STRUGGLE

Yesterday I posted a blog on Father Timothy Radcliffe’s profound little book on the Stations of the Cross.  I was somewhat taken-a-back when a link was posted of which this is the content.

“ROME, May 19, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) — Pope Francis has appointed radically liberal, pro-homosexual Dominican Father Timothy Radcliffe as a consultor for the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

The Holy Father made the appointment on Saturday, according to Vatican Radio.Father Radcliffe, an Englishman, author and speaker, was Master of the Dominican order from 1992 to 2001, and is an outspoken proponent of homosexuality.

“We must accompany [gay people] as they discern what this means, letting our images be stretched open,” he said in a 2006 religious education lecture in Los Angeles. “This means watching ‘Brokeback Mountain,’ reading gay novels, living with our gay friends and listening with them as they listen to the Lord.” ( Father Timothy.)

Not being a Roman Catholic or in touch with Vatican news sources I was unaware of this appointment by Pope Francis.  I’m not shocked or upset.  I have seen the film Brokeback Mountain and read a few gay novels, “Maurice,” a novel by E. M. Forster is one that comes to mind.  It’s a tale of same-sex love in early 20th-century England, it follows Maurice Hall from his schooldays, through university and beyond.  I’ve read most of E. M. Forster’s books. A Passage to India is possibly his best and most popular.

Pope Francis must have good reason for making this appointment. He is painfully aware of the human condition.  The review of his book “The Name of God is Mercy by the Telegraph Newspaper is very favourable and the Telegraph doesn’t spare any punches.

“Francis offers the most vivid glimpse yet of his thinking on the struggles facing the Church in the 21st Century (Sunday Telegraph)

I had already encountered the following two quotes by Pope Francis and therefore his appointment of Fr Timothy is a logical outcome.

“I prefer a church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security.”(Little Book of Wisdom)

If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge? We shouldn’t marginalise people for this. They must be integrated into society. The last I heard on the BBC  News coverage.

Whatever one feels about the “gay dimension” it’s of little use going at it with a sledge hammer.

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We need to Listen to what gay men and women are saying. This is where Pope Francis excels. He is a wonderful listener and hears the pain that may mask itself in Gay Pride Marches and other outrageous manifestations of gay life.

Together with the Jews, Adolf Hitler sent homosexuals, gypsies and the mentally ill to the Gas Chambers.

I don’t suppose many posters on this forum will agree with me, but on reading through yesterday’s comments I felt it necessary to make some kind of response.

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Icon of Loving Tenderness. 

For anyone who has lost heir mother at an early age, this icon has much significance. Cradled in the arms of the Mother of God we can survive almost anything, and that inludes death.

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Harrowing of Hell.

I’ve added these two icons in retrospect after all the comments and my own witness.

STATIONS

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One of my favourite devotions is the Stations of the Cross. Originally in the 13th century the devotion was created for Christians who were unable to visit the Holy Land. Travel in those days was very dangerous. It was also very expensive and well beyond the pockets of most people. The conflict between Christianity and Islam was an added peril. Folk did go on pilgrimage and the most important of these was to see Jerusalem and the Holy Sites associated with Jesus. Most important was the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Having led several pilgrimages to Israel I know how vital such a pilgrimage is. Rome and Assisi are wonderful, but they’re not the same as visiting the Church of the Holy Sepulchre where our Lord was crucified.

Each Station recalls a moment when Jesus stopped. A Station is simply a place of stopping, as trains stop in railway stations. Our Lord stops to talk to people in compassion: he stops when he falls to the ground out of exhaustion unable to carry on; he stops at Golgotha because that is the end of the line. Jesus is closest to us when we too are stopped in our tracks and wonder if we can carry on any longer. We may be halted by illness or failure, by grief or despair. But Jesus carries on, making his slow and painful way to the Cross and to the Resurrection, and brings himself with us in hope.

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Veronica wipes the face of Jesus. 

Of the fourteen Stations it is the sixth which is for me the most significant.   “Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.” Veronica means true image. The story isn’t found until the 13th century so it is legendary. But it embodies a profound and blessed truth. Ancient Israel longed to be blessed by seeing the face of God.

“How long O Lord ? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” (Psalm 13:1)

“Your face Lord will I seek.” (Psalm 27:8)

The face of God became flesh in the face of Jesus, who smiled upon sinners with tenderness.

