Sunday, September 30, 2007


Saturday was Michaelmas. Friday I walked down a narrow lane by the hotel and found it led right past Little St. Mary’s church. And I read a notice that they were having High Mass for Michaelmas at 10am.

So I went, and I am glad I did so. The service was wonderful. I knew from my visit almost two years ago that they knew how to worship, but it was even better than I expected, with Michaelmas hymns, too! Yes, there is a such a thing.

Adding to the glory of it were the occasional sunbeams shining across the sanctuary through the incense.

Not being able to receive the Holy Sacrament (See my 9-21 post.) added a little melancholy, but made me pray that much harder for unity amongst orthodox Anglicans. I prayed one day I would be able to take communion here once again.

I’m glad Little St. Mary’s had High Mass on Michaelmas. That way I could have my Little St. Mary’s and King’s College, too, without missing a service this weekend at King’s.

In the evening was the first public choral service at King’s this term, an Evensong. (They had a private service marking the beginning of term Friday night. And, yes, Cambridge begins their Michaelmas term a week earlier than Oxford.) I have very much looked forward to this service as those who know me would easily imagine.

And the choir sounded great, better I think than even two years ago. I think the choir is younger than two years ago. That may be why it sounds better to me. There was an older boy two years ago who was the star, and deservedly so, but who had a style that IMHO was slightly out of synch with the traditional King’s College sound. And that affected the sound of the whole choir. They were excellent, of course, but not that pure King’s sound I prefer. Now, they sound more like King’s College to me.

Anyway, as you can probably guess, this was the most special Michaelmas I’ve ever had.
Random Weekend in Cambridge Thread

I’m on a three hour bus ride to Cambridge (Yes, it takes that long. Yes, it’s ridiculous.) mainly to study the windows at Kings College and to enjoy the first choral services of the term there.

So I thought I’d catch up on some random thoughts. I don’t know when I’ll get around to posting them though.


Jan Morris, in her book Oxford, wrote of a malaise in the atmosphere of the town that drags the spirit down or at least makes it complacent. I looked askance when I read that back in Texas. But now I think I know what’s she was talking about.

For I’ve had a couple bouts of malaise, even mild depression. I don’t quite know why. Maybe it is something in the air in Oxford. Or that the pleasant weather and long days are quickly becoming unpleasant and short.

I’ve even been mildly homesick a couple times. I haven’t been homesick since I was a little kid! That this is by far the longest I’ve been away from home since college is probably part of it. That I miss my friendships back home is surely another.

It’s strange. I’ve reminded myself that I’m in an awesome situation. I should be happy! And lately I have been. I’m in good spirits now. But I’ve certainly experienced some of that Oxford malaise.


I’m always content in the Oxford University libraries, however. Yes, I’m strange. But they are also amazing. You wouldn’t believe what they have just on the open shelves. The surroundings also inspire one to read.

I’m glad the lecture part of the semester is over so I can spend more time reading and exploring in the libraries. Sitting and listening is not the best or most enjoyable way for me to learn anyway.


I’m in Cambridge now. One difference between Oxford and Cambridge: in Cambridge, you can get a hotel room in the middle of town, look out your window . . . and see cows.

In fact, after a pint (ONE pint mind you, with food) across this path through their pasture, I had conversation with them on the way back. Very therapeutic.


By the way, I probably won’t post this until I get back in Oxford Sunday night. The internet charges are so ridiculous where I’m staying, I thought it best to just fast from the net. I’m dedicating my fast to prayer for the Common Cause bishops meeting (even though it will probably be over by the time I’m back in touch with the Anglican world).


With Labour well ahead in the polls, there may be a parliamentary election called while I’m here. Fun, fun!

But not so fun for the Conservatives. Their leader David Cameron is, well, a loser. He doesn’t really give any reason to vote for him, either in his personage or his issues. If I were a Brit, about the only reason I’d vote Conservative is that they aren’t Labour.

