Monday, 29 September 2014

The Mad Monarchist: The Modern Russian Problem with Monarchy

The Mad Monarchist: The Modern Russian Problem with Monarchy:

I have been quite amazed by the number of people who identify as monarchists or who are at least interested enough in the subject to read what I write who are such unabashed admirers of Russian President Vladimir Putin. How can a man who is a former KGB officer of the Soviet Union, the President of a republic who bases his rule on being democratically elected (putting aside allegations of chicanery in the voting process) and who is at odds with almost every remaining monarchy in the world able to have any monarchists as his fans? In my experience this usually comes down to the draw of nationalism, Russian Orthodoxy and support for most of his policies as well as the image of Putin as the man standing opposed to the liberal western world that these people despise. Well, on that count, one would be hard-pressed to find a bigger critic of modern, liberal, western society than myself but I want to put it back to the way it was, not see it wiped out or replaced by simply a more illiberal version of “democratic” republicanism. However, if one is a fan of Putin simply because one views him as being the least bad in a cast of bad characters or the tallest dwarf in midget land, I can at least understand that and will start with something positive.

Great post from Mad Monarchist who has some great things to say as usual. I disagree with him about NATO expansion into Eastern Europe though. The Baltic states deserve to be protected from any future Russian aggression.

Ste. Jehanne et Ste. Thérèse: How my devotion to St. Joan of Arc led me to be a Monarchist

Ste. Jehanne et Ste. Thérèse: How my devotion to St. Joan of Arc led me to be a Monarchist

'The studies that followed opened my eyes to the noble and sacred roles that the Monarchies played in building Christendom. I came to see the role of the temporal Monarchy as critical to the role of the Church in Medieval times, even though the temporal Monarchy fulfilled it’s role as imperfectly and, at times as scandalously, as did the Church in fulfilling her own role.

I came to see that Joan’s vision of Monarchy was one that had its final Form, not in the “kingdoms of man,” but in the “Kingdom of God” where Christ ruled as King of all Kings. Then, of course, there was that part about her actual visions from Heaven, not just the mental images she had in her head. Those visions of real angels and real saints who now abide in their own glory in Heaven told her that Jesus Christ was the true King of France and that Charles VII, as the temporal king, was Our Lord’s steward on earth.'

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Tekton Ticker: Of Eyewitnesses, Memories, and Mark Hamill

Tekton Ticker: Of Eyewitnesses, Memories, and Mark Hamill

Demonstrating the reliability of the Gospel accounts. The article points out that actor Mark Hamill can still remember most of his lines from films made decades ago.  

Catholic Christianity, by Peter Kreeft

Peter J Kreeft, Catholic Christianity: A Complete Catechism of Catholic Beliefs based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2001 Ignatius Press

There are some books which are good books, but which you don't really need. Peter Kreeft's Catholic Christianity probably comes into this category.

Catholic Christianity is basically a concise summary of all the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It puts the doctrinal statements into punchier more dynamic language, but otherwise it does not add a lot of value. It's more readable than the Catechism, but the Catechism is not a massively difficult document for an educated person to read. If somebody struggles to read the Catechism, the likelihood is that they will struggle to read this book.

If you own a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, you probably don't need to buy this and if you don't, the Catechism is a cheaper book to buy. I suppose Kreeft might have added a bit more apologetic value by addressing some objections to Catholic teaching from Protestants and others, but as the book already runs to 421 pages, that would have made for a very thick volume.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Lessons from the Scottish Referendum for Eurosceptics

Daily Telegraph: Eurosceptics must learn serious lessons from Alex Salmond’s defeat

Article by Charles Moore

'In a European referendum, comparable questions will arise. They cannot, thank goodness, be about the currency (though there could be an alarming run on sterling). But they might be about free trade with Europe and being shut out of markets, or about the exact terms of our subsequent relationship with the EU. If the Get Outers shake their fists like the wartime cartoon and shout “Very well, alone!”, they might be chaired through the streets of Clacton, but they will lose.

They will be assailed, after all, by an Establishment. True, it will be much more divided than the one that favoured the No vote in Scotland. Even so, it will include virtually all civil servants, most big companies that want public sector and EU contracts, scientists worried about research grants, equality and diversity spokesmen, NGOs, and (of course) the BBC. The president of the EU Commission will explain how a new relationship is not on offer, and the British Cabinet Secretary and the head of the Supreme Court will murmur – with all due impartiality – their agreement. At some point, there will even be a discreetly placed suggestion that the Queen is “very concerned” about possible divisiveness.'

Charles Moore looks at the results of the Scottish election and thinks "Oh crumbs, we could lose too."

As an Europhile, this article made me happy. I think it is pretty likely that if a referendum on Britain's continued membership of the EU does take place, the 'Stay In' side will win. The Scots and the Welsh will vote to stay in, and the majority of Labour voters will vote to stay in. The fear factor will make change seem like a big risk.

Another factor is the electoral mathematics. A huge problem Labour have traditionally had winning elections in the UK is the constituency system. Labour can pile up huges numbers of votes in the cities, but they can't win enough of the provincial seats. In a referendum, all those extra votes in the cities count. If the 'Stay In' side can get those urban labour voters all voting for continued EU membership, they will win.

