2 December 2010

Book Sales

Passing through Blackwells, I came upon a remaindered copy of Bishop Eric Kemp's autobiography, Shy but not retiring (his obit, by the way, was on Sunday; cuius animae propitietur Deus). I snaffled it up and brought it home to read. This is a splendid book to give to anyone tempted by the mirage of a long-term future in the Church of England.

It is of course cruel to flay anybody from the comfortable and complaisant high ground of hindsight. And probably dangerous: which of us could pass such an exacting test? But ... yes, you knew there was a But coming, didn't you?

Back in the 1990s, we all thought that the Leaders of thge Catholic Movement would pull some rabbit out of their hats. And of nobody did we have more expectations than of Eric Kemp. He had been around - with a finger in every pie, be it Anglo-Catholicism or Church politics - since the 1930s. But we now know that there was no rabbit and probably not even a hat. In as far as anything did get cooked up, it was done by a suave figure of the Establishment, the Old Etonian John Habgood.

It was fun in the Diocese of Chichester in Kemp's days, the 'Indian summer of the Church of England'. But we were living off the fat. There was no coherent plan ... what am I saying: there was not even an incoherent plan ... for anything that might be described as a future. We were teetering, just about to plunge, on the funfair railway, from the point right at the top, down the big slope to the splash at the bottom. And, as I now learn from Kemp's autobiography, the Butler was not even laying down a vintage or two whose drinking date would be ten, or twenty, years ahead. BTW, I am going for a Guinness Book of Records entry for mixed or inappositely combined metaphors*.

Eric's biography reveals that at no point did he have a higher motive than shepherding his diocese, looking after his clergy (at which he was very good) and keeping, for as long as he could, his own hand on the tiller. There have been vast swathes of Church History in which such ambitions sufficed for a Bishop in the Church of God. But in the decades of Eric Kemp's episcopate, there needed to be a sense of whither to turn that tiller; an attempt to discern the Signs of the Times; a capacity and a willingness, as they say in business, to think outside the box.

And now SWISH offer us another pointless, wasted, generation of the same ball-game. And why? In a determined attempt quite simply to spoil Dr Ratzinger's gambit.

*How many does that make?


Steve said...

I don't think you're actually correct about SWISH's motivation. I think it is aiming to provide a long-term home for those who stand where you do on women priests and bishops but for whom, for whatever reason, submission to Rome (via the Ordinariate or otherwise) is not an option.

(Howbeit, if you had said that you thought it would fail in the attempt, I would not have argued with you.)

Enrico Dante said...

Steve, I would love to agree with you, so let's say I do for now.

Whatever Swish's motivations are, it has to be honest about why 'submission to Rome' is not an option for its members. And, in return, its members have to be honest about why it is not an option for them.

And I mean, really honest.

William Tighe said...

fully understand why Rome might not be "an option" for Catholic-minded Anglicans, but SWISH? Why not Orthodoxy? Or Anba Seraphim and his Brittano-Coptic church (in full communion with Pope Shenouda)? Or Canon Lloyd's Old Catholic group?

I mean, is not any conscientiously-acceptable "option" preferable to remaining in a body that has either forfeited its "catholicity" or demonstrated that it was all among a pretense? Can Catholic Anglicans really accept the kind of "affirmation" that they can see, e.g., purveyed by John Moles in recent comment threads at The Saint Barnabas blog? Can they not lift their eyes and "Eis anatolesmesembrias blepsate," and see that the "script" prepared for the SWISH deludees has already been perfected in Sweden, and is even now being played in Finland and Norway, before its "grand performance" in the next decade in England?

jeffdownie said...

Hum, more talk of this wretched idea of 'submission' above. It really is completely the wrong word to use, and probably belies a wrong attitude which for some leads to the wrong decision. My own experience was one of a welcoming and loving embrace, much like that recieved by the prodigal returning to his father. The son had gone off, done his own thing, had a great time, but ultimatley found himself left with nothing, and returned home with some humility. The father, who never stopped loving his wayward son, welcomed him home & gave him the best of everything he had. It's all really very simple...

Enrico Dante said...

"It's all really very simple..."
I think you're right, Jeff. Others, however, appear to disagree. Perhaps they're nobly keeping shtum about exactly why, and what they're going to do about it, because they don't want to overshadow the ordinariate's infancy.

Father Bartus said...

It's actually more like they themselves don't know. It's a real hodge-podge group that is only united in what they don't want: WO and Rome.

As we've seen with the Continuum and now ACNA in the States, that doesn't get you anywhere.

They've got to be for something, not merely against.

Joshua said...

Some charity, please: I often think in this context of an Anglican family I know in Hobart - the mother and son entered the Catholic Church, the daughter the Russian Orthodox (Mrs having been brought up Anglo-Catholic, and having passed this on), while the father, a good man of moderate churchmanship, was left with literally nowhere to go, having been driven away from the Anglican Cathedral by the antics there, but not inclined to go to Rome or Moscow.

The Anglican church and churchmanship of his formative years has ceased to be, what with first WO and then, in Tasmania, an extreme low-church irruption somewhat of the Sydney variety: as he told his wife, all he could think and bear to do was to walk up the hill behind their house on Sundays, and sit on a rock staring out over the river, since he had no spiritual home anymore.

I am sure many devout persons, especially old-style Protestants formed in the Methodist or Presbyterian or Congregational churches of yesteryear (which in Australia have formed the ultra-liberal Uniting Church), and many moderate to high Anglicans, have been similarly alienated by modern trends, and are "bushed", as we say: utterly confounded and lost.

Pray for them.