Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Daniel Hyde to Direct King’s College Choir

I am slow to note this.  But Daniel Hyde has been chosen to direct the Choir of King’s College Cambridge beginning in October 2019.  Dr. Stephen Cleobury had previously announced his retirement at the end of the 2018-2019 academic year.

Here is the announcement from St. Thomas, New York where he currently presides.
And here is a slightly provocative article from the Telegraph.  It seems changes may be coming in the King’s College sound:

Mr. Hyde also confessed that when he was an undergraduate at Cambridge he thought the choir of King’s College was labouring under its huge reputation, leading to its performances being stifled, in marked contrast to the choir of nearby St John’s College.

“It wasn’t just the buildings,” he told the paper. “I think there was a freedom of expression at St. John’s because there wasn’t the pressure of expectation. So I tried to soak both those things up, and wherever I’ve gone since I’ve tried to mix that detail and accuracy of King’s with that more open-throated, expressive, musically phrased singing of John’s.”

Hyde’s most prestigious post up to now has been at Magdalen College Oxford.  I frequently attended Evensong there during Michaelmas Term 2011 during the years he directed.  My memory is fuzzy, but I remember the choir being very good.  (Knowing me, I probably would remember if it was not good.)  And one of the strengths of Magdalen’s Choir for many years has been the utilization of the voices of trebles.  I look forward to seeing how Hyde does that at King’s.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Keith Ellison Will Boycott the NFL . . . for Respecting the National Anthem

Just when you think the Democrat Party cannot become anymore extremist, they prove you wrong.

The NFL just came to a reasonable compromise to its fan-bleeding National Anthem controversy: Players and coaches stand respectfully during the National Anthem or stay in the locker room during it or get fined.  I wonder how many players may choose to defy this, fines or not, and continue to anger the NFL fan base.  But it is a good enough agreement that I for one might get my NFL Sunday Ticket back in 2019.  (I cancelled last year because of disrespect for the anthem and resuming this year is not practical because of my schedule this year.)

But the likes of Keith Ellison, Deputy Chair of the Democrat National Committee do not like it that the NFL is requiring respect for the National Anthem on the sidelines.  He tweeted:

“Friends who know me, know that I love football,” wrote Ellison. “But I won’t be watching this NFL season because of the unfair cowardly and idiotic kneeling ban. #BoycottNFL.”

Again this is because of the NFL requiring simple respect for the National Anthem.  And that is from the Deputy Chair of the DNC.

Further commentary on my part might be considered impolite by some, and I am trying to be more polite these days.  I really am.

But I will brag that I told you back in September 2016 that disrespect for the National Anthem would become a big problem for the NFL.  If only they listened to me and to the rest of their fan base back then.

Monday, May 28, 2018

R. W. Southern and Two Little Known Tidbits about Robert Grosseteste

I’ve been reading R. W. Southern’s Robert Grosseteste: The Growth of an English Mind in Medieval Europe.  And I have to ask, is there anything Southern wrote that is not excellent?  The vast scholarship of this late great historian combined with his ability to write very readable books from his storehouse of scholarship amazes me.

Having said that, two tidbits about Robert Grosseteste in this book stand out to me, one for its amusement, the second for its encouragement.

The first is a Royal Mandate of June 23rd, 1234 that directed Grosseteste and two other Oxford worthies “to supervise the arrest of all prostitutes in Oxford who had disobeyed a royal order to leave the town.” As Southern put it, the king regarded the three men “as peculiarly qualified for this hopeless task.” (p. 71, 1986 edition)

The second is that Grosseteste’s career was obscure and is not very well documented until he reached about age 55 when he suddenly rose to prominence.  Southern thinks this might have occurred because he was among those who assisted the 15 year old Henry III in getting a papal declaration that he was old enough to rule on his own in 1223.  Henry immediately rewarded those who assisted him. (p. 80, 81)

In any case, being around 55 and still somewhat obscure, I find this aspect of Robert Grosseteste’s career encouraging, although I will never be as brilliant as the man . . . or as R. W. Southern. 

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Southern Baptists Show Us How to . . . Excommunicate?

Actually, the Southern Baptists probably wouldn’t call it excommunication.  “Disfellowshipping” might be the word they would use.  But it’s about the same thing, and the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) just disfellowshiped and expelled the District of Columbia Baptist Convention (DCBC).  (If only the U. S. A. could expel the District of Columbia and suburbs, but I digress.)

DCBC tolerates in its midst a particularly vile congregation, Calvary Baptist Church.  Yes, it is hard to imagine a “Calvary Baptist Church” going whole hog apostate, but it happened.  The SBC had had enough and gave DCBC 90 days to expel Calvary Baptist.  They did not, so DCBC in turn got expelled from the Southern Baptist Convention.

And for that, the SBC is to be commended.  The sad history of mainline Protestantism and of much of Anglicanism is that jurisdictions that fail to exercise church discipline against apostate leaders and congregations eventually become more and more apostate themselves.  Scripture does not warn about how leaven spreads for nothing.  Church discipline, including expulsion, is a sad necessity.

It is easy to forget that the Southern Baptists once were going down the road to apostasy themselves.  Back during my long church search in the late 80’s, I ruled out the Southern Baptists in part because they did not have adequate will power to expel apostates.  Pullen Memorial Baptist Church of Raleigh really stuck in my craw at the time.  And, yes, ruling out Baptists when moving to Texas rules out a lot of options!

