arts, books other reviews
DESIGNING A NEW WORLD
Victoria and Albert Museum
6 April – 23 July; £9 (concessions £7)
This exhibition covers the rise of this movement after the carnage and disillusionment of the First World War, and follows its development and continuing influence on our world today. It deals with art, architecture, clothes, furniture and performing arts and the social objectives of those involved in the beginning of the movement.
The first proponents of Modernism were fired with a crusading belief that the human condition could be healed and changed by new approaches to art and design. ‘The task of art is not to adorn life, but to organize it.’ The artists, architects and writers saw in Modernism the rejection of the poverty, social inequality and darkness of the past, and the way forward to a new life, where healthy happy people would live in light-filled homes and flats, with labour-saving minimal furniture.
The early pictures and architectural plans in the exhibition are imbued with this idealism. They show complex arrangements of tall buildings, set in wide gardens. There is much use of glass in the early public buildings, seen as letting new illumination into the darkness of the past. There is a model of a Glass Pavilion made in 1915, a fairytale glass dome.
By about 1925, economic conditions had improved and modernism moved from the world of ideas into the world of reality. The advantages of mass production in factories were seen as fundamental to the way the movement would go forward.
Though many of the artefacts were, in fact, handmade or made in small factories and workshops, the idea of cheap, mass-produced, well-designed goods was fundamental to the movement.
Designers were employed as city architects and organizers of international exhibitions; their ideas cross-fertilized each other, giving a new unity and internationalism to the arts. The performing arts were also very important. There are interesting clips of dance sequences, and some of the costumes are on display – strange de-humanizing creations. The performing arts were in the forefront of exploring and expressing Modernist ideas. Charlie Chaplin – the Little Man – was seen as the hero of the proletariat, and a surreal sequence from Modern Times is shown, where he gets trapped in the cogs and wheels of a vast machine. Cinema, theatre, public spaces, cafés, shops – all were influenced by Modernism.
It was, however, the people themselves who would have their lives transformed, and their homes and workplaces were where this would be happening. There is a display kitchen, quite revolutionary in its time, where the actual movements of the housewife had been carefully studied in order to achieve the most labour-saving and practical layout. It looks a little old-fashioned now after eighty years, but one would instantly feel at home. Furniture was pared down and simplified, the design of chairs became starker. Designs for clothes which would do away with the unnecessary constrictions of current fashions are illustrated. They are colourful and stylish, but it is hard to imagine their being widely accepted. One beautiful patchwork man’s suit would certainly have livened up the office, however!
As the movement moved into the Thirties, it began to incorporate nature more into its design. The artefacts became less angular and mass-produced, and stone, brick and especially wood began to replace steel, concrete and glass. Modernism itself began to shed its crusading image and became a style which was adopted in countries with a variety of emerging political systems. The exhibition explores this spread and development with a selection of exhibits from different countries in a variety of photographs.
We are all touched by this movement. It has influenced our homes, our public spaces, our transport systems, our theatres and cinemas. The exhibition draws on a range of images and artefacts to illustrate its influence and chart its history.
AND OTHER CHORAL MUSIC
Epoch, CDLX 7171, £9·99
Ronald Corp occupies an unusual position in being a distinguished conductor who is also a priest. In the realm of music he does sterling work in recording music which is less familiar, notably serving the cause of the neglected output of Sir Arthur Sullivan. (If you have not listened to his recordings of Sullivan’s substantial cantata The Golden Legend and the striking Boer War Te Deum you are missing some fine music. May I press Fr Corp to put us further in his debt by recording Sullivan’s non-Gilbertian opera, Haddon Hall?) However, Ronald Corp also composes, and this CD gives us the opportunity to hear some of his works for the voice directed by their composer.
The first thing to say is that this is music to enjoy. At a time when some composers are still not fully recovered from an obsession with atonality and discord, Fr Corp’s work is established firmly in the English tradition of choral writing which is both rewarding to sing and hear and technically well-grounded. He approaches his task of composition very much as a servant, both of the words which he is setting and of the performers. Most of the music here has been written for specific occasions or locations or choirs, and the seven items which constitute Forever Child are a tribute to a Jewish boy who died at an early age. This commitment to penning music which is in the best sense useful, and not just to professionals, forms an obvious link between him and John Rutter, though in Fr Corp’s music we find none of the over-sweet sentimentality which can disfigure Rutter’s work.