One big difference with the Scottish election is the difficulty the 'Get Out' side will have in articulating a positive vision of Britain outside the EU. Salmond was able to conjure a glorious vision of an inclusive and progressive independent Scotland. When the 'Get Outs' present their vision of a new Britain, it will be uncomfortably clad in the old-fashioned images of either British Imperialism or narrow Little Englandism. A lot of people in modern Britain are going to reject that vision.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Daily Telegraph: The Mitfords and the Kardashians: class vs trash

Daily Telegraph: The Mitfords and the Kardashians: class vs trash

The Mitfords and the Kardashian girls had more in common than you might think.

Daily Telegraph: William Hague tells Tory MPs to stop calling for Britain to leave EU

Daily Telegraph: William Hague tells Tory MPs to stop calling for Britain to leave EU

William Hague, the leader of the Commons, has warned Tory MPs that campaigning for Britain to leave the EU will be a "distraction" and damage the Conservative's election prospects.
Mr Hague said that Tories should instead focus on "winning the argument" by emphasising the Conservative Party's commitment to hold a referendum on Europe in 2017.

Not that I think a referendum on Britain's continued membership of the EU is a good idea, but Hague is right; the radical Eurosceptics in the Conservative Party are troublemakers.

LMS Chairman: Cristina Odone: doublethink on divorce and remarriage

LMS Chairman: Cristina Odone: doublethink on divorce and remarriage

'It isn't mercy Odone wants, it is doublethink: marriage is indissoluble, and yet soluble; annulment is a wrongful way to end a invalid marriage; divorce and remarriage are good and necessary.'

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Theological Scribbles: If life is an accident, can we celebrate it as a gift?

Theological Scribbles: If life is an accident, can we celebrate it as a gift?

I was watching a TV show the other day in which one of the people on it said that even if we believe that there is no God and that life is no more than an accident, we can still celebrate it as a gift.

This confused me a little.

Accidents don't give gifts.

So presumably celebrating life as a gift (for the accident believer) is celebrating life as if it were a gift (when, in fact, it is not).

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

A Calendar of Catholic Devotion, by Julien Chilcott-Monk

Julien Chilcott-Monk, A Calendar of Catholic Devotion: Daily Prayer with the Saints 2008 Canterbury Press

For those like me who are new to Catholicism, A Calendar of Catholic Devotion is an invaluable resource. Cradle Catholics might know when the major feast days are, but I certainly don't. This book enables me to know the most important feasts associated with each day of the year.

Each daily entry provides a reflection on each feast or the life of a saint, a passage from Scripture or quotation of a devotional work, some suggestions for prayer and a brief prayer to the saints.

Many days have several saints' feasts and the author had to make editorial decisions about which to include. Occasionally, she talks about her own favorites. A lot of the saints who are included are quite obscure and the reader is likely to be educated. Saints whose cults have been suppressed are not included, which is perhaps a little disappointing.

I can't help thinking the suggested prayers to the saints in this book are a little uninspiring. They tend to run along the lines of:

"Saint X, pray for all butchers/ bakers/ candlestick makers, and all places dedicated to your name."

That is all well, but what about invoking the saint for those qualities which he or she exemplifies? Nevertheless, I still find this a really helpful resource in my daily prayer.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

The Ohio St. Matthew the Apostle

The Ohio St. Matthew the Apostle

The Collect:

O ALMIGHTY God, who by thy blessed Son didst call Matthew from the receipt of custom to be an Apostle and Evangelist; Grant us grace to forsake all covetous desires, and inordinate love of riches, and to follow the same thy Son Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.

LMS Chairman: Annulment reform: the problems

LMS Chairman: Annulment reform: the problems

'The Pope has appointed a commission to look into the annulment process, with a view to its simplification. They may come up with some good ideas: training, funding, dealing with delays and backlogs, and better marriage preparation. As a way of solving the 'Communion for the Divorced' issue, however, it is fraught with difficulties. I've mentioned them before on this blog, here is an aide memoir.'

Supremacy and Survival: The English Reformation: William Oddie on Next Year's Interment of the Cath...

Supremacy and Survival: The English Reformation: William Oddie on Next Year's Interment of the Cath...: William Oddie at The Catholic Herald   outlines the reasons for regretting that Richard III isn't to be buried in a Catholic church with...

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Daily Telegraph: Labour condemn David Cameron's plans as Unionist truce collapses over English 'home rule'

Daily Telegraph: Labour condemn David Cameron's plans as Unionist truce collapses over English 'home rule'

Following Scotland’s No vote, the Prime Minister immediately set out plans to ensure that there are “English votes for English laws”. Those plans could result in England having its own first minister and would herald one of the biggest reforms of Britain’s tax system.
But they could prevent Scottish MPs voting on English-only issues in the wake of the independence referendum.

Excluding Scottish MPs from votes concerning only England would represent a disaster for the Labour Party.

Westminster sources said Mr Cameron’s announcement was calculated to kill Labour’s electoral chances.

