Sunday, 31 August 2014

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Frugal Abundance: Headcovering & Cringing

Frugal Abundance: Headcovering & Cringing

"When I started wearing a headcovering, I did a lot of cringing. In public, I looked weird. I wasn’t exactly comfortable with wearing it yet, so it still felt a little bit like a costume, instead of my everyday habit. Since I felt uncomfortable myself, others, especially the public at large, sensed my discomfort and it made things increasingly awkward. Over time things became less awkward. It took time though. I think the first 2 years it was still pretty weird for me at times. After 2 years, wearing the headcovering was closer to second nature. After 5 years it was mostly normal. After 10 years, I don’t even give it a second thought. A headcovering is simply part of my way of life."


Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire,
Uttered, or unexpressed;
The motion of a hidden fire
That trembles in the breast.
Prayer is the burden of a sigh,
The falling of a tear;
The upward glancing of an eye
When none but God is near.
Prayer is the simplest form of speech
That infant lips can try;
Prayer the sublimest strains that reach
The Majesty on high.
Prayer is the Christian’s vital breath,
The Christian’s native air;
His watchword at the gates of death;
He enters rest with prayer.
The saints in prayer appear as one,
In word, and deed, and mind;
While with the Father and the Son
Sweet fellowship they find.
O Thou, by whom we come to God,
The Life, the Truth, the Way,
The path of prayer Thyself hast trod—
Lord, teach us how to pray.

James Montgomery, 1818

We can never overestimate the importance and power of prayer. To the world, prayer seems like such a waste of time, yet it truly is the most powerful activity on earth.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Theological Scribbles: In Defence of the Creed, part 1 (from "Deep Church Rising")

Theological Scribbles: In Defence of the Creed, part 1 (from "Deep Church Rising")

Creeds often take a fair amount of flack. In the minds of many people they are lifeless sets of “things to believe” that substitute for authentic heart-felt faith; they epitomize outward “religion” obsessed with form and ritual, as opposed to inward devotion. For some they are seen to foster a propositional approach to faith that focuses on the primacy of assent to certain claimed facts. Others see them as a source of oppression, the top-down imposition by powerful ecclesiastical hierarchies of what Christians are compelled to affirm. Framed in those terms creeds do not resonate with the modern world, with its focus on the individual’s authority to determine what she or he chooses to believe.
We wish to present creeds differently. The great ecumenical Creed of Nicea is, we suggest, an instrument of the Holy Spirit to help keep the church focused on key aspects of the gospel message. A few points of orientation are in order.

Dear Douglas Carswell MP

Douglas Carswell, you have betrayed the Conservative Party.

You have also betrayed the Union. How do you think your defection will affect the decision of voters in Scotland? Will they not worry that the Tory Party is going to become the party of unbridled Euroscepticism?

What did you think you were doing?

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

The Independent: Obsessing over our children’s moral welfare won’t do them any good

The Independent: Obsessing over our children’s moral welfare won’t do them any good

This, of course, is the problem. We helicopter over our children so much (and I am as guilty about this as anyone else), that when we leave them alone and unattended by an adult for an hour or two, we imagine they are immediately rushing to their iPods and that their use of the internet will lead them straight into either grooming sessions with potential paedophiles, or hard core porn which will corrupt their natures and make them think sex is something which involves brutality.

Certainly our children do spend a lot of time on their screens, and I am as impatient with the dread habit of texting at the dinner table as the next parent. But when they are sitting down with their devices, what are they actually doing? Chatting to their friends it seems, via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and the rest. Or sending silly videos of people having gallons of ice being poured all over them. Or sharing cat pictures, and more cat pictures. Or pug pictures. Or finding out why Häagen Dazs is so called. Or learning how to make smiley bananas out of loom bands. And so on. There is a lot of crafting out there. And socialising. Because their terrified parents won’t let them go out and socialise in real time, face to face with their friends in parks.

Article by Rosie Millard

There does seem to be a bit of a moral panic going on about children using the internet.

Personally, I think sex education is a much bigger threat to the morality of the young than internet porn. And sex education is exactly what these new guardians of morality want to impose on our children.

The Daily Telegraph recently called for schools to teach children about internet pornography. How in the world do you teach children about pornography without making them want to look at it? Surely it is obvious that such lessons would only make children more curious about porn.

The Independent: Sex education for seven-year-olds, pledge Lib Dems

The Independent: Sex education for seven-year-olds, pledge Lib Dems

Sex education would start from the age of seven and would form part of secondary education curriculum in every state-funded school in England, under a plan that will be part of the Liberal Democrat election manifesto.

Yet another reason not to vote Liberal Democrat. So will parents still be able to opt their children out under these proposals?

Sex education is basically schooling in immorality.

The American Catholic: Distributism: Novel Economic System

The American Catholic: Distributism: Novel Economic System

Distributism has as much chance of ever being a major economic system as does the economic system of Utopia (No Place) by Saint Thomas More, which is a very good thing.  Attempts to implement economic systems in the real world that rely on reshaping how humans behave has a track record, one which no one sane should be eager to emulate.

Absolutely right. Distributism does not make the slightest bit of economic sense. I'd rather be a Socialist than a Distributist.

G.K. Chesterton liked the idea of every man being his own captialist, yet recent statistics indicate that most people who are self-employed have a very poor standard of living. There are an awful lot of benefits to being a wage slave working for a big corporation.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Defending Constantine, by Peter Leithart

Defending Constantine: The Twilight of an Empire and the Dawn of Christendom, Peter Leithart, 2010 InterVarsity Press

For many people of different religious opinions, Constantine is treated as a sort of moustache-twirling villain. For heretics and the followers of cults, Constantine is the guy who changed the sabbath from Saturday to Sunday, came up with the idea of the soul surviving death, introduced the Trinity and got people to celebrate those dreadful pagan feasts Christmas and Easter. Yet even many who are closer to orthodoxy regard Constantine as a baddy. When my father explained to me when I was a child the reasons for rejecting Catholicism, he did so with reference to Constantine. For him and many Protestants, Constantine marks the point at which the church went wrong. Many Christians, theologians among them, regard Constantine as introducing an unhealthy relationship between church and state. Pacifists blame him for leading Christians to accept the necessity of violence and war. Many doubt whether Constantine's famous conversion was really sincere.