Rutter’s setting of the words May the Lord bless you and keep you is well known, so it is instructive to listen to Corp’s setting of the same text because it illustrates his individual approach to writing. We do not find a ‘catchy tune’ of the Rutter kind; instead we hear a piece with unexpected melodic turnings and spare harmony. Like much of the music on this disk, it does not reveal its full impact on first hearing. The real quality of these works is that they create an impression in sound which continues to resonate in the memory and sends the listener back to them. This is the case whether the music is quiet or lively. Listen to the rollicking setting of When daffodils begin to peer as an example of the latter.
In some of the works recorded here, Fr Corp courageously uses words already set by other composers. It is stimulating to listen to new music for familiar words such as God be in my head or Cory’s They told me, Heraclitus, and compare them with the fine settings by Walford Davies and Stanford respectively. The biggest single item on the disk, Dover Beach, for unaccompanied choir, is highly imaginative and accomplished, and if I feel at the end that the hushed, cool, despondent quality of Matthew Arnold’s great poem evades the composer, I should add that I am not convinced by Samuel Barber’s better known attempt to set these words.
There is more than enough rewarding music here to earn Fr Corp our gratitude. I find him especially satisfying when he is meditative, as in Where go the boats?, Elegy for Himself and On My First Sonne. Choirs seeking unfamiliar Christmas pieces should look at two contrasting carols, the dancing Verbum Patri and the contemplative Lute-Book Lullaby. The disk also contains the Missa San Marco whose Gloria should raise the lowest spirits, with the hushed, radiant Sanctus and Benedictus no less compelling. In the Agnus Dei, Fr Corp has the confidence and insight to achieve the stillness necessary to the text, the point where so many Mass settings fail. This Mass is within the capacity of a good church choir and should be better known.
In short, buy, listen, and then listen again.
Barry A. Orford
THE OLD ENEMIES
Catholic and Protestant in Nineteenth-Century English Culture
CUP, 368pp, hbk
0 521 82810 4, £45·99
The cross-currents of nineteenth century cultural history continue to fascinate, both in themselves and as harbingers of things to come. Although the grand self-confidence of the age was shattered in the First World War, much survived to shape the clash of cultures and political ideologies in the benighted twentieth century.
Michael Wheeler’s cultural battleground, in this highly accomplished survey, witnesses the clash between Catholicism and Protestantism in the English psyche. He employs a wide range of sources and evidences a generous hinterland of literary and artistic references as he charts the cross-pollination of literature, music, architecture (‘The [London Oratory’s] Italian baroque was propagandist, proclaiming Ultramontanism and spurning Puginesque neo-Gothic, which for many Oratorians had overtones of the Oxford Anglicanism from which they had converted’), opera, art, and journalism as the background to the place of Catholicism within the changing face of the culture of nineteenth century England. Too often ecclesiastical history can seem narrowly institutional. Here is a wide screen, a broad canvas which convincingly shows that religious dispute cannot be divorced from its cultural and societal setting. The text is richly and usefully supplemented with excellent illustrations, predominantly cartoons.
Wheeler begins with the restoration of the Roman hierarchy by Pope Pius IX in England in 1850 and the hostile reaction it evoked from the Protestant establishment and more widely. Matters were not helped by Nicholas Wiseman’s pastoral letter ‘From the Flaminian Gate’ which was perceived as triumphalist and aggressive. The trumpet sound of battle was sounded. Yet this move by the Pope was recognition of the changing nature and strength of English Catholicism. In the early nineteenth century it had been a small minority, recusant and Jacobite in complexion; but one that had secured political relief with Catholic Emancipation. Immigration had swelled its numbers by mid-century. The Oxford Movement had aided the development of a catholic ethos: positively by recovering a Catholic sensibility within the Church of England and recovering the sense of continuity with the primitive and the pre-Reformation Church; negatively by dividing the Church of England in factious dispute. As Michael Wheeler shows: ‘By the end of the century the restored English Catholic Church had moved closer to the centre of [national] life, but had retained an identity which had a special appeal to those who felt themselves to be on the margins of late Victorian culture.’
