I don’t mind a man looking like something out of the 1950’s or 60’s with similar glasses as those of my old schoolmaster, and who daubs his blog with cars of the same era. All right, I am an eccentric too and do the same thing with sailing boats, but I do have other subjects of conversation too. My attention is drawn to this man yet again by something he has written on Facebook (entry of 9th July from about 8am East Coast Time) perhaps hoping I would never find it. Most of Facebook is utter drivel, but it is there to find people I lost contact with as well as those who try to keep in touch in a light-hearted vein. Well, what is it?
He wrote a little entry linking to his blog article recommending us to read an interesting article by Fr Hunwicke and commenting on the new Antiochian Metropolitan in America. His comments on the latter subject are outright cruel:
Of passing interest at best but this might mean the end of another small counterfeit Catholic church, their Western Rite experiment.
That’s his way of describing the Antiochian WR Vicariate. John Beeler reads my Orthodox Blow-out Department, where some of the conversation has been about how the western rite vicariate is faring. One of his friends commented saying that Fr Chadwick’s site always contains some interesting characters.
John Beeler responded:
Dale (Fr. Griffiths?) is my favorite, and I’m not being sarcastic. Of course I’m sorry to see Fr. C turn away from the Catholic Church. When I met him online years ago he was an unusually sweet-natured independent traditionalist Catholic priest, but he’s long been in an independent Anglican phase. He has no congregation, no real ministry. Nice guy, most of the time, with a nice life in France: his wife, his translator’s job, and his sailing hobby. But he reminds me of Arnold Harris Mathew, a historical figure. A sensitive soul, he means well and is not stupid but he is foolish.
As he reads my blog, I will ask him if this kind of thing is really necessary. In reality it is full of double standards. For example, you are only Catholic if you’re in communion with Rome (unless you go to the SSPX as I suspect he does), but yet I was not in such a situation as an “independent” priest. Better to be labelled a traditionalist Roman Catholic (though canonically irregular) than to be associated with Continuing Anglicanism! Honestly, it drips with hypocrisy and the usual callousness of people who suffer from his “mental condition” (a form of autism).
I went to the TAC, and when that was wrecked and I was left with precious little as an ecclesial home, I joined the ACC. I did this to be in a canonical situation in an institutional Church whose essential way is classical Catholicism rather than Protestantism. I believe it is better to do this than continue as an “independent Catholic” priest saying the right words but being in total irregularity. Beeler has the gall to compare me with Archbishop Arnold Harris Mathew, I suppose on account of his shifting positions when faced with major challenges like theosophy and rogue bishops born from his mistakes. I have a good deal of sympathy with that historical character who lived in the “good old days” of Pius X and Sodalitium Pianum and forayed into the Modernist camp. I suppose the comparison isn’t entirely off-target, as I find it difficult to deal with major challenges and conflict.
I am, so-called, “long been in an independent Anglican phase. He has no congregation, no real ministry“. Phase? I could always relinquish Christianity. But for what? If I want to be a RC layman, I have only to go to church. No point in jumping through hoops for years just to receive the Sacraments. The divorced and remarried (the honest ones) live with their canonical handicap and lead lives of prayer as best they can.
Nice guy, most of the time, with a nice life in France: his wife, his translator’s job, and his sailing hobby.
How condescending! Quite honestly, I would like to stuff that big red American car sideways down his throat. Now isn’t that a nice thought? I didn’t comment about his cars or autism, but I do now. I’ll say it in American – The guy’s a complete jerk!
I gave some attention to his more recent blog articles:
I am finally described as a sensitive soul, he means well and is not stupid but he is foolish. Foolish? For going Continuing Anglican? I shouldn’t spend time discussing such ideas, because I have discovered a life outside religion. I keep wondering whether 95% of the people living in the country where I live can all be wrong – they have given up on religion but they are not all materialists.The world is run by people with personality problems involving lack of empathy or care for other people, whatever the cause to which psychiatrists give a name. I know that not all of us are like that, that callous and cruel personalities are only a minority.
I suppose I’m lucky to have a good and pastoral Bishop in England. I leave it to others to decide whether I am a Raca or a fool, or whether I have done well to find my peace in an ecclesial community that allows a broken and contrite heart some peace and consolation.
