recognize and affirm.
Any thinking person knows why stereotypes are — because they have lots of things that are true and lots of people fit them — but also why they’re not fair to everybody.

In the past year I’ve been especially careful to avoid generalisations and media caricatures, including those from the conservative parties (there are more than two sides) in the Anglican row: ‘The Episcopal Church is no longer Christian’, ‘all Broad Churchmen/women ministers/gays are alike/liberal/apostate’ and suchlike.

Trying to avoid the ‘blah, blah, blah, Ginger’ breakdown in communication in which for example ‘we are part of the larger church above all else’ gets scrambled on the other end as ‘you’re unjust to women’ and so on.

The new generation and I have much in common, which is comforting. I hope in some small way this blog, and in a bigger way and more important the Catholic faith, is helpful to you. (I realise when some of you say you’re Catholic you’re not making fun of me.) As we say and believe the same creed and sometimes even pray the same offices, please pray for me as I do for you.

But we are not in communion: nothing self-righteous about that, only honest. Perhaps you feel the pain of that as much as I do.

Getting back to what Charley hit upon mentioning class, perhaps it is a direct line from going into schism from one’s lawful patriarch (regardless of the controversy about his office’s origin and powers) to do the bidding of the king to making compromises to serve the upper middle class.

The way it now works and will work in future is ‘fine, you can be orthodox and old-fashioned — in fact it makes us look good, reasonable, tolerant, diverse, all that wonderful stuff — as long as it doesn’t get in the way of women’s ordination, gay weddings and anything else the upper middle class might fancy some day’. (Which is what things like ‘traditional where it counts’ mean.)

Eventually Neuhaus’s law — when orthodoxy is optional it’s only a matter of time before it’s proscribed — will be played out in the Anglican scene. The compromised Christians and the ex-Christians will duke it out and there will be only one kind left. But not now.

More speculation: in the nominal reign of ‘defender of the faiths’ Charles III England will disestablish and the Broad Church there will collapse in a country secular to an extent hard for Americans to imagine. (And perhaps there will be a Muslim ascendancy.) What’s left of the Catholic Movement is stronger than in the States but the part not co-opted by the gay movement as happened to most of it in America (‘they should have poped last Tuesday week had not their partners objected’) will go over to Rome as most already are liturgically low-church anyway using the Novus Ordo. (Anglo-Papalism is almost peculiar to south-eastern England.) The biggest native part of the Christian minority will be a Church of England narrowly Evangelical. Christian but Protestant. Perhaps part of an Anglican Communion of the same churchmanship in which the empire is reversed and the Global South calls the shots. Back to Blighty... there will be other Christians in that minority: a Roman Catholic Church no longer Irish, kept alive by Polish immigration.

BTW Fr Haller is right and the reasserters wrong. ‘What?’ He’s right that Protestant private judgement perhaps even in Hooker’s mild form* eventually and logically leads to things like gay weddings. (Not gay marriage, which the law of God and the natural law say is impossible.) The conservative Protestants don’t know it.

Why the new orthodox via media doesn’t work
The same reason the old Elizabethan settlement fell apart. By Fr Deacon Methodius Hayes, a former Anglican priest in South Africa (who also was thrown out of Namibia).

*But classic Anglicans, like the Schoolmen before them, saw ‘reason’ as ‘conforming yourself to the laws of God and nature, to objective reality’ (commonly called growing up) not ‘God does what I want and if you’re not cool with it then you’re a fundamentalist and big meanie, so there’.

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