The Conservatives certainly aren’t the party of Maggie Thatcher anymore. And Labour PM Brown shrewdly played on that by having her pay a high profile visit to 10 Downing Street recently.

I wonder if The Monster Raving Looney Party is still around.


On the bus back to Oxford now. Except for noise issues at my hotel, it was a great weekend. I hope to have a post or two up about it soon.

But I wish it wasn’t such a long bus trip back. I want to get back online and catch up with people! Besides, I still don’t know anything about how the Common Cause bishops meeting came out.


Back. And dead tired.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

BREAKING (or not): Bishops of West Texas Sit on Fence

The TEC bishops of West Texas have issued their response to the House of Bishops meeting and statement. It can be found here. The money passages:

. . . the response we made on Tuesday was less than the two of us had hoped for, but more than we had expected after our discussions on Monday. Despite our reservations about the final document, a careful reading shows we did go further than the Bishops were able to go in March. Is it far enough? Is our response adequate? As many have stated, we should know that in the very near future when the Archbishop of Canterbury, in consultation with the Primates and the Joint Standing Committee, offer their response to our response.

So before I make a real response to TEC’s response, I’ll wait for Rowan’s response to TEC’s response. Then I’ll think more about my response to TEC’s and Rowan’s response before making a full response.

Fifth, some have asked why the Windsor Bishops have not issued a minority report. After various conversations, we decided to wait for the response to this statement from those who asked the questions. Over the past several years, the Windsor group has met numerous times. We have issued signed statements, minority reports, principles, etc. and the prevailing view is simply to hear the response to our response.

See above.

That, my friends, is some serious fence-sitting.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

An Appropriate Collect

The 1662 BCP collect for this week is very timely.

O Lord, we beseech thee, let thy continual pity cleanse and defend thy Church; and, because it cannot continue in safety without thy succour, preserve it evermore by thy help and goodness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Amen indeed.

If you think the craze for relics is just a medieval thing, think again!
My Thoughts on U. S. Anglican Doings

Going into the TEC House of Bishops meeting, which just ended, and the Common Cause College of Bishops meeting, which just began, I felt it was necessary for Common Cause to unite into a new province, if necessarily with a federal structure. And I was convinced that the Episcopal Church is no place for the orthodox.

That much hasn’t changed. But the events in the TEC HOB meeting gave me two negative surprises which have hardened my views even further if you can imagine that.

1. As I mentioned a few days ago, Rowan Williams’ clarity on his attitude toward distressed North American Anglicans and those new bishops shepherding them shocked me. His stated solution to those who can’t stay in the Episcopal Church is . . . to stay in the Episcopal Church and not come under those “illicit bishops” outside TEC.

2. It’s hard to know for sure. But so far it seems the tripe passed by the TEC HOB received only one no vote. In a way I’m glad if this is so. It speaks volumes on the spinelessness of those so-called Windsor bishops who are dead set on remaining in the Episcopal Church.

These two factors make it even clearer, if that’s possible, that there is no safe place for the orthodox in the Episcopal Church. And forget about Rowan coming to the rescue. Please. Frankly my sympathy for the arguments of those who want to stay in, especially the Windsor bishops, is wearing thin.

So I will continue to pray and pray hard for the Common Cause meeting. I don’t want to think about the consequences if they fail to make significant progress toward forming a new orthodox Anglican province.

Lord have mercy upon us.
Christ have mercy upon us.
Lord have mercy upon us.

A hat tip to Baby Blue for this update:
The New York Times confirms only one bishop voiced a “no” vote.

Sunday, September 23, 2007


The Eucharist Friday night at Christ Church was wonderful. The choir sang Byrd’s Mass for Four Voices. And the timing of two things made it just that much more special for me.

Remember when I mentioned how nice it was when the low West sun shone into the nave where the choir was singing during an Evensong? Well, right at they were singing “Amen” to the Gloria, the sun came out and shone into the singing choir.

Later, right was I was kneeling down to take the Holy Sacrament, the choir began singing Agnus Dei. If you’ve heard the beginning of the Agnus Dei in Byrd’s Mass for Four Voices, you know how perfect that is.