I do think that stopping Scottish MPs from voting on English issues would hand place a huge electoral disadvantage on Labour. Labour would be prevented from obtaining an effective policy mandate on English issues. The only solution is a devolved English parliament separate from Westminster.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Guardian: If it’s good enough for Scotland … let England have its own parliament

Guardian: If it’s good enough for Scotland … let England have its own parliament

Article by John Redwood

The way Better Together behaved during the campaign tried the patience of many English unionists. I disliked their negative attacks, and their lack of emphasis on what the union has achieved in the past and more importantly what it can achieve in the future. I disliked the way large sections of English opinion were told not to trouble Scotland and to keep out of the way for fear of upsetting people there. I thought some businesses intervened in a counterproductive way, which may leave them with problems with customers of a different outlook for years to come. Above all I disliked the way the campaign towards the end made offers to Scotland without consulting the many English MPs who will be expected to vote it all through, and without mentioning the place of England.

The campaign did get across the fact that Scotland could not stay in the currency union if it left the political union. I was delighted that I and the others who made this case continuously about the euro have now persuaded most people. Do not share a bank account with the neighbours. I was disappointed that the Better Together campaign did not get across the fact that Scotland’s dependence on North Sea oil revenue is a temporary boost to Scotland, one which is diminishing rapidly as the oil runs out.

As we now seek to put into legislation what Gordon Brown called home rule for Scotland we will need to do the same for England – and for Wales and Northern Ireland if that is their wish. Today we have different classes of MP at Westminster. Scottish MPs are the most powerful, able to vote on all matters relating to England, while English MPs are the least powerful as we are unable to vote on any devolved matter for Scotland. My proposal – that we form an English parliament at Westminster to handle all devolved matters for England – reunites the powers and duties of union MPs.

I agree with John Redwood that we need an English parliament, but I don't think it woul be enough for English MPs at Westminster to double up as an English parliament. Having two classes of Westminster could be a problem and there would be no campaigns on specific English issues outside of the general election. We need a new body that would specifically rerpesent devolved English politics. I think it would be a nice symbolic gesture to hold such a parliament in Birmingham or Manchester, as a sign that the nation exists beyond London.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

The Orthodox Life: Pious Kings and Right-Believing Queens

The Orthodox Life: Pious Kings and Right-Believing Queens

'Finally, let us discuss briefly the nature of monarchical rule. The throne of a Christian Emperor, King, or ruling Prince, is not an earthly contrivance but is of a much higher order. It is ordained and blessed by God and belongs to Him. It is written in the Old Testament that, “Solomon sat on the throne of the LORD.” The throne, thus, was not Solomon’s but was God’s. The thrones in all Christian monarchies are the same; they belong to God and are occupied by God’s anointed.'

Journey to the Kingdom, by Father Vassilos Papavassiliou

Father Vassilios Papavassiliou Journey to the KIngdom: An Insider's Look at the Liturgy and Beliefs of the Eastern Orthodox Church 2012 Paraclete Press

Some introductions to Eastern Orthodoxy begin with a sketch of the history of the Orthodox Church. While that information is useful to know, it can get in the way of showing Orthodoxy as a living tradition. Journey to the Kingdom avoids this approach by outlining the teaching of Orthodoxy through the elements of the Divine Liturgy.

It is something of a cliche to say that the Eastern Orthox Church is known and experienced primarily in its liturgy. Nevertheless Father Papavassiliou takes this oft repeated notion and uses it to deliver a very dynamic and highly readable outline of the essentials of Orthodoxy.

Journey to the Kingdom takes a look at each stage of the Divine Liturgy, such as the Great Litany, the Cherubic Hymn and the Holy Oblation. Readers will be struck by how rich in theology each of these sections are. The author takes several chapters to explain the creed in it's fullness.

The title was a good choice. It demonstrates the heart of Orthodox worship; that the Liturgy is an encounter between heaven and earth. This book is thankfully free from the anti-western polemics that are too often in found in Orthodox writings. Papavassiliou defends Orthodoxy by demonstrating the beauty and glory of Orthodoxy rather than by attacking Protestantism and Catholicism.

The book is illustrated with black and white photographs. At the beginning there is also a complex diagramatic chart which outlines how the distinct parts of the Divine Liturgy fit together. It looks amusingly like a dispensationalist chart, like the one's found in Dake's Annontated Reference Bible or the works of Clarence Larkin.

This book did not win me over to Orthodoxy, but it was an enlightening and enjoyable read.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Altar Girls

One thing that seems to get Catholic Traditionalists very cross is altar girls. Being new to Catholicism, I don't really understand why that is such an issue. The altar girls in my parish look very pretty in their cassocks. Nevertheless, I can relate to the feeling, whatever the reason. As a Protestant, women preachers used to get me furious and still do.

Monday, 15 September 2014

A conservative blog for peace: Україна

'Whether that's true or not, it's not my fight, and Kiev has no designs on Moscow's territory. Moscow MIGHT (but I don't think so) on Donetsk and other pro-Russian eastern Ukrainian regions. That said, the Ukrainian revolutionaries didn't like how democracy was working out in Kiev (the duly elected Mr. Yanukovych got a better deal from the Russians than the EU) so they overthrew the authorities; how are the rebels in the Crimea, Donetsk, etc., different other than the Ukrainian nationalists don't like Russia? And the revolutionaries mostly weren't Catholic; their acting president was a Protestant.
Whoo boy. Politically correct — anti-Nazi, pro-Soviet — and Russianist and high-church. Cover all your bases, I guess. No, it doesn't work.
I'd welcome a new Ukraine that's a conservative, authoritarian Slavic state but, unlike Russia, welcoming to Catholics.'

