First it was the continuing Churches, then the Ordinariates, then Anglicanorum coetibus, and now Anglo-Catholicism in general. The old fellow seems to be trying a more philosophical approach, almost on cue.
He would have done better to discuss the situation in England before bringing America into it for comparison. I know a sedevacantist site that calls all Anglo-Catholics Gnostics, which is an absurd accusation. See Anglicans, Rose+Croix, patriarcat et église Conciliaire that affirms that Benedict XVI was in on a diabolical conspiracy (in place since Cardinal Rompolla who nearly became Pope in 1903 instead of Sarto) to extinguish the Catholic priesthood! Perhaps John Bruce laps up all this weird stuff and enjoys it.
I had never heard of Allen C. Guelzo, so I looked him up. He seems to have an impressive academic record as a historian of the Civil War period and Abraham Lincoln. In the passage Bruce quotes, am I supposed to be made to believe that Anglo-Catholics used Darwin’s theories as a weapon against Evangelicals? Is Darwin considered as a Romantic? This is weird.
Anglo-Catholicism is portrayed as supporting nineteenth-century capitalism and high-finance. Perhaps in America (perhaps Dr Tighe would like to comment), but certainly not in England, at least among the slum priests, some of the most selfless men of God who lived in modern times. I am sure that many of my American readers could give a more accurate description of Anglo-Catholicism in America of which I have no experience, being English.
Anglo-Catholicism as “an essentially inauthentic development within Protestant Christianity“? And sure as day follows night, the conclusion is merciless: “This is yet another reason to shut the ordinariates down and redirect the resources, however minimal they may be, elsewhere“. I suppose he might come to an arrangement with Pope Francis, who, until now, has not touched the Ordinariates. I don’t know what the poor fellow has been smoking today.
Perhaps a study of Romanticism might be more apposite, and there is no lack of examiners here who are ready to take a critical look at anything that may be published on his blog. Until now, Bruce’s writings resemble the rants of adepts of SSPX chapels and home-alone sedevacantists, those Безпоповцы (priestless Old Believers) of the western church, for whom no priest is canonically regular.
He’ll have to do better than that.
Hello again, Father!
You often concede that you have no experience of US ACism, but I don’t remember you ever making categorically false assertions about us.
To Mr. Bruce’s points, I will say that in the US, people from “high” traditions tend to be highly educated, and (sinfully) contempt Evangelicals for being far less educated. Some (not all!) US Evangelicals throw great support behind junk science to defend Young Earth Creationism and conspiracy theories, which worsens this bias. For Bruce, Darwin isn’t a Romantic. It’s just that ACs are *less bad* than those other, more ignorant Protestants who are low church creationists. If ACs swam the Tiber they could be just as good as us. Instead, they accept a degraded, straw-man Catholicism even though they privately know they’re wrong.
Guelzo, a very Low member of the Reformed Episcopal Church whose work I’m familiar with, argues that Anglo-Catholic parishes with Gothic churches are in some ways status symbols for wealthy industrialists and their descendants: Mr. Bruce’s case is that the AC social conscience was a pretense. This argument makes superficial sense to Americans because parts of the Episcopal Church have been very well off. Yet this isolated quote from a good book ignores just what a staggering amount of that rich, preppy, high-church money still goes to social outreach, and unfairly turns the noblesse oblige of great philanthropists into hypocrisy. With respect, Mr. Bruce should be ashamed.
Plus, some REC churches are in fact Gothic!
Interesting note: I once asked a friend to visit St. Mary of the Angels after she moved away from our home town. She tolerates my proselytizing, and went for Mass. I told her to find a man in a purple robe, and show him a text message I sent her. It went, “Dominus vobiscum! I’m an acolyte at ____, and I hope you will seat my friend with an usher who can teacher her to use the Prayer Book”! And he did!
