Tuesday, August 22, 2017

More Questions About St Thomas More Toronto

My regular correspondent has already raised questions about the St Thomas More Toronto group, here and here, and has commented more recently on "Fr Hodgins, who has not managed in five years to grow St Thomas More, Toronto to parish status in an area with 5 million people that supports 189 ACC parishes."

More recent developments are covered here:

It appears that the current parochial administrator of St Thomas More, Toronto is going into semi-retirement while waiting for Bp Lopes to find a replacement in the next year or two. Apart from three music-related projects, reflecting, as I have mentioned before, the priorities of several key parishioners there is no actual plan here. Will the new man start out as part-time and become full-time by 2021? They plan to ask for five year pledges starting this fall, with the implication that the goal is around $130,000. Would this enable them to pay a full-time priest?

The Oratorians run another parish in Toronto with a distinguished music program which has been the destination of choice for former Anglicans for decades. The STM congregation has presumably helped them with the maintenance of their under-attended second parish (annual budget, $42,000) but in terms of membership it is in direct competition with their parishes. On the other hand, with no actual strategy evidenced in the "Strategic Plan" and reduced involvement by the OCSP cleric perhaps the Oratory sees no real threat. Meanwhile they get help with upgrading the organ.

I would think that, if the ACC has been limiting ordinations to those sufficient only to fill open parish positions, it will be much harder for the OCSP to locate any candidates for the STM position, or indeed any others. It's hard to avoid thinking that the Anglican Diocese of Brandon wasn't unhappy to see Brs Bengry and Beahen leave the denomination and the area, but the ACC will probably make more effort to hold onto other priests. No wonder, then, that it will apparently take Houston a while to locate a replacement for Fr Hodgins, especially if the new guy can't be paid for a full-time position.

I have a feeling the CDF expected things to be much, much farther along in general after five years. The recruitment picture for clergy to replace those now beginning to retire strikes me as especially dismal.

Monday, August 21, 2017

A Detour Into Plato And Space Aliens

I was listening to a Peter Kreeft lecture on Plato, and I seized on a remark that if all red things were somehow eliminated, there would still be a thing called "redness". Another way to express this would be to say that whether or not red things existed, there would still be a range in the light spectrum that would be red. This took me to the question of whether, if no people existed, there would still be laws of physics.

This in turn brought me to the question of whether, if there are people, there are also space aliens, and if there are space aliens, whether they must also obey the laws of physics. Well, if they must relate to the laws of physics in such a way as consciously to build a space ship, we would have to speculate that they must obey the laws of physics in a way opposed to animals, which obey the law of physics unconsciously -- they can fly or they can't, for instance, according to their particular properties. They can't decide whether to fly or not, or build themselves wings.

But this brings us to what would have to be an essential property of space aliens, certainly as science fiction writers imagine them, they have intellects. While I would need to interrogate someone like Arthur C Clarke on this, I would then need to determine how a corporeal creature with an intellect differed from a man. The science fiction writer Jonathan Swift certainly postulated that there might be houyhnhnms, but at the same time, he is implying that these are "the thing which is not".

There are certainly people who expect to find space aliens with intellects, as the SETI Project testifies even in its name. The problem is that they somehow expect to find something a great deal like men. The first thing we see when we go to the SETI page is that they are scanning for "laser flashes from an extraterrestrial civilization". A laser is a peculiarly human invention, as is, for that matter, a civilization.

Almost certainly they expect that the flashes will carry some sort of code that, with diligent application, we can translate into grammatical language, a peculiarly human characteristic. We see from the popularizing shows on the Science Channel that astronomers discover puzzling patterns in radio waves from distant stars, but on examination, they turn out to be in effect non-grammatical and thus not indicative of intellect.

The essence of Noam Chomsky's project, in fact, has been to demonstrate that grammar is a result of a neo-Darwinist process of natural selection, and human language "evolved" as a set of computer code-like modules. I had to study this in graduate school, and it always struck me as poppycock, and the professors who made careers on it as charlatans. But this brings me to the puzzle of neo-Darwinist theory and what we're expecting to find on Mars.

The bottom line of the effort to explore Mars, as quite clearly stated in many of the popularizing Science Channel programs on NASA and such, has been to discover life there. This is a puzzle in itself: the purpose of the equivalent European effort to explore the Western Hemisphere from the 1400s onward was profit, pure and simple. The result was in fact so profitable that by that late 1500s Elizabeth, slow to adopt the project, commissioned Drake and others to raid the Spanish treasure fleets on the expectation that only the small percentage of the traffic thus seized would be a windfall to her own treasury.

