Sunday, July 8, 2007

The Anglican/African "Realignment"

In recent times, numerous "Episcopalian" parishes have broken communion with the 815 Episcopagans to become "Anglicans" under the pastoral care of African Bishops.

The two common noted points about this "realignment" are:

(1) that "Episcopalian" is now generally a term reserved for liberal Episcopagans, though some traditionalists do remain in the 815 jurisdiction, while the term "Anglican," in contrast, is meant to denote traditionalists or conservatives fleeing the liberal tyranny of 815; and

(2) that the major wedge issue for American Episcopalians and Anglicans is whether homosexual behavior is sinful or merely that of an acceptable, alternative lifestyle. Indeed, the ordination of Gene Robinson, who openly admits to practicing a homosexual lifestyle has sparked a great crisis in the global Cantuar Communion, the third largest behind the Germanic Sectarians (a/k/a Roman Catholics) and the Ethnic Orthodox (a/k/a Eastern Orthodox).

But allow me the two further observations:

(1) the traditional and scriptural credentials -- that is, the catholic credentials -- of the African Anglicans in America seem more than a bit dubious, as many of these groups allow female ordination, which is expressly contrary to both Holy Writ and Holy Tradition. Hence, a goodly portion of the Realignment leaves itself open to charges of mere homophobia. The argument is that the so-called orthodox Anglicans accept girls at the altar but not boys in the bed and that no principled argument can be made for this distinction. Indeed, this charge has more than a little sting as it is hard to draw lines once any amount of sexual perversity is normalized; and

(2) the Prayer-Book credentials of African Anglicans in America are also quite dubious as many, if not most, use the 1979 Episcopagan Book, which is patient of traditional usage, but is more often than not the basis of not traditional liturgics that run rampant in both the 815 jurisdiction (clown masses, surf board masses, jazz masses) and Realigned Anglicans (charismatic chaos, praise bands, contemporary-language services).

In sum, for Prayer-Book Catholics, we must view the Anglican-African Realignment with a discerning and skeptical eye, just as we do with the Continuum. Indeed, some of the African Bishops are more traditional and catholic and prayer-book oriented than others, just as some Bishops in the St. Louis Continuum are more understanding and supportive of Prayer-Book Catholicism. Unfortunately, no major realignment/reorganization movement in global Anglicanism today can gain the whole-hearted, unconditional, and undiscriminating backing of the very center of Anglicanism: Prayer-Book Catholicism. For that, we need the remnant PBC bishops and priest to stand up and be counted -- should the Lord tarry, the silent plurality is waiting.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Revisiting ROCOR's Sarum Rite

After the tenaciously and friendly prodding of Ari Adams, I have recently conducted a comparison of ROCORs Sarum Rite and Percy Dearmer's Parson's Handbook (12 ed.), which has historically been the arbiter of all thing English Use. My conclusion is simply that the ROCOR Rite does not comply with historical, living English Use because it is overly rigid, requiring elements that are merely optional, and ever-striving for an Old Sarum maximalism at the expense of traditional English practicality.

Indeed, English Use has historically allowed for varying degrees of ceremonial pomp depending on circumstances. Indeed, Dearmer constantly emphasized that a country parish should employ a less ambitious program of English-Use, employee perhaps as few as three sets of vestments and celebrating Holy Communion with but a single priest and clerk. Of course, a full-blown, "Old-Sarum" High Mass is also possible in cathedrals on High Holy Days. But, usually, something in between is expected and is what contemporary, English-Use, Prayer-Book Catholics expect. However, the ROCOR Sarum Rite comprises one particular way (certain variable hymns are permanently fixed in contradiction of English tradition but n conformity with East Use) of doing the "whole-nine yards," and indicates that this whole-hog approach is to be normative -- the Sarum Rite -- which is simply absurd. Such rigidify certainly does not represent the continuation of English-Use, Prayer-Catholicism. In short, due to its typical traditionalism, which is the stiff necked adhere to medieval traditions of men over charitable application of Tradition, ROCOR has completely failed to grasp the true breath and flexibility and spirit of the English Use.

