Sunday, 28 June 2015

The Feast of Saint Irenaeus

O God, who called the Bishop Saint Irenaeus to confirm true doctrine and the peace of the Church, grant, we pray, through his intercession, that, being renewed in faith and charity, we may always be intent on fostering unity and concord. 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.

Saint Irenaueus, pray for us, that we may reject all heresies.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

The Feast of Saint Cyril of Alexandria

O God, who made the Bishop Saint Cyril of Alexandria an invincible champion of the divine motherhood of the most Blessed Virgin Mary, grant, we pray, that we, who believe she is truly the Mother of God, may be saved through the Incarnation of Christ your Son. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Saint Cyril of Alexandria, pray for us and for all theologians.

Friday, 26 June 2015

The Westminster Assembly, by Robert Letham

A book by Robert Letham is definitely worth reading, as he is one of the more patristically minded Calvinists. This particular book is about church history, which I suppose is my specialist subject. Letham looks at the Westminster Assembly, a body of Puritan, Presbyterian and Independent ministers who met during the English Civil War for the purpose of complteting the Reformation of the English Church. The fruit of their discussion was that great Reformed creed, the Westminster Confession. Letham argues that many writers have not handled the topic of the Westminster Assembly accurately and have tended to read it through the lens of later debates in Presbyterianism, ignoring its 17th century context.

Letham argues that many of the men in the Westminster Assembly were deeply rooted in the theology of the Church Fathers and had some semblance of a doctrine of theosis. The author takes particular aim at Thomas Torrance, who he argues fails to grasp the richness of the Westminster theology.

Letham makes the point that quite a range of different theological views were tolerated within the Westminster Assembly. While the group adopted limited atonement, those who spoke in favour of a general atonement continued to participate in the assembly's discussions.

While this book will of interest primarily to those of a Presbyterian or Reformed background, it does touch on the history of Anglicanism, so those interested in early Anglican history will find this useful.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Anglican Pastor: Discovering The Daily Office

Anglican Pastor: Discovering The Daily Office

The Daily Office is one of the ways that Christians have prayed for centuries. The Daily Office or Divine Office, which is based on the ancient practice of prescribed daily times of prayer. The name comes from the Latin officium divinum meaning “divine office” or “divine duty.” These services are accompanied by daily Scripture readings which include a reading from the Psalms, Old Testament, the New Testament, and a Gospel reading. The Daily Office includes prayers for morning, noon, and evening. J.I. Packer says, “None of us will! ever find a better pattern for private prayer and Bible-reading anywhere than that offered by the Prayer Book’s own daily offices.”

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Daily Telegraph: Do black lives matter to the Labour Party? It doesn’t look like it

Daily Telegraph: Do black lives matter to the Labour Party? It doesn’t look like it

Article by Dan Hodges

'As with it’s talk on the representation of women in politics, these leadership elections have shown up Labour to be the party that loves to talk the talk on diversity, but still can’t be bothered to walk the walk. And as a result, it’s a party that is heading for a fall.

Last month an analysis by the think tank British Future revealed that at the election the Conservative Party won the support of a million BAME voters, the best performance in its history. One in three black Britons went to the polls to vote for David Cameron. As Sunder Katwala, director of British Future, said: “This research shows that ethnic minority votes are more ‘up for grabs’ than ever before. Minority voters still prefer Labour to the Conservatives. But where Labour once held on to these voters when they became more affluent, through an appeal to fairness and solidarity, that may now have broken down.”

And it deserves to break down. Because Labour are currently treating their black supporters with contempt.'

The Conservative Party is serious about diversity, the Labour Party is not.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

The Little Flower Prayer Book

The Little Flower Prayerbook: A Carmelite Prayer Manual, 1926 TAN Books

This is basically a standard Catholic book of general prayers with a Carmelite flavour. Carmelite elements include a short biography of Saint Therese of Lisieux, meditations by the Little Flower and a list of important feast days for Carmelites.

What I really liked about this book was the traditional language. It even says 'Holy Ghost' rather than Holy Spirit, which is very unusual in a Catholic publication.