Pope Francis, who I respect and love, despite that I’m a schismatic Anglican, said,

“Here, this is me a sinner on whom the Lord has turned his gaze.” I can echo those words with passion.

Some years ago, during one of the several pilgrimages I led to Israel,  I woke up on the Friday with Gastro Enteritis.  I was due to lead forty pilgrims in the Way of the Cross up through the Old City.

I’ve never forgotten the embarrassment of having to call into convents and  visiting  the loo many times.  I also had a high temperature. The face of Jesus was never more real to me than during that Way of the Cross on that sweltering  Friday morning. One of the sisters in the Convent of the Sisters of Zion wiped my face and gave me a drink of water. I know there is no comparison, but in a very minor and infinitesimal way it was a sharing with Jesus.

Whenever I do the Stations of the Cross I remember that time when I led forty pilgrims up through the Old City to where Our Lord Jesus was crucified.

Were you there when they crucified my Lord? Yes I was there.jesus-carrying-his-cross

(The Art work is by Brother Martin Erspamer OSB. Together with Father Timothy Radcliffe they have produced a unique book on the Stations of the Cross. Fr Timothy is one of my favourite authors and his book “What is the point of being a Christian” was a turning point in my life. He’s also much respected by Pope Francis.

Does dogma matter?

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In my old Church, and in my new one, the unspoken question is the one which is the title of this post – does dogma matter? Clarity is not a word readily associated with the delphic pronouncements of the present Pope, but on the ancient principle that ‘If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it is a duck‘, it would seem safe to say that he thinks ‘mercy’ trumps dogma. If this is not what he thinks then his comments about the undesirability of ‘rigidity’ and keeping the commandments in such a fashion would make even less sense than they do on that reading. We saw much the same thing at the Church of England Synod last week, where the mantra of ‘if it is love it is fine’ was used to promote the idea that gay marriage was fine for clergy. What is being said here is that whatever Scripture and Tradition say can be negated by the exercise of our reason: it was our ‘reason’ that got us expelled from Eden; it was our reason which was damaged in the Fall; it is our reason which is defective; it is our reason which needs guiding by Scripture and Tradition. It is the very essence of the division in Christianity which is evidenced here: what has priority, our unaided reason or our reason as aided by Scripture and Tradition?

When I am told that we shouldn’t read St Paul’s admonitions on homosexuality the way they have been read from the beginning, I ask a simple question: before someone needed to reinterpret what he wrote, did anyone advance that argument? The answer is no. The unanimous tradition of the Church is unequivocal on this subject and on re-marriage for divorced people, as it is on fornication, euthanasia and abortion. The fact that the world does not like the stance of the Church on these matters might well be, in the minds of some, reason to go back and reconsider our teaching; but make no mistake, that reconsideration is prompted by the desire not to be so out of step with this world – at least in its Western sexual and social moresmores which even in the West, a generation ago, were considered sinful. So, if we want to be honest about this, advocates of change should be clear – they want to make sin into something else because they feel that in our modern Western society free choice is a prime good. Fine, but God has his ten commandments, and they are not presented to us as ‘God’s ten optional suggestions’.

Dogma is the collective wisdom of the Church and its meditation on Scripture, it is God’s guidance to us. We can ignore it, we often do because we are sinners, but at least, until recently, hypocrisy surrounded this practice, and we might recall that hypocrisy is the tax that vice pays to virtue; but now there is no need. If we have abolished sin, then someone needs to tell God that in our wisdom we do not need his guidance; the last time anyone did that they found themselves expelled from Eden. We ask, with all the petulance of a spoiled child, ‘where is God?’ when bad things happen; but we seldom stop to ask how far bad things come from our ignoring God. He is where he always is – loving us, waiting for us to repent and reach out in love to him. If we have become too wise and too grand for that, then we have indeed chosen the light of our own reason to God’s light – and may he have mercy on us and guide us to repentance.

