Tuesday, 25 December 2012

With Awe and Love

 Adeste fideles læti triumphantes,
Venite, venite in Bethlehem.
Natum videte
Regem angelorum:
Venite adoremus Dominum.

Happy Christmas from all at Plumstead.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Promotion Cometh Not For The North

We were surprised and saddened to hear the news that the Revd Philip North has withdrawn his acceptance of the post of Bishop of Whitby, citing the divisiveness of the current debate about women bishops. Farther North commented:
in the light of the recent vote in the General Synod and having listened to the views of people in the Archdeaconry of Cleveland, I have concluded that it is not possible for me, at this difficult time for our Church, to be a focus for unity.
There has been a suspicion, however, that Farther North's broader lack of loyalty to the Church of England may have played a part in his decision. Certainly his commitment to Anglicanism does not seem very deep. He does not apparently realise that the unitive vocation of the bishop is one of the Church of England's many quaint legal fictions, and that our practice is to talk a lot about about consultation - and to complain when consultation is lacking - but not to pay any attention to what people actually say, which would be a breach of the privileges of the clergy.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Liberty Hall for Tender Consciences

It is proposed that the clergy of the Church of England should from now on refuse all requests for weddings, in protest at the Government's announcement on same-sex marriages and the Church. At Plumstead Rectory we are very enthusiastic about this proposal. We always like a frisson of illegality, and we think it part of a good old tradition to offer ourselves to be martyred by our own canon law.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Affirming Catholicism

It is now traditional, after a close poll, to start with a conspiracy theory. At Plumstead Rectory we are deeply suspicious of the electronic voting system used at the so-called General Synod. We suspect that having allowed today’s reactions to play themselves out, Dr Sentamu will announce a completely different set of numbers at some later date.

We admit that we expected the vote to go the other way. However, let us look for the silver lining.  At Plumstead Rectory we have always been of the opinion that a House of Laity should never have been joined to the Convocations, and we are pleased that miraculously so many seem to have come round to our point of view.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

A Plague On All Three of Your Houses

Our dilemma is twofold. In the first place it is doubtful whether it is right to appoint these new bishops; in the second place it is doubtful whether the authorities who presume to decide the question are the proper persons to do so.

Firstly the question is whether it is possible that they should be validly consecrated, and secondly whether those who allow them to be consecrated have the right. Their consecration is contrary to the tradition of the Church of England, although Jesuitical scholarship claims to have found precedent; but, on the other hand, it is convincingly urged that the conditions of the present day make it imperative to accept this development, lest the standing of the Church of England be permanently compromised.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

This Just In

Congratulations to the Bishop of Norwich, and to the people of the diocese of Canterbury, who are not, it seems, to have him as their bishop. How pleasant it must be to find that their wishes coincide.

We speculate, in the now-traditional manner, whether there might not be so much pleasure at Bishopthorpe, especially as the supposed nominee first held a dignity in the diocese of Liverpool, and went to a school founded by Henry VI. Of course, we will not stoop to name him, but we can therefore, we are led to believe, chalk this one up for Lancashire, and so happily scotch the Plumstead Rectory theory of patronage.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Remember, Remember

I see no reason why treason should ever be forgot. We are baffled, therefore, that no-one remembers the events of November 5th, when a small and unrepresentative group of plotters, backed by foreign arms, conspired to overthrow the legitimate government of this kingdom.

We are not referring to the events of 1605, of course. Pace Marx, the first conspiracy ended in farce; the repeat in tragedy. But treason never prospers, we suppose. 

Still, the father, the son, and the grandson? Wherefore this rage and strife? O, the perils of false brethren, indeed!

Remember. Remember.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Rorate Caeli

This advertisement was placed in the press last week by a major British institution:

If the qualities that make a good Archbishop were obvious, 
they wouldn't make a very good Archbishop.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Apostolical Succession

Congratulations to Philip North, Rector of St Pancras; whose excellent transport links have taken him, not in a continental direction as some had feared, but along domestic lines to be Bishop of Whitby.

Farther North gets no points for going to any of the right colleges, and his links to the Diocese of York have so far been minimal, but we are very glad that he is now to be allowed entry to the Elysium. Great things clearly await, as indeed they should.

We commend also the Archbishop of York for the swiftness with which this excellent appointment has been made. It remains possible that Dr Sentamu is trying to prove to someone the decisive nature of his leadership, for reasons which remain opaque. Or it may be that it just doesn’t take that long to look up the name of the next Administrator of the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham in the list. Whether Cleveland is ready for an Australian in about ten years’ time remains to be seen.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Many Happy Returns

We have successfully resisted every invader for the last 1000 years, according to the Prime Minister. Alas, not quite. Birthday wishes to him who was natum Regem Anglorum.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Diocesan Omission

It now seems that the reorganisation scheme planned for the dioceses of Bradford, Wakefield and Ripon is to go ahead. For those disinclined to read the whole thing, it is a merger of the three dioceses into one, although for secret reasons it is very important that we do not say so.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Elect to Leave

In a secret location somewhere in the Province of Canterbury the Crown Nominations Commission meets today to select the next Primate. 