In this book, revisionist Protestant Peter Leithart painstakingly addresses some of the myths about Constantine. He paints a new picture of Constantine as a rather decent chap, quite sincere in his Christian faith and introducing a new and positive age of Christian dominance. This is not a hagiography; Leithart is able to acknowledge and interact with Constantine's very real flaws and faults, but he places them in the context of his era.

This is a very scholarly work. Leithart looks closely at the original sources and interacts with the main authorities on the late Roman Empire. However, despite the level of scholarship, it is very reeadable and engaging. He does a fantastic job of bringing both Constantine and his age to life in the reader's mind.

The writer that Leithart interacts with most often is Anabaptist theologian John Howard Yoder, who views Constantine as bringing an end to the church's pacifism and establihing a new imperial and militaristic Christianity. Leithart argues that the church's pacifism was not necessarily uniform, pointing out that pacifism can only be established for certain in a few Christian writers in the Ante-Nicene era. Furthermore, many of the Ante-Nicene Christians had entertained positive views of the Roman Empire. He also addresses the charge that Constantine established a new norm of intolerant Christianity that persecuted pagans, Jews and heretics.

In a very grisly chapter, Leithart describes in detail the horrors of the tortures inflicted on Christians by the Roman Emperors prior to Constantine. He suggests that the scholarly critics of Constantine have not done a very good job of taking into account this persecution in their evaluation. The early Christians had a very good reason for welcoming a Christian emperor and it is a little glib for Christians today worshiping in freedom and safety to blame them for this.

One issue that Leithart does not really address is that of Chiliaism. Some writers argue that a Premillennial eschatology was dominant in the Ante-Nicene era and that the conversion of the Roman Empire to Christianity had a role in shifting eschatological views away from Chiliaism.

This is a book that I would very much recommend to all who have an interest in both the Roman Empire and church history.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Catholic Supporters of UKIP

I do find it odd that some Catholics support UKIP. Of course there are many legitimate reasons why a Catholic could desire to see Britain leave the European Union. The EU is a secular institution that is not particularly Christian. It is an institution that has plenty of faults. To my knowledge there is nothing in Catholic teaching that requires one to support the European Union. Yet I still feel slightly puzzled by Catholics who support UKIP and also Catholic Tories who take a militantly anti-EU stance.

I suppose my main reason for feeling this way is my own experience. At one time, I was part of a Protestant fundamentalist organisation that was fiercely opposed to the European Union. We believe that the EU was not just a bureacratic muddle, but part of a sinister Catholic conspiracy. Being militantly anti-EU went together with being anti-Catholic.

The identification of Catholicism with those sinister continentals is nothing new. British anti-Catholicism has generally been accompanied by a suspicion of foreign things. Catholicism was perceived until recently as something foreign and un-British. I suppose that has changed, which is why some Catholics feel comfortable identifying with the narrow Little Englander vision that UKIP represents. It still seems perplexing to me.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Collect for August 22nd

The Memorial of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Collect: O God, who made the Mother of your Son to be our Mother and our Queen, graciously grant that, sustained by her intercession, we may attain in the heavenly Kingdom the glory promised to your children. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. 22nd August

Thursday, 21 August 2014 The assumptions of the Assumption The assumptions of the Assumption

On the face of it, Mary’s Assumption (body and soul) into heaven, is one of the most challenging traditions of the Church. One of my seminary professors loved to say that, for him, the Assumption was just too much of an assumption. It certainly presents a unique obstacle to many of our Protestant brethren. And this is in large part because the event does suggest, in a strange way, that the Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus wasn’t enough, that there had to be something more. Rilke’s question is the right one: who would have suspected that abundant Heaven was incomplete?

But asking that question forces us to deal with one of the basic assertions of the Christian faith: God didn’t need to create us or redeem us, but he did. That is the great mystery of creation. The infinite God who exists for himself alone, in total perfection, desired to share his superabundant goodness with creatures. It is that same mystery that we experience afresh each week when God comes to us in the Eucharist, offering his very self to us, bringing us, through the body and blood of Christ, into the fellowship of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Triablogue: Ezekiel 16 as a test-case for open theism

Open theism suffers from a fundamental internal tension. A tension between its theology and its methodology. On the one hand, the theology of open theism is basically a variant of Arminianism and Anabaptism. It stresses God's universal love, including God's nonviolent love for his enemies. It stresses the Cross and the Sermon on the Mount as its interpretive prism.
On the other hand, its major prooftexts, in challenging classical theism, are taken from the OT. Narrative theology and prophetic literature. Yet the OT depiction of God's character often clashes with open theist sentiments. If anything, the OT depiction of God's character is frequently the polar opposite of universal love or nonviolent love for God's enemies.

The Parish Church of King Charles the Martyr, Tunbridge Wells

I visited the Anglican church of King Charles the Martyr in Tunbridge Wells today. It's a 17th century church with a beautiful stained glass window depicting the angel of the resurrection above the altar. I visited this church about four years ago and decided to make a return visit.

I've never been to a service at King Charles the Martyr, so I don't know what it is like or how sound the minister is, but I was encouraged to see that they use the Book of Common Prayer in some of their services.

I am very devoted to King Charles the Martyr and regard him as a saint. He died at the hands of wicked Calvinists.

King Charles the Martyr, pray for us and for England. Pray for our Sovereign Lady, Queen Elizabeth that she would be faithful to the Christian relgiion. Pray for Scotland, that her ancient Christian faith would flourish.

Robin Parry on the Long Ending of Mark

Theological Scribbles: Snake handling in Mark 16 (a thought from Nick Lunn)

I am currently editing a SUPERB book on the long ending of Mark's Gospel (Mark 16:9–20). The author, Nicholas Lunn, argues that the long ending was not a later addition to the Gospel but was the original ending written by Mark. In this he is going against the majority view, but I can say that his case is not simply reasonable — it is knock-down brilliant! He demonstrates that the case for the long ending being original is highly probable. (Seriously — I am as surprised as you may be.) I think that after the publication of this book anyone who still wants to argue for the exclusion of 16:9–20 from the Gospel has an uphill struggle.