Additionally, your blogger notes that ROCOR has quite uncatholically failed to offer a pastoral provision for married Anglican Bishops seeking reunion, thereby raising inessential Orthodoxy canons to the level of dogma (that which is essential for communio in sacris.) This short of Orientalcentricism is even more galling when one considers that St. Peter himself was a married man and that St. Paul explicitly requires Bishops (episcopos) to be the husband of one wife.

In sum, at the present time, your blogger maintains his position that Western Rite Orthodoxy (WRO), is simply not a viable option for traditional Anglicans seeking the authentic Orthodoxy and Catholicity of the Ancient (not Medieval) Church. Traditional Anglicans seeking Ancient Catholicity in their own cultural idiom simply will not find it in the philetisim-plagued, ghetto Orthodoxy of today.

Revisiting the St. Loius Statement

Last year, Rev. Peter Toon, essayed that the St. Louis Statement is an exclusively Anglo-Catholic document designed to excluded traditional Anglican Evangelicals and Prayer-Book Catholics from the Continuum. While I agree that traditional Evangelicals were tossed nary a crumb in the statement, I wonder whether the same can be said about Prayer-Book Catholics?

Perhaps the strongest charge against the St. Louis Statement from a Prayer-Book Catholic point of view is the omission of any mention of the 39 Articles of Religion. Indeed,
PBCs usually embrace the Articles, as exposited by such divines as Browne, Bicknell or Moss, as a statement of Ancient Catholicity -- not of the Roman Catholic (Germanic Sectarianism) exposition of Newman's infamous and specially pleaded Tract 90 nor the Calvinistic and equally special pleading distortion of the Articles by Low Church Anglicans.

A second charge brought by
Toon is that the framers of the Statement intentionally wanted to excluded all but Victorian Anglo-Catholics from their movement. Toon bases this charge upon private information that he has.

But third point overlooked by
Toon is the historical fact that Bishop Chambers and the then president of the American Church Union wanted the American Episcopal Church (AEC), now Anglican Province in America (APA) to attend the St. Louis conference. But, contrary to the wishes of the chief consecrator of the Continuum, the APA Prayer-Book Catholics were excluded from the St. Louis Conference.

Subsequent events also seem to confirm
Toon's point. First, schism within the movement occurred when Old High-Church and Prayer-Book Catholic oriented men broke communion with the original movement. Indeed, the United Episcopal Church broke away largely under the banner of the 39 Articles, which were given no constitutional authority in the Continuum. Recently, however, the UEC seems to have dropped its 39-Articles position, moved up the candle at least regarding its episcopal bench, and reopened communion with the Anglican Catholic Church (ACC), one the three major Continuum Jurisdictions.

Based on personal experience with the Continuum, I can say that Prayer-Book Catholic clergy are tolerated, but largely as second-class citizens within the Continuum. Generally, the leadership has been strongly Anglo-Catholic and formation of priests has been strongly biased in that direction. Of course all this a bit
incongruent, as the typical Continuum layman is probably much more comfortable with Old High Churchmanship or Prayer-Book Catholicism than Victorian Anglo-Catholicism.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Finding Prayer-Book Catholicism

Presently, no Anglican Jurisdiction is principally grounded principally on classic Prayer-Book Catholicism. Yet, for the persistent and discerning layman, finding a PBC parish is not an impossibility.

1. The Episcopagan Church.

A few traditional Broad/High-Church 1928 Prayer-Book parishes still remain in the dying Episcopal Church. Perhaps, the leading national example is St. Thomas Fifth Avenue in New York, but others persist in obscure places, largely by keeping a low profile and largely avoiding the attention of their Episcopagan Bishops.

Another option is the occasional traditional-language Rite-I early service allowed for elderly congregants that still donate significant money and just might be shammed into leaving a bequest to the Episcopagans if they can be shielded from the Vaudevillian Main Sunday Service.

2. The St. Louis Movement Continuum.

Although the Anglican Catholic Church (ACC), the Anglican Provence of Christ the King (APCK), the United Episcopal Church (UEC), and Anglican Church in America (ACA) have largely Anglo-Catholic hierarchies and Missal Mass clergy, Prayer-Book Catholic Parishes do exist. The Diocese of the Midwest in the ACC and UEC are probably prime places to find these jewels, though PBCs are tucked away in other places in the Continuum too.