The Refugee Resettlement Business

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screenshot-syrian-refugees-germany-pixlr-440-x-294A word of explanation because I realize many of you have never heard of PumabyDesign 001. She is one of my oldest blogfriends, who I met nearly a year before this blog even started. I have always found her posts to be well researched, and more to the point, true. In this one, she gores the oxen of all of those who act like our organized churches, and their corporate outreach. I’ve done a bit of research, and what I found corroborates what she says. Mind, this is US based, but I suspect that you would find much the same in the UK. Here’s byDesign…

Social justice evangelicals and church leaders across the United  [States] wrote a letter to President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence asking that the executive order implementing extreme vetting of individuals traveling from jihadist breeding nations and the 90-day moratorium on Syria be rescinded.

CBN News

More than 500 evangelical leaders from all 50 states signed a letter to President Trump asking him to reconsider his controversial executive order. The letter included the likes of Ann Voskamp, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary President Daniel Akin, and Open Doors USA President and CEO David Curry.

While they acknowledged the order could prevent bloodshed on American soil, America should still be a nation of compassion….

The letter points out that thousands of churches have welcomed and sheltered suffering refugees through the Refugee Resettlement Program[…]

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thousands of churches….”

Pope Francis once said that many Christians are Christians in name only, People who go to church on Sundays, but spend the rest of the week cultivating their attachment to money, power and pride are pagan Christians…

For obvious reasons, the social justice warrior in the Vatican who has labeled the rejection of refugees “an act of war” overlooks those organizations under the umbrella of Christianity receiving hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars from the refugee resettlement program beginning with his own U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The USCCB received $80,733,062 in federal grants (2015) and $79,590,512 in federal grants (2014) which accounts for more than 90& of their revenue stream but they’re not alone.

Many of the organizations who partake in the refugee resettlement programs are Christian in name only and for the love of financial gain have no problem quoting parables from the Bible and demanding compassion for refugees whose sole agenda is to convert infidels and/or chop off the hands that feed it.

The letter/petition signed by Tim Breene, CEO, and Scott Arbeiter, new President of World Relief and supporters starts off ironically enough with these two paragraphs:

As Christian pastors and leaders, we are deeply concerned by the recently announced moratorium on refugee resettlement. Our care for the oppressed and suffering is rooted in the call of Jesus to “love our neighbor as we love ourselves.” In the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), Jesus makes it clear that our “neighbor” includes the stranger and anyone fleeing persecution and violence, regardless of their faith or country.

As Christians, we have a historic call expressed over two thousand years, to serve the suffering. We cannot abandon this call now. We live in a dangerous world and affirm the crucial role of government in protecting us from harm and in setting the terms on refugee admissions. However, compassion and security can coexist, as they have for decades. For the persecuted and suffering, every day matters; every delay is a crushing blow to hope….

World Relief (full name: World Relief Corp. of National Association of Evangelicals) is a social justice organization corporation whose survival and existence is SOLELY dependent upon a steady revenue stream of taxpayer dollars.

For the year ending 2015, World Relief’s most recent Form 990 …had a total gift/grants income of $58,487,081 and $42,589,050 was provided by you, the US taxpayer, making their federally-funded share of their budget 73% taxpayer funded….” See: Ann Corcoran’s post entitled, “Federal Refugee contractor World Relief (Evangelicals!) has a new Prez.”

As confirmed by the chart below from Charity Navigator:

Notice the lack of fundraising in the graph above? Namely, that tiny slither of orange in the second graph under “Expenditures Breakdown 2015.” Theirs is a sense of entitlement.

Private foundation supporters include the Vanguard Charitable Foundation, Mustard Seed Foundation, Soros Fund Charitable Foundation, Pfizer Foundation, Global Impact and many others. [Source: CapitalResearch.org]

In addition to World Relief Corporation and US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) mentioned above, below are the major refugee resettlement businesses who receives tens (if not hundreds) of millions of taxpayer dollars for their doing their part in the Hijra with the blessings of Elizabeth Warren, Barack Obama and Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan.

Again, notice the lack of fundraising in the graph above? Namely, that tiny slither of orange in the second graph under “Expenditures Breakdown 2015.” Simply put, theirs is a sense of entitlement

If you know me at all, you know that I have a properly developed sense of compassion and charity for those caught in a war, or simply down on their luck. So do most Christians. I have little compassion for so-called Christian organizations who bleed the people of a country, of tax money to presumably resettle people in our countries. I agree with this, though,

Washington, DC – U.S. Rep. Brian Babin (TX-36), who has been a leading critic of America’s United Nations (UN)-led refugee resettlement program, issued the following statement today in support of President Trump’s executive order on extreme vetting:

“I commend President Trump for delivering on his campaign pledge to put a common-sense pause on a broken refugee program and immigration system that has serious national security gaps and is in desperate need of repair….

