Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Recommended Books Before a Trip to Oxford

Having reviewed Rowse’s Oxford in the History of the Nation, being familiar with the place and plotting a return later this year, I thought it might be good and helpful to recommend three books to possess for a trip to Oxford.

If I had to recommend one book, it would be the Blue Guide: Oxford and Cambridge by Geoffrey Tyack.  It is a very practical and portable tour guide.  But it does not focus on the touristy or the trivial but on the architectural history of the place and of Cambridge.  It has been a great help to me in knowing what to see and what I am seeing.  Get the 2004 edition and do take it with you to Oxford (or Cambridge).  Yes, I think 2004 is the most recent edition.  Don’t let that worry you; Oxford tends to change very slowly.

I also recommend another book by Tyack, Oxford, An Architectural Guide.  It is not a tour guide per se; it is organized chronologically.  So one may find it mentions a college in several chapters as it builds, tears down, and builds through the years.  Also, it is not as portable.  I know I am not taking this one with me.  But it is the best architectural history of Oxford I’ve come across.  It is very helpful in seeing how Oxford grew and developed through the centuries.  And it is very readable.  But its size and format is not as practical for touring as the Blue Guide.  I recommend reading it before you go.  And perhaps take notes of items you want to remember when in Oxford.

The third book I recommend is very different.  Written by Jan Morris, it is entitled simply Oxford.  Very well written and often lightly humorous, it is a pleasure to read.  It does contain some little known corners of Oxford to find and explore.  But what I find most outstanding about Morris’ book is how it captures the atmosphere of Oxford.  For example, when in the Autumn of 2007 I drifted into a malaise as gloomy as the cold, damp and shortening days, I thought, “Morris told me it would be like this!”

The 2001 edition is small and very portable, so you can take it with you if you like, perhaps to read on the plane.  I won’t be taking it with me this time, but intend to read it once again, for the third time I think, before I leave.


Do you have must-read books about Oxford?  Feel free to let us know in the comments.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Looking Back at the 2007 Latin Pontifical Mass at Oxford

With countless others, I’ve been remembering Dario Cardinal Castrill√≥n Hoyos upon his passing.  He is probably most known for two acts, confronting drug baron Pablo Escobar and for being a major influence behind restoring the Extraordinary (Latin) Form of the Mass, especially the Summorum Pontificum of Pope Benedict XVI in 2007 that in effect restored said Form.

It is hard to say which act took more courage.

Remembering the late Cardinal causes me to remember attending the Pontifical Mass at the2007 Latin Mass Society Conference at Merton Oxford.  It was very providential that I got to attend as I had happened to arrive that week for studies and did not even know about the conference until the day before.

And even then I did not fully realize the importance of this conference and its Pontifical Mass.  Less than two months before, on July 7th, 2007, Pope Benedict issued his Summorum Pontificum making the Latin Mass more accessible to the whole Roman Catholic Church.  It came into effect just over two weeks after the conference on September 14th.  The conference’s purpose was to train priests to perform that Extraordinary Form of the Mass.  Yes, I was aware of those basic facts at the time.  But when one is in the middle of something historic, one sometimes does not really get that one is in the middle of something historic!  That was certainly the case for me.

And it did not occur to me then that it may have been the first time a Latin Mass was said in the College of Merton College since the Elizabethan Settlement.  But they so like Latin at Oxford, I cannot be sure of that.  More certain is that it was the first time a Tridentine Mass was said at Merton since Queen Mary.

Those were joyous days indeed for traditionalists in and outside the Roman Catholic Church, me certainly included.  I do not think most Catholics realized how good they had it under Benedict at the time. 


Back at that time, I mentioned the good sermon.  It so happened it was delivered by Vincent Nichols and may be found here.

If one wishes a taste of the conference held the following year, also at Merton, that may be found here.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

The Queen Goes to Church

You’re 92.

Your Grandkid just had a huge wedding the day before.


Do you get some needed rest and skip church?

HECK, NO!  (Or however The Queen says that.)