I'd always believed in the genuiness of the long ending, but then I've been a King James Bible reader and Textus Receptus Defender much of my life.

The Chapel Veil

A video about the woman's headcovering in Catholicism. Catholic women who cover offer theor testimonies.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Biblical Evidence for Catholicism: Orthodoxy and Catholicism: A Comparison (Revised Version): Reply to My Introduction, by Fr. Deacon Daniel Dozier (+ My Response)

Biblical Evidence for Catholicism: Orthodoxy and Catholicism: A Comparison (Revised Version): Reply to My Introduction, by Fr. Deacon Daniel Dozier (+ My Response)

'A good friend of mine once remarked that being an Eastern Catholic is at times very much like the experience of a child of a great divorce. One stands, as it were, between two great sources of ecclesial parentage (Catholicism and Orthodoxy) whose estrangement developed over the course of centuries, and the wound of which is still deeply felt today especially by those of good will who long for a reconciliation and a restoration of that once, full, vibrant and dynamic and familial communion that existed for many centuries.  
 This longing is at its root a deeply Christian one and is felt by all members of these respective families of churches. For the Eastern Churches in communion with Rome, however, this longing is most acute since at least historically we are keenly aware that Orthodoxy, and not Roman (Latin) Catholicism, is our common spiritual heritage.' 

A good friend of mine once remarked that being an Eastern Catholic is at times very much like the experience of a child of a great divorce. One stands, as it were, between two great sources of ecclesial parentage (Catholicism and Orthodoxy) whose estrangement developed over the course of centuries, and the wound of which is still deeply felt today especially by those of good will who long for a reconciliation and a restoration of that once, full, vibrant and dynamic and familial communion that existed for many centuries. 
This longing is at its root a deeply Christian one and is felt by all members of these respective families of churches. For the Eastern Churches in communion with Rome, however, this longing is most acute since at least historically we are keenly aware that Orthodoxy, and not Roman (Latin) Catholicism, is our common spiritual heri

Monday, 18 August 2014

For My Sake and the Gospel's Go

“For My sake, and the Gospel’s, go
And tell redemption’s story”;
His heralds answer, “Be it so,
And Thine, Lord, all the glory!”
They preach His birth, His life, His cross,
The love of His atonement,
For Whom they count the world but loss,
His Easter, His enthronement.

Hark, hark, the trump of jubilee
Proclaims to every nation,
From pole to pole, by land and sea,
Glad tidings of salvation;
As nearer draws the day of doom,
While still the battle rages,
The heav’nly Dayspring through the gloom
Breaks on the night of ages.

Still on and on the anthems spread
Of alleluia voices,
In concert with the holy dead
The warrior church rejoices;
Their snow white robes are washed in blood,
Their golden harps are ringing;
Earth and the paradise of God
One triumph song are singing.

He comes, Whose advent trumpet drowns
The last of time’s evangels,
Emmanuel crowned with many crowns,
The Lord of saints and angels;
O Life, Light, Love, the great I AM,
Triune, Who changest never,
The throne of God and of the Lamb
Is Thine, and Thine forever.

The tune for this is by Arthur Sullivan, better known for his work with William Schwenk Gilbert's musicals. And what a rousing, sturring tune it is! This is Victorian hymnody at its best.

An Anglican bishop once said to a boy that "You must sing as though you were thanking God for giving us such a wonderful Queen as Victoria."  There is a sense that this hymn is as much about British Imperialism as it is about the spread of the Gospel. Nevertheless, while there are legitmate criticisms that can be made about the British Empire, it did enable the spread of the Gospel to heathen lands. For all the abuses and racism, the British Empire was still a noble and Christian insitution.

This is an hymn about the church and her mission to the nations, a rich theme that is rarely seen in the thematically narrow songs of modern worship. How often do we sing about th triumph of the church militant?

When I was a dispensationalist, I struggled theologically a bit with this hymn, despite rather liking it. The idea of the church being triumphant does not fit all that easily wuth the pessimism ingrained in dispensationalism. Now that I have come to a richer ecclesiology, I feel able to sing thus hymn (Protestant as it is) all the more heartily.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

The Imaginative Conservative: In the Heaven of Knowing: Dante’s Paradiso

The Imaginative Conservative: In the Heaven of Knowing: Dante’s Paradiso

Hierarchy has a basis in the New Testament. In a passage perfectly suited to Dante’s fusion of Christian teaching and pagan cosmology, St. Paul writes in reference to our resurrected bodies: “There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory” (1 Corinthians 15:41). Aquinas cites this very passage to support the view that among the blessed, who see the essence of God, “one sees more perfectly than another” (ST 1, Q. 12, art. 6). Jesus too signals the presence of heavenly degrees when he tells the disciples: “Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:4).To follow the Paradiso we must know a little about Dante’s scheme of the visible universe. For Dante, the world is not an infinite expanse but an ordered whole in the shape of a sphere—what the ancient Greeks called a kosmos or adornment. Dante follows the Ptolemaic astronomy of his day. For Ptolemy, the Earth sits motionless at the center of a rotating celestial sphere that makes a complete turn on its axis every twenty-four hours. The Moon, Sun, and planets move in their respective orbits in the opposite direction at much lesser speeds. The Moon is the lowest sphere because it is closest to Earth. Beyond it are Mercury, Venus, the Sun, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, in orbits of increasing circumference. Next there is the sphere of the Fixed Stars, and finally the outer shell of the visible universe. This is the so-called Crystalline, the first bodily sphere to be touched and moved by God’s love. Beyond it is the Empyrean or true Heaven. This is the home of spirits, the non-extended “place” of God, the angels, and all the blessed. It is the ultimate point to which Dante ascends and the heaven that most receives God’s light.

Article by Peter Kalkavage 

Friday, 15 August 2014

Shameless Popery: The Early Church and the Virgin Mary: St. Gregory ...

Shameless Popery: The Early Church and the Virgin Mary: St. Gregory the Wonder-Worker ...: St. Gregory the Wonder-Worker (14th c. icon) In honor of the Feast of the Assumption of Mary, I thought I would share with you a glimpse ...