“As I have been saying for nearly two years, the refugee resettlement program poses a clear and present danger to the American people. We were told by President Obama’s own DHS, FBI and DNI Directors that U.S. intelligence officials cannot properly vet or screen refugees coming from Syria and other terrorist hot spots. We have seen the deadly consequences in Europe as ISIS has already successfully infiltrated its refugee population. Why repeat the same mistakes here?

“As a compassionate Christian, I believe we can and should help displaced refugees by caring for them in safe zones near their own countries. In fact, for the cost of bringing one refugee into America, we can help at least twelve refugees in safe zones….

From: That Sense of Entitlement: Social Justice Evangelicals, Church Leaders, Refugee Resettlement Biz. By permission, and do read the whole thing.

This is, of course, what Britain was originally doing, but it seems that it has succumbed to pressure (from what I read) to concentrate on resettling the unfortunate people from their home countries to the UK, as our church organizations here in the US have. I don’t think this is good for either our countries (especially since no vetting is really possible) nor is it good for the refugees (if many of them are, in fact, refugees, and not merely economic immigrants).

I hate to sound like Bosco, but our friend has a point about how our churches can easily be corrupted, by the fool’s gold of the Second Kingdom.

In short, we are commanded to be charitable, but we are not entitled to steal (and government funding for other than the proper purposes of government is just that) from others to fund our charity.

And that doesn’t even start to address the problems of the introduction of immigrants culturally incompatible with our culture into our countries. I note that Chancellor Merkel is now hoping to bribe her immigrants to go away, I doubt that will work since it is not in their best interest. And who will guarantee that they will not return, perhaps with another name, since many have no reliable documentation anyway, directly thereafter.

 

Ecclesia Anglicana

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Morwenstow Church North Cornwall, (A typical Rural Parish Church)

To the outsider the Church of England presents a very confusing picture and always has done. Amid the convulsions of religion in the sixteenth century the Anglican Church had a character and a story which are hard to fit into the conventional categories of Continental Christianity. The Anglican was and is a complex blend of Lutheranism, Calvinism, and Catholicism. Our Church grew into its distinctive position under the shelter of the supremacy of the English Monarchy. Its story is bound up with the greed and intrigues of Tudor statesmen. However the Church of England cannot be explained in terms of politics alone.

Anglicanism  bore a spiritual witness, if only by linking together what Christians had torn asunder elsewhere.  – the Gospel of God, which had made the Reformers what they were, and the old historical structure which the Reformers as a whole had rejected but without which  the Gospel itself lacks its full and proper expression.

The impact of Luther and Calvin is seen not only in the 39 Articles but in the general return of the Bible as the ruling element in faith and piety. However it appealed to the Holy Scriptures along very different lines from those of the Lutherans and Calvinists. The Church of England also appealed to the Primitive Church and saw that scripture centres in the fact of Christ himself.

Prominent in the old structure which the Anglicans retained was the Episcopate. the reasons given for this ministry varied; for the stress and the strain of controversy was intense, and the Anglican position had to be defended often self consciously against Rome and the Puritans without,  and the pressures of the more extreme Reformers within.

I haven’t gone into details, but Anglicanism is a rich cake containing many ingredients that clash and don’t always mix successfully. The average Anglican somehow manages to exist in happy tension with those who within the same church differ radically from fellow members.

One part of me would like to go along  with traditional Latin Christendom, but the other half realizes that this cannot be  and walks  with the Reformers. One treads a tight rope and the danger of falling off is a continual hazard.

Within the same church all shades of opinion can be found. Remaining an Anglican and a faithful Christian  amid the very uncertain vicissitudes of these times requires a quiet steadfastness and trust in the God of the Bible as revealed in Christ Jesus.

My modern hero in the C of E is Archbishop Rowan Williams.  His career certainly ended in the public eye. And it could hardly be called a success, in conventional terms. It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that those who have been exasperated, dumbfounded and distressed by the leadership of Rowan Williams would have been terribly disappointed by Jesus.

