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February 18, 2005

Comments

the Cardinal's wife

What about G. Pair. Is he real? I've always thought G. Pair was Ina Garten.

Mrs. Peperium

Ina Garten? Ina Garten? Does G. Pair strike you as a a woman who blogs without shoes? He's probably Wolfgang Puck.

the Cardinal's wife

I'm sorry Mrs. P. Yes, I do remember G. Pair is a man. Could be Wolfie.

the Cardinal

There they go again. And they accuse me of getting into the Yam Yam.

Mr.P, I think Monty is sober as a judge compared to Mrs. P and Mrs. C.

the Cardinal's wife

Mr. P. finally posts and we're getting off topic. Somebody better say something important so he doesn't get mad and go away again.

Mrs. Peperium

What was the topic?

Blimpish

The answer to the question about Anglicanism is that you have to take the current relationship in the context of centuries of evolution, including especially (but not only) the Civil War. But even at its creation, different hopes were invested by different parties in the separate Church (think Cranmer, for example).

Mrs. Peperium

I'm especially dim this morning. What is the current question about Anglicanism? Evolution? Do you mean cultural evolution or lesser intelligent things evolving into more intelligent things? You're absolutely right about the push me -pull me origins of C of E. Cranmer tried valaintly to thread that needle and ended up tied to the stake and well done. Henry VIII never wanted to muddle up any of the teachings of the Church, he simply wanted a son. He accepted transubstantiation, purgatory...A fair arguement can be made he believed he was Catholic when he died. His struggle was really with Central Authority and the normal desires of a man being heightend by need for a male heir. He made things worse for himself when he killed off his sound advisors. But those are the difficulties of powerful people. Like Luther, he never intended to break away entirely from Rome : Both wanted to change the parts they thought needed changes.

Mr. Peperium

Thank you, Mrs. C, for calling the meeting to order.

And thank you, Blimpish, for hitting the nail on the head. The situation you describe at the C of E's inception ("different hopes were invested by different parties in the seperate Church") has, in spite of four centuries of evolution, remained much the same...at least over on this side of the Atlantic.

The Episcopal Church here in America is a clearing house for disgruntled Methodists, estranged Presbyterians, fallen-away Catholics, atheists who like the architecture, aesthetes who like the music, and former Baptists who have moved up the social scale. As you can see, this mix includes everything from Biblical literalists to utter non-believers, all of whom are indulging in their different hopes of what the church might be.

Not to beat a dead horse, but the crux of the problem is...central authority. No one has the clout to tell anyone what they can or cannot believe in order to BE Episcopalian because the parishoners define the church rather than the church defining its parishoners.

You brought up Cranmer and he's a good example of what I'm talking about. When he penned the 39 Articles, he took the dimmest view of Transubstantiation. Yet the Prayer Book preserved--and continues to preserve almost word-for-word--the Catholic formula for the Consecration of the Host. When we asked our leaders about this inconsistency, we were told that in our church we could have it both ways and wasn't that great. In other words, whatever we believed went.

I know Protestants fear all the power they see invested in the Catholic clergy. On the other hand, it was the confusion wrought by the power invested in the laity that helped push me towards Catholicism.

A very good picture of one man's journey from the C of E to Rome is presented in John Dryden's two poems Religio Laici and The Hind and The Panther.

The first is a spirited defense of the C of E that nevertheless contains a wistful desire for something like Catholicism:

Such an omniscient Church we wish indeed;
'T were worth both Testements; and cast in the creed...

The second is an even more spirited celebration of Catholicism. In spite of his (perhaps innately English) distrust of all priesthoods, he crossed the Tiber and stayed there from 1685 until the day he died 15 years later. As he wrote to a relative in 1699,

"...I know not what Church to go to, if I leave the Catholique: they are all so divided amongst themselves in matters of faith, necessary to salvation: & yet assuming the name of Protestants...Truth is but one..."

Mr. Peperium

Blimpish: could you give a brief outline of the evolution of the C of E? The story of John Dryden is an example of one man's experience who lived through one of the upheavals you mention, the Civil War. I believe it was that experience that fixed his politics (conservative and Royalist) and his religious sympathies (orthodox and ultimately Catholic).

G. Pair

Well I hate to pull the comments back to their point of origin on this thread, but I can't let slander go unrebutted. On the circuit of visual chefs, I most closely resemble Alton Brown, with a touch of Mario Batali. Foodwise I'm closer to Mario. I'll steal Alton's recipes on occasion, but I'd really rather cook with Giada de Laurentiis.

Believe it or not, I know a fair amount about this Anglican business too, but, having given up riding that horse long ago, I find talking about food much more interesting. Unless we're lifting a pint at the Black Cow or the Pink Pig or whatever that local pub of yours is called--then I will tell anyone who wants to listen just what I think of the Anglican Communion. But no one can diss it like a couple of Catholic converts, so I'll just be quiet from here on out.