Needless to say, I was moved.

And, again, I’m glad what may be my last time to take communion in the U. K. was a particularly special one.

By the way, they sang Mass for Four Voices again this morning. But being unable to take communion made it just not the same for me. I was even a bit depressed afterward.

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Last Straw

For most of his tenure as Archbishop of Canterbury, I’ve respected, even to some extent trusted Rowan Williams.

No more.

Yes, though I’ve been quiet about it, I’ve been watching Anglican developments back in the U. S. And in the press conference today in New Orleans, Rowan Williams completely lost any right to be trusted by orthodox Anglicans.

The whole thing is appalling, including his spinning the Tanzania Communique as just a “place to start.” But the following is what is the last straw for me.

Q: What would you say to those who want to be Anglican but cannot in good conscience remain Episcopalian?

ABC: Start by looking for arrangements and situations within what is there because grace is given through even hopeless places. Isn’t God’s grace still given sacramentally in the Episcopal Church? I would be slow to look for solutions elsewhere.

In other words, if you in good conscience can’t remain Episcopalian, then . . . remain Episcopalian.

Thanks a lot, Rowan. Really helpful there.

And this (The emphasis is mine.):

Q: There have been interventions throughout the Episcopal Church Does this trouble you?

ABC: yes, there is a long history of unease about this in the Church. I would really, really prefer and hope to work for a local solution. My predecessor would not recognize illicit bishops I find myself in the same difficulty. More interventions make it difficult to find viable solutions.

“Illicit bishops”?!? That’s what he calls new bishops seeking to provide relief to the orthodox. Instead of giving them the respect and position they merit, he insults them.

Has he called anything The Episcopal Church or any other apostates have done “illicit”?

He has shown today that he doesn’t give a damn about distressed North American Anglicans.

That’s it for me.

I once desired to be in full communion with Canterbury. Now I don’t even know if I can take communion again in the U. K., even from a staunchly orthodox parish. I took communion tonight at Christ Church before I read about this press conference. I’m glad it was an excellent service (which I’ll probably post on), because I probably will not be able to take communion there or anywhere in any church in full communion with Canterbury again.

I hope against hope I can one day without reservation.

But I’m not holding my breath. Bring on a new orthodox Anglican Communion.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Ferris B Wannabe Anglican’s Day Off

I really needed a break. Two lectures a day, four days a week is too much for me. So Monday I was naughty, skipped lectures and took the trains to Salisbury Cathedral.

I took the Tower Tour and highly recommend it. In addition to climbing part way up the tallest medieval spire ever built, you see a lot of the innards of the cathedral.

Looking at those innards, I was amazed at the workmanship of the 13th Century builders. Most of their beams remain, and many of their wooden pegs. (They didn’t use metal nails.)

When you consider how quickly the cathedral was built by medieval standards and how huge the tower is . . . like I said, it’s amazing. And Salisbury hasn’t had near the problems with towers collapsing and foundations sinking like Winchester and other cathedrals.


By the way, one of the nice things about England is you can use public transport to get almost anywhere. The downside: it may take forever. Even with trains on time, it’s two hours between Oxford and Salisbury. Late next week, I plan to go to Cambridge. That will be three hours by bus. So I understand British complaints about their transport.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Book of the Day

Guess what book I bought today.

The title:
An Universal History ofChristian 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.

Yes, this won’t be found on most Catholic reading lists. But it’s an illustrated 1837 edition for a decent price. So I bought it.

Do you know the short title of what I bought?
“Too Many Notes” (and too much other stuff) at Mary Mags

We look back and smile at monarchs who complained of music that had “too many notes.” And few follow the dictum of Thomas Cranmer for church music:

In my opinion, the song that shall be made thereunto would not be full of notes, but, as far as may be, for every syllable a note.