It’s hard to think of a diatribe leveled at the former head of the Anglican Communion that is not, in reality a diatribe directed at our crucified Lord himself. Jesus and Rowan Williams can both be infuriating at times. But they’re infuriating for largely the same reasons.

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The kindly face of Anglicanism.

Battle Lines? Yes, but remember that the battle is already won

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A week or so ago I wrote a post about R, a dear and valued old friend who had converted to Christianity. He has now joined our community and this is his first post. I welcome him on behalf of the whole community gathered here. C451.

18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”

John 15:18-19 English Standard Version (ESV)

This is my first post on All Along the Watchtower, and I hope that as someone recently come to Christ that I can make a helpful contribution to the conversation here.

My friend Chaldecon 451 recently wrote about the battle that surrounds us in a world where so much pressure is placed on our Churches, of whatever denomination, to conform to the free-wheeling, consumption-oriented, sexually-obsessed culture that surrounds us, which seems to be sweeping across us like a tsunami.

He is right in his description of the huge pressure being brought to bear upon us to change our reading of Scripture to suit the mores of the world around us. The media coverage of the recent decision by the Church of England to remain true to the Biblical definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman attests to the hostility that Christians face in an age of rampant unbelief.

These are difficult times, but nonetheless, the lack of understanding apparent across the media when Christians have the audacity to suggest that God’s Word is presented in the Bible and we cannot change it in order that people can carry on committing sin without any pangs of conscience, is something we should not allow to cause us to despair.

As Our Saviour told his disciples, we should expect persecution and yes, even hatred, to follow our attestation of our Christian beliefs. We should remember, however, that throughout human history hatred has been rooted in fear – fear of the different, fear of the different, and, in our case, fear of the Truth that is Jesus Christ.

As one who was very recently an atheist, I look back at my unwillingness to embrace Christ’s Mercy and now understand how deeply it was rooted in fear. Fear of the things I thought I would have to give up if I became a Christian, fear of leaving behind my safety zone of consumer-driven existence, fear of giving up my ingrained idea that I was the centre of the universe. Above all, the (now very odd) fear that, if those pesky Christians were right, then I was in a lot of trouble. Those who attack Christianity do so out of fear, and the harsher their attacks the more they reveal their fear of the Word.

Viewed from this perspective, the weakness of these attacks are revealed to us. Time and again in the Old Testament God showed Israel how, no matter how numerous an army appears before the battle, the fear in its heart means it cannot stand against His people. We should then take these attacks as evidence of His Victory and feel energised by this knowledge of our enemies’ fear to bring the Truth of His Grace to the ears of as many as we can.

The battle is already won, and that should give us strength.

‘What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?’

Continence is impossible?

JP II and rosary

Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio says, “divorced and remarried [read: adulterers] can take Communion if continence is ‘impossible’”. __ taken from a headline story in the Catholic Herald UK.

Isn’t that sort of like saying, “priests can take Communion if continence is ‘impossible’” or “unmarried parishioners can take Communion if continence is ‘impossible’” or “committed sodomites can take Communion if continence is ‘impossible’” or any other simile one might like to create? And who is it that deems this impossible? The priest, the bishop or perhaps the Pope himself? No, the person who is trapped in a situation where he neither has the ability to feel shame or sorrow for sin nor has any purpose at all to amend their life. Yes, that’s right. The Church is not going to get in the way of the sinner’s ‘conscience’ that plays both judge and jury; after all “who are we to judge” or to claim otherwise to the infallible conscience of a unrepentant sinner.

Thank you Cardinal Coccopalmerio who finally gave us an explanation of Pope Francis’s Amoris Laetitia; after all he is in the inner circle of the Holy Father. So finally we can all breathe a sigh of relief . . . that is if we conclude that this man is actually a Catholic in his beliefs.

Of course this thinking, being restricted to ‘continence’ is strictly speaking to our teachings regarding sexually immoral acts. However, by the extension of logic, one can also make similar arguments regarding “killing” for instance. What if an ‘abortionist’ is incapable, due to the stress that it will cause his lifestyle, his wife and children if he stops? Perhaps he could find no other suitable means of support for his family. If he feels that it is impossible to ‘keep from killing’ then what is to prevent him from getting absolved in the confessional and receiving the Blessed Sacrament? Does his conscience have the same esteem and the same infallible worth as those who are living in sexual sin?