I think Ukraine is a really awesome country.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

A Shorter Morning and Evening Prayer

A Shorter Morning and Evening Prayer 2009 Collins

I doubt many lay Catholics will purchase the three volumes that comprise the Divine Office. Even the single volume Morning and Evening is thick enough to be intimidating. Thankfully, a more accesible alternative is available in A Shorter Morning and Evening Prayer.

This handy pocket sized volume has an attractive and durable immitation leather cover. It provides daily psalsms, prayers and Bible readings taken from the Liturgy of the Hours. These are set for morning and evening each day and the course for several liturgical years are given. It also includes daily night prayers. There are a lot of response sections, which don't suit private prayer, but one can easily get around these. The Benedictus and the Magnificat are conveniently located at the end of the book where they can easily be located.

Like most Catholic prayer books, the prayers are written in very dull and uninspiring modern Englsh. There is also a lack of theological depth in some of the prayers and a few too many on the subject of peace and justice for my taste (I'm a militaristic Tory, you can't expect me to relish peace and justice!). As a King James Bible Protestant turning Douay-Rheims Bible Catholic, I find it painful reading the passages taken from modern versions. Several Bible translations are used including the Knox Bible (I don't mind that one), the New English Bible (a liberal bastardised Bible), the Revised Standard Version (liberal but familiar) and Today's English Version (a printed abomination).

There is not a huge amount of Marian devotion in this prayer book. I was surprised to find that the Hail Mary was not part of morning and evening prayer. I say it anyway, as I do when I use the Book of Common Prayer. It does, however, include an optional Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which I say every Saturday. The night prayers also include a great set of Marian anthems.

I don't sing the hymns, simply because I don't know most of them. I do know Abide with Me (the one from Doctor Who!) snd The Day Thou Gavest Lord is Ended. I'm so glad Catholics sing The Day Thou Gavest, as it is my favorite hymn. Sadly, I have not heard it sung at my parish so far.

I don't tend to use the morning and evening prayers here so often, as they are not really to my taste. I like the night prayers that are included here though and often use it when I say night prayer.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

The Ohio Cyprian of Carthage

The Collect: 
ALMIGHTY God, who didst give thy servant Cyprian boldness to confess the Name of our Saviour Jesus Christ before the rulers of this world, and courage to die for this faith: Grant that we likewise may ever be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us, and to suffer gladly for his sake; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Friday, 12 September 2014

BBC News: Former first minister and DUP leader Ian Paisley has died

BBC News: Former first minister and DUP leader Ian Paisley has died

Former Democratic Unionist Party leader Ian Paisley, has died aged 88.
In a statement, Baroness Eileen Paisley said her husband died on Friday morning.
Mr Paisley moved from a political "never man" to Northern Ireland's first minister.

I used to be a fierce anti-Catholic. Ian Paisley was somebody I admired and at one time I was involved with fundamentalist organisations that were associated with Ian Paisley.

I've since come to the conclusion that the Catholic Church is not the Whore of Babylon and have actually decided I want to become a Catholic. Nevertheless, I still admire Ian Paisley a lot and am saddened to here of his death.

I remember a secular college lecturer and Labour party activist telling me how impressed he was when he learned that Paisley used to visit a certain town in west Africa every year to preach.

In an age of diversity and tolerance, it is impressive that a public figure continued such a polemical and controversial religious stance as Paisley. The courage of his conviction stands out, whether one agreed with him or not. What is more he was motivated by a passion for God's Word. We might disagree with his interpretation of much of the Bible, but all Christians ought to have stood with him in his conviction that the Bible is God's absolute and inerrant revelation to Mankind. I still share with Him a love of the King James Bible, which I think stands far above some of the banal modern translations favoured by Catholics.

Paisley also stands as a great example of how a Christian can combine involvement in both church and political activity without compromising either.

Yet oddly, one of the most important lessons to learn from Ian Paisley is thst there is a time for compromise, but only when the time is right. After years of struggle, Paisley agreed in the end to power-sharing with Sin Fein. But only when it was certain that the time was right. Paisley insisted on the complete decommissioning IRA weapons and a commitment by Sin Fein to support the Northern Irish police. A series of high profile criminal actions towards the end of the peace process demonstrated and vindicated the wisdom of Paisley's delays.

Paisley demonstrates, like Ariel Sharon in Israel, that it is actually those on the Right, and not those on the Left who are best at compromise. Left-wingers build their careers around ideals, hence they struggle to ever come to compromises. To compromise is to betray their ideological convictions. Those of us on the Right are able to put ideology aside when necessary, as Paisley did when he believed the conditions were right for power-sharing.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

The Mad Monarchist: The British Army in World War I

The Mad Monarchist: The British Army in World War I: At the outbreak of war in August of 1914 the one major power for whom the Germans had probably the least respect in terms of its army was ...

Orthodox Dogmatic Theology, by Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky

Michael Pomazansky Orthodox Dogmatic Theology, 3rd Edition 2005 St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood

In reviewing another book, I commented that I would really like to see a Catholic equivalent of Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology. Pomazansky's Orthodox Dogmatic Theology comes to close to being an Eastern Orthodox equivalent of Grudem's Systematic Theology. While Grudem's textbook is a good deal thicker, they are both aimed at a similar introductory level reader. While Grudem quotes a lot more Scripture than Pomazansky, they both alike assume the Bible means what they think it means without taking a lot of time to prove it exegetically (this is probably more forgivable given the presuppositions of Pomazansky).