In contrast, the US space program is a profitless money pit, a boondoggle that has formed, among other things, a huge corporate-style bureaucracy that offers sinecures and pensions to legions of idlers. (I live near JPL, believe me.) Qui bono?

I think the point is that even if one or another Mars rover or manned expedition can unearth the tiniest fossil microbe, it will prove the neo-Darwinist, i.e., secularist and materialist, theory of life's origin. So far, of course, the Mars surface environment has turned out to be a lifeless desert, and as more is learned, it appears to be not just neutral to life but hostile to it. The reaction, again as repeatedly explained on the Science Channel, is that perhaps some cataclysm exterminated life in the environment we see there, but if we dig deeper and deeper, we may still find fossils, or even colonies of microbial survivors.

And if that's unproductive, there are still the moons of Saturn -- after all, what might we find in oceans of liquid ammonia? This is still a long way from space aliens with intellects, of course. But that runs into Fermi's paradox, and it leaves completely aside the question of whether, if there are space aliens in other star systems, how those with intellects, so far an exclusively human property, would differ from humans.

I think we can reasonably conclude that the advocates of neo-Darwinist theory are in fact so insecure about it that they are spending nation-size treasuries in a so far fruitless search for additional proof. Where's President Trump when we need him?

Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Marriage Act 1753 And Literature

Regarding yesterday's question, my regular correspondent replies,
Many English novels in the period you refer to involve elopements to Gretna Green, Scotland as a way around restrictive English marriage laws It is a plot element in Sense and Sensibility, for example. The increasing prudishness of 19thC English fiction probably precluded more imaginative fictional treatments. I do recall that there were those who had to go to "the Continent" to marry a deceased wife's sister, in contravention of British law.
This link specifically refers to the Marriage Act 1753 in the context of Jane Austen:
The Marriage Act of 1753 also made it increasingly difficult for men and women to marry outside their rank. In cases such as these a couple could obtain a special license from the Archbishop of Canterbury if they were really wealthy, or elope to Gretna Green, which was the first easily reachable Scottish village, where the marriage laws differed from England and Wales.
However, the Marriage Act would have been a minor consideration here -- Wickham supposedly intends to "elope" with Lydia in Pride and Prejudice , but it's plain that he doesn't intend to go ahead with any actual marriage unless he's very well paid to do so.
If a couple did elope, it meant that they were unattended until they were married. Normally when a young couple courted they could not be left unchaperoned. If travelling far to elope, a couple would have to stay overnight somewhere, which suggests to everyone that the couple had a sexual relationship before marriage, which was quite scandalous!
A more recent US equivalent for elopement to Gretna Green was to run to Elkton, Maryland, the closest place to the New York metropolitan area where you could get married without a blood test. As a true crime fan, I can point to the John List murder case, where List's wife-to-be, who was suffering from latent-stage syphilis, encouraged him to elope to Elkton, where her condition could go undetected. One of the pressures that eventually drove List to murder his family was the tertiary syphilis that emerged in his wife.

Elopement is contrary to natural law.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

A Brief Historical Detour

I've been reading Jungle of Stone: The Extraordinary Journey of John L. Stephens and Frederick Catherwood, and the Discovery of the Lost Civilization of the Maya. Stephens, an American, and Catherwood, an Englishman, traveled to Yucatan and Guatemala in the 1830s and 40s to explore and document the rediscovered Mayan ruins there.

In a minor footnote, Catherwood left his wife behind, and in a foreseeable development, his wife had an affair with his cousin, a member of the Caslon printing family. The result was a legal case that began in 1841, Catherwood v Caslon, in which Catherwood sued Caslon for adultery with Catherwood’s wife. Caslon’s attorneys argued, among other things, that Catherwood married his wife in Beirut in a ceremony conducted by an American Baptist missionary, not CofE clegy (Catherwood was a great traveler), and thus the marriage was invalid, although Catherwood’s attorneys argued it was done according to CofE rites.

The trial court awarded Catherwood damages. Caslon appealed, and several years later the judgment was reversed on the basis that a marriage outside the CofE was invalid. This set a legal precedent that apparently lasted some years.

