Category Archives: History

About King Charles the Martyr

King Charles the Martyr

King Charles the Martyr

Wednesday, January 30th, is the feast of King Charles the Martyr.  This is not a feast in the Episcopal Church Calendar, but it is observed in other parts of the Anglican Communion.  There is a chapter of the Society of King Charles the Martyr in the Diocese of Tennessee, a group that advocates for observance of this feast by Episcopalians.

Historically, the puritan leanings of the US, as well as the republican triumph of the Revolutionary War, mean that Americans have been at the least ambivalent about the commemoration. That said, I believe that if some among us can hod their nose and accept the inclusion of Archbishop William Laud in the calendar, then we can certainly look again at King Charles the Martyr. Below are some articles and blog posts on the topic.

The Case for Charles, by J. Robert Wright

“Be ready always to give account to anyone who asks of you a reason for the hope that is within you, but do it with gentleness and reverence.” I Peter 3:15.The Commemoration in which we are engaged this morning is part of an international movement for the recovery of Anglican identity. King Charles the Martyr d. 1649 was commemorated in the Prayer Book of the Church of England from 1662 to 1859, then he was dropped. He never quite made it to the first American Prayer Book of 1789-90 because of our country’s need for distance from monarchy at that time. Whether or not the Queen’s Printers had statutory authority to remove his name from the English Kalendar in 1859 when the State Services were terminated [I think they did not], he did finally re-enter an official English liturgical calendar in 1980 with the publication of the Alternative Service Book of the Church of England in that year. Of course he has also entered the calendars of some other Anglican churches throughout the world, such as Canada. But most remarkable of all is the fact in this 21st-century post-deconstructionism world of searches for identity, that Charles as “King and Martyr” has been clearly and explicitly retained in the new calendar of the very modern Common Worship volume of the Church of England, just published in the year 2000. Whatever the word “martyr” may mean, and there are various acceptable definitions, the modern-day Church of England clearly recognizes him as a “martyr.” The Commemoration of King Charles the Martyr is on the rise, even in official circles, in liturgical calendars, in special services, in shrines and memorials, and in other ways. There is a growing realization that he is part of who we are as Anglicans, and even in the Episcopal Church, in addition to the long-standing witness of the Society of King Charles the Martyr and other groups, The Anglican Society, which I serve as President, has by official action of its Executive Committee resolved to work for the addition of his name to the calendar of the Episcopal Church.Charles could have avoided martyrdom if he had agreed to give up his witness to the catholic faith and order that is an essential ingredient of classical Anglicanism, in particular if he had agreed to settle for a church without bishops.

via The Case for Charles, by J. Robert Wright.

Re-thinking Charles the Martyr, by Fr. Sam Keyes

This Saturday past I took the rare opportunity to attend the Annual Mass of the Society of King Charles the Martyr, held at All Saints, Ashmont. (All Saints is, by the way, a delightful Anglo-Catholic parish with a wonderful choir ministry with boys from the neighborhood.) I’ve never had any particular devotion to Charles. I confess that I went — and I probably wasn’t the only one — for the spectacle of it all. Strange as they can be (and SKCM is probably the strangest, from most perspectives), there is something deeply appealing about these old Catholic societies in Anglicanism. It thrills me that they exist at all, and that they continue to exist.

via Re-thinking Charles the Martyr, by Fr. Sam Keyes.

For a longer treatment, check out this article from The Living Church archive.

mitt-and-lucille

Obligatory Election Post

I originally posted this in 2008 and indicated that it was more fitting for the 2000 election.  It may be applicable again come Tuesday:

While it was certainly much more applicable in 2000, I always like to share this selection from my fellow Ashevillan Thomas Wolfe‘s O Lost (the original, longer version of Look Homeward Angel) during election season:

“Oliver Gant had cast his first vote in Baltimore.  It was for Ulysses Grant.  Now he rode southward under the threatening mutter of a new civil war.  Two men named Hayes and Tilden had contested the Presidency with a spirited exchange of vitriol.  Mr. Tilden had been given the most votes, but Mr. Hayes had been given the Presidency.  And the rabble whose large intelligence had ordained this miracle now stood shirtily around with opened mouths, or went bawling through the streets by torch light in pursuit of the lucid simplicities of democratic government.” (O Lost, p27 )

O Lost: A Story of the Buried Life – Google Book Search.

