anglomedved: (Default)
(This is a bit of a carry-over from previous posting and the comments to it).

What I do miss at times is the Anglo-Catholic liturgy (that of Anglicans who wanted to revive a Catholic sense of things in the Church of England, without joining Newman in going over to Rome), when well done. It was that, which as a Cambridge student, enthralled me, and sealed my already-started exit from Protestantism. It does not exist here in Brussels: the Anglo-Catholic church, bankrupt and with an alcoholic priest, merged with the rather dour and Protestant pro-Cathedral in the early 1950s. The former church building is now a night-club. I have peered into it twice: once at the start of the renovations, and saw one of the most perfectly-proportioned naves I have ever seen (I could imagine the sun catching the incense), another time last year, when I caught a glimpse of superb 19th century woodwork.

I remember several years ago having dinner with another (the other?) English convert to Orthodoxy in Brussels. Well into the second bottle of wine between us, we concluded that ‘Orthodoxy is the best way of being Anglo-Catholic outside England’.


Aug. 16th, 2010 09:03 pm
anglomedved: (Default)

I am reading Professor Owen Chadwick’s ‘Securalization of the European Mind’, first published in 1975. He makes a good job of tackling the interplay of ideas, politics and general movements of religion and sentiment. He chronicles particularly well that layer of late 19th century churchgoing that hovers somewhere between belief and respectability.

Chadwick was master of Selwyn College, Cambridge, when I was an undergraduate there in 1967-71. He is still alive, at 94 the last surviving fellow (= member of the permanent teaching staff) of my time. Last night I watched a couple of You Tube interviews with him two years back.  


Owen Chadwick at 92

Very much a man of the establishment. He is a priest – he returned to Christianity as a moral answer to the rise of Hitlerism – but this always seemed slightly incidental. He was a historian, not a theologian, even if religious movements loomed large in his specialties. I never quite got the measure of his faith: certainly a deep moral sense was one of his major bridges to the divine. His sermons in chapel I remember only for their shortness.  

 He was a man of the establishment, not terribly consciously so I think. From an upper middle class background he slipped into the establishment, stayed in it, and ended up chronicling it.


Selwyn College – where I was an undergraduate

I never felt at ease with Chadwick’s Cambridge. I was about half a social class too low and not a good enough sportsman to be at home in it. Nor have I ever been quite at ease morally with people being able to spend their lives in academia, with a secure social position, income and the attendant outlook on life, funded basically by other people's money, either the taxpayers’ or that of tenants paying rent on property owned by a college since the 15th century. 

I did not find the Cambridge teaching staff a humanly particularly inspiring bunch. Which is part of the reason – and this is probably my biggest regret looking back – why I failed to find there the challenge to an integrated, adult Christianity that I needed. The choice of menu in my day was evangelical (the Cambridge Inter-Collegiate Christian Union, miserably Protestant), Anglo-Catholic (reeking of homosexuality), Roman Catholic (either Irish or recusant) or college chapel (establishment). Orthodoxy was just not on the horizon.  

anglomedved: (Default)

What is happening to the Anglo-Catholics in the UK feels awfully like a re-run of what happened in Sweden about a generation ago.

For those who are interested, I give below some facts from the 8-volume History of the Swedish Church. It takes us up to the mid-1990s.

What would be interesting to know is what has actually happened to the High Church faction since?  Has it exited in large numbers to the Roman Church?  Has the issue of women priests raised a barrier between the Roman Catholics in Sweden and the Swedish Church?J Or could it be (a suspicion only), that in fact the Roman Church in Sweden is quite strongly dominated by female religious orders, and that this produces lots of dialogue situations which the RC authorities, without exactly encouraging them, do nothing to prevent. Has also the Orthodox Church played a role here: or are the Orthodox communities, as here in Belgium, still largely national ghettoes for first-generation refugees, with little impact on the local religious scene? 

If anyone can provide me with some good information (in Swedish or English), I'd be interested and grateful.

For the record: the first women priests were ordained in 1960, under enormous government pressure (the Swedish Church was a that time still established, and priests essentially civil servants), the ball having been set rolling just before World War II by the women’s movements (NOT by the church itself!) and continued after the war by the government under the heading of gender equality. With the Swedish church close to a split after the first women’s ordinations, a conscience clause (samvetsklausul) was introduced: bishops could not being required to ordain women against their conscience, priests too could refuse to be placed in situations against their conscience. Initially, a priest’s vows were not interpreted that a man who opposed women’s ordination could not be ordained. An individual church community could state that it did not want a woman priest. For a time it was possible for priest who so wished to be ordained in male-only ceremonies.

But the writing was on the wall. The Kyrklig Samlingkring Bibeln och bekännelse, a rainbow movement of opponents to women’s ordination from both the Low and High church around bishop Bo Giertz, and the Arbetsgemenschap för Kyrklig förnyelse, the mouthpiece of the High Church movement, were increasingly cold-shouldered by the bishops from the 1970s onwards. By 1983 the Bishops’ Conference had clearly stated that one could not be ordained if one did not accept other priests' (i.e. women's) ordination and sacramental actions (…vi kommer att prästviga endast dem som inte underkänner giltigheten i andra prästers vigning och sakramentala handlingar in vär kyrka). A harder formulation followed in the 1994 Church Assembly (Kyrkomöt), and as Ingmar Brohed notes in volume 8 of ‘Sveriges kyrkohistoria’ (p. 290): ‘after this decision no candidate was priested who did not promise to accept in every way the Church Assembly’s decision, nor could anyone who did not accept women as priests take up a pastoral position in a leadership role’. The first woman bishop followed in 1998. 

anglomedved: (Default)

14 July 2010

Just occasionally, like in my prayer time this morning, there is the sudden sense of understanding of what the English religious tradition is at its best – or else the Christian tradition as best expressed in the English setting.

I would have said 20 years ago that perhaps we need to spend more time establishing this 'English Christ' figure, and less on which church - Anglican, Orthodox or RC - it is played out in.  Today the imminent demise of Anglo-Catholicism, and the inability of Orthodoxy to catch the British imagination, leaves only the RCs in the ring.

Anglo-Catholicism has lacked a single leading figure. In the second half of the 19th century it filled a gap between Victorian Erastianism and Papal Ultramontanism. It had the enormous advantage at the time of seeming to come out of English soil and not being a foreign implant. Was its ‘gay raffishness’ its undoing? Did it get sidetracked into birettas and maniples? Was its number up when Rome at long last appointed a clearly English (and not Irish) Archbishop of Westminster in the persons of Cardinal Hume and, after another Irish interval, Archbiship Nichols?

anglomedved: (Default)

23 June 2010

 Fascinated by a series of lectures given at Pusey House in April on the Anglican Ordinariates. A high intellectual level, the best of Oxford and Cambridge, quintessentially English. The paradox is that the constant reference is Rome, but the spirituality is very Orthodox. But these people would be out of water in our Church.

 There is indeed today a very real danger of the loss of the Anglo-Catholic wing to Rome, which could also, paradoxically upset the Evangelical wing, with whom they shared a sense of Gospel urgency. There seems a very real danger of seeing the CoE go the same way as the Churches of Sweden or Denmark. Though curiously enough, these premonitory examples are almost never mentioned.


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