I thought this would seem to go against received opinion that the Reform Act of 1832 awarded civil rights to non-Anglicans and thus led to the Oxford Movement 1833-41. It seems to me that the legal situation here indicates changes were much slower, and even if non-Anglicans could vote, their marriages don’t seem to have been valid before the English courts.

I referred this question to a well-informed visitor, who in turn referred the matter to an English barrister. That gentleman replied that after the Marriage Act 1753, only marriages celebrated before the clergy of the established church were valid (Quakers and Jews were specifically exempted from its provisions); it was not until the Marriage Act 1836‎ that Catholic and Dissenting clergymen were able to act as registrars. The particular circumstances of Catherwood v. Caslon would have been reversed by the Foreign Marriage Act 1892.

Further research by that gentleman brought to light that the Marriage Act 1753 came about because clandestine marriages were seen to be a problem in the mid-18th century, and presumably the requirement that banns be published as part of solemnization via the Church of England would solve it. One thing that puzzles me mildly is that, as a former literary scholar, I'm not aware of any English novels in the major canon that deal with any circumstances that might have arisen from this requirement, although clearly there was a juicy legal case that did arise from it.

Is anyone aware of any novels that cover circumstances arising from a marriage solemnized outside the Church of England between 1753 and 1892 -- coincidentally, the golden age of the English novel?

Interestingly, our diocesan Catholic parish does publish banns. In fact, multiple banns seem to be published weekly. No banns were published in our former diocesan parish, possibly because no marriages took place there, which wouldn't be a surprise. In my 30 years as an Episcopalian, I saw banns published only once, and it was clearly meant as a quaint archaism.

Friday, August 18, 2017

More On The Protestant Job Market

My regular correspondent sent me a link to a piece in the well-respected UK Catholic Herald entitled "Why Anglo-Catholics don’t join the Ordinariate":
[D]espite the best efforts of Pope Benedict, it is an open secret that the Catholic hierarchy in England and Wales has never been keen on the Ordinariate. It has become something of a disfavoured ghetto. Even if a priest or parish has a dubious relationship with the CofE hierarchy, crossing the Tiber is unlikely to improve matters.
The author suggests that the Church of England has been somewhat more flexible in allowing variations in practice among high- and low-church parishes as well and notes that Anglo-Papalist parishes use the full OF Roman rite, as my correspondent has frequently pointed out. My correspondent also says,
Of course the majority of those ordained in the OOLW have no connection with an Ordinariate group, so perhaps they escape the stigma while cutting the preparation time.
But regarding the situation in Canada, my correspondent makes some additional observations:
I have seen a few articles posted around the net on [the TEC clergy surplus], and the plight of younger Episcopalian clergy unable to find "a call." In the ACC, ordinations are limited to the number required to fill full-time positions. This may account, at least partly, for the lack of new recruits to the Canadian Deanery. As I have mentioned, there are only two Canadian OCSP priests below secular retirement age, one of whom was never an Anglican clergyman. The "continuing" church has all but disappeared as the generation of opponents of the ordination of women in the 1970s dies off. Apart from the Bros I know of no former Anglican clergy in the pipeline; indeed I cannot determine whether they are both there, or just Br Shane. No word on a replacement for Fr Hodgins, who has not managed in five years to grow St Thomas More, Toronto to parish status in an area with 5 million people that supports 189 ACC parishes.
The situation in the US, as far as I can see, is a variation on the "tragedy of the commons" that's poisoned all graduate programs, including those in the hard sciences. Overproduction of graduate degrees, including MDivs from seminaries, is a byproduct of how full-time university faculties are funded, with low-cost graduate assistants and contingent faculty teaching high-profit mass-enrollment undergraduate courses. The high margins from these courses then fund the full-time faculty, who have every incentive to inflate enrollment in the graduate programs that justify their tenured positions.

If the ACC has been able to limit this, so much the better. TEC doesn't -- the best it can do is for bishops periodically to release seminarians from their vows while in their seminary programs, which still doesn't equalize the market, but the postulants and candidates have already wasted years of their lives training for non-existent jobs.

Even so, it's a mistake for the Catholic Church to assume that anyone in this position, even among the straight males, is automatically a good candidate for the Catholic priesthood. Someone who's spent years in a US academic environment is probably going to be a misfit just about anywhere.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Anglican Ordinariates And Ethnic Parishes

My regular correspondent comments,
The idea that ex-Anglicans need a protected environment has nothing to do with the Church's practice in regard to ethnic parishes. The primary reason for establishing German, Hungarian, Vietnamese etc parishes is/was that the relevant group didn't speak English. Even when the Mass was in Latin pastoral ministry required a German etc speaker, and mass in the vernacular added another motivation for having ethnic parishes. I think this was a matter of necessity, not a mere welcoming gesture.