This development is considered through a series of inter-related case studies. He writes about Catholic and Protestant treatments of the early Church and English Reformation history contrasting Macaculay and James Anthony Froude with John Milner and that pre-eminent and most sympathetic Catholic historian John Lingard. He analyses works by Charles Kingsley, Nicholas Wiseman and John Henry Newman dealing with the early Church; and shows through the fiction of Harrison Ainsworth and others how the discipline of history is transmuted through the imagination into popular culture and belief. Similarly he examines responses to nearer contemporaneous events, the Gordon Riots and the 1745 Rebellion.
Almost inevitably John Henry Newman forms part, a large part, of Michael Wheeler’s thesis. Not only is his Arians of the Fourth Century fully considered but his central text An Essay of the Development of Christian Doctrine is thoroughly analysed. Newman is such a significant representative figure, and such a psychologically fascinating personality, fascinating to his contemporaries and with a continuing fascination for us today – he still continues to haunt the Anglo-Catholic imagination – that he can threaten to dominate and over-balance some accounts. He does not do so here, and Michael Wheeler’s comments on Newman’s ideas and feelings relating to his conversion from the Church of England to the Church of Rome and his membership of the Catholic Church (not all plain sailing) are of continued interest and application.
Much of what is written here about the Gorham Judgement and the other causes which bore on the nature and exercise of authority of the Church of England pursued in the course of the Catholic Revival in the Church of England is not new but is presented with freshness and insight. In the present climate they remain central to the Anglo-Catholic cause. Cardinal Casper’s unanswerable critique delivered to the House of Bishops recently can be read as a vindication of the Anglo-Catholic position. But it may prove to be nothing other than one of the finer ironies of history that the moment of our vindication is the moment of the final turning away of the Church of England from its Catholic heritage and its disastrous embrace of the Protestant liberalism: only the haberdashery will remain. It is a final irony that the man who is poised to preside over this debacle is the Archbishop most attuned to Catholic truth.
Papal infallibility and Marian dogma are examined and the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins forms the centrepiece of the chapter ‘Maiden and Mother,’ and excellent it is. There is an especially good chapter on the literary converts to Catholicism at the end of the century and their contribution to the maladie de siècle. There is a sustained analysis of Oscar Wilde’s The Ballad of Reading Gaol, highlighting its essentially Catholic sensibility (Wilde converted to Rome in extremis, after a lifetime’s flirtation) and makes a powerful case for seeing Wilde as a much more complex moral paradigm than mere ‘gay icon’. With Wilde and others, Lionel Johnson, Aubrey Beardsley among them, Michael Wheeler shows that as well as finding a place within the Catholic fold for ‘aesthetic and spiritual solace,’ they ‘could use Catholic language and symbols to intensify their scandalous impact upon a largely middle-class Protestant readership.’ Both Catholicism and Anglo-Catholicism can be seen as counter-cultural phenomena subverting the hegemony of Protestant cultural norms.
As is to be expected, the production of this book by Cambridge University Press is exemplary and justifies the rather steep price.
THE MESSAGE OF ACTS
IN CODEX BEZAE
Volume II: chs.6–12
Josep Rius-Camps &
T&T Clark, 400pp, hbk
0 567 04012 7, [£65]
In the current theological crises of the Church, we know that we ought to be reading the Bible more seriously and more often. The problem is that we already know the text, have done for years, and are almost bored with it: it is genuinely difficult to study the Bible. In such a context, this commentary has proved the most exciting help I have encountered for some time.
Firstly, it tackles the Book of Acts. Being about the growth and development of the New Testament Church, it must be of central importance, and yet it is widely ignored or undervalued because it seems to present a vision of the Church so alien to our contemporary context – all those miracles and long speeches.
Secondly, it does so via one single manuscript, the one that differs most dramatically from the received text, and which offers a more obviously Jewish perspective, written for someone steeped in the Old Testament and the religious culture of Israel, and which therefore has serious claims to be closer to the original.
Be that as it may, the point is to read the text. Because you do not know exactly what is coming next (because you have never read this version before) you find yourself reading the actual words with a heightened attention. To be excited, for example, by the long (and to us, tedious) speech of Stephen to the Sanhedrin, recalling the history of Israel, was an unexpected surprise.
