Saturday, October 31, 2009

Reformation Day

The last Sunday in October is Reformation Day.

For all the reformers, doctors, martyrs, theologians, parish priests, soldiers and friends of Christ who rescued his Holy Church from error, wickedness, and compromise.

Let us praise the Lord.

Great Captain, lead your fighting church to war! Arm us with the weapons of the gospel to defend the holy ground our fathers contended for. Stamp out the spirit of compromise, and keep us from yielding even the least particle of faith that was once entrusted to the saints. Be our mighty Fortress to protect us from the devil. As the clouds of evil darken and the stress of the last times increases, give us a double portion of the martyr-spirit, that we may be bold and steadfast in battle and appear at last before your throne with fearless hearts....

What is the nicest thing

about listening to Anglican Catholics talk?

No split infinitives.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Thin end of the wedge

It amused me to see this cartoon today at Fr. Finigan's--it is familar to me from my 19th Century History course, and shows Pius IX prying open the door of the Church of England with his brand new restored Catholic hierarchy. (c1850)

We welcomed the announcement of reunion with Rome a few days ago. But listening to the Anglo-Catholic Forward in Faith Assembly, we are prey to different feelings, as it seems the shell-shocked Anglican catholics present are.

The reaction of several (not all) of our Roman Catholic friends reminds us exactly how raw our history is.

Is the best we can do "Yay, we'll get our buildings back now?" or "Finally, the Church of Henry's Hormones is returning?"

This moment is profoundly sad. We are seeing a massive pastoral failure on the part of official Anglicanism, comparable to the Methodist schism (albeit on the other wing). We are driving out those catholic Anglicans who have always had an honoured place in our Church, since the days of Henry VIII, in so many ways the first of them.

The dream of corporate reunion nurtured by +Ramsey is dead, and has been since 1992.

That too is profoundly sad--we're talking about now picking up the mess.

Whither now the Church of England?

I would like to think that generous conscience provisions (preferably a Third Province) will leave in most of the Anglo-Catholics, and that the rest of the Church can coalesce around the Articles of Religion, and Anglicanism's historical reformed and catholic identity.

I would like to think that.

I don't.

Which leaves the question.....
What does this mean now?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Anglican Catholic reunion?

The Anglican world is buzzing with news of the Apostolic Constitution, which will allow Anglo-Catholic Anglicans to come over to Rome, bringing with them their liturgical traditions--in essence, conversion without letting goods and kindred go.

On one level, I am pleased about this development. It will give those Anglicans who are functionally Roman already somewhere to go, and safe space to sing the Salve Regina in peace.

But wild predictions of whole-sale conversions are unlikely to be fulfilled, not least because, although the cultural obstacles to reunion are now overcome (or might be), the doctrinal ones remain.

Is the Pope infallible?

Is the Church of Rome the true Church of Jesus Christ?

Do we now accept the Roman definition of the Real Presence?

Is Salvation by Faith alone?

Assumption, Immaculate Conception, Perpetual Virginity of Mary?

Veneration of relics?


Latinisation of our most cherished and sacred formularies and traditions, the Prayer Book not excepted?

There will be some ready to do the Vatican Rag on these and other subjects--the Dom Gregory Dix school of thought, for whom Dr. Swift has a sneaking sympathy.

There will be many others who will not budge an inch.

Even some who might be attracted by Rome will stumble at re-ordination, clerical marriage, a hostile and liberal hierarchy, and all the other slips twixt cup and lip.

Let those who must go, go, with the blessing of the Lord.

And let those of us who stay pray even harder for the redemption of our Church, and the grace to maintain Christ's Truth.

O Gracious Father, we humbly beseech Thee for Thy Holy Catholic Church; that Thou wouldest be pleased to fill it with all truth in all peace. Where it is corrupt, purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in anything it is amiss, reform it.

Where it is right, establish it; where it is in want, provide for it; where it is divided and rent asunder, make up the breaches of it, O Thou Holy One of Israel; for the sake of Him who died and rose again, and ever liveth to make intercession for us, Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord.