There are prayers for morning, during the day and at night, but there are not a structured office, but rather an ad hoc collection of prayers to say at those time. I found it disappointing that there was no proper daily office in it. An easy, simple Carmelite flavoured daily office would have been a good way to introduce laity to the practice of saying the Liturgy of the Hours. Rather less usefully, the book contains an order for masses in honour of St. Therese. Epistle and Gospel readings for Sundays are included as well. There are various devotions in this book. These include several litanies, mass and sacramental devotions, the Rosary and Stations of the Cross.

Readers coming from a Protestant background are likely to be surprised by the heavy emphasis in this book on obtaining indulgences. The indulgence value of each prayer is given below the text of the prayer in small print. This does not really bother me. I followed a school or Protestantism that placed a heavy emphasis on gaining heavenly rewards, so the idea of indulgences makes sense to me.

Not a remarkable book, but it is beautifully and sturdily bound.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Christ the King, Lord of History, by Anne Carroll

Anne Carroll, Christ the King, Lord of History: A Catholic World History from Ancient to Modern Times, 1994 TAN Books

This book is a doctrinaire history of the world, written from a Catholic perspective. This is certainly not my first experience of doctrinaire history. At the private Evangelic Christian school in which I spent my secondary education, there was an history textbook which presented the history of the world from a very conservative Evangelical perspective. It took the Young Earth Creationist view and thus began history six thousand years ago. Unlike Carroll's book, the Reformation was presented as a very good thing and the Catholic Church was seen as a distortion of Christianity.

Anne Carroll writes as though all the facts of history are known and there are no historical questions for historians to debate. There are only one or two places where Carroll admits there is some uncertainty about the facts of events. All the characters of history are either heroes or villains. There is no doubt about the causes, effects and results of events.

While this is similar to the Evangelical history textbook I mentioned above, it stands in complete contrast to the way I was taught GCSE History. The approach there was to get the pupils examining photographs and documents and getting them to offer rudimentary comments on their historical usefulness. This appalling approach to teaching history leaves pupils with the impression that nothing can be said with certainty about any historical facts.

I am in two minds about the approach of Anne Carroll to history. I don't think that one can teach the facts of history while being neutral about their value and context. Learning history should develop a Christian and Catholic worldview. Yet I am not sure that hiding away historical questions and uncertainties is a good idea. Should the young student come to learn that the interpretation placed on historical events that they were taught is unreliable, it could lead her to question her faith. I also feel that Carroll's tendency to portray the actors of history as either heroes or villains does not do justice to the complexity of these figures. I really don't think it is at all fair to portray Catherine the Great as a villain. She did great things for Russia, in spite of her secularist tendencies. Caroll portrays the Poles as victims of history. Yet she fails to mention the time when Poland was the big bully of Eastern Europe, when her Orthodox peasants had a pretty rough deal.

The reader of Christ the King will certainly learn a lot about history. This is a very useful primer on the basic events of world history. On the other hand, it does make a lot of errors about historical theology and church history.Carroll's understanding of the some of the controversies of the patristic period is simply appalling (Warning- whatever, you do, don't give this book to an Oriental Orthodox Christian!).

The Independent: Grand New Party: Spanish-speaking Jeb Bush can take White House if he makes his genuine appeal to Hispanic voters count

The Independent: Grand New Party: Spanish-speaking Jeb Bush can take White House if he makes his genuine appeal to Hispanic voters count


'For all the glamour, power, vast overspending, intense global media attention and genuinely complex national challenges facing the contenders and the American people, the race for the White House this year and next could come down to one central psephological question – who will win the Hispanic vote?
The launch of Jeb Bush’s formal campaign in Miami was an explicit pitch to that key group of electors. As a former Governor of Florida, Mr Bush is in true home territory in Miami, and in the coming months his audiences will be reminded of his wife, Columba Garnica de Gallo, his fluency in Spanish, his degree in Latin American studies and his remarkable achievement in making his Hispanic voters natural Republicans. At any rate, he probably will not have to rely on too many hanging chads in his home state, if it ever comes to it.

Symbolism counts for more than it perhaps should in US elections and, in Miami, Americans witnessed it at its most powerful. Specifically, Miami Dade College, the scene of this fifth bid for the presidency by a Bush in a little over a quarter of a century, has two-thirds of its students identifying themselves as US-born but of Latino heritage, with another quarter born variously in Cuba, Colombia, Venezuela, Nicaragua or Peru. Mr Bush is reminding them, and their compatriots, that he is about social mobility, for them as much as any group. It is a winning message.'