I don’t know how common it is, but I have enjoyed visiting a Gothic Revival American Episcopalian Church (with a considerable element of Perpendicular) sold to a friendly OCA parish, Christ the Savior-Holy Spirit Orthodox Church, and a interesting and pleasing combination of West and East it seems to me (with more eastern elements as time has gone by):
The St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in Amsterdam (under the Patriarch of Moscow), as I may have noted before, now occupies a former Western monastic basilica-style Church, for which Aidan Hart (whom I knew from his visits to Oxford in days gone by) has sculpted a handsome iconostasis:
Father, I am finding Mr. Bruce harder and harder to understand or even read! I first encountered St. Mary of the Angels (and several other Anglo-Catholic parishes in California, notably Advent of Christ the King in San Francisco and St. Matthias in Los Angeles) back in the early 1950s. In fact, as I look back, I was at St. Mary’s for one of the last of Fr. Dodd’s Masses. I was there for most of Fr. Jordan’s tenure as well, before I moved away. So Mr. Bruce, to my mind, is a johnny-come-lately who never encountered Anglo-Catholicism in its full flower. Incidentally I spent a bit of time with the Cowley Fathers in Cambridge Mass. and I knew Fr. Maddux who edited the American Missal. Bruce missed a lot, and will never knew what he missed. Before I get all weepy and stuff over the lost visions of the Anglo-Catholic movement, which most assuredly from my p.o.v was ‘Romantic’ in its best sense, I’d better shut up. Incidentally, if one can find them, there are several little books written by R.A. Cram before and during WWI, which glorify the medieval period and point to the Arts and Crafts movement. He was 100% against industrial civilization, among other things!
Thanks for the tip: Cram, Ralph Adams, 1863-1942 produces 113 results (including, of course, many duplicate in one or another sense) in the Internet Archive! (There are even three spooky stories from his hand read aloud at LibriVox.org, i find – a sort of Bostonian M.R. James?)
I also find him hard to understand. I suspect that he is fundamentally a Protestant with a mission to influence the RC Church. His attitude about any kind of “false Catholicism” extends to the Ordinariates, the continuing Anglicans and the RC traditionalists – and Anglo-Catholicism in general. Whether his line is “fundamentalist” or “liberal” is a good question. He appears to be politically conservative, but perhaps he is a Democrat and a socialist. Religion is being part of the establishment, whatever that means in his part of the world, civil religion.
To mention something of my own experience for contrast, I also bought the “insurance policy” from the door-to-door salesman. My Catholic ideas were not articulate when I was in the Church of England as a young organist. It was when I was with the RC traditionalists that I began to yearn for and dream about things like Romanticism, Sarum, Arts & Crafts and the English / Dearmer style church. I “projected” my Anglicanism onto my experience in the RC Church. I suspect that with John Bruce, he does the same with Low Church Anglicanism.
One thing that motivates me to embrace the Romantic world view is the illusory nature of the world we live in. The only meaning of life is the hope we have of another and more perfect world, where the soul is filled with God and complete joy. That man judges and complains – and will pay dearly through Karma. We live in an illusion, but we have to do unto others as we would have done to ourselves, and seek to exude that hope.
Tangentially, but perhaps ‘relevantly’, I’m just getting acquainted with the work of Christopher Hassall (1912-63) via his 1940 wartime volume of poetry, S.O.S…’Ludlow’. The poem, ‘Red Warning’, seems to reflect (as the Wikipediast writes) that “During World War II in 1940, Hassall served in an anti-aircraft gun emplacement with editor John Guest, architect Denys Lasdun, and socialite Angus Menzies.”
He (or his speaker) characterizes the incoming German fighter planes as “The hundred crucifxes each with its boy / Our nails must fasten to the air”, and warns and wishes, “Fly fast / Away, stay out of range, wings off our soil /Where ignorant of our soul you would transplant / Your static, ponderous, completed creed.” (Not cheaply to compare Prussianism/Nazism with one or another understanding of Catholicism or Christianity, but to ponder how one too ‘ignorant of soul’ might improperly embrace and then aspire to transplant a truncated understanding of creeds truer than those of modern ‘ersatz religions’.)
If one considers where the Biretta Belt mostly was in the US–the Great Lakes area–much of Mr. Bruce’s argument falls apart. Eau Claire and Fond du Lac were not dens of industrial capitalism or anti-evangelical snobbery. Shrine parishes like Smoky Mary’s, St Clem’s, and St Paul’s, K Street are highly visible, but only a piece of the puzzle.
Come to think of it, that’s a really good point. San Joaquin is the same way.