Monty

Don't you mean The Soiled Kilt? (Although I do know of a pub named The Greasy Pig.)

By all means, drop by. We'll hoist a few pints and discuss the barbecuing of Cranmer. Perhaps we can also put the finishing touches on our plans for Bratislava and our Otto da Thermidor.

Hmmm. . .I wonder how that Enoch pudding is coming along in Chicago.

Mrs. Peperium

That would be fun. Perhaps we should do a virtual pub crawl with all who are interested? Could be fascinating.

Michael

Is Monty really Hannibal Lecter?

Mrs. Peperium

Not to get entirely off subject Michael, the Cardinal bears an uncanny resemblence to old Hector. Especially with that 'special' glass enclosed golf cart he tools around OHCC in. He says it's to ward off drafts. The management will tell you privately it is for the protection of the other members.
Anyway G. Pair, cooking is one the things that made me more aware of religion. As you delve deeper into it, sooner or later the recipes to celebrate religious holidays loom in to view. Like Apostle's Pie for Easter. Or 12th night cake, and much, much more. Then what Pieper talks about, that true festivity is rooted in religious observance comes into play. Another thing, in England when being (cough,cough) Catholic wasn't good for your health (yes, I do acknowledge Misspent and Blimpish that there was a time when being Protestant wasn't good for your health) Catholics devised little cakes, Eccles cakes to hand out among as a sign of their faith. The cakes are like raisin-filled tarts with 3 slashes representing the Holy Trinity. Cooking is intervoven in this discussion because it's about life. I'm starting to think a virtual pub night of theology on tap would be fun.

Blimpish

Mrs. P, re your request about the centuries of evolution... I'm surely not the best man to answer the question, but a very potted history from memory (you probably know most of it):

Henry VIII is excommunicated, but maintains he is a Catholic throughout. Does sack the monastries, mind (gotta pay for a fleet...).

Edward VI succeeds, and as a boy king becomes a tool of a pretty virulent, if short, Reformation period.

Along the way, the clergy are all told to marry. When Mary, Queen of Scotland, rules and restores Roman authority they are all forced to return to chastity.

Elizabeth succeeds and stamps on most of the residual Reformation stuff, but tells the clergy they can be married again (their poor wives..!). Elizabeth for me, much like the Restoration types years later, exemplifies the lesson that one must remove the revolutionaries, even where they've done good things - the revolutionary spirit never settles. Richard Hooker gave the intellectual ammunition to the National Church.

James I, of course, had his own translation of the Bible created, which was (in my book) one of the greatest acts by any Christian King - and if the CofE dies a death in the years to come, the KJV will remain. On the other hand, this opened the door to the true Reformation spirit - because it deprived the clergy a critical source of their authority (to the masses back then, tradition and scripture were pretty much fused).

With the Counter-Reformation and the Thirty Years War ripping Europe up, Calvinist ideas spread and triggers an English Puritan awakening. At the same time, Charles I is much friendlier to Rome; and Laud, though very definitely Anglican, wants to formalise the doctrines and practices of the Church. Communion rails become at issue. War starts. Thousands die. The Puritans win and make the country a dull republic - they stamp on drinking and close the theatres down. They kill Laud along the way, and create a regime of no small amount of religious freedom (Catholics excepted). In terms of the Church, the political power of the Puritans (who have their Book) stamps on tradition, even banning the Book of Common Prayer for a decade.

Restoration - the Puritans having won the right to practice freely, the monarchy is restored. A little while after, the Stuarts start to get a bit uppity (AGAIN) about Rome, and so are got rid of, in favour of a Dutch Protestant hunchback (King Billy).

With the exception of the Jacobite eruption (1740s), and regular bouts of paranoia, the 'threat' from Rome died down from then on. The Jacobites, seeking to restore Bonnie Prince Charlie (effete French pseudo-Scot that he was), were easily dealt with, mostly by Scottish troops at Culloden. The last serious outbreak of public anti-Roman sentiment was the Gordon riot (1780?). But well into the 20th century, 'Romanism' was regarded with no small suspicion.

From then on, three parties emerged in the Church - what came to be known as the Low (Evangelical, Puritan), the High (Catholic), and the Broad (Liberal, Latitudinarian). You could say that each party is represented in the much-claimed Three-Legged Stool of Anglicanism: Scripture, Tradition, and Reason.

This all really kicked off in the post-Napoleonic era. Funnily enough, given its seeming long-run victory, the Broad Church party was apparently quite small in size and in influence. In the 1820s and 1830s, the Low Churchers and the High Churchers went to war and began to bleed each other dry, if you ask me. The High Churchers (Newman, most notably) wanted to restore central teaching authority and common ceremony and practice. The Low Churchers were having none of it - for them, this was tantamount to going back to Rome.