But while attending Mary Magdalen for High Mass this morning, I found myself thinking Cranmer had a point. For multiple times, I found it impossible to sing various parts of the service along with the congregation because the music was so complex that even with the notes in front of me I couldn’t sing it. They made even “Alleluia” difficult. I’m not kidding.

And a big part of the problem was a constant bombard of syllables with two or three notes. Often, the notes seemed random -- I couldn’t see or hear any pattern.

It really was a hindrance to worship. I’m sure a regular gets used to it, just like I got used to the music at my home parish. But still.

The service had some other weirdness that put me off. The intercessions included prayers for Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth. Now Greenpeace I can actually handle though I think it inappropriate. But at Friends of the Earth, I stopped kneeling. I haven’t heard of them in years. But I long ago called them “Fiends of the Earth.”

And during the distribution, not only was a lady deacon presiding over a side altar, an unvested woman (Heck she didn’t even look dressed for church, period.) was handling the cup. The male celebrant doesn’t get off easy either. Though standing on the West side of the altar, he faced the congregation during the Sursum Corda. I’ve never seen that and was taken aback. If you’re going to face the congregation, then get behind the table. Don’t turn your back on the altar.

Yes, I find that irreverent. I guess I’m getting to be a nitpicky Anglo-Catholic. But it is really strange that they have incense and the Angelus, and apergages (or however you spell it) etc. etc. then do inappropriate stuff like that.

There was more that told me something wasn’t quite right. I thought about leaving early I was so uncomfortable. And no, I didn’t go forward to receive even though I intended to at the beginning of the service.

Yes, I can be a real stick in the mud. I don’t like being that way or being pushed to be that way.

Well, I can’t say I wasn’t warned. I knew Mary Mags was very Anglo-Cath. But I’d been warned somewhere that it was a bit weird. And it was.


On a more positive note, lots more pictures are up. Some of them are really nice if I may say so myself.
Hallelujah for Christ Church!

Yes, I know. I haven’t been posting much. So I figured I’d let you all know I’m having a good time. And my studies are going well. Heck, my first draft of my big paper is almost done.

But a lot of my experience is the sort of thing where you have to be there. A blog entry so fails to capture it that it often seems pointless to post.

Having said that, Christ Church had an Open Day yesterday, and it was excellent. If you happen to be in Oxford when they do this, you must go. They had parts of the college open that are normally off limits, such as the cathedral gardens and the Upper Library with tons of OLD books. (For those who are confused, Christ Church Oxford is both a college and a cathedral.)

And it was spectacular weather. It was crowded, but that’s to be expected.

Speaking of crowds, Evensong was packed out. I was directed to this odd seat in the ambulatory behind a column but behind the choir as well. So it was actually a good seat with an unusual view. In fact, I was just below and behind the choir director’s seat.

The choir played to the crowd somewhat by doing the Hallelujah Chorus. It was excellent. It got me pumped! And, yes, the boys actually did hit those very high notes well. I was wondering if they were able to do that.

I ended up spending most of the day at Christ Church. It was a great Open Day that left me happy.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Happy Boys at Winchester College

Yesterday, I took a detour from an academic field trip to Winchester Cathedral to tour Winchester College. (Don’t let the name confuse you. It’s what us Americans would call a private school for boys 13-18. Centuries ago, it was for boys about 8-13.) It was founded by William of Wykeham in the late 14th century and served as a feeder school to New College, Oxford, which he also founded.

Since school is in session, it was a guided tour. But the guide’s information was most interesting, particularly the following. And I know of some boys that would find the following interesting as well.

In times past, the water was not good to drink. The solution? Beer. The boys had a ration of 3 1/2 pints of beer a day. Now it was weakish beer, but still. The school even had its own brewery.

The boys didn’t stop getting their beer until 1902.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Notes from Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford

I’ve gone to several choral services at Christ Church Cathedral already. Some random observations:

It’s nice to have a new bishop who has a reputation for being orthodox very much unlike the last one. Not Spong-burning more-orthodox-than-thou like myself, but orthodox.