It does not so much matter whether Codex Bezae is ‘right’ in its readings, as that one has to read it in a slightly different way to the standard (essentially Alexandrine) text. Being forced to make judgements about it, and to compare its emphasis with what we read in church, all this gives it an immediacy that draws us into this central piece of early Christian writing.
The two texts, Bezae and Alexandrine, are presented in parallel columns, followed by full critical apparatus (if in doubt ignore this), and then a detailed commentary. I have no doubt that the thoroughness of the scholarship will ensure this remains the standard critical work for at least a century, but my main interest is with the almost-ordinary Christian, a parish priest for example, someone with training but certainly no academic. Is this a commentary for the serious Bible-reading cleric? Yes, for two reasons.
Firstly, it speaks about the text, but does not engage in academic arguments; of course there are footnotes and references, but for so scholarly a work, it is remarkably free of academic in-fighting. Secondly, you are not required to remember what they wrote forty pages ago: each section is complete in itself. This makes it slightly longer, but it allows the non-specialist to pick up the book after a fortnight’s rest and carry on, without loss of concentration. It is not often that academics allow lesser folk to share their work so easily.
Chapter 6 gives us the origin of deacons within the Church. It is clear that the Apostles (still constrained in their Jerusalem perspective) seek only servants to look after the women; it is equally clear that the Holy Spirit has other ideas. Stephen the martyr is in many ways the first true Christian, filled with the Spirit of Christ, unrestricted by an Israelite past, a powerful witness to the Gospel, challenging not only the Sanhedrin (Peter and John did that) but also the centrality of the Temple itself. Philip the deacon is the first to fulfil Christ’s command and take the Gospel beyond Jerusalem. Those who placed the exaggerated emphasis on servant language in the new CW Ordinal should have studied this chapter more closely.
Chapters 8 to 11 are given new life. They chronicle how the early apostles learned from their mistakes, Philip with Simon Magus, Peter with Cornelius, Paul at Damascus. What this commentary manages, better than any other I have read, is to uncover the highly formalized and sophisticated structure of the text and the manner in which the story is told. What seemed to me mere repetition and untidiness is here shown to be rich and multi-layered: I feel slightly ashamed of my earlier low opinion of Luke’s second work.
There is no doubt this is a demanding book, but hugely rewarding. Expensive? It is that as well, especially when you consider the first volume already published, and two further ones to follow. But it will not be superseded in your lifetime, and if you are a parish priest, get your diocesan resources to buy it.
O Books, 176pp, pbk
1 905047 37 1, £5·99
Can a God of love be, at the same time, a sovereign, controlling God? Did Jesus achieve anything objective by his death? Does the Lord offer specific help to the individual believer, beyond offering general guidance as he speaks through the Bible? In addressing these and a total of sixty questions Twyford School chaplain John Morris sets out a contemporary creed forged from a lifetime struggling prayerfully with questions people raise about Christianity.
It is a good read made more interesting by what Professor Moule describes in his Foreword as ‘crisp, epigrammatic and sometimes jocular verse, full of imaginative parable and simile…the expression of a hard-won, ruthlessly honest personal faith’. The poetry is good and makes the book more spacious and digestible.
Morris slants his creed to include how God in Jesus bears pain as well as sin. There is much about how a view of God can be married with the experience of suffering. At the same time the treatment of the atonement – where his poetry comes into its own – dismisses as inadequate the view of Abelard that reduces the Cross to an inspiring example of love to be followed. Morris works hard and imaginatively to fill out the traditional interpretations of salvation.
The author says he offers a middle-of-the-road theology. It is nothing dull. Morris writes with clarity and some striking images: DNA for our spiritual growth with Christ towards God and neighbour, the resurrection likened to a big tree from which we can lop off less credible branches whilst not damaging the vital reality, Michelangelo as image of God’s ongoing creativity and the Big Bang in reverse for how life converged towards intelligence.
Some will take issue with his reserve about divine intervention which in one section extends to a scriptural defence of God helping those who help themselves. The book covers the creed with less to say about the sacraments, commandments, beatitudes, Christian prayer and the Holy Spirit. It is absolutely clear about the divinity of Christ as rooting the Christian story from its outset and being the source of ongoing development of that story as it continues into a third millennium.
