My domesticated challenge and antithesis has kindly commented on a synodal address given by Bishop Paul C Hewett on 27th April 2018. On reading this address, I had a positive impression of it all, a frank awareness of our fragility and our ability to do something about it by breaking down the barriers towards full sacramental and even organic unity. Here is the article – “Continuers” Retrench, Maybe

We have a very honest notion of all this. In particular the role of the Holy Spirit to give substance to what we represent as sacramental communities and the fact that none of us can go it alone and expect to be able to bequeath something to our posterity as we face our own mortality. We Anglicans are often accused by RC “true church” apologists of being a bogus substitute of the “real thing” they claim alone to represent. John Bruce needs to come and spend time in France and see the “viability” of parishes in certain rural areas in this country. As things are at present, it is something like the latter part of the eighteenth century.

Bruce’s Schadenfreude is thinly disguised, and he relies on his “masculine Catholicism” he seems to be able to find in his part of the world. Perhaps his evaluation on the realism of our being able to negotiate with the PNCC and the NCC is not far from the mark. I would like to see things move ahead if they can. I promised my Bishop that I would help in any way possible, but the authority to act is vested in our Metropolitan Archbishop for these matters. We little priests and laity can only pray for this intention and not add to the obstacles. Alrerady, the G4 moved ahead last October, and this is a huge encouragement in place of the fragmentation and frittering away that have been inevitable over the last few decades.

In the end, we might indeed have to face our mortality, not only as human persons, but as something that represents a culture that can no longer live in a world of modernity and post-humanism. If we are Christians, we can accept our mortality in the hope of another and more beautiful world, where there are more important things than churches and ecclesiastical politics. If our Churches are called to die, so be it, and such a prospect is not going to force us into someone else’s “true church” that cares no more for us than does the modern world.

Before accepting this bleak prospect, we are not called to “convert” to the “totalitarian system” Bruce represents, but to do all we can to encourage the movement that has begun and shows every sign of continuing. We can pray, give theological and philosophical advice, find ever more profound meanings of the concept of the Church and the incarnate Mystery of Christ. It may not be “realistic”, but it is certainly an ideal. Perhaps the modern romantic movement I am working on will help to form a new cultural base and soil in which Christianity can grow and flourish.

I may be wrong, and have to come to terms with a bleak and dark material universe that offers no respite from our present nihilism. There was in the Book of Ezekiel a wonderful image of bare bones in the desert and God’s promise to breathe life into them. That is my hope and my faith.

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7 Responses to Viability

  1. Ryan says:

    I think it’s important not to be taken too much in by the sense of inevitability in our civilization’s “progress” toward emptiness. As surely as the dandelion rises to mock our concrete slabs and poisoned lawns, truth and beauty will erupt in the cracks of this decrepit order.

    • This is what Romanticism has given me. Why be realistic if it is all about succumbing to the Black Dog? We have to use figures of imagination to bring ideas (and the World of Ideas) into being. We have to believe in what we are doing and never give up. We need that courage too.

  2. chriscontramundum says:

    Hello Father!

    I read your blog with great interest, and I too am happy about the bishop’s address and the reunion of the G4 churches. I hope I may ask, though, whether it is counterproductive to dwell so much on the possibility of our annihilation. I appreciate the honesty, but if we do fold, why bother? I’m a member of a Continuing Church in the United States, about to graduate college, and I hear older people complain about the end of the Church all the time. It never crosses their minds that they won’t be there to see it, but they vent about the horror of it all to someone who may very well be there! There’s a good chance my generation has no future. But I don’t want to go gentle into that good night, and I can tilt windmills if I want to. Do you know of effective ways of building up the church? I’m discussing these things with my rector.

    • Thanks for this reflection. The idea came from Bishop Hewett, who is a good man of God. Anything is possible. The ACC nearly died in England due to divisions between the bishops in the UK and the USA. We have Bishop Damien Mead to thank for his patient rebuilding work and professionalism. As for our future in our continuing Churches, Pascal’s Wager is not irrelevant here. If all we stood for comes to nothing, then it never did matter. If there is something (including the existence of God) then we have everything to lose if we don’t do everything to survive and bequeath to posterity.

      Some people have a fascination with the idea of the world ending for other people but they themselves having a way to survive. There were two “rapture” dates last month alone, both failed. It is easy to speculate about the death of others, a little more intimidating to contemplate our own.

      I don’t know very much about “building up the church”. Try aggressive marketing, sales pitch and that sort of thing. Try getting someone like Franco into politics so that dissenters are slowly garrotted “pour encourager les autres”. Alternatively present Christianity with a new face in the way Romantics humanised the science and philosophy of the Enlightenment, encourage and foster the human person and the aspiration for freedom, life and the quest for happiness. This blog is about the latter. We might die out and the trans / post humanist agenda might be the bleak and godless future – or there might be a new Middle Age and wonders beyond our imagination. I am for the Enlightenment WITH God and man.

  3. Fr. David Marriott SSC says:

    Dear Father,

    I have to cast my mind back to the Dark Ages, where priests who could not even read were charged with the care of isolated parishes: they must have felt that the end was nigh. But that led to the growth of monasticism and the arrival of the ‘wandering monk’ who could read, and was able to interpret Holy Scripture, giving those bereft believers meat on which they could whet their appetites: until the next wandering clergy happened by….Times improved: but when the monasteries were destroyed in the UK, there must have been many who felt the ‘end was nigh, again – as with the rise of totalitarian regimes in those countries affected. Even this morning we read of murders on the rise in the UK, of fighting between Israel and Iran’s forces in Syria, the Economist speaks of the terrors of life in Mexico due to murders and fear: but this is all man’s departure from God’s will and it has happened so many times in the past. A cycle of decline and renewal, as mentioned by ‘Chris’ above….for us faithful, the G4 continues: we should look forward to those who can make it happen, although some of us might never see the growth and increase of faith for which we all long!!

    Oh, and happy Birthday yesterday: glad you didn’t fall off the boat…

  4. David Llewellyn Dodds says:

    Maybe only tangential, but seemingly interesting as such, a 1904 essay by Proust, “La mort des cathédrales” (The Death of Cathedrals), which I have just been made aware of, and which includes “Things keep their beauty and their life only by continuously carrying out the task for which they were intended, even should they slowly die at it.”

    The English translation by Dr. John Pepino (with link to original publication) is here:

    Its republication by Proust in book form in 1919 is scanned here:

    It would be good to know more about the works Proust quotes or refers to – for Mâle, I suppose it must be L’Art religieux du XIIIe siècle en France (1899) (in which ed.?) – of which various scans are in the Internet Archive, as well as one of the 1913 English translation and one of its 1961 reprint.

    Starting to read the essay, it immediately made me think of John Ruskin – and following up, I learned of his interest in Ruskin, including translating him (at about the time of the essay).

  5. David Llewellyn Dodds says:

    Tangentially, an attractive clause from the abstract for an upcoming conference paper by Brenton Dickieson: “this paper explores how Montgomery and Lewis—though apparently unaware of each other’s work—craft a comparable spiritual theology of joy that bridges the worlds of the reasonable root of Christian tradition with the risk of the romantic—evidenced in the fairy tales that Anne loved to read and that Lewis would go on to write”!

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