Why is the 6th Commandment the only one where this will be OK? Why should this theological thought end there. What of the other 9? Are they somehow not included in this ‘mercy’ that the Church is extending toward those who find the 6th Commandment too demanding? Where is their accompaniment and mercy? I just cannot see that this is the entirety of this new definition of mercy which is being proposed.

For there is no mercy for those who use mercy as a means to continue to remain in a state of sin and presume on the mercy of God as their hope. Scripture and the saints make it clear that presuming upon God’s mercy is a grave sin and only heaps sin upon sin. It seems that the Church had it right for 2000 years and now somebody seems to think that they understand God’s mercy far better than the evidence and teachings found in the Church, the scriptures and on the mouths of renowned saints.

Finally, I will float a possible explanation for why both the Church is accompanying and consoling the sinner rather than counseling them with the hope of saving their souls. It takes into account this new idea that God’s mercy is best understood by breaking the Commandments and also the novel idea that only the perpetual sinner is capable of assessing their sin and their own circumstance by use of their conscience. So if they forgive themselves, then they are forgiven.

I think that, like in business, nothing is given away and no rule broken unless the one giving this ‘pass’ to the person they are negotiating with agrees to a quid pro quo. In other words, there is no ‘free lunch’. So what could the quid pro quo possibly be we might ask.

Well, we all know that the curia has purportedly been harboring a powerful network [like businessmen create in order to get ahead] that will back them at any cost and often there is leverage involved [secrets, if you will, that nobody wants made public]. It is, in fact, blackmail and is part and parcel to politics, business and therefore we should not be surprised that the oldest and largest bureaucracy on the planet has not developed a similar practice.

So what then is the dirt and what then is the purpose of this opening gambit in loosing people from the consequence of violating the 6th Commandment? I think it is a long range view that, in time, the idea of ‘continence’ will be viewed within and without the Church as an impossible expectation for anyone. It will break down the idea of celibate priests, open the way to married priests and eventually nullify any penalty and usher in a groundswell of compassion and understanding for all priests who violate their vows of celibacy. Whether they sleep with women, girls, men or boys, how can we fault them for violating their vow of  ‘continence’ which, of course, is impossible to abide with. They are human and they are lonely, don’t you see. They are loving men who need to be loved in return and it is something that is beyond their human endurance. In this long range goal, nobody will be held responsible or be laicized or looked at as the wretches they are when and if they are found out. It will become a new normal that will be accepted both by the laity and the Church alike. It is the ultimate quid pro quo. I’ll look the other way if you look the other way.

What we are witnessing is a threefold destruction of the Church; the destruction of the Commandments, the Sacraments and the Holy Priesthood. In fact the concept of holy, virtue, and piety is being denounced already and will soon be thought of as foolishness from a bygone era. Hopefully not, but for the life of me I cannot understand any other way that all the pieces can or will fit together into a brand new puzzle that once made perfect sense. For these pieces have been tossed into the air for a new group of bishops to try to force together [though the pieces won’t fit] in hopes of reordering the Church and making it reveal a very different picture than the one we once all plainly saw and were familiar with. It won’t work in the long run but it may cause plenty of problems in the near future.

But continence is impossible, no?

Is morality subjective?

Let us suppose, for the sake of argument, that morality is subjective. What are the consequences of this position?

  1. A particular moral system is not universally believed.
  2. A particular moral system is not universally binding.
  3. No one can persuade anyone else to adopt their particular moral system.
  4. No one can dissuade anyone else from committing acts that appear morally repugnant to the former.
  5. The law loses its foundation (law presupposes binding morality).
  6. If the law loses its foundation, crime may increase (though not crime in the moral sense).
  7. If the law loses its foundation, punishment of crime loses its foundation. Punishment will no longer be “justified”.
  8. Presuppositional logic (implicature) will be adversely affected.
  9. There will be a psychological disjunction between the “conviction” that X is morally wrong in all cases (or in principle) and the “knowledge” that X is not morally wrong in an objective sense.

The list could go on, but these are the significant issues. While conversations around these areas can be productive, they require a meeting of the minds. When many unbelievers ask why morality should be objective, we should not be drawn into answering that question unnecessarily. Oftentimes the question behind it has more to do with a particular sin or wound that the questioner is dealing with. Attempts to support a subjective morality have more to do with excusing a particular problem than they do with a concern about the philosophical basis for our moral value judgements.