Bl William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Martyr.

Take it away lads, let them hear you!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Quote of the Week

"We have returned to the Apostles and the old Catholic Fathers. We have planted no new religion but only preserved the old that was undoubtedly founded and used by the Apostles of Christ and other holy Fathers of the Primitive Church."

John Jewel, Lord Bishop of Salisbury. "Apologia for the Church of England" 1562.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


It has been announced from the Vatican today that the Pope has offered corporate renunion to traditionally minded Anglicans. Details are here in Vatican-speak, the simple version is here.

The Pope has been hugely generous--praised be God for a brave German.

Married clergy

Anglican bishops in union with Rome

Book of Common Prayer (corrected in a more Catholic direction)

The English Hymnal

Anglican Chant

It's all allowed, and encouraged.

This might be the biggest step forward for Church Unity since Michael Ramsey went to Rome.

An English Catholic Church--a real one.

The cultural obstacles to reunion with Rome removed.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

St Luke's Day

Sunday was a High Feast, the feast of St. Luke the Physician. Author of Dr. Swift's favourite gospel, and an all-round steady and steadfast support and prop. He can be summed up in the words of the epistle reading for Sunday:

Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world...Cresens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia...only Luke is with me.

I've always thought of Luke as one of those very rare, but real people who can heal by their very presence, and without saying a word. You can hear it in his gospel.

I wonder if he is praying for Spain?

He hath brought down rulers from their thrones, but has lifted up the humble...

And they met a widow at the gate, weeping.....

And Zaccheus, being little of stature, wished to see Jesus....

And they said, "This man receives sinners, and eats with them...."

Luke, like his Master, has an eye for the weak, the broken, and the little.

Almighty God, who didst inspire thy servant Luke the physician to set forth in the Gospel the love and healing power of thy Son:

Graciously continue in thy Church the like love and power to heal, to the praise and glory of thy Name; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Collect for the Feast of Saint Luke (BCP)


1.2 million people have turned out on the streets of Madrid to protest an attempt to liberalise Spain's relatively sane and sensible abortion law.

Inasmuch as Spain's Socialist Party is an assemblage of angry activists still bent on making Holy Church pay for Franco, we are not suprised at the reaction of "Equality Minister" Bibiana Aido.

Equality Minister Bibiana Aido, who pushed the reforms, said she had "total respect" for the protesters, but added that "nobody has a monopoly on morality."

"No woman can be penalized for taking such a difficult decision as that of abortion," she told AFP.

Equality, it seems, only applies if you're born.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Modern Dictionary II


"This government is moderate and pragmatic..."

Real meaning: I agree with the majority of the poll I just had my spin doctors do.

Carbon Neutral

"By 2012 the Hole Punch and Post-it Note Marketing Board will be Carbon Neutral...."

Real Meaning: None. Meaningless phrase used to assert superior liberal credentials (cf tolerant, bigot...)

Carbon Foot-print

"The Stapler Counting Division in the Ministry of Social Development is reducing our carbon footprint..."

Real Meaning: Religious totem replacing Sacrament of Penance (cf Inclusive, Puritanism (displaced))


1. "We must do something about child abuse/we must look after the poor"

Real Meaning:We must have more Government Intervention (see ideas, failed)

2. "We must improve government services..."

Real Meaning: You must work harder, and pay higher taxes, in order to pay for 1.

More to come.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Modern Dictionary I

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. ...

Inigo Montoya

Most debates are a matter of language. Get the language right, and you can make the other guy look stupid before you even begin. Take Mr. Key's sermon against the flat tax the other week--he kept saying "fair" as in "the tax system should be fair..."

What he means by this is "the tax system should (look like) it's hurting the rich so I look moderate, unlike Roger Douglas."

Likewise, Labour's "listening tour" of the Provinces means "tell us what packaging we have to change on the same policies to persuade you they're different,"

In an attempt to decode similar political terms, here is the first installment of the Examiner Modern Dictionary.