Secretly filmed footage has reached Plumstead Rectory of the moment when the Chairman of the Commission, Lord Luce, reviews the shortlist:

Saturday, 15 September 2012

We Suppose He Became a Doctor When He Became a Dean

To the Cathedral this afternoon for the installation of Dr Wilcox as the new Dean. All seemed to go well, except for a slight stumble over the name of the current monarch, which perhaps indicates that the Dean is a true believer. We look forward, then, to his long silken waistcoats, his adherence to the rubric, and the elegant philosophy of his sermons. The last, at any rate, was in evidence.

Readers who are keeping score will note that Dr Wilcox went to the right college, but that he has no connexion (as far as we know) with the Diocese of York. If he had that advantage perhaps he would not have settled for a deanery. His loyalties are, however, east of the Pennines, as he was unwise enough to concede from the pulpit. Whether this was brave or foolhardy will be settled on Monday evening.
The Dean's lady is also noteworthy; a writer, she blogs at http://catherine-fox.blogspot.co.uk/. Readers who are lovers of ecclesiastical whimsy (and we have no others) will particularly enjoy Fifty Shades of Purple, starting here. Slopian readers easily shocked should not click the link. It's Mrs Bold indeed.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Precedents, Not Presidents

In his interview with Benedict Brogan, the Archbishop of Canterbury suggests the need for a presidential figure to take charge of the day-to-day affairs of the so-called Anglican Communion.

Let us leave aside, for the moment, the question of what those day-to-day duties might be, and whether they need to be done. Let us leave aside the practical implausibility of getting so-called Anglicans to agree on the person, or the duties. Let us leave aside the dubious distinction Dr Williams makes between “executive” and “spiritual” authority: a distinction which suggests he is not very familiar with the office and work of a bishop.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

The Courage of His Convictions

Legal advice obliges me to point out that the title of this post does not refer to the member for Eastleigh. That gentleman aside, however, the Prime Minister should take no notice of the criticism levelled at him for offering knighthoods to former ministers.

We wish him to go further. We would not begrudge Lady Warsi's being a countess if Owen Paterson is made a baronet. And a dukedom is long overdue for the Marquess of Salisbury. Mr Daubeny made a duke, and people think more of that than anything he did.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

A Small Change with Great Consequences

The substance of yesterday's Cabinet reshuffle will not interest us. The only appointment of note is that of the new Lord Chancellor: the first non-lawyer, apparently, to hold the office since Nicholas Heath, Chancellor under Queen Mary, 1555-1558.

Heath was at the same time Archbishop of York. Now if Dr Sentamu had been given Cabinet office yesterday that really would have been a story - as well as confirming the Plumstead Rectory theory of patronage.

Monday, 3 September 2012

The White Rose and the Purple

Belated congratulations to Canon Glyn Webster, after the announcement last week that heis to be the next Bishop of Beverley. After the late nomination of Dr Warner to Chichester (admittedly a not un-poisoned chalice) that makes two good appointments together. They must be putting something in the water at the Wash House; indeed simply to find two Anglo-Catholics in a row who are not actually insane speaks well for the diligence of their search.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Enoch Was Right

...who was translated, so that he should not see death:
he was not found; for he had this testimony, that he had pleased God.  
Hebrews 11:5

Friday, 10 August 2012

Olympiolae in Olympia: the Real Medal Table

There is great excitement at the apparent successes of what I suppose we must call “Team GB”, but we fear this is misplaced. Team GB are said to be in third place in the medal table, but as far as we can tell the current standings, with two days to go, really look like this:

1. USA (so-called): two gold (pygme and decathalon) , one silver (decathalon).
2. Jamaica: one each of gold, silver and bronze (all in the stadion)
3. (=) Grenada (gold in the diaulos) and Russia (provisionally gold in the pale)
5. (=) the Dominican Republic, Japan, and Team GB (silver respectively in the diaulos, pale and pygme)
8. (=) Trinidad, Cuba, Ireland and Iran (bronzes in the diaulos, decathalon, pygme and pale)

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Willing to Vote for Their Own Demise

The previous government attempted the reform of the House of Lords in two stages, but succeeded only in the first. All that the last government could achieve was the disgraceful expulsion of the hereditary peers, except the ninety-two happily redeemed by the present Marquess of Salisbury. No-one could agree on what should replace the hybrid arrangements left after 1999, and they cannot agree on it now.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Willing to Love All Mankind