Perhaps his biggest problem is that I embraced what he rejected (high-church Anglicanism) on going to the RC traditionalist camp via a fleeting brush with Orthodoxy. I seem to have hit a nerve!
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Update: I found this on Why women are no longer as attracted to providers, and it’s not about church size:
Church: does size matter? Ha ha ha. Seriously, while it’s great being Catholic in a place where many Catholics settled, such as the immigrant American Northeast, and the church fulfilled the Great Commission while the schismatics either were dhimmi or building their own empire, it’s really about principle. We accept the East. They reject the West. There are different schools of thought in Catholicism as there are different rites. I just see one faith: Trinity, hypostatic union (blessed be Jesus Christ, true God and true man), Mother of God, apostolic bishops, Real Presence, and images, for example. (We defend the use of images but they’re optional: the Nestorians often don’t use them, and of course the Roman Rite doesn’t have the iconostasis. Icons are great, but they’re cultural.) They mistake cultural differences for theological ones. As for Anglicanism, the plain meaning of the Articles of Religion speaks for itself, putting it out of serious consideration. And actually I’m as “romantic” as you: the church is best as the Church Local, run by custom (simpatico with Orthodoxy, no?), as long as it’s part of the Church Universal.
It seems to be about finding the “true church” by process of elimination. I have known this with others. If they went to the limit of the logic, there would be no true church – and then the answer is Christianity without church, another religion or atheism. That may well happen. Paradoxically, we find the use of “private judgement” in a matter that of off-limits to that miraculous oracle called the “magisterium“.
So, the Thirty-nine Articles put all forms of Anglicanism out of serious consideration? One thing that made it possible for me to join the TAC and then the ACC was that I never had at any time to accept the Articles. I have been in trouble with low-church Anglicans for this reason. That being said, I find this situation no more incoherent than belonging to the RC Church and saying that the Novus Ordo “sucks”. One can go through a thousand off-the-peg garments in a shop, and find that none fits perfectly. There is always some measure of compromise and acceptance of imperfection.
Perhaps there is nowhere left. The subject of this article has been a mild challenge, one that forces me to consider various loyalties and patterns of behaviour in terms of personality typology. The human personality is incredibly complicated, and I do not entirely trust the psychiatrists in their typing of personalities. I become increasingly aware of personalities that are devoid of empathy for others and are caught up in a black-and-white or binary world. The types like “malignant narcissists”, “psychopaths” and “sociopaths”, “borderline personalities” and others generally show this lack of empathy in common. Not all are devoid of moral conscience like the first categories. My eyes have been opened on reading introductions to this branch of psychology, but I remain sceptical due to the belief that the human person is free and responsible for his moral acts.
The search for the “true church” seems to go with an intolerant and cruel personality. This is something I am just unable to get over with most institutional churches for which Christ was some kind of “muscular” reactionary figure. I come to the stage of life when I see that the more we dig, we less likely we are to like what we find. Much of Christianity and the New Testament is difficult to justify in intellectual terms. That was the drama of the end of the nineteenth century when scholastic apologetics lost their credibility faced with the natural sciences and historical criticism. We are left with analogy and poetry to communicate with the Mystery to some measure through faculties we have outside our reason.
What we live through is the same as a hundred years ago, made worse by the two World Wars and the end of the old civilisation. We are called to enter the darkness and the via purgativa, preparing for something we cannot define for future generations. That is if we have time given the threats we face to our planet and what’s left of the life on it. Coming to terms with our own helplessness certainly brings us to evolve beyond the “machine” and its impotent apologetics.
This article, though emotive in places, is not about an individual – but what that individual believes he represents. I live in a world where people are extremely diverse and exercise their freedom in their lifestyles, jobs, hobbies and everything else. We need to be tolerant and let each person find his or her own way, even if if means that person having to learn the “hard way”. I won’t repeat my article of the other day on Berdyaev and religious freedom. What concerns me is the general tendency of the modern world – perhaps a return to twentieth-century totalitarianism. If that happens, there will probably be nowhere to go, no escape other than death.