As successive groups have been assimilated and immigration from various countries declines, their ethnic parishes are closed or repurposed unless the group in question has the numbers and the resources to maintain them. As you point out, once everyone can communicate there is a lot of benefit to having a congregation made up of people from many backgrounds.

The lack of consensus as to what the Anglican Patrimony consists of adds a further difference. Contrast the guitar and electric keyboatd music at St Timothy's, Catonsville, versus populum celebration and modern Gothic chasuble, with the lace, fiddleback, ad orientem, and Renaissance musical repertory of BJHN. I could multiply examples.

I think a conclusion we might draw from the question my correspondent raises is that, if "Anglican patrimony" is hard to illustrate consistently from what we see in the OCSP, we have to look elsewhere for the problem we're trying to solve. I keep coming back to the employment problem I've seen from the start: TEC parishes, a shrinking job market overall, have still fewer opportunities for straight males. "Continuing" parishes are disappearing rapidly, probably at a greater rate than TEC.

But the other main line denominations are in the same place -- a Lutheran pastor acquaintance recently gave up his position to become a house-husband so that his wife could replace him as pastor of the parish.

So the Catholic options for married clergy look progressively better. The problem I see is that the best cis male candidates in any Protestant denomination are still finding jobs without going to a Catholic second or third choice. The OCSP is getting a lot of men whose careers as Protestants stalled in middle age, or who couldn't even start a Protestant career after seminary.

I have a hard time getting away from the impression that the OCSP is a full-employment program for Protestant mediocrities. I wonder what would happen if members of the smaller OCSP communities were to try mass at several diocesan parishes in their area and then come back to see the thin gruel that's available back in the OCSP.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

More On Yesterday's Questions

Regarding yesterday's post, my regular correspondent commented,
On the other hand, the Australian Ordinariate has a mere eleven congregations, all worshipping in diocesan churches. When the priest in Sydney, Australia's largest city, died in February 2015 it took over two years to replace him. There are currently 14 clergy. The current Ordinary is 77 [years old]. I suppose the moment of decision will come when he retires, but at the moment the OOLSC is being allowed to limp along. I have of course noticed the gradual withering away of its publications: "Australia Wide," and the Ordinary's "Musings." It will be interesting to see how many turn out for the fifth anniversary celebrations later this month. I cannot imagine that membership is more than a few hundred. The OCSP looks comparatively good.
But my correspondent also reports that Philip Mayer, whose attempt to start up an Ordinariate group in the Tampa Bay area was torpedoed, now describes himself on Facebook as a Pastoral Provision candidate of the Diocese of St Petersburg. This suggests that the previously mooted effort to relocate him and find some way to link him with a new gathered OCSP group would not be productive.

This has prompted me to do more thinking about why Anglicanorum coetibus is not bearing fruit. I have several preliminary points:

  • Anglicans are Protestants. Let's keep in mind that I was told in TEC confirmation class, which I'm sure is typical, that Anglicanism was an ideal compromise, a via media, between the extremes of Catholicism and more radical Protestantism. This implies that there's something extreme about Catholicism, e.g., the authority of the Pope, the teachings on marriage and the family, the status of Mary in the Church, celibate clergy, Latin, the requirement for Confession, on and on. A few months of Evangelium aren't gong to change this for laity. A few webinars, or some seminary make-up courses, are certainly not going to change this for clergy.
  • The example of parishes for European ethnic groups in the past, Poles, Lithuanians, Italians, Germans, and so forth, aren't apt, because these groups were already Catholic and were preserving Catholic traditions in which they'd been raised. Episcopalians are long-assimilated members of mainstream Protestant culture.
  • The idea of a Catholic prelature that caters to Anglicans as a separate group minimizes the advantage to new Catholics of getting to know more fully formed Catholics from other traditions. In our area, there are many Filipino Catholics who have a great deal to say about being Catholic. Polish Catholics, here and in Poland, have been playing a greater role in forming a cultural consensus in opposition to Marxist secular tendencies. I think it's significant that the pro-Phillips faction at OLA was particularly unhappy to have been assigned a Polish administrator. But it's better for new Catholics to go outside a cultural non-Catholic uniformity.