The Great Doctor writes, in a well-known passage:
How any man can have consented to institutions established in distant ages, it will be difficult to explain. In the most favourite residence of liberty, the consent of individuals is merely passive; a tacit admission, in every community, of the terms which that community grants and requires. As all are born the subjects of some state or other, we may be said to have been all born consenting to some system of government. Other consent than this the condition of civil life does not allow. It is the unmeaning clamour of the pedants of policy, the delirious dream of republican fanaticism.
Quite right, and the pedants of policy and the delirious dreamers are still clamouring, on both sides of the Atlantic.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Over the Water

We never expect much good news at Plumstead Rectory, but we can't see any downside to this. The country has, in the Great Doctor's words, been fairly polled, and the hereditary right of the sacred monarch is acclaimed by the people. Not only that, but the sovereign power has been used, not as it more usually is to oppress and destroy, but for the protection of the weakest. And in this the people have also heartily concurred. D.G.

Sadly none of this has occurred in the life of our own dear constitution, but in a far-away land of which we know little. Nonetheless, rejoicing with them, we find the Principality of Liechenstein to be more and more to our liking. Others may wish the United Kingdom to become more like the United States of America, Scandinavia, or Singapore, but the reactionary choice must now be clear.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

I'm the Guy Who Found the Lost Cause

Government proposals for altering the nature of marriage have been made, which no member of the Church of England can possibly accept. These proposals are incoherent and badly drafted; and we believe that to impose a new meaning on a term so familiar and fundamental as “marriage” would be deeply unwise.

We refer, of course, to proposals by the unelected Lord Hardwicke to require the registration of marriages as a condition that they be legally recognised.

Monday, 11 June 2012

England's Nazareth

One of today’s tasks is to do some planning for the parish pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham. It is sometimes called England’s Nazareth, where Mary’s “Yes” to God is commemorated, and where at the heart of the shrine is the miracuculously revealed Holy House. Walsingham is one of the “thin” places, and is very special for many. But it is located in a rather obscure corner of Norfolk, and expecially a very long way from Liverpool.

An opportunity is being missed to open the riches of England’s Nazareth to a wider audience, to remove the barriers of distance and travelling time and to broaden Walsingham’s appeal. We propose that the Guardians should develop a franchise arrangement along the following lines, giving the Walsingham brand a penetration throughout the country, and addressing the differing needs of modern pilgrims:

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Our Place in the Church of England

It has been a week of anniversaries. Today, of course, is the 59th anniversary of the Coronation of Her Majesty the Queen; a strange number to celebrate with such festivities as this weekend’s, but it is all grist to the royalist mill. On Tuesday was the anniversary (the 352nd) of the wonderful Restoration of the late King Charles, and if my acquaintance is anything to go by, this is being even more widely celebrated than the Diamond Jubilee.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Nolo episcopari

We congratulate Martin Warner on the announcement of his appointment to be Bishop of Chichester. I spare you the biographical details, except to say that although Dr Warner went to the wrong college, twice, he is nonetheless a man both grave and witty, and a holy and dedicated priest.

These are, we admit, unusual qualifications for the bench of bishops.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Delectable Enormities, Or, Enough is Not as Good as a Feast

On Wednesday of Holy Week the Bishop of Rome recieved a present of a 551-pound chocolate egg, decorated with the papal arms (full story here, at the Catholic News Service). Was it filled with fondant, with yolk and white? Probably not, but it is very splendid all the same. 

The papal master of ceremonies, however, has missed a trick. Clearly the egg should have been carried into St Peter's this morning on the sedia gestatoria, before - to great fanfare - His Holiness burst out of it at the altar. Next year, perhaps.

Having not much of a sweet tooth, I cannot blame His Holiness for charitably giving this monster egg away, although the mistress of Plumstead Rectory says that if someone were to offer us such an egg (with appropriate coat of arms, of course) she would have a good go at finishing it.

Yet although this egg is far too much for one elderly clergyman, that is surely the point. The God of Easter gives us, not as much as we need, but more than we could ever desire. The table is fully laden: not only need none go hungry, but however much we recieve, there is always more. So even if you are still hung over from the party after the Easter Vigil (ahem) I hope you will be opening another bottle of champagne today. Or the largest possible chocolate egg, if your taste runs that way.

It is your solemn duty to feast. For Christ is risen, and of his fullness we have all recieved grace upon grace.

Happy Easter.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Take-away and Eat: This is my Body.

