Monday, July 07, 2014

Summorum Pontificum's anniversary, and Eastern Anglicanism

  • Summorum Pontificum 7 years on. Thanks a million to Pope Benedict but he's Benedict the Great because he grabbed an even bigger bull by the horns, reforming English Novus Ordo after many years of the official church denying there was a problem (I have no conscience problem with his version), since I know most Roman Riters for now still don't go to my Mass. Give it 50 years. After SP went into effect Sept. 14, what's now my parish made the earliest Sunday Low Mass Tridentine and later moved it to the Sung Mass slot (which used to be high-churched Novus; too bad the Novus ones there now aren't eastward-facing like that one).
  • When people would go on about Anglicanism as "Western Orthodoxy" I would call Orthodoxy "Eastern Anglicanism": a national Catholicism, culturally captive, anti-Catholic, theologically flexible thanks to a strategic lack of clarity in various areas (in Anglicanism this coming from its intentional vagueness, in Orthodoxy by its claims to respect "mystery" and to avoid rationalism, etc.). When Anglicans became Orthodox, I would be happy for them to have moved that far while thinking they'd made the easy choice and really only gotten 2/3 or 3/4 of the way they needed to go. At its best you get tsardom and other Eastern European blood-and-soil nationalism, not namby-pamby privatized religion (dhimmi in SWPLdom), which is what you get at its worst. The trouble with it at its best is it confuses its culture with universality; again that tension between the clan and a propositional religion that seeks converts. The church has fulfilled the Great Commission ("teach all nations"); all the Orthodox have managed to do is build various nations and empires.


  1. From Facebook:

    When you said Eastern Anglicanism, I thought you meant the actual group of Anglicans (mostly in TEC) who want actual Eastern-rite Anglicans.

    There are literal Eastern-rite Anglicans: the Mar Thoma Church, started in the 1800s under British rule, when some Malankara Church members (the Indian branch of the Syrian Church, Monophysites) left and slightly protestantized. I know what you mean: high churchmen, liberal and non, who byzantinize. Ever seen the videos of St. Gregory's Episcopal in San Francisco? They're not credally orthodox liberal high church but Unitarianish, but they "get" liturgy; their services are as numinous as the real thing.

    Just checked out the St Gregory's website, assuming this is what you're referring to. I'm an ex-Unitarian Episcopalian and I must admit I have a hard time seeing how anyone could get through their mission statement ("St. Gregory's Church invites people to see God's image in all humankind, to sing and dance to Jesus' lead, and to become God's friends") without laughing.

    They're what Catholic liberals would be if Catholic liberals had education and taste.

  2. "In this context I recall an English Catholic priest (the priest was once a clergyman in the Church of England) characterizing "the Oxford Orthodox" as "Anglicans with beards." He may have had in mind Metrop. Kallistos and his colleagues, friends and disciples, although he named no names.

    "The misfortunes of "Western Rite Orthodoxy" - not so much the loons, misfits and fantasists that it tends to attract, but the attitude of hostility or at least "arm's length coolness" with which so many other Orthodox view it, and now the effective suppression of ROCOR's Western Rite (which was, in truth, a very "mongrel" thing), plus the indifference, when not actual disfavor, with which it is regarded by many Antiochian clergy and some hierarchs outside the USA (note the way in which those Anglicans fleeing from WO in the Church of England in the early 1990s and who formed WRO communities under Antioch were required from the beginning to celebrate the Byzantine Rite occasionally, and subsequently were "encouraged" to "go Byzantine," as I believe most of them have done) - do speak in favor of the view that Orthodoxy is not so much Catholic as Byzantine."

    1. And:

      I forgot to include in my description of Orthodoxy's strategic flexibility the ever useful concept of economia. The idea I see in theory, but even I have been surprised by how cynically the Orthodox use it.

      In ways it's good - born Orthodox aren't fanatics about their fasting rules, for example - but in others not so much. Divorce and remarriage, for example. Here they've never made sense to me: so adultery is sometimes OK? I've read: pay the diocese to have your first marriage "cleared," then have the full church wedding the second time; the thing about the second wedding being penitential is a fairy tale the converts believe.

    2. The first time an online acquaintance invoked economia to justify multiple divorces / remarriages, I thought, "That sounds exactly like situation ethics." Which, if y'all recall, was sort of a theological fad during the Sixties. The Anglicans were especially keen on it IIRC.

  3. Marshall Fightlin, a Jewish convert to Catholicism, once remarked that "Eastern Orthodoxy is Episcopalianism waiting to happen." Whenever I cite this remark, Orthodox critics come out of the woodwork to slam me with stuff like, "Oh yeah?? You Catholics are the real Episcopalians! Look at your dissenters! Look at Nancy Pelosi! Look at all the Catholics who use birth control! Blahblahblahdeblah."

    But, of course, the crucial distinction is that we have a Magisterium. It is scandalous that many Catholics do not follow it, yes. I concede this. But, nonetheless, the Magisterium is there, and it provides an authoritative Guide to the Perplexed. If you want to know what the Church actually teaches re A, B, or C, you can easily find out, e.g., via the Catechism, an official organ of the Magisterium.

    No such authoritative, definitive guide exists in Orthodoxy -- which is why, when I ask five different Orthodox about contraception, say, I get five different answers. And there is no final arbiter, no "buck-stops-here" authority, to tell me which of those five answers represents Orthodox Teaching.

    BTW...Marshall Fightlin also once said that Messianic Judaism is "Baptist fundamentalism with a knish." He is a very funny guy.


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