Orthodox Dogmatic Theology provises an excellent overview of the main topics of Eastern Orthodox Theology. It is therefore an invaluable resource to those wanting to understand what Orthodox Christians believe. A lot of introductory books about Eastern Orthodoxy focus on history, spirituality or liturgy, providing only a cursory treatment of doctrine.

I very much like the fact that Pomazansky writes for the layperson, using intelligible language. Yet he never dumbs down and communicates the theological concepts well. I find most Catholic theological works either dumb down too much or else use too much technical jargon and therefore fail to engage with the less advanced, but well educated reader.

This is of course written by somebody coming from the hardline, conservative, anti-ecumenical wing of Eastern Orthodoxy. The author has nothing positive at all to say about either Catholicism or Protestantism. He regards all sacraments outside of the Orthodox Church as null and void, leaving doubt about the final salvation of non-Orthodox. It is this harsh eternally polemtical posture that put me off Eastern Orthodoxy. I am a westerner and have no desire to repudiate my theological heritage. I think converts who buy into that anti-western mentality are likely to end up very confused.

This book contains some useful appendices. The first deals with some of the more radical developments in Russian Orthodox theology. More useful is the second appendice, which gives an overview of the Ecumenical Councils. The third appendix provides a list and brief summary of the contribution of the individual Church Fathers.

Shameless Popery: 6 Biblical Reasons to Pray to Angels

Shameless Popery: 6 Biblical Reasons to Pray to Angels: Should you pray to angels? Does the Bible have anything to say about this practice? And if so, does it permit it or condemn it? I should c...

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

The Book of Common Prayer

I am not an Anglican. I never have been and never will. Nevertheless, I have a great fondness for the Book of Common Prayer, even to the extent of being a member of the Prayer Book Society. I frequently use the 1662 BCP in my private devotion. I often say morning and evening prayer. Obviously, it is meant for congregational use and requires a little adaptation for private use. I also supplement it wiht prayers to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Perhaps I ought to exclusively use Catholic prayer books, but I love the majestic English language of the BCP too much. Most Catholic prayer books are written in horribly banal English that simply does not compare.

As regards other editions of the BCP, I use the 1662 because it is the most widely available edition in the UK. I have not studied the 1928 edition that much, but I have heard it has a sliglty more polished, bourgeous tone to the 1662. Apparently it lacks the rugged, earthiness of its predecessor.

Monday, 8 September 2014

What is God? by Robert Reymond

Robert Reymond- What is God? 2007 Christian Focus

Coming from the conservative wing of Calvinistic Reformed theology, you might expect Robert Reymond to be a firm advocate of classic theism. Unfortunately, he departs in quite a few places from historic Christian views on the Doctrine of God.

I tend to agree with Reymond's rejection of apophatic theology and the via negativa. He points out that to say that God is incomprehensible is not to say that He is unknowable. I'm not so sure that I agree with his Clarkian insistence that God's nature and attributes must be understood univocally. I certainly agree with his worthy Clarkian rejection of Van Til's idea that God is BOTH unipersonal and tripersonal.

Reymond refers to God's simplicity, affirming that the divine essence is indivisible. He does not elaborate on this as to whether he takes a strong form of simplicity in like with Aquinas. I rather doubt he does.

Sadly, Reymond rejects Divine Atemporality. He opposes philosophical views of divine eternity, opting instead for a shallow biblicism. The problem is that his use of Biblical proof texts to prove divine temporality could just as easily be used to prove Open Theism or the Mormon idea that God has a physical body. This kind of approach leaves me in no doubt that classic theism will inevitably be rejected in some way or another by Evangelical Protestants. The Biblicist mentality cannot sustain a more abstract or philosophical notions about God.

Reymond wrote a very strong defence of the doctrine of divine impassibility, which is included in his book Cotending for the Faith. He seems to use different language, offering a rather watered down view of impassibility, rather like Rob Lister.

This author has been notorious for his rejection of Nicene Christology, even amont Calvinists who otherwise adore his Systematic Theology. He argues that both the early church fathers and the Nicene creed imply a subordinationist christology. He argues that the Son and the Spirit must be authotheotic, as Calvin argued. If they are not authotheotic, they cannot be God. Yet if they have self-existence, presumably the Spirit and the Son could exist without the Father. This can only lead to tritheism. Reymond argues, replying to criticisms from fellow Reformed theologian, Robert Letham, that theology must be subject to Scripture and not the creeds and the church fathers.

This book was a turning point for my own faith journey. It made me realise that I had to choose between a theology grounded only in appeals to Scripture and a theology shaped by creed and tradition. For me this raised very uncomfortable questions about Protestantism. I had become increasingly disenchanted by the failure of Evangelicals to take a firm stance on the classic doctrines of God. I found there was a lip service to divine atemporality, but a wholesale rejection of impassibility and a complete ignorance of divine simplicity. It slowly dawned on me that a 'Bible Only' approach could not sustain classic theism.

The Independent: Nothing spooks the middle classes like a perceived assault on the value of their homes

The Independent: Nothing spooks the middle classes like a perceived assault on the value of their homes

Article by Rosie Millard

As if Ed Miliband didn’t have enough to contend with... While Ukip begins to make inroads to the working-class Labour vote, the party’s leader should watch out for the wealthy left-leaning middle class, whose support will vanish like water in the Sahara if a forthcoming electoral manifesto threatens to introduce the thing they most fear, namely the mansion tax.