3. The REC/APA Merger

The Western Diocese of the Reformed Catholic Church has significantly scaled the candle stick in recent years. Hence, many parishes use the 1928 BCP and could fairly be called PBC or Old Broad/High-Church Anglicanism. The Anglican Provence in America also has liturgical diversity, but has been characterized as Prayer-Book Catholic as a whole, so the parish nearest you just might be PBC.

4. African-Mission Anglicanism

Many Evangelical/Charismatic Episcopalian parishes have fled the Episcopaganism of 815 seeking the protection and pastoral care of more orthodox African Bishops. Though contemporary celebration services (Pop Bands, Video Projected Lyrics, and Praise Music) are the norm here, some of these parishes offer a "traditional" early service using the traditional-language Rite I (1979 BCP) as well as traditional hymns accompanied by a traditional organist.

* * * *

In sum, though no Anglican Jurisdiction is fundamentally centered on conservative, traditional Prayer-Book Catholicism, many at least tolerate it and even give it positive lip service, though usually not more. But, until Anglicanism comes to itself and realizes that PBC is the heart and soul, the very center of coherent Anglicanism (as opposed to neoPentcostalism, Prayer-Book Presbydestinarianism, or Liberal 'Affirming' Catholicism, or Victorian Anglo-Catholicism, the hunt-and-peck approach to finding a parish is all that is available to Orthodox-Catholics in the great Anglican Prayer Tradition.

* * * *

The Universal Church is today, it seems to me, more definitely set against the World than at any time since Pagan Rome. I do not mean that our times are particularly corrupt; all times are corrupt. In spite of certain local appearances, Christianity is not and cannot be within measurable time, 'official'. The World is trying the experiment of attempting to form a civilized but non-Christian mentality. The experiment will fail; but we must be very patient in awaiting its collapse; meanwhile redeeming the time: so that the Faith may be preserved alive through the dark ages before us; to renew and rebuild civilization, and save the World from suicide.

--- T. S. Eliot, Thoughts After Lambeth (1931)

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Near Misses

My Apoligia below presupposes that neither contemporary Anglicanism nor contemporary Orthodoxy in the New World offer a practicable Orthodox-Catholic English Use suitable for the laity. I reached this conclusion after much struggle and investigation. My findings are as follows:

1. Unlike the Cantuar Anglicanism, Continuuing Anglicanism has rejected the errors of feminism and sexual immoralty. But, in so doing, it has adhered to either traditional High-Church Anglicanism, Victorian Anglocatholicism, or, in the low-church wing, Prebydestinarianism. And, all of these are preferable to the Liberal mess of Cantuar Anglicanism, especially in North America. But the Anglo-Catholics and the Evangelicals are both thoroughly grounded in the grand, unquestioning mistake of occidental Christianity: The belief in Augustine of Hippo's overarching authoritativeness or over importance. Of course, each reads Augustine a bit differently (Calvinism vs. Thomism), but the point is that they are shackled by the blinders of an Augustine-Centric approach to Patrology. Ironically, its is the Liberals have made some strides towards a more catholic unsterstanding of the Faith, such as in Rite II, Eucharistic Prayer D, from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, but their other very non-catholic errors and misadventures are infamous and legion, leaving the as a very poor option. Thus, though, it may be possible to find English-Use in Cantuar or Continuing Anglicanism, it is also the case that with exceedingly rare exception, plausible aspiration to Orthodox-Catholicism cannot be similarly found.

2. While the Antiochian Western Rite Vicarite (AWRV) does offer the Rite of St. Tikhon, this Rite is based on intentional Romanizing interpolations of the English Prayer-Book Tradition as well as Romanizing Usages prescribed by Lambeth's Ritual Notes, which in turn are inspired by Fortesque's classic guide to Tridentine Roman Usage. In short, at best, the AWRV offers an Anglo-Roman Rite without Roman Usages, not an English Rite with English Usages. Indeed, In the brief history of the Victorian Anglo-Catholic Liturgical experiment, with its conscious and intentional following of Roman Tridentinism principles has only ever garnered the support of about 10% of Anglicans -- others of catholic leanings preferring English-Use (Sarum inspired), Prayer-Book Catholicism, the prime examples of which might be Westminster Abbey in the Motherland (for we Anglo-Americans), once upon a time Percy Dearmer's Primrose Hill parish, and perhaps still today St. Thomas Fifth Avenue in New Yorld. Thus, the Rite of St. Tikhon coupled with Ritual Notes, though may arguably constiute an Orthodox, Western Rite and Usage, is simply not adequate to support an Orthodox-Catholic, English Rite and Use (which is ironic considering the the historically predominant cultural roots of North America are English and only to a much lesser extent those of Continental Europe).