John Twisleton is
Chichester diocesan missioner
THE STORY OF THE BIBLE
How it came to us
Henry Wansbrough osb
DLT, 162pp, pbk
0 232 52641 9, £10·95
I am one who has frequently complained that professional biblical scholars appear to write and speak almost entirely for their own inner circle, while there is a shortage of books to inform a wider readership of intelligent and scholarly approaches to the Scriptures. Small wonder the myth flourishes that combining academic biblical study with devotion is almost impossible, and that biblical experts are concerned to undermine Christian faith. Small wonder that naïve and fundamentalist misunderstandings of the Bible are flourishing in an alarming way.
In this most welcome book, Dom Henry Wansbrough, an excellent biblical scholar, provides exactly the sort of introduction to the story of the Bible which is needed in our present situation. From his wide experience as a teacher and lecturer, he knows the simplistic presuppositions which many people bring to speaking about the Bible, be they Christian or non-Christian, young or not so young. On the other hand, he is not blind to the bad name earned for critical biblical scholarship by the unjustified scepticism and negativity found in writers like those of the so-called Jesus Seminar in North America.
Dom Henry sets out to provide his readers with a clear and highly informative account of how the Bible we know came into being. No, it did not fall from heaven in a single volume written in English. Its formation was the work of the Christian community over several hundred years. Yes, there are writings which circulated among early Christians which did not gain access to the canon of Scripture; no, those that survive do not contain hidden treasures comparable with those of the canonical writings. Yes, there is a substantial body of early manuscripts of New Testament writings, some lengthy, some fragmentary, and their study is of importance; no, there were no secret cover-ups of inconvenient writings by a sinister and secret Church cabal. (Even supposed scholars cannot always resist conspiracy theories.)
I will not spoil your enjoyment of this book by paraphrasing more of its contents. The point is that it is written with tremendous zest and with an enthusiasm for, and love of, its subject which is infectious. An enormous amount of information is crammed into a short space – so much so that at times the writing seems almost breathless. That, however, is a small price to pay for a work so useful as this. There is also an abundance of entertainment to be found in the stories surrounding the creation of the Bible and its eventual translation into English. Political intrigue, bureaucratic interference, rows between saints – it’s all here.
There is an excellent section on discriminating between the English translations of the Bible available at present, though I remain unconvinced that the New Revised Standard Version is an acceptable substitute for the RSV. The book concludes with a chapter on the Second Vatican Council and its approach to the Scriptures which reminds us how the Council opened the way for Roman Catholic scholars to study the Bible with both criticism and reverence, yielding impressive fruit in the years following. (Incidentally, why was such a howler as the misprint John XXII instead of John XXIII allowed to occur twice on p.114?) The Council’s decree Dei Verbum concluded with words which cannot be bettered: ‘Just as faithful and frequent reception of the Eucharistic mystery makes the church’s life grow, so we may hope that its spiritual life will receive a new impulse from increased devotion to the word of God, which ‘abides for ever’.’
Like Professor Keith Ward’s book, What the Bible Really Teaches, reviewed recently in New Directions, The Story of the Bible could not be more timely. The distress caused when presentations in the press or on the television claim to have found something which debunks the Bible would be well and truly undermined if faithful church people were familiar with the content of sane and reverent studies like these. My great concern is that even though Professor Ward and Dom Henry have provided us with this material their books may not find their way into the hands of those who should read them, and that too many clergy who call themselves Catholic may continue to undervalue devout yet critical study of Scripture.
ROBERT LINKLATER ssc
Anglo-Catholic History Society, pbk
0 9550714 1 0, £12·50
This is the second in an occasional series from the Anglo-Catholic History Society which brings back to our memory one of those who, in the words of Bishop Geoffrey Rowell’s introduction, offered ‘an heroic ministry’ in the noble cause of the Catholic Revival. He was known particularly for his mission preaching, his writing and as an apologist for the Anglo-Catholic position; and remembered now for his contribution from the perspective of his curate, to Maria Trench’s 1885 biography of Charles Lowder, Vicar of St Peter’s, London Docks and founder of the Society of the Holy Cross (SSC).
Linklater was Irish born, in 1839, and came from both sides of his family of a mercantile background, which had moved by way of banking into the professions. He was brought up in Wapping, where as a boy he was influenced by Fr Lowder and by the ideals of the Catholic Revival. No doubt in imitation of his hero, his sense of vocation was an early one but his taking Holy Orders was opposed by his father, who sent him to an architect’s practice.
