Altar Cards

There is an interesting article on Altar Cards & Last Gospels. The image above shows the extreme caricature, of extra-large cards presumably for a priest with poor eyesight. The three altar cards have become as traditional a feature of post-Tridentine altars as vases of flowers, central tabernacles (often enormous in size with a throne for the monstrance) and gradines.

I won’t “meme” Rad Trad’s article here. You can read it directly through the link above.

I am glad to be of cradle-Anglican background and drawn to the Dearmer revival of medieval altars, sobriety and clean lines. I wrote a comment:

I still have a small sheet of paper lying on the altar near the crucifix (I have a hanging pyx) to act as a prompt for the offertory prayers and the placeat prayer. My altar is so nice and uncluttered without altar cards. Same with flowers – I won’t have them on the altar, just a single vase away from the altar for major feasts.

Murphy’s Law often dictates that you forget the words of something when you don’t have at least a “prompt”! I could make do simply with having the order of mass available, but the bit of paper is practical. Occasional celebrants of a given rite of Mass need more, and turning to the relevant page in the missal is awkward. It is understandable how altar cards came about. However, I do think there is something wrong when they are excessively large or decorated.

The Last Gospel said at the altar was an innovation of 1570. Prior to then, the Prologue of St John was said from memory by the priest on his way back to the sacristy after the end of Mass as a private devotion, as in Pontifical Mass in the Roman rite. Sarum is no exception to the pre-Tridentine rule. One trick is to learn the first few verses, pause while getting to the sacristy and resuming from a card or paper. I don’t find it easy to learn texts by heart, so I sympathise with these practical aspects.

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Sarum Order of Mass in English

I have just added the Surum Order of Mass in English in its full version with the rubrics and a simplified version for use at the altar which presumes that the priest has learned the ceremonies. I find this methodology used in Dominican missals from the late nineteenth century, and the effect is highly satisfying. When a priest knows what he is doing, it is pleasant just to have the text to read – though after some time, we begin also to know the liturgical texts by heart. I once knew a cathedral canon in Paris who could say any mass from the Roman missal without a missal!

The translation follows the Anglican Missal and Warren’s translation very closely. It will ring familiar to Anglicans accustomed to the Book of Common Prayer.

You can copy this text into the DTP software package of your choice and print it out in a little booklet or on A4 pages recto-verso for being put into a ring binder. Change the fonts and font sizes to taste and adjust your pagination as required. Add drop capitals as desired after having rewritten the first word in upper case.

Reminder: download and install the Liturgy font to get the Maltese crosses and the versicle and response signs that correspond with “+”, “V.” and “R.”. I recommend using the Book Antiqua font which is installed on most computers as part of the standard Windows package. It is sober, elegant and easy to read.

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The Fatal Flaw

It is a constant theme: Anglicanism is intrinsically flawed by its comprehensiveness and doctrinal relativism because of the lack of a teaching authority (magisterium).  It is one argument that convinces Anglicans who are new to it to become Roman Catholics. Unfortunately for them, Pius IX is no longer the infallible Pope. I read a long thread on Facebook introduced by the following observation.

While I believe that some minor disagreements are a necessary evil, the breadth of thought in Anglicanism is not acceptable at all. If the Anglican Continuum wishes to be taken seriously, it needs to stop pretending that it’s totally okay to have a Pentecostal who doesn’t believe in the Sacrament of Penance be a good standing member in the same church as an Anglo-Catholic who prays the Rosary every day. There is one truth. You either accept it, or you are wrong. The Early Church Fathers had huge, Church splitting disagreements over minute Christological details. They would die of heart attacks if they saw the current state of the Continuum. Of course, this hearkens back to the Protestant flaw of Anglicanism… Lack of a living authority.

There are several ways to read this observation. It might be a high-church Anglican saying that we have to get our act together to be credible. I doubt that it would be one of those predatory Roman Catholic apologists, so they drop out of the picture at this point as far as I am concerned. There are many comments, some of which obviously come from people who fail to see the forest for the individual trees.