We have a branch of Greggs within two hundred yards of Plumstead Rectory, which is more than they can say in Downing Street. In the cause of local loyalty I should add that nearer still is a branch of Greggs' lesser-known Liverpool competitor Sayers, but I am not a regular customer of either establishment, nor (unlike our political class) do I feel the need to pretend to be. Incidentally, if the Prime Minister is reading this in his report from GHQ, we were not fooled.

The products of Greggs and Sayers are not at all to my taste: greasy outside, suspect inside and fundamentally un-nutritious. You can see how the political class might feel an affinity.

Sadly this is one area in which the Church of England, normally so out-of-touch, is thoroughly inculturated.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Zombies: the urgent question of modernity.

As any fule kno, Scripture may be interpreted literally, allegorically, morally, anagogically and whimsically. The fifth sense is much underrated, in our view.

On an unrelated note, the thoughts of the Angelic Doctor on the subject of zombies yesterday were right up our street.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

The Anglican Covenant: Not Making it Worse

Half of all English dioceses have voted against the Anglican Covenant, and it will now be technically impossible, as it was probably already practically impossible, for the Church of England to be part of this experiment. Whether this will be fatal to the existence of the Covenant we cannot say, although there is a delicious irony to its rejection by what used to be the heart of the Communion.

The proposers of this scheme should have known, if only from their history books, that to be a Covenanter is by definition to be an opponent of the Church of England. Indeed, the victorious anti-Covenanters have been a curious alliance of those who see nothing wrong with the new liberal Anglicanism and those, more traditionally-minded on the whole, who could see that the whole idea was simply not very Church of England.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Budget Day

There can hardly be much to say about the contents of the Budget itself. Of course, all of us wish to see the prosperity of the country established, while maintaining our own political prejudices and benefiting our own pocketbooks. Here at Plumstead Rectory we favour for this purpose a large measure of tax relief for clergy of the Church of England, perhaps reverting to the system of the payment to the Exchequer of a nominal lump sum agreed by Convocation.

Monday, 19 March 2012

An ecumenical proposal

The Holy Spirit is clearly speaking to the churches, with the heaven-sent opportunity this week of vacancies (or impending vacancies) in two worldwide communions.

Anglican readers may not be aware that the Coptic Orthodox Church, though essentially a national church in Egypt, has dioceses and parishes on all continents. The Pope of Alexandria has jurisdiction over perhaps 9 million members in Egypt and the same number elsewhere, with a further 50 million members of daughter churches, mainly in Ethiopia and Eritrea, with historic links to his church.

Clearly the Coptic and Anglican communions have a great deal in common: roughly equal in size, with their mainly African membership and their perverse doctrinal differences with the mainstream of Christianity. Both share a current experience of repression by governments who took power under dubious circumstances, and now pretend to conservatism while attacking the historic traditions of their peoples. And crucially, both communions have vacancies for their spiritual leaders.

Is there now a critical ecumenical opportunity: to appoint the same person to be both Pope of Alexandria and Archbishop of Canterbury?

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Happy St Edward's Day

Happy St Edward, King and Martyr's Day. This is a day for all of us to be thankful for our anointed monarchs. Have you sent your king or queen a card (available from all good stationers) and bunch of daffodils to let them know how much you love them? A call to his or her private secretary will also be appreciated.

It is, of course, a terrible Americanism to call it Edwarding Sunday.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

That shortlist in full

 You knew there would be leaks. That shortlist in full:

1. The Archbishop of York
2. The Bishop of London
3. The Dean of St Albans
4. The Reverend Richard Coles
5. ecumenically-minded, Benedict XVI
6. if His Holiness is busy, substitute Fr Z.
7. Why a cleric? Try Frank Field
8. by far the best qualified, the ubiquitous David Lindsay
9. for the full St Ambrose, Baroness Warsi

and realising that the law would have to be changed to allow the Baroness:

10. like a squarson of old, appointing herself, Elizabeth II

Only today it would be the internet

After breakfast, on the morning of which we are writing, the
archdeacon, as usual, retired to his study, intimating that he was
going to be very busy, but that he would see Mr Chadwick if he called.
On entering this sacred room he carefully opened the paper case on
which he was wont to compose his favourite sermons, and spread on it
a fair sheet of paper and one partly written on; he then placed his
inkstand, looked at his pen, and folded his blotting paper; having
done so, he got up again from his seat, stood with his back to the
fire-place, and yawned comfortably, stretching out vastly his huge
arms and opening his burly chest.  He then walked across the room and
locked the door; and having so prepared himself, he threw himself into
his easy-chair, took from a secret drawer beneath his table a volume
of Rabelais, and began to amuse himself with the witty mischief of
Panurge; and so passed the archdeacon's morning on that day.
The Warden, chapter 8: Plumstead Episcopi