The Faith Understood: An Introduction to Catholic Theology, by Mark Zia

The Faith Understood: An Introduction to Catholic Theology, by Mark Zia, 2013 Emmaus Road

You definitely get the impression that this book is aimed at Evangelicals contemplating the claims of Rome. I think it if were intended to introduce Catholic theology to non-religious people or liberal Protestants, it would be written quite differently. It is written in the language of Christian orthodoxy for people who see themselves as orthodox (small O, of course). And given that context, a book like this is of vital importance. As an Evangelical approaching Catholicism, I find Catholic theology bewilderingly alien.

Mark Zia provides a helpful introduction to the main themes of Catholic theology, sin, redemption, the Trinity, divine revelation and others. The chapter on Mariology will be of great interest to Evangelicals who find Marian dogmas and devotion terrifyingly exotic. On the subject of Scripture, Zia affirms that the Roman Catholic Church teaches the inerrancy of the Bible. He sadly acknowledges, that much Catholic Biblical scholarship lacks this commitment, despite Vatican II's affirmation of Biblical authority.

For me, the problem of this book is that it is far too short. Zia offers a nice summary of Catholic doctrinal themes, but does not go beyond the milk of these teachings. While he provides a bibliography to explore, he offers no guidance as to where a person wanting to go furher into Catholic theology should look next.

A book I would really like to see is a Catholic equivalent of Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology. As an Evangelical I have been immensely critical of Wayne Grudem's one-volume text book, not just for some of the doctrinal positions he advocates, but also for the way in which he dumbs down and oversimplifies so many theological issues. I have found it really depressing hearing Evangelicals boasting that they have read Grudem's Systematic Theology and expecting others to be impressed at their theological depth. Yet as a newcomer to Catholic theology, I realise the value of such a work. Maybe there is such a book, but I have yet to see it. Ludwig Ott's Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma covers some of that ground, but is not quite aimed at the modern reader and uses a lot of technical language likely to confuse somebody like me who is schooled in Grudem and Charles Ryrie.

catholicity and covenant: "It's about the whole of reality": Dormition and t...

catholicity and covenant: "It's about the whole of reality": Dormition and the hope of glory...:

So this festival is about everyone and everything. It’s about the whole of reality. It’s a celebration of the proof that the Gospel is real and true. It’s a celebration of the victory of God in Christ for the sake of us mere mortal human beings. And this is given to us on the 15th of August when we celebrate the Dormition, the falling asleep in Christ, and her glorification in Christ, held in His arms in the presence of God of His own mother, and in a sense our mother since the cross, the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Holy Theotokos, our sister in Christ, our co-Christian in Him and in many ways because of Him also our Mother together with the Church itself and the Holy Spirit itself in which we enter into communion with God our Father through the Son Jesus Christ by the intercession and by the example of his own mother, Mary. This is our celebration and the Dormition of Mary on the 15th of August.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

The Battle for God, by Norman Geisler and H.Wayne House

The Battle for God, by Norman Geisler and H.Wayne House, 2001 Kregel Publications

I've never been persuaded by Open Theism, what Geisler and House call 'Neotheism.' I read The God Who Risks, by John Sanders when I was at college. I acknowledged that my Arminian views were what Sanders would call a 'risk-model' of sovereignty, but I was not at all convinced by his rejection of exhaustive divine foreknowledge. In 2008, I read some books by Greg Boyd and for a while, he was my favorite author. However, I was quite unconvinced by the case he made for Open Theism. I was far too attached to Classic Theism, the historic and orthodox position of the Christian Church.

Norman Geisler and H. Wayen House offer a strong and convincing polemic against Open Theism. However, they also offer a positive defence of the richness of classic teaching about God. One of the things that made me disenchanted with Evangelicalism was both the half-hearted commitment of its theologians to essential tenets of classic theism, such as impassibility, timelessness, and absolute simplicity, and also the complete unawareness among Evangelical laymen of the gloriousness of their classic theistic heritage. Most Evangelicals I know are shocked at the very idea of divine impassibility, but this should hardly be a surprise when their teachers openly and casually reject it and even Rob Lister's 'defence' of impassiblity is actually a complete modification and revision of the doctrine. That is why an Evangelical book like The Battle for God is so important.

I was glad to see that Wayne and House take a strong view of divine simplicity, quoting Aquinas' definitions of this doctrine. One great strength of Norman Geisler is his openness to the insights of St. Thomas. Likewise, they also defend the unfashionable doctrine of impassibility. I was rather more uncomfortable with their handling of divine sovereignty. As a synegist from an Arminian background, I felt their approach was too biased towards Augustinianism and Calvinism. Nevertheless, they affirm that Jacob Arminius was fully in line with John Calvin in affirming classic theism.

This is an easy to read book that addresses some of the deeper aspects of the Godhead and will be of vital importance to Evangelicals wanting to challenge Open Theism and its supporters. Catholic readers will find little here to disagree with and may appreciate the contribution made by these Evangelicals.

Not My Own: Why I Wear a Head Covering

Not My Own: Why I Wear a Head Covering

'When I became a Christian I remember reading 1 Cor. 11 and wondering: "Why don't women still wear head coverings? If God says it's a shame for women to have their head uncovered then shouldn't what He considers a shame be important to us?" The fact that it was in the new testament carried a lot of weight with me too in that it wasn't under the old covenant, this was a new covenant guideline.

The argument I often/almost always heard was: "it's a cultural thing." hmmmm, how do we get to decide what is cultural? Shouldn't God decide that? If He says a woman should have her head covered shouldn't we do that regardless of what the culture is doing? Since when is a Christian called to do what culture dictates? Don't we allow the Word of God to direct our lives/decisions?'

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

The Rosary Handbook, by Mitch Finley

The Rosary Handbook, by Mitch Finley, 2007 The Word Among Us Press

I bought this book at the same time that I bought my first rosary. As somebody new to Catholicism, I wanted to ensure I was saying the rosary correctly and that I truly understood its meaning. Mitch Finley provides an excellent and very helpful introduction to those new to the rosary, giving a brief summary of its history, an explanation of how to say it, followed by simple but intelligent reflections on each of the mysteries of the rosary.