Monday, 15 June 2015

Daily Telegraph: Only 15 per cent of Conservative party members would vote to leave the EU

Daily Telegraph: Only 15 per cent of Conservative party members would vote to leave the EU

Article by Tim Bale and Paul Webb

'But perhaps the most interesting finding is summarised in this second graph, which should challenge the idea that the better-off-outers on the Tory benches in the Commons are merely the visible tip of a much bigger iceberg that could sink David Cameron’s dream of uniting his party around a renegotiation package he could sell to the wider electorate.

In fact, fewer than two out of ten of ordinary Conservative party members would vote for the UK to leave the EU regardless of whatever reforms Prime Minister David Cameron manages to obtain in the run-up to a referendum. In marked contrast, nearly two-thirds of them say that their vote depends on the outcome of negotiations, while one in five say they would vote to stay in the EU no matter what.'

Just when I was starting to feel lonely as an Europhile Tory...

Daily Telegraph: Jeb Bush: I cry, I'm introverted, but I want to be president

Daily Telegraph: Jeb Bush: I cry, I'm introverted, but I want to be president

Mr Bush will run with a traditionally hawkish Republican approach to foreign policy, arguing for a stronger line against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and Vladimir Putin's Russia.
But he is among the most moderate of the Republican contenders when it comes to domestic policy. Unlike others in his party he has not lashed out at national education standards and has taken a more measured tone on immigration.

Go Jeb!

I love Jeb Bush. I think he's a fantastic politician and I would love to see him become president of the USA.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

The Realm, by Aidan Nichols

Aidan Nichols, OP, The Realm: An Unfashionable Essay on the Conversion of England, 2010 St. Paul's Publishing, London

This book made me realise just how much of an Evangalical I am deep down. If you asked me about evangelisation, I would talk about different methods of evangelism (leaving aside the question of whether there actually is a difference between evangelism and the Catholic-friendly word evangelisation). Aidan Nichols writes a book about evangelisation, and he writes about culture and intellectual ideas.

In The Realm, Nichols argues for the importance of the conversion of England for the Catholic Church. He argues that the Catholic Church in England is uniquely placed for this goal, as it is at once both indigenous and immigrant and can thus address both those indigenous to England and those who have come from other cultures. The Church of England has the disadvantage of being too indigenous, while the Orthodox Church has the disadvantage of being insufficiently indigenous.

Nichols devotes a chapter to a collection of Twentieth century Catholic and Anglo-Catholic writers, including TS Eliot, Hilaire Belloc, JRR Tolkien and GK Chesterton. He has much praise for these men and sees them as contributing to a specifically English Christian culture. While these writers certainly have made an important contribution, they do have their limits. I think it is problematic that some of the writers he celebrates have a slightly dreamy, unworldly quality. These were men who were fundamentally uneasy with modern culture and the modern world. I think this may make it difficult for their appeal to be felt for a younger generation (aside from the popularity of Tolkien's fiction). Writers who continually harp about how dreadful the modern world is tend to come across as grumpy old men.

On the whole I thought the book was wafflely and never really made an effective point. You want to convert England? Great! Let's start talking about methods and get on with it.

I could have done without the author's digs at the European Union. There is really no need to pander to the UKIP crowd. Catholics ought to be above that sort of jingoism.

Statistical Double-Standards

When Christian immigrants swell the numbers of Christian churches, they are seen as a statistical irrelevance, serving to mask the decline of these churches.

When Muslim immigrants swell the mosques, they are seen as contributing to a demographic time-bomb.

My point is simple; if Islamic immigration has made a long-term contribution to demographic trends in the UK, then it is equally likely that Christian immigrants from Eastern Europe, Africa, India and the Phillipines will contribute to demographic trends.

Don't believe the doom-mongers; Britain is never going to become a Muslim country.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

The Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Grant, Lord God, that we, your servants, may rejoice in unfailing health of mind and body, and, through the glorious intercession of Blessed Mary ever-Virgin, may we be set free from present sorrow and come to enjoy eternal happiness. 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.