O Lost

Look Homward Angel

 

Baathism: An Obituary / The End Of An Ideology | The New Republic

IT IS CHEERING to reflect that, when Bashar Al Assad’s government finally collapses in Syria, the governing ideology known as Baathism will likewise undergo a massive setback—though whether Baathism will fade away without a trace is something we can doubt. Baathism is one of the last of the grandiose revolutionary ideologies of the mid-twentieth century—an ideology like communism and fascism in Europe (both of which exercised a large influence on Baathist thinking), except in an Arab version suitable for the age of decolonization. Its champions came to power not only in Syria but in Iraq, in both cases in the 1960s; and the consequences were not of the sort that leave people unchanged.

via Baathism: An Obituary / The End Of An Ideology | The New Republic.

Hat tip to: @socialtrinity for directing me to this.

William Porcher DuBose

August 18th is the commemoration of William Porcher DuBose in the Episcopal Church Calendar. As a graduate of the University of the South School of Theology, I have a particular affection for DuBose. I’ve particularly been enjoying his book The Gospel in the Gospels recently.  Below is the collect, as well as the background piece from Holy Women, Holy Men, followed by a quotation from The Gospel in the Gospels.

Collect

Almighty God, you gave to your servant William Porcher DuBose special gifts of grace to understand the Scriptures and to teach the truth that is in Christ Jesus: Grant that by this teaching we may know you, the one true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

William Porcher DuBose, probably the most original and creative thinker the American Episcopal Church has ever produced, spent most of his life as a professor at the University of the South, in Sewanee, Tennessee. He was not widely traveled, and not widely known, until, at the age of 56, he published the first of several books on theology that made him respected, not only in his own country, but also in England and France.

DuBose was born in 1836 in South Carolina, into a wealthy and cultured Huguenot family. At the University of Virginia, he acquired a fluent knowledge of Greek and other languages, which helped him lay the foundation for a profound understanding of the New Testament. His theological studies were begun at the Episcopal seminary in Camden, South Carolina. He was ordained in 1861, and became an officer and chaplain in the Confederate Army.

Doctrine and life were always in close relationship for DuBose. In a series of books he probed the inner meaning of the Gospels, the Epistles of Paul, and the Epistle to the Hebrews. He treated life and doctrine as a dramatic dialogue, fusing the best of contemporary thought and criticism with his own strong inner faith. The result was both a personal and scriptural catholic theology. He reflected, as he acknowledged, the great religious movements of the nineteenth century: the tractarianism of Oxford; the liberalism of F.D. Maurice; the scholarship of the Germans; and the evangelical spirit that was so pervasive at the time.

The richness and complexity of DuBose’s thought are not easily captured in a few words, but the following passage written, shortly before his death in 1918, is a characteristic sample of his theology: “God has placed forever before our eyes, not the image but the Very Person of the Spiritual Man. We have not to ascend into Heaven to bring Him down, nor to descend into the abyss to bring Him up, for He is with us, and near us, and in us. We have only to confess with our mouths that He is Lord, and believe in our hearts that God has raised Him from the dead — and raised us in Him — and we shall live.”


From The Gospel in the Gospels:

The one great lesson that must forerun and make ready the Christian unity of the future is this: that contraries do not necessarily contradict, nor need opposites always oppose. What we want is not to surrender or abolish our differences, but to unite and compose them. We need the truth of every variant opinion and the light from every opposite point of view. The least fragment is right in so far as it stands for a part of the truth. It is wrong only when, as so often, it elevates into a ground of division from the other fragments just that which in reality fits it to unite with and supplement them.