1. Public Debate: (noun)

"I am calling for a public debate on changing the flag/capital gains tax"

Real meaning: "We'll talk about this really really stupid and politically suicidal idea until you get used to it and think it's inevitable. Then we'll throw in a few moderating amendments until you think it very well could be worse...."

2. Inclusive (adj)

"I believe in an inclusive society"

Real meaning: "I believe in a society which legally accommodates all those fashionable interest groups which could give me political trouble later on, or which can be the subject of a sympathetic documentary making me look bad..."

This is also known as the Bridget Jones Doctrine, as in: "Labour is for gays, single mothers, and Nelson Mandela"

3. Diverse (adj)

"I am concerned about the lack of diversity in the Cabinet..."

Real meaning: "Enough fashionable minorities (cf 2) to look culturally sensitive on television.

4. Efficient (adj)

"We are changing the government service to be more efficient"

Real meaning: Mechanical, and lacking in initiative (cf Market Forces)

More to come.

Locke gets lucky

Her Majesty the Queen of New Zealand (and some other places)

Green MP Keith Locke's Head of State Referenda Bill has been pulled from the ballot.

It would trigger a referendum on the monarchy, with three options:

1. The status quo, with Her Majesty continuing as Head of State

2. A directly elected President

3. A President appointed by a three quarters vote in Parliament.

If the majority voted for a change, then the two most popular options would have a run-off.

We are inspired to remark on a couple of things.

First, we hope that this Bill will spark some useful constitutional debate about our nationhood and constitutional arrangements.

But there is, that we can see, no appetite for change in our constitution, and there is no appetite for a republic.

There might be one among the elite and the politicians (some of whom have always resented the Monarchy as a colonial overhang), and there are republicans of conviction as well--Mr. Locke is from a well-known socialist family, and doubtless he is one such.

But where are the pressing reasons for change?

We are not opposed to debate on the constitution, and we think that if the monarchy was put to a vote, the status quo would win.

But we are suspicious of the idea that a republic is "inevitable" which is what our politicians and opinion-makers say. And we are opposed to the seeming Australian (and Irish) idea which is "ask until you get the answer you want, (and then, we're betting, never ask again)"

A republic is not the inevitable outcome of constitutional and national maturity (like our constitution needs an extra decade or two on top of the eight hundred we've had already). The march of Progress (dear, outdated, Victorian idea) does not necessarily lead to dreary Presidential democracy.

We think Constitutional reform should not come from a push by the snarkerati, however legitimate it is to put in a private member's Bill. It should come from a substantial public groundswell, leading to popular pressure, and backed by public support.

So here's the question:

Where is it?

Where are the mobs demanding a republic?

Where's the Republican Movement with a hundred thousand members? (In fact, like its Monarchist counterpart, the Movement is fairly small)

Where are the petitions calling for change?

The demands for a New Zealand Head of State?

What is it that necessitates Mr., Locke's referendum?

Where's the fire?

Of course, we would vote No. And, as we said, we think New Zealand would join us.

But why should Parliament indulge one Green MP's excercise in vanity, on his say-so alone?

Here's Hayley Westenra:

Hat Tip: Kiwiblog

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Beatitudes

The Beatitudes are the core of the gospel. Here they are chanted in Russian by the monks of Valaam monastery.

"Christianity teaches the utter worthlessness of that which the world deems valuable, and the utter value of that which the world deems worthless..."

Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Hat tip: Father Stephen


It appears likely that little Aisling Symes, the missing toddler, is dead.

What a broken, and horribly dark world we live in; a world where little children die.

O God who madest this beautiful earth, when will it be ready to recieve Thy saints?
How long, O Lord, how long?

George Bernard Shaw, "St. Joan

For these things do I weep ; mine eye, mine eye
Casts water out ; for He which should be nigh
To comfort me, is now departed far ;
The foe prevails, forlorn my children are.