Part of what sparked this was the process of Catholic Emancipation, especially the repeal of the Test Acts. Later on (1850s I think) the Catholic Episcopate was restored, and by the end of the century (if memory serves) we'd even had an R.C. Lord Chief Justice. You could say that the High Churchers' response to Emancipation was an attempt to prevent R.C. practice drawing people away from the CofE because of its greater certainty and consistency.

Maurice Cowling makes the point (in his closing of vol.3 of Religion and Public Doctrine of Modern England) that the heat of the controversy ruined the C of E. This is a very English view, but I think he's onto something. Most people, in England especially, are quite sceptical of abstract doctrine. It shouldn't be forgotten that the English people were never devout in attendance, even when they were vehemently Christian in belief and Anglican in identification. Cowling's argument is that such a public controversy over abstract doctrine was too much, and created an intellectual climate for the destruction of general belief. It took a long time, and was helped by wider social trends and the experience of World War I and then consumer culture, but in the end, England became culturally post-Christian.

If true, Cowling's argument suggests that even if the High Churchers had won (which they didn't, of course), then the very fact of controversy would've undone the Church in time anyway.

After the controversies, many High Churchers became functionally liberal as Anglo-Catholics. Eager to hold on to the traditional ceremony where they were in control, they embraced the traditional Low and Broad enthusiasm for freedom and diversity. Anglo-Catholicism in time became associated with a certain high-class campery.

In the 20th century, the Church declined in social adherence and authority (as did all denominations, including Roman Catholicism). Archbishop William Temple was an interesting figure in all this, in his clear support for an identifiably political programme - i.e., the welfare state. But you can go back further - the Forster Education Act was liberal legislation designed to undermine Anglican school education (if only Frederick Temple had been more listened to) in favour of the nonconformists. The obvious moment of accomodating social trends was the 1930 Lambeth Conference declaration on contraception... But that's a discussion for another time!

After the war, as Christie Davies points out, the history of the death penalty shows the decline of public religion especially. When new legislation was passed in the 1950s, the death penalty was justified solely by deterrence, rather than justice. In this case, the Church was certainly not to blame - Archbishop Geoffrey Fisher fought hard for the case for a moral death penalty.

In the 1960s, the Church began to increasingly take an accomodationist line - for example, on homosexuality - and pursue a vocal social and political agenda - peace and welfare. At the same time, its declining cultural dominance led to (and this makes it near unique amongst institutions at the time) it being granted increasing autonomy, with the General Synod taking increased legislative powers.

And so here we are today, having allowed women priests and creating flying Bishops along the way. Interestingly, those in power today - although mostly liberals - tend to be increasingly 'High' in many ways. Rowan Williams is one of these - a fusing of the camp Anglo-Catholic and liberal trends. But now the controversy (as you know) is not really between Low and High. I think a lot of today's Low Churchers - Evangelicals - wouldn't mind a bit of doctrinal authority, provided that it was in some keeping with scripture.

My guess is that the CofE will either die or be regenerated in the decades to come. I think that Lambeth Palace will assume increasing powers to enforce a common doctrine, and this will cause problems between the provinces of the Anglican Communion. How Williams (and his successors) respond is critical.

In the good scenario, they will realise that the Church can accomodate no more and must stand up and be counted. This would be the ultimate irony - the Church liberal elite being 'mugged by reality' and realising that doctrinal integrity is the only way to keep the Church together. The needs of the moment might finally get us to what we wanted all along, with High and Low Church in alignment.

But in the bad scenario, after assuming doctrinal authority, the Church liberals prosecute their authority to the full. Soon enough, the Nigerians and some of the other provinces leave the Communion - either going independent, or finding a new Canterbury. My guess is a lot of the Evangelical parishes in the western provinces (UK, US, Canada, Australia) would leave at that point too. This has the potential to spiral rapidly, and would trigger the Establishment question fairly quickly too. It is difficult to see how the Crown or the Government could remain uninvolved at this point.

How it'll go? Dunno.

Blimpish

Realised later, 3 things:

1. You said brief. Oh dear.

2. It was Mr. P who requested, not Mrs. P (hey, Mr. P's been a little AWOL of late).

3. Dryden's position would not be so abnormal. The conservative, traditionalist end of religious opinion would coincide with royalism, against the puritan radicals on the Roundhead side.

Mr. Peperium

As usual, Blimpish, I have no time to respond right now. But your mention of the 1930 Lambeth Conference reminded me of something I've been meaning to ask you for a while now.

A few years ago I read Russell Kirk's biography of T. S. Eliot. Before then I had no idea of the massive amount of intellectual journalism Eliot had penned and published in his magazine The Criterion. One of these pieces was a commentary on the 1930 decision to allow contraception. I would love to get my hooks on that particular essay, but it's not the sort of thing that's readily available here in printed form. Have you ever run across it?

As I say, I will get back to you on everything else sooner than later. Thanks!

Blimpish

This one I can answer quickly: No, I don't.

Look forward to hearing your thoughts.

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