Mitch Finley encourages the intelligent use of the rosary, with a full and intellectual engagement with the mysteries. This contrasts with Scott Hahn, who seems to accept a more passive rosary meditation.

At times, I get the impression that the writer takes a more liberal view of some things than I do and I get the ipression that he has an intellectual struggle with belief in miracles, something I can't really identify with. He seems to encourage the use of 'you' instead of 'thee' which I think is rather unfortunate. The use of the singular and more reverant form ought to be continued in my opinion.

Finley makes the interesting point that the wording of the Salve Regina could be read in a way that contradicts the truths of redemption in Christ, nevertheless he encourages the use of this prayer at the end of rosary. It's a prayer that has become very dear to me.

Daily Telegraph: Upsetting minorities will put David Cameron on a shortcut to oblivion

Daily Telegraph: Upsetting minorities will put David Cameron on a shortcut to oblivion

Article by Mary Riddell

This is spot on. The Conservative Party vitally needs to reach out beyond its core vote.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

My Prediction: Post-Independence SNP

The polls seem to indicate that the Scots will probably reject independence in the referendum. There certainly do seem to be some big problems in the case for an independent Scotland. Nevertheless, I would like to offer some amateur political analysis about post-independence Scotland.

Salmond offers this shining vision of a progressive and egalitarian Scotland, free to spend its oil revenues without restraint and without interference from Westminster. However, not long after independence, the Scottish government is going to realise the realities of economics in a harsh and competitive global economy. They are going to realise that you can't spend more than the economy brings in. All those promises of unlimited spending on welfare, health and education are going to go up in smoke.

Salmond and the Scottish government will realise the need to encourage investment in the rather econmically precarious independent Scotland. They will start promising to trim regulations and corporate taxes, to make Scotland seem cosy for investment.

The Scottish National Party will no longer be the party of progressive spending and will instead be the party of big business and corporations. The SNP will become another neo-liberal party, just like the three in Westminster. Labour will probably switch to being the moderate left-wing opposition. The Conservatives in Scotland will find themselves redundant in the face of a newly neo-liberal Scottish National Party. They may well decided to merge with the new Scottish establishment.

Of course, I can't claim to be an expert in political analysis, so this is just a guess.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Stand Firm | So NOW Putin keeps his shirt on?

Stand Firm | So NOW Putin keeps his shirt on?

Pointing out the lack of response from Russia to the persecution of Christians in Iraq.

Strange Notions: In Defence of Classic Theism

Strange Notions: In Defence of Classic Theism

'Because of what the classical theist takes God to be, she contends that there is something so fundamentally absurd about God's non-existence that questions of probability calculations and scientific discoveries are superfluous or distracting at best, and circular at worst (as science can hardly explain the material it presupposes in order to explain things).'

Article by Steven Dillon

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Challenging Islam by Restoring Headcoverings

Joseph Shaw chairman of the Latin Mass Society has suggested that Christians need to respond to Islam by demonstrating traditional morality. He believes part of that includes restoring the use of headcoverings by Christian women:

Rorate Caeli: How to respond to Islam: reply to Geoffrey Sales. Op Ed

'One the one hand, as I indicated there is going to be huge resistance to the restoration of head coverings precisely because it is instinctively understood as a move away from sexual liberation and the like. But to resist it as because it is in some kind of tension with 'Gospel truth': this just seems bizarre. Sales is a Baptist. He knows as well as I do - surely - that women covering their heads in church is sternly commanded by St Paul (1 Cor 11:5). Was St Paul steering his congregation away from 'Gospel truth'? Those who founded the Baptist tradition insisted on head coverings for women in church: were they against 'Gospel truth'? Was everyone in the Christian tradition against 'Gospel truth' up until the 20th century?

What I can't help wondering is that, despite engaging with my general argument that the Christians of the West have made a great mistake in throwing their lot in with a set of Western values which, on any mainstream religious view, are grossly decadent, Mr Sales remains attracted by the idea that by becoming decadent, by leaving behind the Gospel message as our ancestors of all times until less than a century ago understood it (fifty years ago for Catholics), we've become more faithful to the 'real Jesus' or some tripe like that. That, in short, a bit of decadence is actually a good thing.

But let's examine what Mr Sales balks at: doing something which gives us something in common with the Taliban (and every practicing Muslim on the planet); in this, he says, we would be making a mistake, because we should be confronting them with the 'Gospel truth'. Where, in fact, the divergence of our customs with theirs has created an obstacle to mutual understanding, we should refuse to reconsider our customs. And this even when this rebellion against this formerly shared custom was in truth a rebellion against a shared understanding, a shared understanding to which we continue to pay lip service. We claim to reject sexual decadence; the Muslims look at our lifestyle, and even the clothing in which we worship God, and draw the perfectly correct conclusion that we may talk the talk but we don't walk the walk.

For we preach not ourselves, but Jesus Christ our Lord: so says St Paul (2 Cor 4:5). This is a saying sometimes seized on by the enemies of Tradition. In this case, the boot is on the other foot. The decadent customs of the West are so important to liberal Christians that they don't want to give them up, whatever the cost for evangelisation. These personal preferences have become more precious than the Gospel message.'

I very much agree. I very much agree, I think it is tragic that Catholics have followed the majority of Protestants in abandoning the Biblical and historic practice of headcovering.

Douay-Rheims Bible

Having decided to convert to Catholicism, I knew I would need to buy a Catholic Bible at some point.

Since I went to college, I have been a King James Bible reader. I do read other Bible translations some times, but I don't care for them and I used to be a fierce defender of tha accuracy of the King James Bible.

I didn't want a Catholic RSV as the RSV is too associated in my mind with liberalism and I didn't want a Jerusalem Bible, as I find the modern language horribly banal. I cringe when I hear the Jerusalem Bible being read at mass.

So I bought a Douay-Rheims Bible. It was published a few years before the King James Bible and so has the same kind of language that I'm used to with the KJV. The version I bought was the Saint Benedicts Press edition with a soft immitation leather cover.

I find it fascinating seeing the textual differences in the New Testament. In some places the Douay-Rheims agrees with the modern critical text and in other places it agrees with the Textus Receptus. My old KJV-Only bias actually makes me more comfortable with this text than the Westcott and Hort text.