It is also interesting to note that most people – when in a neutral situation – make a distinction between justice and the law of the land. If legal positivism were true, the phrase “unjust law” would be incoherent. One could argue that it is incoherent and we have not noticed it, but it seems to me that the burden of proof lies one the person who seeks to prove its incoherence, not on the person who assumes its coherence.

“A law can be unjust”: is this an analytic statement or a synthetic one? We need to consider what someone means by this statement – is it in reference to the content of a law or its application?

Battle lines?

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The battle lines are what they have always been. The world wants a church which endorses what it wants to do and is impatient with talk of sin; the Church is the custodian of the ‘faith once revealed’. As the current fracas in the Church of England over gay relationships shows, once again, the world will be satisfied with nothing more than capitulation: love is love, it says, so allow it. Of course, at this point it does not accept that ‘love is love’ when it comes to what the rigid among us call incest or adult child sexual relations, but those barricades will be the next to be stormed. In the mean time, those Christians with a same sex inclination who adhere to the teaching of the Church and resist their temptations must sometimes wonder why they bother?

Make no mistake, it is not that the Anglican Church, or any other Church, is obsessed with sex – the pressure on this comes from those who are – that is those who want their sexual preferences to receive acceptance from the Church. There is no stopping point on this journey, as the Anglicans can bear witnessed to. The world will have its way. That there are those in the Church who have broken their vows, gives the world an easy target at which to aim its cries of hypocrisy – with the implication that if a few break their vows that should, somehow, justify everyone having the right to do so.

As a society we are not big on our duty, preferring, instead to assert our ‘rights’. But the plain fact is there are no ‘rights’ that inhere to us as human beings. What goes by that name are hard-won concessions which could easily be lost. Having eaten of the fruit of the tree of knowledge, we do, alas, think ourselves as wise as God, when we are simply fallen and fallible creatures. It is one of the devil’s better tricks to make us think we are at the centre of the universe, and that all that matters is our feelings and what we want; the egotism of the infant is encouraged – the self-restraint usually associated with adults is not. Indeed it is frowned upon – who, after all, in this one brief life would want to pass up on a pleasurable feeling? There is no tomorrow, so eat, drink and be merry, for it is then that we die. Children? Why bother? They cost money which could be much better spent on yourself. Take no thought for the morrow, as it takes no thought for you. We are taught we are alone in the universe, although the ‘proof’ for this is, at best sketchy; it is, in fact the new faith, based solely on our mistaken estimate of our wisdom.

To none of this can the Church assent. We are passing through here, this world is not our home, it is but a preparation for it. We are citizens of an Eternal place and, of course, the World hates us, as it hated the Word.

Sacramentals

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I call these religious items sacramentals. They’re scattered  all over my home in every room.  Thankfully being a “solitary”,  single for want of an alternative word, I’ve no one living with me to be bothered by them. The crucifix I’ve had most of my life.  The icon of our Lord to the right is a genuine one painted by the monks on the Island of Patmos.

The theology of icons is a subject for much study and I can recommend “The Theology of the Icon” by Leonid Ouspensky. ( Part one and two)

However it isn’t the theology that is  the main issue, but the effects of having them around. Statues, icons, rosaries, crucifixes and relics become friends almost to the point of actually making present the image represented. As a believer I know that the image depicted is real and substantial within God’s economy.  But we need to be reminded constantly that here we have no abiding city and are seeking the World to Come.

We are not just physical being but spiritual. We are living souls,  as the King James Bible put it in Genesis 2:“And the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life: and man became a living soul.”

That God in his threefold “hypostasis”  of the Blessed Trinity has himself become Man in Christ means hat we can therefore represent “Our Lord” in art and sculpture. It isn’t that we worship the image, but that we worship Him who the image portrays. In a sense all icons and statues are images of the Word made flesh, of Jesus, whose image we all bear within the depths of our souls through Baptism.

Sacramentals,  as I call these religious items,  are aids on our journey to the kingdom. “All the Way to Heaven is heaven,” as St Teresa of Avila reminds us.

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Mosaic of St John above the main doorway to the Monastery on the Island of Patmos.