John Donne "The Lamentations of Jeremy"

Friday, October 9, 2009

"Surely, the voice of a god, not a man...."

The Nobel Committee has given President Barack Obama the Nobel Peace Prize.

This particular piece of slavish knavery leaves us speechless.

The man has done--well, nothing, for the cause of world peace.

No peace settlements. No conflict negotiation.

A trillion dollar bailout, and a few nice speeches. And that's it!

He is the king of sound-bites, the sultan of slogans, the scarily messianic usherer-in of utopia, to be sure. But he hasn't made any contribution to world peace that we can think of--unless of course the Committee feels that he is so super-duper wonderful, that he deserves the prize before actually doing anything--after all, is there anything Our Hero cannot do? Settling world peace is surely only a matter of raising that immortal chant, that anthem of hope:

Yes. We. Can.

The Nobel Committee seems to have given in to blind Bush hatred, falling down in worship before the personification of Goodness, the Great Black Hope and Teacher of Mankind--next thing you know they'll be calling him the Incorruptible.

We can think of only one fitting tribute to this moment. One song which can encapsulate the joys of many nations, as the People clap their hands together, saying: "Great is Obama of the Norwegians..."

Now, let our Powers Combine!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


The case of Taito Philip Field is interesting for a number of reasons--it is always a sad thing to see a (former) Member of Parliament in the dock, especially on such a charge.

It is a relief, I suppose, that even Government MPs (which he was at the time) cannot dodge the law--at least, not forever. And it demonstrates that we have a functional judiciary, which is always reassuring and nice to know.

But the most interesting part of the whole thing is the insight it gives into the semi-feudal culture of parts of South Auckland--the culture of gift-giving, exchange, influence and patronage.

We are not, you understand, reflexively opposed to semi-feudal cultures--after all, in parts of Europe, similar norms prevail, and have for centuries under diverse names, and various forms, and we hesitate to write them off simply because they don't fit the mould. We suspect most groups of people have half-understood or tacit norms, and webs of influence.

But we advise our friends in Mangere: next time, for Heaven's sake, pick a better guy.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Queen on the Monarchy

From the documentary Elizabeth R, Her Majesty talks for a rare ten minutes about her own conception of Monarchy: what it is for, and her job.

Shining through is the woman; decent, conservative with a small c, impartial and conscientious — Our Sovereign continues to rock my socks.

Cross posted at The Monarchist

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Her Majesty "appalled"

A report this morning, and not for the first time, that Her Majesty the Queen is "appalled" at the current direction of the Church of England.

Inasmuch as most people with functional cerebral cortexes are appalled at the current direction of the Church of England (downwards in a death spiral), this should be a suprise to no-one.

However, it remains to be seen whether Her Majesty will exert her considerable personal influence over the Church in order to halt said spiral.

We recommend the apocryphal words of the first Elizabeth, to the bishop of Ely:

Proud Prelate, you know what you were before I made you what you are. Comply with my request, or I'll unfrock you, by God!

Sunday Taster: Simon and Garfunkel

"Benedictus qui venit in nomine domini..." by Simon and Garfunkel. "Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord..."

The perfect accompaniment to a rainy night. Peace be with you all.

God Save Ireland

The Irish Republic has said Yes to the Lisbon Treaty, thus subjecting her much vaunted, and hard-won independence to the European Union.

Eamon de Valera must be turning in his grave.

We know the argument from the Yes camp: Ireland isolated in Europe, Brussels cash, the unpopularity of the Irish government......

But what it boils down to is weariness--lack of confidence--a political kind of despair, and ultimately, an abdication of responsibility. Maybe the electorate were just sick of being asked.

We hope some other way can be found to sink the iniquitous Lisbon leviathan--but we are not hopeful. It would require guts, courage, confidence, leadership, and a strong sense of identity--the things Europe appears to be without. The deadly sin of accidie on a big scale.