I'm well aware of the fact that the Douay-Rheims is a translation of the Vulgate and not from the original languages. I know that it would be unwise to use it for serious study without also consulting other translations.

Unfortunately, the Catholic prayer books I use in my devotions use readings from modern Catholic Bibles. Morning and Evening uses several translations, including the abominable Good New Bible; the Saint Benedict's Prayer Book uses the Jerusalem Bible and my copy of the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin uses the New American Bible. I'm tempted to buy a copy of the Baronius Little Office, as that contains Douay-Rheims readings, but that is quite expensive.

Is Prayer like Twitter?

I have this mental image of prayer being rather like Twitter, with our prayers appearing like tweets in a sort of divine feed. When the saints intercede for us, our prayers are 're-tweeted.'

Saturday, 9 August 2014

The Jacobite Intelligene: The Monarchist Case against UKIP and for the EU

The Jacobite Intelligene: The Monarchist Case against UKIP and for the EU

'As I try to put my finger on what exactly it is that makes UKIP so repugnant to me, I am drawn to the conclusion that it is because UKIP is a radical party. It is characterised as conservative by its opponents, a sort of refuge for the right of the Tory Party, but I am not sure this analysis is right at all. Nigel Farage may have crafted a political image as a tweed-clad gent, and many of UKIP’s supporters are no doubt from the same stable as those who are on the right of the Conservative Party, but there is something much more insidious at the party’s heart. Nationalism and conservatism have never been easy bedfellows, even though, in the twentieth century, the two sometimes joined forces. This is why a lot of left-wing and liberal commentary on UKIP misses the mark: UKIP is a nationalist party, and therefore fundamentally radical.'


'In the 16th and 17th centuries, something like what we call ‘the state’ first emerged, but almost always it was centred upon the person of a monarch. The idea that the state is somehow coextensive with a population that speaks a particular language or shares a particular ethnic identity is a much newer one, that was sadly encouraged by the League of Nations after the First World War. New also is the idea that the sovereignty of a nation state is unqualified and absolute. The Holy Roman Empire is a case in point, where individual statelets could raise armies, make war, levy taxes and do virtually anything whilst still retaining an overarching loyalty to the Emperor. This was an arrangement that particularly offended the French revolutionaries and Napoleon, with their organic conception of the state, so they swept the Empire away. So called ‘Patriots’ in America were similarly offended by those who remained loyal to King George in the colonies, inconsistent as this was with their fundamentalist approach to sovereignty. As we enter a future in which the inviolability of national territories seems increasingly irrelevant, given global trade and a borderless world of information, I question whether the old ‘nationalist’ conception of an unqualified and absolute sovereignty remains tenable, realistic or desirable. That is why I support the European Union and the further integration of its constituent nations – not because I do not believe in sovereignty or the state, but because I am opposed to nationalism in all its forms as inherently antithetical to monarchism.'

I love this post! This is so absolutely what I think on the subject.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Separated at Birth? Boris Johnson and Joel Grind

Boris Johnson and Joel Grind (Toxic Holocaust)

Two men with not much in common except a mess of blond hair.

Boris Johnson is a great Conservative and Toxic Holocaust are a great thrash metal band.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

The Hackney Hub: The Prayer Book as a Resource for Private Prayer

The issue of daily prayer is something of concern amongst devout Christians (not that I count myself in this category). I think there should be some guiding principles for how to incorporate the most of the Prayer Book in our private devotions, whilst acknowledging that sometimes time is not there to be able to do the complete offices. The additional principle is that when the office is prayed by an individual, I do not see the point in reading the responsive portions of the Prayer Book offices.
The main point in this is to see the Prayer Book as a resource for private prayer, not a strict form. In the parish church, the forms must be strictly observed, but in the home and in the messiness of ordinary life, these prayers can be used as needed and in the proper season.
The Hackney Hub offers some suggestions as to use the Book of Common Prayer in private devotions.

The X-Files and Catholicism

When I was fifteen, the science fiction-themed crime drama The X-Files was the best thing on television. I was absolutely hooked on the show.

One of the things in The X-Files is it's occasional dabbling in Catholic themes. This was often done in a rather crass manner, but they were definitely there. It was an interesting aspect of the show that one of the main characters, Agent Dana Scully was brought up Catholic. The writers were somewhat inconsistent in how they portrayed the level and commitment of Scully's faith; sometimes she would be completely backslidden and rather sceptical about religious claims, at other times she seemed to have a fairly healthy faith.

Coming from an Evangelical Protestant family, I was intrigued watching The X-Files as a teenager. It certainly made me curious and very interested in Catholicism. At 16 I went through a phase of fascination with Catholicism, before going through an atheist phase.

My recent desire to convert to the Catholic Church coincided with my buying the complte X-Files DVD set and re-wathing those old episodes that I enjoyed so much back in 1995 and 1996.

catholicity and covenant: "The sanctification of times": Hooker, liturgical ...

catholicity and covenant: "The sanctification of times": Hooker, liturgical ...:

'The debate between Cartwright and Hooker over the liturgical calendar was no mere matter of diverse ecclesial tastes.  It spoke of profoundly contrasting theological visions of human flourishing and of participation in the divine economy.  Profoundly contrasting social visions are also implied.  Cartwright's "liberty" orients us towards a society defined by economic activity.  Hooker's articulation of liturgical time orients us towards "religious joy" and its accompanying gift of rest.  In Cartwright we discern an incipient secularism, in Hooker the liturgical consummation of cultural and economic activity.  If Cartwright's six days for "liberty that they might labour" is a radical de-sacralising of time, Hooker's sacramental vision of liturgical time is a means by which we share in the cosmic liturgy'

catholicity and covenant: "Which angels and glorified saints behold": Hooker...

catholicity and covenant: "Which angels and glorified saints behold": Hooker...:

'Why the focus on Hooker during recent days on this blog?  It is the basis of an emerging project that seeks to explore Hooker's defence of aspects of the BCP daily office.  His response to Cartwright's Calvinist critique of the BCP was not merely a dispute over liturgical preferences in the context of a shared Reformed theological framework (as some contemporary evangelical Anglican readings attempt to suggest).  Rather, in Hooker's apologia regarding, for example, the liturgical use of the Gospel canticles, or the daily praying of the psalms, these practices have profound theological significance, particularly in that they enact a sacramental imagination.'

