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.