The churches are impotent and discredited. The institutions we have known like politics and the media are being exposed as corrupt to the core with paedophile networks among other things. The major churches are not exempt and have to be purged. Most of us have lost faith in institutions. The shepherd is struck down and the sheep scattered, and no light is visible at the end of the tunnel.
Yet, we have to do something little and humble whilst we are still here – and do good around us. Our efforts are puny and feeble, and appreciated only by God, certainly worthless to man. So be it.
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Another update (July 10): Beeler has been piling up the poison on Facebook. I don’t know Beeler, but Paul Goings does. I find the comment from another blog posting very apposite.
For the record, I quote the conversation.
John Beeler Dale (Fr. Griffiths?) is my favorite, and I’m not being sarcastic. Of course I’m sorry to see Fr. C turn away from the Catholic Church. When I met him online years ago he was an unusually sweet-natured independent traditionalist Catholic priest, but he’s long been in an independent Anglican phase. He has no congregation, no real ministry. Nice guy, most of the time, with a nice life in France: his wife, his translator’s job, and his sailing hobby. But he reminds me of Arnold Harris Mathew, a historical figure. A sensitive soul, he means well and is not stupid but he is foolish.
Anthony Chadwick Thank you for your criticism. Most appreciated. Would you like to expand on the similarities between me and Abp Mathew. I would be most interested, since you can’t say much behind my back on Facebook. Foolish? Perhaps there also, you can expand. In the end of the day, I come to the conclusion that aspies should stay away from religion!
John Beeler Speaks for itself. Now you know what I think. You’re not cut out for the ministry.
Anthony Chadwick Certainly not for the idea of the ministry that seems to be yours.
Benedict Andersen Forgive me for butting in, John, but this way of speaking to Fr Chadwick is simply not on. He deserves more respect than that. Disagree with him, yes, but you have no business standing in judgment over who is or isn’t “cut out for the ministry.”
Anthony Chadwick What I find most significant about Beeler is his posting in his blog that he’s “not very religious”. This whole thing is a game to him like collecting stamps or pictures of cars. I wonder if he drives a car… if you get my meaning. He doesn’t bother me at all – bad Christianity does and burns me out!
John Beeler <…> Fr. Chadwick, you ran away from the only real pastoring job you’ve had (as a Catholic deacon), abandoned your religious order, left the church, and write passive-aggressive swipes at the church, and you wonder why that bothers some Catholics. There was no way the church was going to take you back in your orders. Laicized, sure. The parallel to Mathew stands: good intentions (you’re sensitive and there are problems in the church) but one mistake after another. Not having the calling to the ministry doesn’t mean one is bad or worthless. You don’t have the calling.
Anthony Chadwick You’re a bit late to be going on at me about that. Of course, at the time you were yourself vacillating between high-Anglicanism and Orthodoxy. Now you have gone over to Rome (or Ecône?) you expect everyone to snap into line at your whim. I don’t want ever to hear from you again. About my calling or whatever, I have more confidence in my Bishop than you. If ever he tells me that not having a calling is his judgement, then that will be it. No more blog, no more chapel, nothing. Just go away. Your blog will be down to a dribble again in just a month or two.
John Beeler I wasn’t really vacillating between any kind of Anglicanism and Orthodoxy; rather, I was hanging out with Anglo-Papalists (whose beliefs are Catholic, not Anglican) with the goal of coming back to the church. I’ve been upfront in my blog about my mistakes, such as becoming Orthodox, which were about 20 years ago or older. Fr. Chadwick, man up and do likewise. Unlike you, I wasn’t in holy orders or a vowed religious, and I wasn’t charged with the care of others’ souls. Your soul’s in danger, and a kind heart like yours (I know you’re angry, but still) deserves better.
Anthony Chadwick Don’t give me any of that! I have enough information from people who knew you at St Clement’s. And don’t even begin to play spiritual director with me. You are the once who will be an atheist within a couple of years.
John Beeler What of it? I have nothing to hide. That you’re trying to threaten me only proves one of my points. You don’t have the calling.
Anthony Chadwick Maybe not, but you are not a Christian.