What's Wrong With the World: Scotland Jumps the Shark

What's Wrong With the World: Scotland Jumps the Shark

'You just can't make this stuff up. Scotland has passed and is beginning to implement a law which assigns every child in Scotland from birth to age eighteen a "named person," selected by the government, whose job it is to "promote, support, or safeguard the wellbeing" of the child. Parents will not have a choice about whether or not to accept the assignment of an outside government busybody to their children. Some proponents of the law claim that "Families are not required to accept advice" from the named person.

Pardon me if I consider that to be patently disingenuous. We are talking here about a massive invasion of privacy in which an outside person is assigned, without parents' consent, to monitor their child and make on-going recommendations for the child's "well-being." There is not the slightest doubt that parents who refuse to take the advice of these state social workers will face probable repercussions. The very assignment of the "named person" implies that someone else needs to be looking over the parents' shoulders, knowing all sorts of information about the family and the children's upbringing, and making recommendations. That the parents could simply blow these off without the slightest worry about further problems is a ludicrous idea. (Home education leaders in Scotland say that they are already seeing problems, though no details are given.)'

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Catholic Book of Prayers

Catholic Book of Prayers, ed. Rev. Maurus Fitzgerald, OFM, 2011 Catholic Book Publishing Corp, New Jersey

I bought this not long after deciding I wanted to become a Catholic. For somebody new to Catholicism, it is an invaluable resource, as it outlines those prayers that cradle Catholics no doubt know by heart, but which are not so familiar to those us separated or ex-separated brethren.

The material on the rosary is very helpful, with an explanation of each of the mysteries. A short introuction to Catholic teaching is included at the back.

On the negative side, I would have liked it to have included a few more Marian prayers and prayers to saints. I would also have included the St. Michael Prayer in the chapter 'Common Prayers.' I must say I do lament the fact that so few Catholic prayers address God using 'thou' and 'thee,' which I personally feel is more reverant.

A cheap, but extremely useful resource.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Triablogue: Lawyerly atheists

Despite their affectation of superior rationality, it doesn't even occur to internet atheists that they have an intellectual duty to do elementary fact-checking, to anticipate counterarguments to their arguments, to anticipate counterexamples to their examples. 
A good philosopher doesn't wait for his prospective critics to raise objections. Rather, he tries to anticipate their objections, not necessarily because he wants to be evenhanded, but because he wants to head them off. That's the way of making the strongest case for his position.
This is entirely absent among internet atheists. They always wait to be corrected. They never anticipate even the most obvious responses to their arguments or factual assertions. They don't even have that mindset. They never stop to ask themselves, If I were a Christian, what are some ways I might respond to that? 

This is so true.

Tekton Ticker: Musicians' Gambit, Part 1: Mercy Me

Tekton Ticker: Musicians' Gambit, Part 1: Mercy Me:

The contrast is stark: My own studies have reached the conclusion that God is best understood in terms of a patron whose involvement is far from intimate. Mercy Me’s deity is, on the contrary, a personal buddy, “always here with me” and out to “save the day” (as if this were indeed God’s purpose and role!). This is a theology impossible to reconcile with even the most poorly formulated assertion of the problem of evil, and it sends the same mixed message not only to Christian suffering in their own way, but to the world at large. 

J.P. Holding offers some critical comments on a worship song. I agree with him that there are quite a number of problems with worship music, perhaps not so much the doctrine of these songs, but their tone and ethos.

While the older Protestant hymnody had a range of themes, dealing with all different circumstances of life, the worship music of today is all about having an awesome emotional high that is not really reflective of a genuine Christian life.

The Departure of Baroness Warsi

I am deeply disappointed by the resignation of Baroness Warsi, an important figure within the Cabinet by virtue of her being an Asian female in a party led by white men. At a time when the Conservative Party badly needs to reach out to both women and ethnic minorities, this sends the wrong signals.

Baroness Warsi had concerns about the removal from the Cabinet of Ken Clarke and Dominic Grieve, figures who were voices of moderation in a party that is increasingly moving to the Right. I fear our party is becoming one that represents only white Englishmen living in the south.

Daily Telegraph: Baroness Warsi's resignation is a blow for the Tories as they struggle to woo Muslim voters

Daily Telegraph: Baroness Warsi's resignation is a blow for the Tories as they struggle to woo Muslim voters

Whatever the limitations or otherwise of Baroness Warsi – and there are people out there who admired the way she had started to stand-up to Number 10 – she has, with this resignation and the manner of her departure, provided a focus for Muslim concerns and for renewed criticism of the Government’s position.

I say this as someone who is sympathetic to Israel. I merely observe that it is Westminster village and Tory bubble-thinking to presume that the resignation over Tory policy on Israel by a Muslim minister won’t harm the Tory party's efforts to woo Muslim voters.

Article by Iain Martin

Daily Telegraph: Britons have become scared of the wider world

Daily Telegraph: Britons have become scared of the wider world

We have become scared of the outside world. Scared of changes in our own society. Scared of each other. Where once we looked to the future with optimism, we now do so with trepidation. Where we saw opportunities, now we perceive only threats: terrorists, scroungers, grooming-gangs, criminal overlords, cut-price cleaners and plumbers.

One day our confidence will return. When the economy stabilises. When the Ukip revolution is shown to have been just another passing political fad. When we realise the River Tiber is not foaming with blood. And when it does, we’ll point the finger at our leaders and say “why did they scare us like that?”. But they didn’t. We scared ourselves.

Excellent article by Dan Hodges on the subject of immigration in today's political discourse. I totally agree with this.

Supremacy and Survival: The English Reformation: Selling the Vatican to Feed the Poor

In between events, I saw Kathy Schiffer's post on her Patheos blog about an encounter with a young man who thought St. Peter's Basilica was both beautiful and a symbol of corruption--that it should be sold and the money given to help the poor. “I looked up at the great basilica, and I had two reactions: First, I appreciated its beauty and reverence; but then I thought, ‘What corruption caused someone to spend so much on this building when people are hungry’?” 
She responded with four good points:
1. Gratitude Requires That We Preserve the Gifts of Those Who Have Gone Before Us.2. Jesus himself expected that we would honor him with our wealth.3. The Poor Deserve Beauty, Too.4. Beauty Leads Us to Holiness.