However, Linklater’s persistence paid off and he studied at Trinity College, Dublin (a return to his roots) and became a curate at Illingworth near Halifax. A serious rift with his vicar over confession and the Real Presence and a consequent run-in with his evangelical bishop, Bickersteth, who called him a ‘Jesuit in disguise’ and, insult of insults, a ‘Puseyite,’ meant that he was not ordained to the priesthood until 1865, after he had left the parish and diocese. After a spell as the private chaplain to Peter Richard Hoare and then Henry Hoare, of the banking family, at Kelsey Hall, he began eleven years at St Peter’s, London Docks, returning to home base at Wapping.
Although it is familiar enough, it is good to have in this book his description of the parish under Fr Lowder extensively quoted. His prose has a heightened resonance that is unfamiliar today: ‘God only in heaven knows the awful poverty and suffering that beneath His pitying gaze is bravely borne by thousands and thousands of our unhappy brothers and sisters in these dark corners of our land.’ We see the detailed programme of work and worship undertaken by the clergy, not least the importance of visiting; not always congenial, even then there was a ‘fashion…to disparage visiting’ which Linklater thought valuable even if ‘it requires an immense effort to make the start.’ Fr Lowder emerges as the heroic figure, one of the ‘giants in the land’ that seem too often scorned nowadays in this markedly un-heroic age even within the Anglo-Catholic citadel.
Linklater was a ritualist but no papalist and it may have been that his anti-papalism was buttressed by the conversion of three of Fr Lowder’s curates to Rome. But he certainly learned his ritual and ceremonial trade at St Peter’s, and opposed the Public Worship Regulation Act, that stain on the statute book, and was able to implement ritual and ceremonial practices at Stroud Green where he was preferred by William Gladstone. He went there after a brief and unsuccessful flirtation with the Cowley Fathers in Oxford. Having failed to be accepted, he fled to Hawarden where he assisted Gladstone’s son. From there he preceded Fr Dolling at St Agatha’s, Landport and laid a foundation on which Dolling was to build his immensely successful and sacrificial ministry.
Gladstone sent him to a decidedly evangelical parish at Stroud Green and the appointment was not welcomed and caused something of a furore. Peter Marr leads us through this labyrinthine squabble with some aplomb. It was Gladstone’s last ecclesiastical appointment in 1885 before his government fell from office. Despite the opposition, or perhaps because of it, Linklater, after a fairly disjointed career, stayed for twenty-five years. They were not without some turbulence and he had a running battle with Mr Alfred Tubbs who consistently objected to every liturgical and ceremonial innovation. Nevertheless he won through and retired, a battle fought, a victory won.
Peter Marr and the Anglo-Catholic History Society have done precisely what such a society should do. They have rescued an important, representative figure from the shadows and given him a period in the light.
Women in the Episcopate
Affirming Catholicism – The Journal
Edited by James Rigney
ISSN 1468-9413, 170pp, £5·95
I must, of course, declare an interest. But as the editor of Consecrated Women?, with which this volume (according to its Introduction) seeks critically to engage, I must also confess to a measure of disappointment. Consecrated Women? is, in fact, only mentioned once: by Charlotte Methuen, in her discussion of Romans 16.7 and Junia/Junias, in which she declares that our preference of the RSV over the NRSV translation of that verse to be ‘doubly inept.’ Ouch. All I can say (m’lud) in my defence is that every single New Testament scholar with whom I have conferred has stated that it is virtually impossible to determine a definitive translation of the verse in question. But – as I hope CW? makes clear – it is the very ambiguity about rendering Romans 16.7 into accurate modern English which begs the question: is the (disputed) exegesis of a single text sufficient grounds on which the Church of England can depart from the male apostolic ministry of the universal Church?
Jane Shaw raises many of the important questions in the first chapter of this collection; again, the disappointment is that the rest of the book fails seriously to engage with them. Does ‘Anglo-Catholic’ (and, presumably, Roman Catholic) theology place ‘too much weight on Christ’s maleness,’ as Shaw suggests? A really helpful chapter in this book would have been a discussion, from a liberal catholic perspective, of the scriptural language of Fatherhood and Sonship, and of the fulfilment in Christ of the Old Testament meta-narrative of male kenosis: it isn’t there. Shaw quotes, intriguingly, an observation (unsourced) from Lucy Winkett about the relative contribution of Christology and Trinitarian theology to a theology of the Episcopate – but there is no article by Winkett to develop this interesting idea.
