Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Abortion, gay weddings and your vote
  • The RC bishops are right that abortion’s wrong and those in high places who actively support it deserve excommunication.
  • They’re right that homosexuality is disordered: objectively wrong.
  • They’re wrong to say and act as though either matters politically: neither side is really doing anything to stop the former, regarding the latter I don’t mind if you do (it’s no threat to me and there’s no such thing as consensual crime) and get the state out of the marriage business, and I don’t care which if any church my candidate belongs to as long as he’ll do his job properly.
  • And then there’s the whiff of old-fashioned no-popery.
San Joaquin: what?
I wrote at the time that here the bishop doesn’t make sense

Anglicanism and the row as seen by a liberal in England
He understandably likes a muddled Broad Church
  • Either it wasn’t a triad (more a quadrilateral) or one of its three main parts was as Charley points out the Central Church people.
  • If Catholicism’s reduced from truth to opinion in a dialectic, part of a triad or whatever, then it’s not Catholicism any more but ‘sacramentally inclined liberalism’.
  • He’s right about the Protestant Global South — its built-in instability (after all it’s Protestant) and ultimate incompatibility with Catholics — but wrong really about ‘liberals and their view of authority’ as ‘more flexible about difference’. When they’re honest they admit it’s a war of absolutes. Also, the law of non-contradiction, ‘a house divided’ and so on.
A difference between me and the Anglican right on all this is I’m not sure there’s an ‘Anglicanism’ I could believe in that can be saved. (But this is not a denominational blog either.) My only agenda in all this is to be Catholic (and a non-clobberer online) and both keep the best of this (see below), really parts of a culture not a church unto itself, alive and thriving in ‘the larger church’, the greater Catholic family where it always really belonged (it obviously doesn’t belong in liberal Protestantism, something we didn’t want to be) and support it and its remaining people (FiF, Southern Cone, Continuing and officially non-aligned/‘under the radar’ alike) in a positive way as much as possible.
It is such a different scene in the United Kingdom from the United States. The only real growth in churchgoing in this country is in London among black immigrant-based independent churches. There is also the result of Poland entering the European Union and perhaps some one million Poles coming more or less all at once into the United Kingdom, many of whom go to Catholic churches for communal reasons — rather a similar dynamic to background reasons for much churchgoing in the United States. This is not the dynamic of churchgoing in the UK, where people are generally not clubable and remain reserved, and who retain large areas of personal space around themselves as individuals.
From Episcopal Café.

The vision glorious
Part of what formed me as well as a famous late liberal bishop (right on peace issues and civil liberty, wrong on much else) and his daughter as she describes:
At my father’s first parish, the church was right next door; going to church was not a duty but a chance to be with the deepest part of him, to be inside his imagination. In the darkness at the altar rail, I would hold the wafer in my mouth, allowing it to become wet with the wine that burned down my throat. Take, eat, this is my body, my father would say. Just as I came to understand his splendid vestments were not ordinary clothes, I learned that during the Eucharist, the bread and wine were shot through with something otherworldly, something alive that vibrated and trembled, and when I watched my father, enormously tall, the color of his vestments blurry through all the incense in all the candlelight, it seemed to me he brought all this about, up there at the altar, enswirled in the fragrant smoke, the organ thundering, his voice carried by the King James language. It therefore made sense that when he sang Gregorian chant his voice would break and falter. He was being transported by what he called “the presence of God,” a force much more powerful than his physical body. What happened to him seemed also to happen in me, behind my eyes, on the surface of my skin, and when it happened, I didn’t think of how my mother looked with a baby on her hip, how my younger brothers and sisters screamed, or how awkward I felt at school. Instead, everything became comprehensible....

After the service, after removing the gold and the colors, after lifting the tiny white wafer as high as his long arms could reach, after administering wine at the altar rail and drinking what remained in the consecrated chalice, my father came home. Now wearing his black suit, he burst into the living room, where we all waited, the grownups drinking sherry, joking or talking seriously.
So... besides the self-defeating exercises of the Henrician schism and Elizabethan compromise worsened by the ‘Enlightenment’, what went wrong?

Why’d it — the echo of the 1920s Congresses (the people at the Albert Hall for High Mass and on Westminster Bridge singing Marian hymns... I’m sure they’ve all passed on but a long time ago I met one of them), the witness based on Catholic principles in places like the London slums and South Africa (I knew one of those people), most of the shrine churches, the biretta belt — come crashing down years ago... in my lifetime?

I know it’s not the end of the world — a Catholic can always go somewhere else and to remain so one often must — but... it was still our home.

Of course I don’t expect an answer today.

It’s in my top five questions for the hereafter though.

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