Monday, 4 August 2014

Roger Olson: Beware of Stealth Calvinism!

Roger Olson: Beware of Stealth Calvinism!

"Several times here I have expressed concern that some Calvinists are attempting to take over churches by stealth. I frequently hear from church members (mostly Baptists but occasionally also Pentecostals and other evangelicals) that their new pastor turned out to be a five point Calvinist without their knowing that when he was called. They only contact me about this when the new pastor attempts to impose Calvinism on the congregation—for example by insisting that all deacons and elders be Calvinists, etc. Numerous reports of this have arisen from especially Southern Baptist congregations that traditionally allowed leaders to be either Calvinist or non-Calvinist.Now I am beginning to hear reports of denominations that have traditionally included both Calvinists and non-Calvinists subtly attempting to impose Calvinism by means of new statements of faith or amendments to old statements of faith. Usually this happens under the guise of attempting to rule out open theism."

Roger Olson warns of the Calvinist takeover of Evangelicalism.

The Sacred Page: "Come, Receive Grain and Eat": The Feeding of the ...

The Sacred Page: "Come, Receive Grain and Eat": The Feeding of the ...: This Sunday's readings highlight the way the Kingdom of God is present sacramentally. Specifically, hopes for the restoration of Israe...

Salve Regina

Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy,

Hail our life, our sweetness and our hope.
To thee do we cry,
Poor banished children of Eve;
To thee do we send forth our sighs,
Mourning and weeping in this vale of tears.
Turn then, most gracious advocate,
Thine eyes of mercy toward us;
And after this our exile,
Show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
O clement, O loving,
O sweet Virgin Mary

I have become very attached to the Salve Regina prayer. I not only say after completing the Rosary, but also after morning and evening prayer and occasionally during the day.

A while ago I was really struggling with how unfriendly my Catholic parish felt. It was so hard going to mass and nobody talking to me and making me feel welcome. When I arrived for the Easter Vigil mass, I really felt miserable. Before I stepped out of my car, I said the Haily Holy Queen. As I said 'to thee do we lift up out sighs, mourning and weeping,' I really felt it.

Immediately after I left my car, I heard somebody calling to me. It was a nurse from the hospital where I work. I had guessed she was probably Catholic, but I didn't know she went to my parish, as she went to mass at a different time. She gave me a really warm welcome. It was exactly what I needed at that moment. From then on I knew there was power in the Salve Regina and in the power of Mary's intercessions.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Supremacy and Survival: The English Reformation: "NEWMAN WAS MISTAKEN"? Deep In History

Supremacy and Survival: The English Reformation: "NEWMAN WAS MISTAKEN"? Deep In History:

"I don't really see how being "deeply historical is to be open to the possibility of another Francis" equates with being "open to the possibility of Protestantism." And I don't accept Leithart's argument about time and revelation, because all Truth must be eternal, it is one and unchanging--it is our discovery of Truth that is time-bound and subject to change and time."

Stephanie A. Mann responds to an article by Peter Leithart in First Things.

Helm's Deep: Can Lister Keep the Balance?

Helm's Deep: Can Lister Keep the Balance?

Paul Helm has recently been writing a lot of posts about modifications to classic theism by Evangelical theologians. In this post, he offers a further critique of Rob Lister's disappointing modification of the doctrine of divine impassibility.

Helm says of such Evangelical revisions:

"It occurs to me that in this convergence of views in the direction of what is called ‘modified classical theism’ there is the makings of a theology for the ‘big tent’ of evangelicalism, a formula for providing space for the various disparate theological elements that go to make up modern evangelicalism, - de-confessionalized Reformed congregations, Wesleyan, Pentecostalist, and so on. Here is a theology that says that God is other than his creation but he is equally - in a parallel way - in the creation, There is little or no need to resort to metaphor, simile and accommodation to interpret biblical language about God – literalism will suffice. It can be treated not as ‘pretty packaging’ of revealed truth but as the literal truth about God in time and space. Is that fanciful? But is not such a theology troubled by incoherence? No more that the various ecclesiastical elements jostling under the Big Top present consistencies to the watching world (if, that is, the world is watching.) I do not mean that any, and certainly not all, the contributors to this series on neoclassical-theism intends their theologising in this way. But then human history. including church history, is filled with unintended consequences."

The Coat of Arms in the Header

I decided to put in this blog's header the coat of Arms of Queen Henrietta Maria, wife of King Charles I. I thought this rather fits the themes of monarchism and Catholicism that I will explore on this blog. Along with some Anglicans I honour King Charles I as a martyr.

Prayer Vigil

I attended a prayer vigil outside an abortion clinic yesterday. It was with some Catholics from Helping God's Precious Unborn. It was a very peaceful demonstration; we just stood outside the clinic and prayed.

We prayed the rosary and a special pro-life prayer book. The prayers in the book were beautiful and very theologically rich. A group of Evangelicals would probably have just said extempore prayers. The problem with extempore prayers is you tend to run out of words to say. You also get people who show the eloquence and people who use prayer as a sort of news bulletin to update others with information.

I very much enjoyed taking part and hope to go again. I love prayer and very much believe that prayer is powerful. It also seems a great opportunity to get to meet Catholics.


I'm not at all new to blogging. I've run quite a few blogs over the years, but it's been a long time since I have blogged about Christian themes. That's partly because I got weary of endless theological debates and partly because my theological views have changed a lot. I'm an Evangelical Protestant who is converting to Roman Catholicism.

I am still officially a member of an Evangelical denomination, but I go to mass every Saturday evening at my nearest Catholic parish. I'm intending to do RCIA soon.

I'm very interested in politics and am a member of the British Conservative Party and the Monarchist League. My friends think I'm very right-wing, but I consider myself to be a very moderate, centrist One-Nation Tory. I don't think I really fit into the very right-wing neo-liberal, Eurosceptic Conservative Party of today.