Barry Norris appeals to John Zizioulas for help in arguing that because an ecclesial community intends to ordain, therefore all its ordinations are ‘valid’ (a word Norris dislikes). There is much of this sort of argument in the Guildford-Gloucester report [GS Misc 826]. Norris states that the Canons of the Church of England ‘assert the provincial autonomy of that Church within the universal Church.’ It seems strange that this should be the court-of-appeal for an organization calling itself Affirming Catholicism, and stranger still that, with such an approach to Anglican ecclesiology, a further development of provincial arrangements ‘within the universal Church’ should be such an anathema.
Charlotte Methuen similarly appeals to an ecclesiology of the national Church, quoting William Wake’s encouragement to the French Church in the eighteenth century to ‘throw off the Pope’s pretensions.’ Against the background of ARCIC’s patient work in discerning the gift to the whole Church which the universal pastorate of the Bishop of Rome might offer, this celebration of Christian community defined by the boundaries of the nation state simply feels parochial and out-of-date.
John Wijngaards, representing the Roman Catholic Church, presents the reader with a kind of ‘Morton’s Fork’: either Roman Catholic theologians do not really agree with the magisterium, or, if they do, it is because they are prisoners of the ‘rigid, masculine, patriarchal system of control.’ With this sort of polemic there can be no real engagement. Equally difficult to engage with is Mark Chapman’s implication that the traditionalist ‘community’ in the Church of England is a tiny and diminishing fragment of the whole. There are lies, damned lies and statistics – but has he been to a Walsingham Youth Pilgrimage, or to a parish under the extended Episcopal care of the Bishop of Ebbsfleet where a well-run Alpha course is forming new Christians; has he noted that the youngest member of the General Synod is a woman opposed to the ordination of women? Whatever the nature of the argument, it really cannot be conducted around anecdote and hearsay: much more is at stake.
The best article in the collection is also the oldest. Jonathan Sedgewick, in his essay ‘Why Women Priests?’ first published fifteen years ago, invites discussion and reflection about the big questions, and makes those of us who take a different line work hard to engage with his understanding of issues of iconography and sacramental symbolism. There is, as thoughtful proponents and opponents of women’s ordination have both long accepted, a real debate to be had here. But to repeat a point I made earlier: considering that this collection is the work of writers who claim to affirm Catholicism, one looks in vain for a real vision of the wholeness and fullness of the Tradition, still less for the pursuit of the unity of Christ’s Church as a primary (and missionary) objective for faithful Anglicans.
Canterbury, 120pp, pbk
1 85311 687 4, £8·99
As you know we have a fondness at ND for self-published books, that are slightly mad, obsessive, original, that show their lack of editing but also convey their enthusiasm. Here is one such that has been neutralized by a mainstream publisher. It is odd, but not without charm.
What Goode intended to do was to present a selection of prayers and preparation for the Sacrament from the Anglican divines of the seventeenth century, Lancelot Andrewes, William Laud, Thomas Ken, Jeremy Taylor and, perhaps less well known, Bishops Brian Duppa, Simon Patrick and Thomas Wilson. The intensity and seriousness of their preparations for communion is well worth commending: deep devotion to the sacrament in the Church of England was not an Anglo-Catholic invention.
To pad it out into a book, there are extra prayers from the ‘pre-Reformation’ period, about which he knows rather less, ascribing the Anima Christi to Ignatius of Loyola, who was neither the author nor pre-Reformation; as well (this is bizarre) potted biographies not only of the seventeenth century worthies, which is eminently sensible, but also of Augustine, on the basis perhaps that he is quoted in the introduction, and Gregory the Great, whom he probably intended to quote but then did not.
My guess is that the author came along with an idea based on his own enthusiasm and knowledge. ‘That won’t sell,’ thought the editor; ‘we must widen the scope, make it more general/popular.’ If that was so, this is how not to do it! Poor lad: authors need editors; but it does not always work out to their advantage.
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