Friday, September 28, 2018

Michaelmas Eve in Cambridge

It is Michaelmas Eve in Cambridge, and I am resting more than usual because I am fighting off a small cold. But that’s okay, especially because, like in 2007, I get to experience Michaelmas in Cambridge!
Tomorrow morning is High Mass for Michaelmas at Little St. Mary’s.  Then late afternoon is the first public Evensong at King’s.  This being the beginning of the last academic year of Stephen Cleobury directing the King’s College Choir is a big reason I am here. Once again, I get to have an auspicious Michaelmas.
But first to defeat this cold….

Thursday, September 27, 2018

A church-aided Syrian “refugee,” murder, and an object lesson for ACNA

Out of Vancouver comes a heart-rending and perhaps enraging story.  The oh-so progressive and inclusive St. Andrew's-Wesley United Church to their credit (or discredit) contributed not a little money to import a lovely refugee family.  But that did not have a happy ending:
The 30K/ 30Day project on Bowen Island through St. Andrews- Wesley set out to raise $30,000 to bring Syrian refugee families to Vancouver. They succeeded beyond their wildest expectations. The money they raised paid for Ali’s brother and his family to come to Canada. 
And an extra $15,000 was raised to bring Ibrahim Ali and another brother.
“It would mean they could have a family reunion along with family that is in Burnaby,” was the pitch.
At 1 in the morning, last summer, the body of 13-year-old Marrisa Shen was found in Burnaby’s Central Park. The last sight of her was on the security camera of a Tim Horton’s. After over a year of searching, as her photo in a sailor suit looked out from the TV news, posters and flyers, after hundreds of interviews and tips, the case broke wide open.
St. Andrews- Wesley’s gift to Canada was arrested for her murder. That extra $15,000 had paid for a little girl’s life.

Read more here.  My point in bringing this up is not to address the politics of refugees and immigration, but to present an object lesson the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) must consider.  I do not think ACNA has any churches as sold out to the social justice gospel as St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church.  But there are a few parishes, organizations, and at least a diocese or two in ACNA that are very committed to refugee and immigrant ministry.
Now certainly we should minister to refugees who are refugees indeed and to other immigrants.  But we should not enable wrong behavior such as illegal immigration, deceptive refugee claims, or otherwise taking wrongful advantage of host countries or even preying on them.  If that seems harsh, remember that St. Paul wrote that assistance for widows should go to those who “are widows indeed” and that assistance to the poor should not go to those who are able-bodied but unwilling to work.  Part of his reasoning was to avoid enabling sinful behaviors.
Likewise, we should not enable the sinful conduct of illegals and of faux refugees.  But I fear some ACNA parishes and organizations are not being as careful as they should be.  Someday the result could be as awful as in Vancouver.  And then ACNA would be found to have enabled awful crime.  ACNA could even be found with blood on its hands.
I do not have easy answers to prevent this.  But perhaps the College of Bishops could give firmly worded guidelines and instructions in line with St. Paul’s above instructions about church charity. Some in ACNA may still chose to disregard wise guidelines, but that would then be on them, not on ACNA as a whole.  And any wise steps to avoid enabling can only do good.
But for now, the attitude of much of ACNA towards immigrants and refugees seems not that much different that that of St. Andrew's-Wesley United Church.  If that continues, it will only be a matter of time before a similar awful result.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Remembering the East Yorkshire Regiment in World War I

In the past when I visited English churches, I’ve rarely paid much attention to war memorials. My focus has been much more on older, especially medieval aspects of church buildings.  But with this year being the 100thanniversary of the end of World War I, I am making a point to pay more attention.
So two days ago, I noticed a cenotaph style memorial in a small chapel of Beverly Minster.  Around all sides are the names of those who died in “The Great War” from the East Yorkshire Regiment.  I walked around it and saw all. the. names.  From just one regiment. 
It was overwhelming.  I had to sit down for a few moments to regain my composure.
Us Americans came in late to World War I.  And today we frankly suck at history.  So most of us do not get how devastating WWI was.  But I am at least beginning to get it in recent years.  Being in England certainly assists with that.  I was chatting with some gentlemen in York, and they told me a big reason the term “Lost Generation” came about.  When the English went off to war, they wanted to be together with their buddies and brothers, of course, (And I’ve noticed this desire reflected in some of C. S. Lewis’ letters.) and to a large extent this desire was accommodated. So during some of the worst battles and/or in some of the worst hit regiments, the male youth of whole towns were decimated.
And some of that decimation is documented, name by name, in that memorial in Beverly Minster.

Monday, September 03, 2018

Anglo-Catholics Are That Much More Important Now.

I hope it goes without saying for my good readers that traditional Anglo-Catholics are a vital part of Anglicanism and of the whole church.  With the current crisis in the Roman Catholic Church, they are now that much more important.
(And this is such a weighty subject that I apologize ahead of time that I will be glossing over it.  I also apologize if what I am about to say seems a bit obvious.  Sometimes, however, we need to remind ourselves of the obvious.) 
Anglo-Catholic parishes and jurisdictions have long been havens for those who love traditional catholic worship and orthodox teaching but who for various reasons cannot conscientiously join the Roman Catholic Church.  I count myself among these.  Pusey House, especially, has been a haven for me when in Oxford.  And when anywhere near North Dallas on a Sunday, I can hardly keep myself from visiting Smokey Matt’s.
Without rehashing the sordid details, matters have gotten so awful in the Roman Church that those of a traditional catholic mindset who can no longer abide the Church of Rome will surely increase – and surely are increasing now.  And where will they go except to Anglo-Catholic parishes? Jurisdictions outside of both the Church of Rome and Anglicanism that have traditional catholic worship with which Anglicans and Roman Catholics are familiar are few and far between. Without desiring it to be so and in spite of their ecumenical mindset, Anglo-Catholics have close to a monopoly on non-Roman traditional catholic worship.  (By the way, has anyone addressed why this is so? Perhaps this question would make for a good thesis.)
So traditional Anglo-Catholics who hold to the orthodox catholic faith should know that they are that much more important now.  They should not attempt to poach from the Romans, but they should be that much more committed to letting people know you are there and to being a welcoming haven to those who thirst for catholic faith and worship.
And, frankly, the rest of Anglicanism should know this, too, and be more committed to the genuine flourishing of Anglo-Catholic parishes and jurisdictions.   Anglo-Catholicism is a great gift of Anglicanism to the world and to the church.  Anglo-Catholics live out that one can be a robust catholic outside the Church of Rome and all her enormities.  And now more than ever for the health of the whole church, there needs to be a place for traditional catholics to flourish outside the Roman Catholic Church – especially since the days may be numbered for traditional catholics to flourish inside the Roman Catholic Church.