O Immaculate Heart of Mary, Heavenly beauty and splendor of the Father, You are the most valued Heavenly treasure.
New Eve, immaculate in soul, spirit and body, Created of the godly seed by the Spirit of God, You are the spiritual Mother of mankind.
Pure Virgin, full of grace then and now, Your whole being was raised Heavenly in full glory, To be elevated above all the hosts within the Kingdom of God.
O Heavenly Mother, Queen of Heaven and earth, I recognize the glory of your highest title, The Immaculate Heart of Mary!
Loving Mother, dispenser of endless blessings, You who continuously intercedes on our behalf, Please present my need before your loving Son Jesus.
(In your own words, make your special request here. Speak to the Immaculate Heart of Mary as you would speak to another person, begging your Heavenly Mother to plea to Jesus on your behalf, that you be granted this special request.)
O Immaculate Heart of Mary, I know that you are now presenting my need before Jesus, For you have never turned away those in dire need.
Mother dearest, I await your favorable answer, Submitting myself to the Divine will of the Lord, For all glories are His forever and ever.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

The Feast of Saint Barnabas

O God, who decreed that Saint Barnabas, a man filled with faith and the Holy Spirit, should be set apart to convert the nations, grant that the Gospel of Christ, which he strenuously preached, may be faithfully proclaimed by word and by deed. 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.

Saint Barnabas, pray for us, that we may be generous in our judgement of others.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

The Ohio Anglican Blog: The First Book of Common Prayer

The Ohio Anglican Blog: The First Book of Common Prayer

'In 1549, under the reign of Edward VI, successor to Henry VIII, the primary language of public worship in England and other areas ruled by Edward was changed from Latin to English, and the first Book of Common Prayer came into use. It was first used on Pentecost Sunday, 9 June 1549, and the occasion is now commemorated "on the first convenient day following Pentecost." The Book was the work of a commission of scholars, but primarily of Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury. It was based primarily upon the Latin worship tradition of the Use of Sarum (similar to, but not identical with, the Roman rite used by most Roman Catholic between 1600 and 1950), with some elements taken from the Greek liturgies of the Eastern Church, from ancient Gallican (French) rites, from the new Lutheran order of service, and from the Latin rite of Cologne.'

Monday, 8 June 2015

Daily Telegraph: Yeah but no but yeah but: Conservative Eurosceptics are behaving like Vicky Pollard

Daily Telegraph: Yeah but no but yeah but: Conservative Eurosceptics are behaving like Vicky Pollard

Article by Paola Buonadonna

'Meanwhile David Cameron’s timid initial suggestion that cabinet ministers should perhaps, you know, support the Government’s stated aim and – once a satisfactory agreement has been deemed to have been reached, help it sell it to British people has already been blown out of the water. But not before former whip David Mitchell – a man painfully and personally acquainted with the meaning and consequence of the expression "blowing one’s lid off" had warned Cameron that failure to allow Ministers freedom of conscience on the EU questions could, you guessed it, "blow the lid off the Tory party."

If this is beginning to sound eerily familiar it’s because it is history repeating itself, with a generous extra dollop of hypocrisy. Ask poor John Major whether the current impasse doesn’t strike him as déjà vu all over again – he’ll probably bemoan that this time the "bastards" are on Twitter as well.

What these people fail to understand however, is that Tory civil wars on Europe, fascinating though they might be for those involved, are becoming rather boring for the population at large.'

The Feast of Saint Ephraim the Syrian

O GOD, who hast vouchsafed to enlighten thy Church with the wondrous learning and singular holiness of thy blessed Confessor and Doctor Saint Ephraem: we humbly pray thee; that, thou wouldest with unfailing power defend the same against all the deceits of false doctrine, and all the assaults of iniquity. Through Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. Amen.

St. Ephraim, pray for us and for Syria.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

The English Office Book

The English Office Book, 2006 reprint (1956) Canterbury Press

The English Office book is an adaptation of the office of morning and evening prayer from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer for Anglo-Catholics. Psalm refrains and daily hymns are provided to enrich the office, as well as a propers for a large selection of saints' feasts. Like the 1662 book, it has no order for compline. Evening prayer and night prayer are kept combined as one service.

The English Office also includes prayers to say before or after the daily office. Even better, Marian antiphons are included to follow evening prayer. It is delightful to see the words of the 1662 prayer book being followed in print by the words of the Salve Regina!

I especially like the inclusion of an Office of Saint Mary for Saturdays. I usually say the Saturday office of the Blessed Virgin using the Divine Office, so this prayer book version is a nice alternative. The 1662 litany is included, along with several more Catholic litanies.