Friday, May 18, 2018

On Opinionated Books and Book Titles

I finished A. L. Rowse’s Oxford in the History of the Nation.  And it proved to be a good overview of the subject.  I can recommend it with qualifications to be mentioned.

One of the stronger passages of the book looked at the impact of World War I on the students of Oxford.  It was certainly the most poignant.  As he wrote:

…There was no conscription until 1916, and all the finest young men volunteered for service.  There followed the massacre of a generation . . .: hundreds of names of the dead are inscribed on the walls of the bigger colleges. . . . at Christ Church, New College, Balliol and Magdalen . . . .

He includes poetry from young Oxford men who served.

In a previous post I mentioned this is an opinionated book.  Rowse went a bit far in his opinions in his chapter on the 19th century.  He descended into unedifying catty speculations about the sexuality of this and that important figure.

But as a whole, I found his openness about his opinions refreshing.  I’ve long thought that if one has strong opinions and agendas, it is usually best to be open about it.  That is one reason I and so many have contempt for the “mainstream” “news” media and for academia – instead of taking pains either to be balanced or to be honest that they are not being balanced, they push slanted propaganda as scholarly or as “news”.  It can get downright fraudulent.  I much prefer, even enjoy as I did Rowse’s book, openness in expressing well one’s opinions.

Many of the older books have such honesty even in the titles, which can be quite fun.  Anyone recognize An Universal History of Christian Martyrdom, Being a Complete And Authentic Account of the Lives, Sufferings, and Triumphant Deaths of the Primitive as Well as Protestant Martyrs, in All Parts of the World from the Birth of The Blessed Saviour to the Latest Periods of Pagan and Catholic Persecution, Together With a Summary of the Doctrines, Prejudices, Blasphemies and Superstitions of the MODERN CHURCH OF ROME?  That is the title of the 1837 edition of the work originally written by . . . John Fox.

A prized book in my library is a 1713 edition of The Indictment, Arraignment, Tryal, and Judgement, at large, of Twenty-Nine REGICIDES, the Murtherers of His Most Sacred Majesty King Charles the First, of Glorious Memory . . . .  I enjoy reading that title, with appropriate emotion, to visitors.

After Sunday Mass at Pusey House, take a look at the books on the shelves in the reception room as you drink your sherry.  The vehemence of the titles from opposing sides of the Tractarian controversy may amuse.


Certainly there is an important place for balanced dispassionate books.  But if one decides to promulgate opinions and agendas instead, one might as well be honest about it.  That is more fun anyway.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Reality Check: The FBI Spied on the Trump Campaign

For any who may think my concerns about the revival of totalitarianism may be overwrought or paranoid, I present a reality check: the FBI under Obama and Comey spied on the Trump campaign.  There’s really no denying that anymore.

Let me put it a different way.  The FBI under Obama and Comey spied on political opponents in the midst of a presidential election campaign.


I thought this was the U. S. A., not the U. S. S. R.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Communist “Christian” Anglican Idolaters March in Sri Lanka

I’ve been trying to be nice or at least nicer lately – I really have – but then George Conger makes me aware of this march.  And, no, I will not be nice about this brazen display of idolatry with deceptive “Christian” veneer splattered on it.

The former Bishop of Kurunegala and other members of the Workers Christian Fellowship (WCF) held their annual May Day march in Colombo last week. . . .
Wearing stoles and a cope covered with the hammer and sickle symbol, the Rt. Rev. Kumara Illangasinghe, who served as the fourth bishop of Kurunegala in the Church of Ceylon from 2000 to 2010 and was a member of the Anglican Consultative Council’s Standing Committee, and clergy from the Diocese of Colombo, along with trade unionists marched on May 1 in the Colombo’s Fort area to mark International Workers’ Day.

So we had a leading “bishop” of the Anglican Communion involved in this.  As for the stoles with hammers and sickles, see the photo for yourself over at Anglican Ink.  Given the tens of millions murdered by Communism, they might as well be wearing swastikas, too.  Hey, if you’re going to march for totalitarianism, why not go all the way?    