I don’t know how much this has affected the running of the cathedral yet. But it was nice to hear a good orthodox sermon on Sunday. And it’s nice to be able to take communion there with a good conscience. I couldn’t do that two years ago.


The choristers are very young. Yes, yes, they’re supposed to be boys whose voices are not yet ravaged by puberty, but I mean this choir looks young even by Oxbridge choral foundation standards. It wouldn’t surprise me if only one (or none?) of the twelve choristers is age 12 yet. And two or three of them look very young and hesitant to sing.

I suspect the choir lost a number of boys over the summer and is rebuilding. They still sound great at times. But at the beginning of their term, they don’t sound perfect yet, which is to be expected.


This time of year, the sun is still up during Evensong. And it adds beauty to the service.

With the unusual arrangement of the cathedral, the choir screen is not far from the west glass door. So on two sunny evenings, the choir has recessed into light at the end of the service. It’s a nice sight.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Aspirin . . .

. . . is a controlled substance in the U. K. If you want some here, you have to get it over the counter.

I was told it’s because [omitted because I don’t want to give anyone bad ideas].

I just found that out today while looking for aspirin.

Yes, I’m having health issues again. This time it’s nasal allergies. Yes, I’m having trouble staying well for any length of time, and it’s getting old.

Often, my allergies will wear me down so that I get sick in some other way. So prayers would be appreciated.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

How Appropriate

When I did a search at Amazon for “bad theologians” for purposes of the integral essay mentioned yesterday, a pre-order offer for the next Joel Osteen book came up.
Guess what tonight is?

Tonight (Thursday) is when the Cathedral Choir of Christ Church returns to singing services.

Yes, they begin singing for the autumn well before the other Oxford choral foundations since 1. Christ Church is a cathedral, not only a college, 2. The choristers are back to school at their Cathedral School across the street from Christ Church.

6pm, Christ Church Cathedral. I am so there.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

A Fun Topic

I have to admit I was a bit overwhelmed at times with the start of the CMRS program. But now that I have the perimeters nailed down, I’m feeling confident.

One of the perimeters is that my main assignment for my current integral course will be an essay of just under 4000 words on a subject selected from a list of topics.

The topic I’ve chosen? “Which did more harm to medieval Christendom: prelates or theologians?”

The Senior Tutor confided that he had hoped I would choose that one. In the past, the topic was who did the most good, but he decided to have more fun with it and changed the topic accordingly.

I’m almost certain that I’ll write that the prelates did more harm. But I would enjoy hearing what my good readers think on this vital question.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

A Very Full Day

Well, someone must have prayed because I had plenty of energy today. And it came in handy.

After brief said Matins at Mary Mags, I went with the rest of the CMRS students on an academic field trip to Gloucester Cathedral and Berkeley Castle. And they were ringing those bells at Gloucester.

The two are an interesting combination. For King Edward II was murdered in the castle, and his shrine is in the cathedral.

Back in Oxford at the end of the trip, I stepped into the Whitehorse Pub where one of my professors happened to be having a pint. So we enjoyed pints together. He had very helpful advice about the local beers and pubs, too.

He gave an interesting historical tidbit as well. Since many monasteries through the centuries have made excellent beers, I had thought that Henry VIII’s dissolution of them harmed the state of beer in England. But my prof said not so, that many monks when deprived of their status went into . . . brewing!

After we finished our pints, I went over to the Blessing of the St. Giles Fair, the Bishop of Oxford presiding.

It was a hoot hearing traditional hymns played by a carrousel organ.

UPDATE: As you see, the photos are now up. There are more of them here.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

I like church bells . . .

. . . and they are ringing up a storm in Oxford this afternoon. In fact, they are starting up again as I’m about to post this.

I think it’s because it’s St. Giles Day, which is actually an important holiday here. There’ll be a big fair Monday and Tuesday.

Anyway, good strong church bell ringing charges me up and calms me at the same time. I know that sounds contradictory, but that’s what it does for me.


Separately, I’ve been a bit worn out. That’s why my posting has slowed down.