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In many respects, he is right. Simply I will not take it from him. Today I feel very down and weak emotionally. Perhaps I should clear out the chapel and turn it into a music room or something of the like. There’s no question of my ever going back to Roman Catholicism or any other “true church”. The question is something of a red herring, as I am very well with my Bishop and the ACC in England, and Beeler is no authority for me in inferring that my Church is fake or whatever. This kind of thing takes its toll, but I can’t take it lying down.
I used to worry about not having a ministry. I have to look at the fact that there is no “market” for my priesthood in France. There might be if I were doing healings and exorcisms, at so many Euros per shot. I disapprove of such a use of one’s image as a priest. I have dealt too much with people who smelled of sulphur. I am emotionally and spiritually repelled from Roman Catholicism and from the traditionalists. I have done my best to live my priesthood in an honest way.
When I was interviewed for my ACC Diocese, they asked me what I would offer the Diocese. I told them – very little other than my daily Mass and prayers. I have been blogging over the past few years, and I don’t think it has done any good. I have held out for longer than most of the others. In myself, I know I really ought to be writing books and doing some more musical composition. Blogging only brings me into conflict with the weirdos of the dregs of bad religion.
Am I justified in remaining a priest, given that I would not go to the RC Church even if they were prepared to accept me as a priest? I go through a great deal of inner conflict and questioning, but I have a Bishop and a diocesan Church, in something instituted enough to be as much of a Church as some of the smaller Orthodox jurisdictions, who have accepted a useless servant. I am being given non-parochial responsibilities which I am not at liberty to discuss, and that is also a priestly ministry. I am on my Bishop’s Council of Advice, and sometimes my opinion is sought on one subject or another.
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A few days ago, I read an article about blogging, asking the question of where the bloggers had gone. Those who are left seem anxious to put each other out of business to justify their own agendas. It reminds me of a film with Clint Eastwood about Alcatraz and the meaning a pile of steps had for some of the prisoners. Being higher conferred status. I read one blogger (not Beeler) whose awowed intent is to make Anglicans wake up and go over to Rome. They compass earth and sea to make one proselyte who will be twice the child of hell as themselves!
I will continue with this blog if it is of any use to others, but I am not interested in the rat race or the stairway of status at Alcatraz. I have escaped the stereotypes of polarised religion here in France, and I rarely look anything like a priest. Put on a cassock and I am masquerading as a traddie. The clerical suit means the conservatism that developed in France in the 1980’s and was reinforced by the Benedict XVI papacy. I am ill at ease in a “white collar” style, so I revert back to an earlier period of my life when I was myself. Occasionally, the subject of religion comes up, and any progress in spiritual matters is always hampered by the old dialectics and binary prejudices. That kind of religion must disappear so that Christ can once again be perceptible in some way.
I considered blogging as a ministry of sorts, but I have my doubts. The religious blogosphere is taken over by curmudgeons and fogeys. Woe betide anyone who mucks up their stamp albums or gets onto a higher step than them. It is almost a vision of hell. The internet makes someone who is small into an important person, and that can go to our heads if we are not careful.
I am a priest in a very small Church. The advantage of the small Church is that we do away with many of the things that corrupted Roman Catholicism, the Anglican Communion and some of the Orthodox jurisdictions. We Continuing Anglicans have more of a popular basis, less intellectual and elitist, than Old Catholicism. That is something positive, but it can’t survive faced with the Promethean titans – themselves crumbling and trying to reassure themselves that they will get “muscular” young conservative blood and get rid of the liberals.
We can only let those people get on with their certitudes. It is not Christianity but is reactionary. As Berdyaev defined it, reactionism is referring to a “golden” time just preceding the “revolution” they seek to overturn. We are called to go through a long dark age before someone in a far-off future once again sees the light of Christ’s grace and a new civilisation. Until then, the “debts” have to be paid, and many of us just have to quietly slip away entrusting our poor souls to God’s mercy. This is what is meant by Berdyaev’s New Middle Ages, from the perspective of someone observing a historical parallel with the end of the Roman Empire. We will not enter the Promised Land. Perhaps God will thank us for having pointed a few souls in the right direction so that the great grandchildren of their great grandchildren may reap the harvest.
What more is there to be said?