As for the Workers Christian (sic) Fellowship, here’s the sort of thing they push, from a 1984 pamphlet (emphasis mine):

We have already made the point that the Living Christ is at work in the faiths and movements for human liberation [meaning Communism.  “Slavery is freedom” and all that. - .ed]. Christ is the Word or expression of God, the Logos, the Dharma and the Dynamic of History, who provides all human beings coming into existence with the means of salvation, the path of liberation in their own religio-cultural contexts. Thus when for instance a Buddhist or Hindu finds salvation, it is by the grace of Christ as we would term it that this happens and he is incorporated then into the new life of God's Kingdom even if he knows nothing of Christianity. And it is through the sacraments of Buddhism and Hinduism, through the message of morality and the self-giving life that such salvation is normally transmitted and received. 

And that’s just some of the idolatry WCF pushes. Communion, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Marxism all mixed up with a token Jesus.  Jeroboam has nothing on these people.  And it has surely gotten worse since 1984 if that’s possible.

(NOTE: Please do not take this as a knock on honest Hindus and Buddhists.  I’d much rather sit and talk about religion with these - and have done so - than with phony LibChurch idolatrous apostates who dishonestly still call themselves Christians.  Nor should this be taken as a knock on newer Christians and seekers who need to learn and are willing to do so.)

How should Anglicans respond when a bishop serves this sort of garbage? He should be denounced as the deceptive idolatrous heretic he is.  It should be made very clear to all who can hear that he is no Christian but a liar who dresses up as a so-called bishop to deceive people so they become as damned as he is.

Do you think I am being overwrought?  Let’s flip it.  What if the stoles did have swastikas?  What if the bishop and clergy were pushing a mix of Nazism and Hinduism and were saying God uses that to save people? What actually occurred was every bit as bad.  And one who does not see that either needs to gain some knowledge of history or lose some selective indignation.

I love Anglicanism, but many Anglicans do have a bad habit of going easy and looking the other way and even rewarding and advancing such, as is the case with Illangasinghe, when there should instead be outrage and denunciation and casting off.

St. Paul’s approach is much better than the typical nice Anglican one:


But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. Gal. 1: 8, 9

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

A. L. Rowse on Georgian Oxford

As part of my preparation to return to Oxford I am refreshing my knowledge of the place, including reading A. L. Rowse’s Oxford in the History of the Nation.  It is an openly opinionated book, and I may remark more on that aspect at a later time.  And Rowse’s opinions rub me the wrong way here and there.  But I was glad to see we agree on 18th century Oxford:

…of course the ‘torpor’ of Georgian Oxford was greatly exaggerated by nineteenth-century reformers. . . .

The fact was that the facilities for work and cultivation of the mind were there for anyone to make use of who wished – and remarkable men always learn more on their own than from dons, except for occasional tutors of exceptional gifts….

And his chapter on the period goes on to praise other aspects of 18th century Oxford, particularly the new buildings such as the Radcliffe Camera.

Back to how best to learn, my issue is not so much with tutors as my tutor in 2007 is one of the best, and in hindsight a good tutor in 2011 would have kept me from becoming stagnant.  But the pressure to write, write, write to prove, prove, prove one’s learning is my main complaint.  And we can blame the 19th century reforms for the proliferation of written examinations in Oxford.  I am unsure of the origin of weekly essays in the tutorial system.  (Can anyone inform or link me on that?)

Now there has to be a good amount in writing in a well-rounded education, and the process of organizing and writing down one’s thoughts itself teaches.  And learning is of limited use if one does not also learn to express and apply it.  But at some point, writing can devour reading, listening, and learning.  I admit this becomes more of an issue for older students with limited energy.  (Sometimes, I wonder how I did all I did as an undergraduate!)

But enough whinging.  I am thankful that, God willing, I will get learn on my own at Oxford in 18th century fashion, often in monumental 18th century buildings, without pressure to write.  With Rowse, I see the advantages of that.



But, of course, I intend to write and edify here.  I can’t forget my readers.