==========

The gospel in the Gospels (Dubose, William Porcher, 1836-1918)

Michel Foucault. One of the major influences on New Historicism

About the New Historicism

[Incedentally, the New Historicism isn't all that "new" anymore.]

I recently ran across this interesting post on the New Historicism on the Religiosity blog.  Below are some of my thoughts in response:

Michel Foucault. One of the major influences on New Historicism

I was trained in New Historicism as an undergraduate, as that was the dominant school of thought in my history department. However, the primary take away that was emphasized there, was that “history is everything,” i.e. a historian shouldn’t limit oneself only to evidence that has traditionally been the realm of historians. Instead, it’s perfectly alright, even imperative, that historians look at, for example, the music of an era, or its popular literature. While it’s true that the New Historicism tends to reject meta-narratives, following the general postmodern drift away from them, the corollary of that–which I take as a very positive thing–is that the New Historicism takes the particular much more seriously, and appropriately so, in my opinion. It’s interesting that he links this tendency against universalizing to conservatism… as a traditionalist conservative (but fundamentally *not* a modern tea party type conservative), that may be one reason I like it.  I don’t think it negates the ability to draw conclusions about trends, etc… it just means that those theories are taken with a grain of salt, and the weight is toward viewing a particular time as largely peculiar in itself.

“The past is a foreign country.” –L. P. Hartley

Florence+Li+Tim+Oi+icon

Thoughts on the Ordination of Women on the Occasion of the Church of England opening the Episcopal Office to them

Recently the Church of England, the mother church of the world wide Anglican Communion, became the latest province to open ordination/consecration to the Episcopate to women.1 This decision was not without deliberation, and it will not be without some consequence from and for those opposed to the ordination of women.

I personally believe that this is something to celebrate, though not without recognition that it is one among a number of issues–theological, cultural, and institutional–that will ensure continued separation and divergence among the various segments of the Body of Christ.

That said, this occasion is one that should inspire us to look at the history of the process that has led twenty-nine provinces of the Communion to ordain women to the presbyterate, many of which have now opened the office of Bishop to women as well.2

This issue is also important as the issue of women’s ordination will be one of the primary focal points of the next Anglican-Orthodox dialogue. During the last round of dialogues, which resulted in the agreed statement Church of the Triune God (a wonderful document, especially as it concerns ecclesiology and the office of Bishop), Orthodox members of the dialogue evidently agreed that the ordination of women was theoretically possible, but indicated they had reservations because of tradition–particularly over the question of whether the condemnation of Montanism appropriately included a condemnation of women’s ordination.

With all this in mind, we should consider the driving forces behind the ordination of women in the Anglican Communion. In talking with opponents of women’s ordination about this–specifically thinking of those within the Episcopal Church–the issues that, more than any others, seem to turn them against the idea is that 1) the ordination of women in the Episcopal Church was initially framed as a rights issue and was political in nature and 2) that it serves as a step down a slippery slope that leads to the acceptance of homosexuality as compatible with Christian morality.

Leaving aside the lengthy discussion of Christian sexual mores for the moment, I will just say that I’ve often pointed out that there are a number of denominations that have ordained women that have not subsequently drifted down a more liberal path. One might consider churches such as the Free Methodists, Cumberland Presbyterians, Assemblies of God (among other Pentecostal and Charismatic denominations that ordain women–and there are several that once did, but no longer do), Church of the Foursquare Gospel etc… The point is, of course, that one may have legitimate reasons for opposing the ordination of women, but considering it within the limited frame work of what is considered liberal or conservative at this moment in the United States–or even in a particular region of the United States–can only be seen as parochial and limited. Instead, it is far more helpful to look at the traditions that have ordained women, why they did so, and when.

The point of looking at the various denominations that were the first to ordain women, is to highlight the fact that the bulk of them were what we would call frontier churches. These were the bodies that grew on the fringes and were involved in dramatic missionary growth. Why is this important? Because we need to recognize that the actual origins of the ordination of women in the Anglican Communion were likewise in the mission field.

