We all know what is meant by "the Academic World" ... or do we? A sometimes overlooked area of academic importance and excellence is provided by booksellers who are, themselves, knowledgable and scholarly; and who understand what is passing through their hands. When I was an undergraduate, The Newman Bookshop, down St Aldates on the west side just by the chaplaincy, was a source of much fascination to me ... especially the Room at the Back. Kallistos Ware, incidentally, tells me that he was able to put together there a complete set of the dear old Eastern Churches Quarterly. I still treasure and enjoy a proof copy of Knox's In Three Tongues. The genius loci, Mr K Todd, told me to take it for free, but I insisted on giving him ten shillings.
Mr Todd has long since shut up shop; but, just a little way further South (at OX1 1RA), St Philip's Books is, perhaps, even more fascinating. The proprietor, Mr Christopher Zealley, is as generous in sharing his considerable expertise as he is amiable. And he recently drew my attention to a copy of Dom Gregory Dix's The Shape of the Liturgy.
Yes ... this must be one of the commonest books on clerical bookshelves ... so, as you are undoubtedly thinking, it is hardly surprising that yet another copy should have made its way into Mr Zealley's hands.
But this is a copy sent out for review; and it has within it a letter from Dom Gregory himself to the reviewer.
I will not spoil the pleasurable anticipation of whoever might purchase the book with the accompanying letter, by blurting everything out here. But, with Mr Zealley's kind permission, I can share with you one or two interesting details.
Dix wrote from Nashdom on 30 iii 1945 to thank Fr Conrad Pepler O.P. for his "very generous and kindly" review of Shape. He refers ... this will seem curious to us ... to his own "left-wing attitude". What this appears to mean by 'left-wing' is that Dix had written in a "scientific and critical" way; he later uses the words "my 'radicalism'". In other words, Dix did not crudely assert Catholic truth and demand assent; he argued everything through from the evidence, stage by stage, without presuppositions and prejudices.
When Dix wrote, he had in his sights the 'liberal notion', then very fashionable, that the Eucharist was invented by S Paul ... or somebody else ... as a Hellenistic-style Mystery Cult. Dix wrote, he tells Fr Pepler, "to substantiate the entirely Jewish (and unitary) origin of the rite, in the last supper and nowhere else".
To be continued on Sunday.
Thank you, Father, for telling us of the delights of St Philip's Books in Oxford. I have acquired many fascinating volumes from Mr Zealley's treasure house in St Aldate's, ordering in a civilised manner over the phone, although he has a very fulsome web site. Not so long ago you mentioned Thornton's bookshop, where, in the early fifties, I bought an eighteenth century Roman Missal for a few shillings. Alas! Thornton's, and bargains of that sort, have long gone.
It is nice that you still have real bookstores there. On this side of the pond it seems the Amazonians have taken over. Where we used to live in Central Maine there was a wonderful used bookstore complete with friendly dog at the entrance to whom you were allowed to give a treat before passing into the inner sanctum. Spent many a happy hour browsing there. Unfortunately it went out of business, no doubt replaced by an emporium for those wishing to self medicate with Cannabis.
Dix, Shape of the Liturgy "this must be one of the commonest books on clerical bookshelves". I suspect that was true in the days when "tuppence was tuppence", but certainly in the CofE when more and more clergy are receiving their ecclesiastical and theological training in local schemes, it may not be. I had to attend a training session (to become a CME tutor) and such terms as 'daily office', 'liturgy', 'Mass', & even a low Church term such as 'family service' etc, had given way to 'worship event'. As I looked around the attendees, I could see they were all taking it in. Reading such books as 'Shape of the Liturgy' would be in a foreign language, akin to trying to read Mandarin Chinese! Perhaps I am being less than generous, and maybe, the speaker was a 'one-off'.
I read there is a new edition printed in London recently. Has it been progressively edited?
The mystery is , why Dom Dix after writing such a brilliant book, should have remained a Protestant? Why did he not become a Catholic and abandon the faux-Romanists? He must have realised the bogus nature of Anglican “Orders”.
Conrad Pepler OP: now there is another name to reckon with.
You have hit the nail on the head!
Yes Pepler is very interesting. Very close friend of Anscombe. He was the priest who gave the last rites to Wittgenstein. He has a fine book on mysticism.
Dom Gregory Dix suffered from bouts of "Roman Fever" but he did write a book defending the validity of Anglican Orders.
Sorry, more reaction to El Codo's points. The intellectual brilliance of Dom Gregory Dix shows that academic knowledge is not a guarantee of orthodox belief. The intellectually brilliant Jesuit Fr Anthony A.Stephenson S.J. was one of the great anti-Anglican theologians of the 1950s/60s. He wrote terrifically clever books attacking Anglicanism and in particular Anglican Orders. However, he was able to do a clever volte face in the 1960s and ended up as an Anglican layman, worshipping in an Anglo-Catholic church in Exeter and teaching in the Department of Theology in the University alongside such defenders of the Anglo-Catholic faith as Prof.Canon Roy Porter and Prebendary Michael Moreton.
What should disillusioned Anglican do now ? Must they submit to Rome - is this still the accepted teaching of the Catholic church ? is this what college of Catholic Bishops, nay the Head of the Catholic Church, the Roman Pontiff, would say ?
"...and ended up..."
Not quite. I met him in May 1979, and he told me that he had just returned (or was about to return) to Catholicism "but not to the Jesuits," he added.
Thank you, William Tighe, for this addition. He was going to St Michael's, Mount Dinham.Exeter in 1976/7/8, so your meeting explains the twitch upon the thread.I wonder where his funeral and burial took place ? I think he received Hamish Fraser (of Approaches) into the Church.
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