From calamities and consequences, we pray God will Save Ireland--because the technocrats and failed politicians in Brussels sure as hell will not.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

"Love has no time constraints...."

Amy Welborn is always worth reading: thoughtful, interested and interesting, and never shallow.

Her latest meditation on doubt, death, suffering, lies and love is no exception.

The accusation, of course, is that believers offer nothing but pat, easy answers to life’s hard questions – wish fulfillment.

That’s frustrating because, of course, it’s a lie.

A lie!


Not that Pat Answers Blowing Off the Complexity and Mystery of Life have never been offered by religious people. But I don’t know about you, but when I read Scripture (those Psalms Kathleen Norris keeps telling you to read and live, you know?) and contemplate Catholic tradition, theology and spirituality, I don’t see Pat. I see..well, complexity, mystery and paradox and a peace and wholeness that comes when you see that the two actually match up. The Christian response actually answers the questions – and not just in their specifics but in their shape and general direction. I am sure that Chesterton or Lewis has said it better, but you get my point. Atheism has no answer for mystery, love, creativity, transcendence and suffering. At all. Christianity does, and it is not “The man in the sky will make you forget it. And while you’re absorbing that, give us some power and money.”

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Quote of the week

As he did with Augustine, so the Lord comes to meet each one of you. He knocks at the door of your freedom and asks to be welcomed as a friend. He wants to make you happy, to fill you with humanity and dignity. The Christian faith is this: encounter with Christ, the living Person who gives life a new horizon and thereby a definitive direction.

Benedict XVI, "Message to Young People in the Czech Republic."

Banned Books and the Guardian

The Guardian has published a list of the top 10 "Banned Books" in the United States.

Being The Guardian, stalwart defender of the snarkerati everywhere, it can't resist going on an anti-religious rant, targeting those convenient whipping boys, "American Fundamentalists"

As Pullman's high ranking shows, religion is another major cause of complaints, and within that an important subset are books featuring witchcraft. The subject was put in relief this week when Matt Latimer, a former speechwriter for George Bush, alleged in his new memoir of life in the White House that Bush had refused to grant JK Rowling the Presidential Medal of Freedom because her writing "encouraged witchcraft".

Okay then. That's surely evidence that "religion poisions everything...."

Some of the most cherished books in the American literary cannon have fallen foul of censorship rows by dint of their language or sexual content. (sic)

Oh dear. Whatever will the American Artillery Corps (Literature Division) do?

Dr. Swift is a strong advocate of the freedom to read. If The Guardian's list of banned books were actually banned (in the sense of being prosecuted by the government, burned in the streets, their writers persecuted, etc.), then we have no problem with highlighting the fact, and would join in the chorus of condemnation.

But looking at the list, alongside the breathless "sex, violence, homosexuality, witchcraft" which the Guardian repeats with glee, we notice something else:

"Inappropriate for age group"

Okay then. So what we're really talking about is parents who think, say, Uncle Buddy's Wedding (to another man), or books with mature themes in general, are too "old" at the moment for the kids in the school, and their child in particular.

That is at least arguable (although we may still disagree about it)--unless, of course, our Masters in the elite want to give every baby a copy of Lady Chatterley's Lover bound in with Lolita as a Christening present.

State schooling is compulsory. This means values conflicts like this are inevitable, and to a point valuable. But a little less breathless pontificating about Academic Freedom Under Threat (which it isn't, at least not where the Guardian thinks), and a little more analysis of the actual conflict (past a second-hand swipe at Bush, and an odd Georgia woman on a single-handed crusade against Harry Potter (oops, looks like the theocrats are weaker than we thought))--a little more of that kind of analysis would help.

That is, actual news, and analysis, not prejudice. A bit too much to expect from The Guardian.

By the way, Philip Pullman (who Dr. Swift regards as a good writer, although not an agreeable one) ends the article:

As for Pullman, he confidently expects to be back in the top 10 next year.
His forthcoming book, a novel for adults, is called The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ."

Ah, the deathless march of Progress!