I’ve recently been reading a wonderful book by Lamin Sanneh entitled Disciples of All Nations: Pillars of World Christianity (Studies in World Christianity). In it he has a fantastic section on Christianity in China, a portion of which bears on the discussion of women’s ordination in the Anglican Communion. I am going to quote this section at length:

The Role of Women in the Church: New Wind of Change

Meanwhile, the Anglican Church was involved in a project of genuine indigenization quite independent of political events, though it coincided with them. Showing frontier Christianity at one of its critical and creative turning points, the project assumed the form of an initiative for a fundamental reform of the clerical office. Accordingly, a movement was launched, unprecedented in the Anglican Communion, to advance the cause of women’s ordination. It came to a head with the ordination of the first women, Florence Lei [Li Tim Oi], in 1944, which sparked a revolt in the Church of England. It was the kind of smoking gun the standard bearers of the West needed to confirm their worst fears about the hazards of an unsupervised, immature post-Western Christianity. In spite of pleas from China and at home, Rev. Lei was pressured to repudiate her ordination and to resign. She did so [NB: she resigned her license to officiate, but never renounced her orders], she said, for the sake of the greater good of the church. Her supporters, on the other hand, had every reason to wonder if that cause was not already hers.

[...]

The resolution tabled at Lambeth was submitted by the Diocesan Synod of Kong Yuet and circulated by it to all the other Diocesan Synods. The document urged the ordination of women on the grounds “that God is using China’s age-long respect for women, and her traditional confidence in women’s gifts for administration and counsel, to open a new chapter in the history of the Church.” The Memorandum noted that the request of the church in China for the ordination of women had local reasons and support but that “the principles and considerations involved are of importance for the whole Anglican Communion.” The implicit challenge of the Memorandum was for the West to accept the consequences that Christianity was a world religion. “A conservative adherence to traditions which are not of the essence of the Gospel may be proclaimed as loyalty to the Faith and yet, in reality, involve a misunderstanding and a denial of its essential meaning,” which in this regard meant extending full equality to women Only then could the church we recognized as true to the gospel.

[...]

There was a paramount, unavoidable, and compelling moral obligation for the church to repudiate what was patently unjust and to take the action that alone could restore it to the place God appointed for it. The “Memorial” concluded: “If men and women were considered first and foremost in respect of their COMMON REDEEMED HUMANITY; that is, the things they have, as Christians, in common and not in difference, if they were considered, in short, as human beings, not as sexes, they could come forward freely, and fall naturally into their place in one common diaconate, one common priesthood, even as they do already in one common laity. There is no other way. ‘All are one in Christ Jesus’ means what it says” (p.9). For all their prophetic passion and compelling logic, the Memorandum and the “Memorial” failed to sway the 1948 Lambeth Conference.

Yet those eloquent views show a remarkable ripening of the thought emerging between progressive voices in the West and the church leaders on the missionary frontier, and may be a helpful correction to the standard depiction of post-Western Christianity as a reactionary phenomenon.3

The texts mentioned above, both the Memorandum of the Chung Hua Sheng Kung Huiand the Memorial of the working group to the 1948 Lambeth Conference can be found here on Project Canterbury. They make for very interesting reading, especially in light of these events regarding the ordination of women in 2012.


  1. The Church of England first approved the ordination of women in 1992 and ordained their first female priests in 1994 []
  2. Currently six provinces of the Anglican Communion do not ordain women (Central Africa, Melanesia, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, South East Asia, Tanzania), three provinces ordain women as deacons only (Southern Cone, Congo, Pakistan), ten provinces ordain women as deacons and priests, but not as bishops (Burundi, Indian Ocean, Jerusalem and the Middle East, Kenya, Korea, Rwanda, South India, Wales, West Indies, West Africa) and seventeen have approved–at least in theory–the ordination of women as Bishops as well (Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia; Australia; Canada; United States, Bangladesh, Brazil, Central America, Hong Kong, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, North India, Philippines, Scotland, Southern Africa, Sudan, Uganda) []
  3. Disciples of All Nations, p 260-262 []