Should a future Labour government, (or indeed a Lib/Lab coalition) impose a punitive tax on all properties worth more than £2m, all those people living in the traditional lefty London heartlands of Hampstead, Islington (my own manor), and yes, even Hackney (where house prices are shooting up) will run for the hills. They simply won’t vote for him.

Ste. Jehanne et Ste. Thérèse: How my initial devotion to Mary led to total consecration after the Feast Day of St. Thérèse

Ste. Jehanne et Ste. Thérèse: How my initial devotion to Mary led to total consecration after the Feast Day of St. Thérèse

She proceeded to explain the rosary to me. I did not really understand it all the first time around; however, I did know this. I knew that it was designed to help us pray that beautiful Hail Mary prayer that had swept me off my feet a couple of months earlier in the RCIA class. I knew it was a devotion to Mary and through her to Our Lord. To pray the rosary was to pray that heart-warming Hail Mary over and over along with the Our Father and a few other short prayers.

I loved it. I began praying it on a daily basis, sometimes even several times a day. My heart was attached to Mary, and this prayer, using these beads, seemed like the perfect path to draw closer to her. From the moment Josey handed me my first rosary, it became, and remains today, my most cherished devotion after the Mass, the Sacraments, and Eucharistic Adoration.

It did not take me long to get into those books. The first one I read was The Glories of Mary. I was astonished at how well developed the theology of Mary was in Catholic tradition. I was also delighted. St. Alphonsus’ praises for Mary seemed to leap from the pages like streams of holy fire to ignite the flames of devotion for Mary in my heart.

I can identify with this chap's story. As somebody new to Catholicism, the rosary and The Glories of Mary made a big impact on me too.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

A conservative blog for peace: "Do you pray the rosary in Latin or English?"

A conservative blog for peace: "Do you pray the rosary in Latin or English?"

The Rich Man was in Purgatory, not Hell

Purgatory: Holy Fire, by Scott Hahn

'It may not be amiss likewise to find signs of this moral amelioration in the rich man in Hades who appeals to Abraham on behalf of his five brothers still on earth, in Luke 16. Remember the story of Lazarus and the rich man? The rich man is in fire, but he calls out, "Father Abraham," and Abraham responds, "My son, or my child." Well all that man had done was to feast sumptuously. He didn't go around beating Lazarus and other poor people. He just ate sumptuously. He neglected the poor. Not a mortal sin in and of itself, to be sure. And he says, "Father Abraham, just let Lazarus know. Have mercy on me." He didn't say, "This is unfair. I shouldn't be in hell." He says, "Have mercy on me. Just get Lazarus to dip his little finger tip in water and put it on the tip of my tongue. I don't deserve it, but it's mercy."

Is that a soul in hell filled with the hatred of God? St. Teresa says, "There is no love in hell." And yet, this man pleads, not on his own behalf, but he says, "Please send Lazarus back to my five brothers so that they will believe in time." Abraham says, "Even if a man came back from the dead, it wouldn't be enough. They've got Moses, the law and the prophets. That's enough." But ironically, who did Jesus raise from the dead? A man named Lazarus. And was it enough for the Jews to believe in Jesus then? No. They not only wanted to kill Jesus, they even sought to kill Lazarus because so many people were still believing in Jesus because of him.

But look at Luke 16 and realize that this man is there for neglecting the poor. He is in fire, recognizing Abraham as his father. Abraham recognizing him as my child. This man pleading for mercy in the form of a drop of water and then pleading on behalf of his brothers who were still on earth. Do souls intercede with God for mercy? Hardly. And yet look at what the story assumes. Look at what Jesus doesn't even feel it necessary to argue.'

I agree with Scott Hahn. There are definite reasons to doubt that the Rich Man was one of the damned. This passage troubled me as a Protestant and I toyed at times with the idea that he might have been in some other kind of intermediate state between heaven and hell. The Catholic doctrine of Purgatory explains this scenario quite well.

The Jacobite Intelligence: An independent Scotland will need a healthy opposition

The Jacobite Intelligence: An independent Scotland will need a healthy opposition

"Yesterday’s poll suggesting that the ‘Yes’ campaign is edging ahead of the ‘Nos’ has probably been blown out of proportion by the media, and I remain unconvinced that the polls reflect what will happen on the day (one should never underestimate the power of apathy and fear). However, it is becoming very evident that people in England are far more frightened now by the prospect of Scottish independence than people in Scotland are. Let us suppose for a moment that the ‘Yes’ campaign does succeed – in that case, my principal worry would be that Scotland’s political system will not be fit-for-purpose for an independent state. The SNP’s vision of Scotland’s future constitution must be challenged by other political parties, which means that Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives must get over their post-referendum hangovers as quickly as possible and engage in a robust debate on the future of an independent Scotland. Given the intransigence of the unionists, I cannot see this happening: I anticipate that the unionist parties will end up in denial about the reality of independence, and will try to sabotage the transition process by various legal and constitutional means."

