2 June 2019

The limitations of Anglican Scholarship (1)

I mean no disrespect to the great Belgian and Benedictine liturgists of the twentieth century ... nor, of course, to our own dear Gregory Dix. But, surely, the greatest liturgist of the modern period is Edmund Bishop, the English Catholic layman whose instincts were as sound as his profound knowledge. And ... trigger warning of National Arrogance about to appear ... he had that gentle, elegant, allusive sense of humour which we think of as distinctively English, because we are English and we've all got it.

Once upon a time, there was an English clergyman of antiquarian instincts called Dean Stanley. Of Stanley, Bishop wrote that

"Many years ago ... he wrote a short series of articles for Good Words, mainly designed for the use of our northern neighbours, on Rome, modern Rome, as a living witness to the simplicity of early Christianity. They were written with his usual persuasive ingenuity and charm; it all read so easily. There was the Pope, for instance, in his simple white habit: the dean had much that was effective to say on this. 

"But it was a disconcerting thought if one happened  to remember that the first time a colour is mentioned as specifically the Pope's own for his dress, it was red; and red it continued for centuries."

Did I say "gentle, elegant, allusive"? Perhaps I should have added "feline". 

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