“The pressure to embrace the full equality of women in the life of the church [...] was coming from the mission frontier from where ‘come reports of converts to Christianity-often made by women evangelists” (p 260)

genoways-00

Torture, American Exceptionalism, and Chronological Snobbery

C.S. Lewis used to talk about what he termed Chronological Snobbery, that is, the belief that the art, practices, culture etc… of an earlier time are inherently less valuable or evolved than those of the current era. This attitude, of course, crops up a lot at every point in history. Unless we’re incurable cynics we like to focus on the good things going on in our time, and explain away the bad. It goes against the very modern narrative of continual progress to suggest that there may actually be some ways in which we are less moral or less well-equipped than our forebears.1 One of the ways this comes out in the era of the New Atheists and the like, is the condemnation of religion as a source for the world’s ills. Two events in the history of the Christian west in particular bear a great deal of scrutiny and are repudiated, with reason: the Crusades and the Inquisition.

Obviously I’m not going to defend the actions that folks are condemning when they condemn the Crusades and the Inquisition.  The sorts of things people have in mind are fundamentally wrong, whether such actions actually color the whole of either set of events. Moral outrage is not a very nuanced emotion, in large part because it cannot be, and still lead to the sort of cleansing that is needed. An ironic thing came to my attention this evening though, as I read the newest edition of the Atlantic Monthly (January/February 2012). One of the articles in the magazine is entitled “Torturer’s Apprentice” and discusses the use the United States has made of “enhanced interrogation techniques.” I’ve written about issues of torture and Christian belief in the past, and shared resources, here and here.

Our continued justification of torture-by-another-name, as well as other behaviors we would never tolerate from another nation if directed toward us, are attributable to a particularly negative aspect of American Exceptionalism (and no, I am not a person who believes that everything that would fall under that category is necessarily wrong or evil.  I would argue there are definitely good aspects related to the unique character of the United States). I’ve argued in the past that this negative form of exceptionalism, which sees the United States as always being in the right, is in part bolstered by a national narrative that can only exist because of the Civil War and the creation of a shadow side in the form of the American South. Because the United States was purified through blood in the fighting of a morally good war to free people from slavery, somehow it affirms the God-given rightness of all that we do. Ironically, many of those raised in what Flannery O’Connor rightly called the Christ-haunted South (as distinct from Christ-centered) are the most supportive of such a narrative.  On the other hand, I think that Southerners are often in a better position to question the dominant narrative of the spotless moral record of our nation, since there are aspects of our own history–communal and familial–that, when dealt with honestly, force us to weigh our past as a morally mixed bag of both good and bad.

All that is to say, these two factors combined: generalized chronological snobbery overlaid with an unjustified presumption of moral superiority2, lead us to assume that some things done in our name are not wrong because they are done in our name.  Case in point from this article in the most recent Atlantic.  It is not out online yet, so I will simply type the portion I’d like to highlight, but I encourage you to purchase the magazine and read the article in its entirety:

As it happens, the Inquisition invented that defense [i.e. the defense that the number of time someone was waterboarded actually meant 'pours' rather than 'sessions' and was therefore not as bad as it looked]. In theory, torture by the Church was strictly controlled. It was not supposed to put life in jeopardy or cause irreparable harm. And torture could be applied only once. But inquisitors pushed the boundaries. For instance, what did once mean? Maybe it could be interpreted to mean once for each charge. Or, better, maybe additional sessions could be considered not as separate acts but as ‘continuances’ of the first session. Torture would prove difficult to contain. The potential fruits always seemed so tantalizing, the rules so easy to bend.