Saturday, 6 September 2014

European Commission Blog: Tidying up the facts on EU vacuum cleaner rules

European Commission Blog: Tidying up the facts on EU vacuum cleaner rules

1) There is NO ban on vacuum cleaners that suck powerfully. The ban is on cleaners that use too much energy and/or are not energy efficient. The new rules include requirements for performance in picking up dust, on noise, on the amount of dust escaping from the cleaner (important for asthma sufferers) and on the durability of components.

2) It is perfectly possible to have high-performance vacuum cleaners which are energy efficient. As “Which?” magazine (see below) itself makes clear, some of the models on its best buy list already conform to the new rules.

3) Obviously more energy efficient appliances are good for consumers, who will have reduced energy bills and in this case quieter vacuum cleaners into the bargain. The new labelling system will help them make informed choices.

4) The new rules are based on a tried and tested approach which has already delivered results for all sorts of other appliances and made life easier and cheaper for consumers. A similar labelling system was introduced for fridges and freezers 20 years ago. They now use only one-third of the electricity they did then. Two years after regulations were introduced for television sets, 70% of those on the market were in the top class for energy efficiency.

Our media went into hysteria about the new EU regulations on electrical appliances.

Putting God to the Test? : Baptism and the Catechumenate

The Catholic Church teaches that baptism communicates and effects the graces of justification and regeneration. It is an essential part of normative human salvation. You might think then that the Catholic Church would baptize converts as quickly as possible, like the apostles did at Pentecost. This is not in general the case, though in times past, missionaries did perform mass-baptisms of heathen converts.

While the Catholic Church does not require catechumens to wait three years or even longer, as did the patristic church, it is normal for unbaptized converts to go through the RCIA process that lasts seven to nine months before being baptized at the Easter vigil. Persons may be baptized outside of Easter, but this is not the norm.

Converts need not fear that if they should die before the Easter vigll they will be eteranlly lost. The Catholic Church teaches that there is a 'baptism of desire.' If a person desires baptism and intends to seek it, its graces may be imparted without it.

It certainly is reasonable that the Lord would save believers who have been unable to receive the waters of baptism. There seems little reason to doubt this conclusion. However, does it follow logically that because God may save unbaptized persons that a delay in baptism should be encouraged?

I would suggest that requiring converts to wait for baptism is presumptious. It assumes that God's mercy is 'on tap.' Unbaptized persons need the grace of baptism and to delay their receiving it on the basis that God will count their 'baptism of desire' is to put Him to the test. I do not doubt the doctrine of 'baptism of desire,' I just question the wisdom of the current discipline of RCIA.

I think it unfortunate that the Second Vatican Council opted to restore the patristic idea of the Catechumen period. The Church Fathers have much to teach us, but they did not get everything right. I think it was in harmony with apostolic tradition that the catecumenate idea faded out in the early middle ages.

My advice to a newly converted Christian wishing to become Catholic would be to seek baptism in a Baptist Church before seeking reception into the Catholic Church. The Lord commanded you to be baptized and you should obey.

BBC News: Green Party calls for £10 hourly minimum wage by 2020

BBC News: Green Party calls for £10 hourly minimum wage by 2020

In an address to Greens' autumn conference, party leader Natalie Bennett said Britain was a low-wage economy and people deserved "a decent return on their labour".

Under the plans, wages would rise by £1.15 to £7.65 an hour next year before increasing each year until 2020.

The party also proposes a "wealth tax" on those with assets of more than £3m.

The party, which currently has one MP, is promising a "progressive alternative" to the austerity agenda which it says the other Westminster parties have all embrace

The Green Party shows its economic illiteracy, offering fantasy left-wing policies. They want to make businnesses pay out more on wages as well as pay more tax. How are they supposed to produce the wealth this country needs?

There is nothing green about these policies. This is a socialist agenda, not an environmentalist agenda. If the Greens were serious about their environmental concerns, they would be making friends with business, seeking to encourage them to become more environmentally concerned. Instead, they want to impose new costs on business, an obstacle that will get in the way of adapting industry to environmental concerns.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Father Ed's Blog: Not just for the High Church...

And increasingly enquirers to the Ordinariate come from evangelical and mid church backgrounds. Perhaps not surprising when you recall that the difficulties we faced did not centre on ceremonial at the altar but orthodox teaching in the pulpit. Thus anyone who believes in, say, the unity of Christians or a male only priesthood might be looking in interest. So too those who struggle to understand how one can re-marry divorcees without annulment or accept a contraceptive mindset. Truly the list of shifts in Anglican thinking is long. Such people might well be pondering their future  considering Ordinariate life.  This is a call then to those whose spiritual needs are not being met as opposed to any attempt to proselytise those who are happy as Anglicans and belong in that communion.