One complaint I have is that the Psalms have Roman numerals. Not everybody reader is going to know their Roman numerals. However, on the whole I love this office book. I think I prefer this to the Customary of Our Lady of Walsingham, which follows the American 1928 BCP.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

The Mad Monarchist: The Kaiser and the Fuhrer

The Mad Monarchist: The Kaiser and the Fuhrer

'If the Kaiser had ever read ‘Mein Kampf’ he might have known that Hitler was no friend of the old reich. He stated quite clearly that his intention was a racial state rather than a restored monarchy and that he had nothing but contempt for the Kaiser, blaming him for the mistakes of World War I (he would, of course, go on to make bigger ones). As it was, the Kaiser approved of the DNVP voting with the Nazis in the hope that they could help achieve sufficient mastery over the leftists to bring about a vote on restoring the monarchy. As for the Nazis themselves though, he could see that their claim to represent something new was simply an effort to turn both ends against the middle and had no consistency to it. He had been around long enough to know that there was no “third” direction.'

Monday, 1 June 2015

Daily Telegraph: No, Britain does not want proportional representation

Daily Telegraph: No, Britain does not want proportional representation

Article by Dan Hodges

'The third is the current system guarantees moderate government. Extreme or fringe parties like Ukip or the Greens or the Liberal Democrats have to pass a high electoral threshold to be in a position to get their hands on the levers of government. They may not like it. The electoral reformers may not like it. But the British people value this padlock on extremism and superficiality.

And this is the key to the whole argument. The voters have a clear headed view of electoral reform, and have consistently expressed it. Meanwhile the advocates of reform are still staggering around, slurring on about one more PR campaign for the road.

The current system is broken because it can’t deal with coalitions. No, hang, on forget that. It’s broken because it didn’t deliver a coalition. No wait, wait, it’ll come to me. PR’s good because it will lock in a progressive consensus. Oi, don’t tug at me pal. What I mean is it’s good because it will give Nigel Farage another 80 seats. Solid man Nigel – always stands his round. Oh come on. You haven’t even rung the bell yet. First past the post is bad because it penalises small parties like the SNP. Oops. I mean first past the post is bad because it gives parties like the SNP too much power. Hey, what are you doing? Listen to me, I’m telling you, THEY’RE GOING TO BREAK UP BRITAIN!!! All right. All right. Just let me call a cab first …'

Eclectic Orthodoxy: Can we cajole God into doing what we want?

Eclectic Orthodoxy: Can we cajole God into doing what we want?

Human beings desire. We are created by God as desiring beings. Above all, we are created with an unquenchable desire for God, without whom we cannot find genuine happiness. Yet we also need basic creaturely goods to live well in this world. We should pray for these goods, counsels McCabe, even if our desire for them is disproportionately skewed. How else can we learn from experience what we truly desire? McCabe is confident that if we are honest with our Father about what we think we want, he will lead us to know the fundamental truth of our hearts

Daily Telegraph: Does Britain want to be a leader or loser in Europe?

Daily Telegraph: Does Britain want to be a leader or loser in Europe?

Article by Peter Winder

'That is why the UK must not shirk the task that its people want: to shape our regional and global destiny. Whinging on the sidelines and moaning about red tape is beneath us. We remain amongst the top 5 most competitive economies in the world despite the hand-wringing about being shackled to a European corpse. We sell more to Ireland than all of the BRICS. And I haven’t noticed Germany, richer and more globally engaged than us, blaming the EU for its export success and full employment.

What is lacking today is a Churchill to raise our vision from the insular to the global. Matthew argues that Europe impedes our world reach. But a better vision for Britain is the oldest one: Lord Salisbury said: “We are part of the community of Europe, and we must do our duty as such.” If we don’t perform this basic task, Britain may leave Europe, Scotland will leave Britain, Little England will result and we will have closed a 500 year chapter of global power. Dean Acheson will have been proved right. Britain lost an empire and never found a role commensurate with its power. Nobody in the world, save our enemies, would welcome such a sad abdication.'

The Feast of Saint Justin Martyr

O God, who through the folly of the Cross wondrously taught Saint Justin the Martyr the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ, grant us, through his intercession, that, having rejected deception and error, we may become steadfast in the faith. 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.

Saint Justin, pray for us and for all apologists and defenders of the Christian faith.