 

The public profile of torture is higher than it has been for many decades. Arguments have been mounted in its defense with more energy than at any other time since the Middle Ages. The documentary record pried from intelligence agencies could easily be mistaken for Inquisition transcripts. The lawyer Philippe Sands, investigating the interrogation (which used a variety of techniques) by the United States of a detainee named Mohammed al-Qahtani, pulled together key moments from the official classified account:

 

‘Detainee spat. Detainee proclaimed his innocence. Whining. Dizzy. Forgetting things. Angry. Upset. Yelled for Allah. Urinated on himself. Began to cry. Broke down and cried. Began to pray and openly cried. Cried out to Allah several times.’

 

The Inquisition, with its stipulation that torture and interrogation not jeopardize life or cause irreparable harm, actually set a more rigorous standard than some proponents of torture insist on now. The 21st century’s Ad extirpanda is the so-called Bybee memo, issued by the Justice Department in 2002 (and later revised). In it, the Bush administration put forth a very narrow definition, arguing that for an action to be deemed torture, it must produce suffering ‘equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death.’ To place this in perspective: the administration’s threshold for when an act of torture begins was the point at which the Inquisition stipulated that it must stop.

So, the next time someone bashes the Inquisition, perhaps we should tout their humanitarian credentials…

 


  1. Of course, this is not to deny that there’s a whole other swath of people who believe that things were better in the past simply because it was the past, but we’ll leave them to the side for the moment, and talk about these issues in another post. []
  2. This is not to deny that there are areas where a sense of moral superiority is justified–it simply has to be recognized that it is not uniformly deserved–that’s just honesty []

Above all things, good policy is to be used, that the treasure and monies in a State be not gathered into few hands; for, otherwise, a State may have a great stock and yet starve. And money is like muck, not good except it be spread. This is done chiefly by suppressing, or, at the least, keeping a strait hand upon the devouring trades of usury, engrossing, great pasturages, and the like.

The essays or Counsels, civil and Moral, of Francis Bacon, Henry Morley – Google Books (page 101).

thomascranmer

Reading up on Cranmer’s Eucharistic Doctrine


“It has been a common mistake to assume that there was no fourth alternative open to Cranmer besides Catholic, Lutheran, and Zwinglian. There was in fact, a fourth available possibility in Virtualism, the Eucharistic doctrine according to which, while the bread and wine remain unchanged after the consecration, the faithful communicants receive with the elements the virtue or power of the Body and Blood of Christ.  This was the view of the Eucharist affirmed by Martin Bucer, Henry Bullinger, Peter Martyr, and John Calvin.  It has been argued at length by C.W. Dugmore in The Mass and the English Reformers and more recently by Peter Brooks in Thomas Cranmer’s Doctrine of the Eucharist, that Cranmer’s was a high Calvinist doctrine.

[...]

Furthermore, however close to Calvin or Zwingli Cranmer’s Eucharistic beliefs were, it must be noted that Cranmer and Zwingli differed in their evaluation of the importance of the Eucharist.  Cranmer, like Calvin, desired a weekly Eucharist, whereas Zwingli settled for a quarterly Eucharist.  On balance, then, I think Cranmer moved from a Catholic through a Lutheran to a Calvinist or Virtualist doctrine of the Eucharist, and that the final stage was accompanied by the strong influence on him of Nicholas Ridley, relying on the Nominalism he found in Radbertus.  Cranmer, it must be insisted, affirmed that by the power of the Holy Spirit, the true consecratory agent in the sacrament, Christ with all the benefits of his passion and resurrection was spiritually present at the Lord’s Table, and that this was known in the hearts of believers by the interior testimony of faith.  Faith did not create the presence–that would be blasphemy.  Rather it confirmed the presence through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Cranmer would undoubtedly have agreed with the statement made by his mentor, Ridley, in the Cambridge debate of 1549.  There Ridley stated that the three practical benefits of the Eucharist were unity, nutrition, and conversion.  (Worship and Theology in England, Book 1: I. From Cramner to Hooker, 1534-1603; 2. From Andrewes to Baxter and Fox, 1603-1690, p. 183 & 185)