Since then, they have become more willing and able to exercise tough love even to the point of expelling congregations and conventions.  Those who reformed the SBC in the last decades of the 20th Century are reviled in “moderate” Baptist circles.  But they are to be thanked for saving the Southern Baptists from becoming another failed mainline Protestant denomination.

I wonder if my Anglican Church in North America has that much backbone.  For the time will come – it always does in this modern fallen world – when it will be necessary to cut off cancers of apostasy.  Will we have the will power so to exercise church discipline?  Or will we use our federal structure as an excuse to tolerate apostasy in our midst – even after seeing the consequences such tolerance had for The Episcopal Church?

Friday, May 25, 2018

A Timely Ember Collect From the Sarum Rite

When I pray the Daily Office, I sometimes supplement it with the collects from the Medieval English Sarum Rite.  The collect for today, Ember Friday, struck me as especially timely (Pearson’s translation from the Latin):

Grant, we beseech Thee, Merciful God, that when Thy Church is gathered together by Thy Holy Spirit, she may in no manner be hurt by the assaults of her enemies.  Through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

I doubt that most who prayed this in Medieval England feared enemies actually breaking into church and attacking those worshipping (although that did happen – ask Thomas Becket and King Henry VI, whose obit was on Monday the 21st).  But in too many areas of the world today, particularly countries like Nigeria with mixed populations of Christians and Muslims, this is a real and present danger.

Let us indeed pray for those who have the courage to worship the Lord and go to church when and where those are dangerous acts.

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.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

The NRSV and the ACNA

On the official Facebook page of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), I have been alarmed to see how many clergy use the NRSV as their main translation of the Bible.  Perhaps I should not be overly alarmed.  I doubt those who answered a question about Bible translations were that representative of ACNA.  At least I hope not.

But it does appear use of the NRSV is more prevalent in ACNA than I had thought.  So now is a good time to remind that it is not an acceptable translation. 

For one thing – and this one thing is enough to disqualify it – it puts gender neutrality above faithfulness in translation even when gender neutrality changes the meaning.  For example, back in 2007, I discovered the following enormity from the NRSV.  Daniel 7:13 is translated:

As I watched in the night visions,
I saw one like a human being
coming with the clouds of heaven.
And he came to the Ancient One
and was presented before him.

Of course, “like a son of man” is much more accurate and of very long standing.  And “son of man” is a messianic term of great import in both the Old and New Testaments.  To neutralize that into “like a human being” is inexcusable and makes one wonder what liberties are taken with the rest of the text.

Yes, NRSV users say there is no perfect translation, etc.  And indeed there isn’t.  But taking such obvious and intentional liberties with the text disqualifies a translation. It is hard to see the point of using the NRSV at all when there are superior, more faithful translations out there.

So why would any ACNA clergy use it as anything more than a supplement?

Friday, May 04, 2018

Francis Schaeffer’s Last Book - The Great Evangelical Disaster

For the first time in decades, I picked up and read my well marked copy of Francis Schaeffer’s The Great Evangelical Disaster this week.  And I noticed more the sadness of it than I did in my callow 20’s.  In both the preface and text, Schaeffer acknowledged his health was failing, and he died a few months after publication in 1984.  This was to be his last book.

I think his health affected the book.  He told in the preface of his hospitalization with a deadline to meet.  With help he made the deadline.  But the result does not seem as well written or as tightly reasoned as his earlier work.

Nonetheless – and this is part of the sadness as well – it is a prophetic work as noted elsewhere.  Most of what he decried in culture and church in the West have only gotten worse.  Perhaps his saddest statement comes early on:

It is a horrible thing for a man like myself to look back and see my country and my culture go down the drain in my own lifetime.

Though younger now than he was then, I can certainly relate.

As for his warnings about the direction of Evangelicals, he may have seemed alarmist at the time.  But the Neo-Evangelicals of today have pretty much proved him right.

Personally, I used to be a happy reader of Christianity Today.  But a few years ago, I cancelled my subscription.  I was gladly active in InterVarsity in my college years.  (By the way, the leader of my chapter at the time was one Mark Dever.)  But with their pushing Black Lives Matter and more, I am thoroughly alienated from them now.  I am thankfully not at that point with evangelicals within ACNA, but I have been disturbed by what I see more than once.  Too much of what I fled when I fled mainline denominations decades ago I now see among evangelicals.  That is one reason I do not refer to myself as evangelical.

Schaeffer’s warnings about American culture have proven too true as well.  Have I mentioned this is not a happy read? 

And, although I revere the man, I concede his last book is probably not his best book.  Nonetheless, it should not be neglected by those who acknowledge the importance of Francis Schaeffer and of his critique of church and culture in the West.  Nor should it be overlooked by those concerned by the current direction of evangelicalism.

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Francis Schaeffer on “Evangelical Accommodation to the Socialistic Mentality”

With its [Neo-Evangelical*] call for justice and compassion it sounds at first like it is the same as, or very close to, what Scripture teaches on justice and compassion. . . . But what they are in fact taking about is “another gospel” . . . with disastrous consequences theologically and in terms of human rights and human life.
Francis Schaeffer, The Great Evangelical Disaster

(*”Neo-Evangelical” is my term, not Dr. Schaeffer’s to my recollection.)

I may write about Schaeffer’s last book, The Great Evangelical Disaster, and may apply the above quote more directly in due time.