Prayer Book folk would find life in the Ordinariate agreeable. For our liturgical texts are dripping in Anglican patrimony. The Customary provides Offices from prayer book tradition and the Ordinariate Rite uses many of these favourite texts that once defined English spiritual life. There is here a treasury of devotional life holding broad appeal, something of great benefit to our mission as we seek reconcile where the reformation once divided. To gather into unity those born into a prayer book tradition but who no longer recognise the Church of their baptism with the emerging Church of England of the future.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

The Jacobite Intelligence: Better Together – in Europe

The Jacobite Intelligence: Better Together – in Europe

'If we step back from the immediate arguments in the independence debate and look at Britain and Europe in a wider historical perspective, the age of the nation state is over. The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 was the beginning of the end of the nation state, which emerged in the sixteenth century and reached its apogee in the eighteenth century. The Act of Union of 1707 was part of the process of creating a centralised nation state in the British Isles, which culminated in the Act of Union in 1801. Centralised nation states have no future, because the nature of the threats we face demand a unified response based on the shared values of a civilisation rather than the fragmented foreign policies of tiny states. The nations of Europe must unite in a single political structure and aspire to the status of a superpower, to confront Russia and China and set aside the dependence of European nations on America. Westminster was largely responsible for frustrating that process in the 1990s, because politicians were blinkered by narrow British interests. The dissolution of the United Kingdom is a far less frightening prospect than the failure of the European Union to cohere as a meaningful political unit.'

Convertskii and Metal

I get the impression that a fair few converts to Eastern Orthodoxy are into extreme metal. I find this interesting, because I'm an extreme metal fan myself, despite opting for Catholicism.

I suppose metal fans feel at home with all those hirsute priests. Metal is of course very international these days, with fans listening to bands from all over the world. There are plenty of great black and death metal bands from Eastern Europe. Many of these bands draw heavily on Slavonic culture, so it shouldn't be surprising that Orthodoxy has an appeal for Christian metal fans.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014



"But duplicitous thinking is the inevitable fruit of compromise. And those remaining Anglican yet seeking to identify as Catholic must swallow it because the official provision for those unable to accept the ordination of women is based on a model that assumes you are sexist not theologically principled. Its purpose (in their eyes) is to help you avoid the ministry of validly ordained women  not allow space for anyone to claim they are not in fact validly ordained.

Hence opponents must  write to their new woman bishop, thereby acknowledging her authority over them at the very outset, to politely request permission to then avoid her ministry… Hardly a Catholic solution to a serious problem. It might work for misogynists but how could it possibly appease a truly Catholic soul?"

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Guardian: The Trotskyites of the right are wrecking the Conservative party

Guardian: The Trotskyites of the right are wrecking the Conservative party

Douglas Carswell’s defection shouldn’t light the blue touch-paper. After all, he was the wildest man on the fringe – and closest to losing his seat to Ukip, which he may now save. But what an odd time to go, just as an elemental shift turns the Conservatives into an out-and-out EU exit party, plunging headlong for the departure gate.

The influential grassroots organisation ConservativeHome has launched a pre-election manifesto calling for an end to EU free movement of labour, with reclaiming control of national borders as a red line in negotiations. A Times editorial yesterday supported it, as Murdoch would. This is a guided missile straight into Cameron’s renegotiation strategy, already rapidly disintegrating. ConservativeHome is deliberately demanding the impossible. Charles Grant of the Centre for European Reform says there is no possibility of the other countries agreeing, and no new treaty would pass in referendums.

Article by Polly Toynbee

This is Polly Toynbee, so there is an obvious lefty bias. However, I think she is absolutely right that the Eurosceptic Right is leading the Conservative Party to self-destruction. I particularly like the point she makes about the interests of business. It is not in the interest of commerce for the UK to leave the EU. The Conservative Party should be supporting the needs of business, not ignoring them in favour of an ideological crusade.

And as Polly points out, when politicians talk about re-negotiating free movement of labour, they are really talking about leaving the EU. Free movement of labour is a fundamental principle of the EU and will never be given up.

Daily Telegraph: Vladimir Putin’s boots are on the ground – why not ours?

Daily Telegraph: Vladimir Putin’s boots are on the ground – why not ours?

'There is a disturbing sense of déjà vu about Vladimir Putin’s suggestion that the best way to bring an end to the fighting over the disputed provinces of eastern Ukraine is to grant them independent statehood. Six months ago, he advanced a similar argument over Crimea when pro-Russian separatists launched their campaign to seek independence from Kiev. On that occasion, the Kremlin’s intervention, backed by the deployment of well-armed Russian Spetsnaz special forces to the peninsula, had the desired effect, ultimately resulting in the region’s illegal annexation by Moscow.

Now it looks increasingly as though the Russian president is determined to fashion a similar outcome in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine. The only difference is that this time Moscow is making no real attempt to conceal the fact that their forces are actively supporting the rebels. In the most serious escalation since the Ukraine crisis began at the start of the year, a Russian tank column was yesterday helping the rebels to seize control of Luhansk airport.'

NATO needs to take firm action against Russia. Our governments need to raise the prospect of sending troops to Ukraine. Only the threat of military force will deter Putin.

Monday, 1 September 2014


From CS Lewis' The Magician's Newphew

Fr Hunwicke's Mutual Enrichment: The Anglican Patrimony

Fr Hunwicke's Mutual Enrichment: The Anglican Patrimony

What is that Anglican Patrimony which we are supposed to have brought into the Ordinariates? I feel that it must be more than just a few little liturgical goodies, favourable though I am to the BCP structure of the Divine Office (although not, sadly, to the totally un-Anglican and non-traditional lectionary which has been tacked onto it here in England) and to the Anglican Use Eucharistic Rite, with its BCP and English Missal components (I would be reassured to be told that the Sunday propers which BCP inherited from Sarum, and thereby from the early lectionaries of the Roman Church, were going to be authorised, at least optionally, for the Ordinariates; it will be another tragic missed opportunity if they are not).