3. In sharp contrast, the Russian Church Abroad, by the grace of God soon to be reunited with the whole Russian Church, has attempted a restoration both and English Rite and Usage by a genuine and authentic resurrection of Old Sarum along Orthodox doctrinal principles. The only problem with this approach is that it is too successful in that embodies an archaic liturgical approach that is simply outside the living memory of any Anglicans and of a variety and fails to give sufficient weight to the many virtues of the intervening (1) Cranmer's Prayer-Book Tradition, which itself is based on prudent pruning of Old Sarum, and of (2) the legitimate and useful insights of the Liturgical Movement. In short, while an Old-Sarum Restoration approach seems completely legitimate for a monastic context, especially if paired with a historical English variation of the Rule of St. Benedict; but it just seems impractical, and and unnecessarily archaic (and therefore unedifying and foreign) for employment in secular parishes and Cathedrals.

In short, your blogger believes that a third approach, not yet offered by Orthodoxy or Anglicanism, is needed for any usable and edifying Orthodox-Catholic English Use. And this third way shall be the subject of future posts.


On my previous blog, the Patristic Anglican, I argued that the classic Anglican fomularies indicate that genuine and authentic Anglican doctrine is in accord with the teaching of the Fathers, not the Scholastic Doctors nor the Protestent Scholasticism of Calvin and progeny. But in the process of explicating, discussing, and defending my thesis on The Patristic Anglican, the fact became clear to me that the Anglicanism's appeal to the Fathers is one that has predominantly been to the Augustinian synthesis (with a very few PhilOrthodox exceptions), and not the consenus patri.

By Augustinian synthesis, I have n mind as a typical example the teaching of the Council of Orange for example, which is fundamentally Augustinian with just a touch of moderation, without which leads to the double predeterminism of Calvinism. Thus, I finally concluded that, even Traditional Anglicanism, as opposed to the Liberal/Liberation Theology ascendant in First-World Anglicanism, the patrimony of Elizabethan-Settlement Anglicanism is still historically and fundamentally unbalanced in an Augustinian or Occidental way even if unintentionally, as it fails to adequately take into account Oriental Fathers, such as the Cappodacians, on their own terms (not as viewed through an a priori Augustinian lens). Indeed, though tempered, the what was to become Frankish Augustinianism dominant in Germanic Christianity simply was unacceptable to St. John Cassian and St. Vincent of Lerins due to their broader, more catholic formation (they were fluent in Greek Christian thought, not just Latin), hence Vincent's classical aphorism: "quod semper, quod ubique, et quod ab omnibus."

Indeed, I have concluded after considerable prayer and reflection that one cannot logically and coherently accept both St. Vincent's aphorism and the Augustinian Synthesis simultaneously, as they are in inherent conflict -- though it is certainly common place for Anglicans and Catholics to claim to hold both. Thus, because the mainstream of Authentic, Traditional Anglicanism only gives lip service to St. Vincent's aphorism, it does not and cannot transmit authentic, whole/full (catholic) Christianity, as it does not hold to the the consenus patri quod semper, quod ubique, et quod ab omnibus, which is the only possible touchstone for the handing down of the genuine, apostolic Faith.

Accordingly, in my admitted conceit, I envision this new blog, "Anglican Orthodoxy," as an exploration of the possibility of a distinctively Anglican Liturgical Use within the broader context of the the Church Universal because, in my opinion (and that of other notable Westerns such as Jaroslav Pelikan of blessed memory), the mainstream or center of the Orthodoxy Catholic Communion is the sole repository of the balanced, genuine, and authentic consenus patri -- the Germanic Churches (whether Roman, Reformed or Anglican) reflect only a distorted image of historically genuine Christianity due to its erroneous presupposition that Carolingian-Frankish- Latin theology somehow fully and accurately represents the Faith of our Fathers, which it does not.

We have nothing to lose but our Norman chains.