It is the flaw in Anglicanism: that everyone has to be brought over to a single body of doctrine – Catholicism or Protestantism. The only alternative is relativism and a necessarily insincere form of religion depending on no more than appearances and shallow emotions. Comprehensiveness was the only way for things to work in the Church of England, and by extension in the USA, Canada and Australia. In England, the priority was national unity under the reigning Monarch, and differences were tolerated (increasingly so from the end of the nineteenth century). Perhaps the scope could be narrowed somewhat by suppressing both Anglo-Catholicism and versions of Protestantism inspired by Calvinism. Comprehensiveness has become relativism and nothing is true for its own sake. Roman Catholic orthodoxy became extremely narrow from the death of Leo XIII in 1903 until a little fresh air was let in by Popes Benedict XV and Pius XI!

In the Continuing Churches, there has always been a conflict between the low church, the attempt to isolate the old high-church theology implicit in the English Restoration and the early Oxford Movement and then the liturgical revivals inspired by mid nineteenth-century Romanticism and continental Roman Catholicism. It has all been inherited from the Churches we all came from. This situation could be solved by making changes, but we as conservatives are afraid of change. These changes are sometimes called realignment.

As Archbishop Mark Haverland reminded us

I think the Continuing Church is defined not least by “the Affirmation of St. Louis’, and it clearly affirms the seven sacraments. We can’t keep anybody from calling himself Continuing Anglican (or Roman Catholic or Lutheran etc.), but all the main Continuing bodies are clear on the ‘Affirmation’. The living authority is our formularies and our bishops.

Well, this is enough authority for me. Our doctrinal standard is the undivided Church of before the schism between Rome and Constantinople. Therefore the Orthodox Church is an important reference for us, perhaps more so than Rome as in the case of “Anglo-Papalists”. To accusations of degradations or changes of any kind, our Archbishop replied:

I don’t actually see much change in the last 20 or 40 years. The four Denver consecrands included three Anglo-Catholics (two of whom were decidedly not papalist). The fourth worshipped happily in the chief Anglo-Catholic parish in his diocese after his return from Korea and before the formation of the Continuing Church. I’ve been active in the Continuing Church all that time, and actually was a postulant under Bishop Doren. I have seen very considerable doctrinal stability and about the same mix in churchmanship matters. For better or worse, there just hasn’t been much of a swing so far as I can see.

Perhaps he forgot to mention that there have been some changes – positive ones. The various jurisdictions are now cooperating and buildings bridges towards organic unity. It is all highly encouraging for we who are more isolated from the meetings and synods in America.

The real problem that remains under the surface is this difference between the kind of Anglicanism that strictly adheres to the Thirty-Nine Articles and that which has realigned itself with a rather “Gallican” view of Catholicism, Orthodoxy and the best of twentieth-century theology. I have not spent any time in the United States with continuing Anglicans, but I have the impression that most of the fighting is on the internet! There are some differences between the Arminian-inspired “classical Anglicans” and we in England wearing fiddleback vestments and using the Anglican and English Missals, but tolerance reigns since the polemics surrounding the TAC and the reception of some of its members into the Roman Catholic Church subsided about four years ago.

Some of the comments remind the reader to keep a sober attitude in regard to some of the more provocative words used. For example, I don’t know of any Pentecostals in the TAC or the ACC, &c. I don’t know of any who contradict the traditional positions on sexual morality or abortion. We are remarkably united in our commitment to the wider Anglican umbrella. Perhaps our bishops might have something to say about the ACNA which is a later dissonance from the Lambeth Communion. I live in France and don’t interest myself in whatever they put on the internet. If it’s all about women’s ordination and the 1979 Prayer Book, or our various Series III and ASB in England, then we are all united. But, our religious experience is not reduced to single-issues. The problem for many people is ignorance and prejudice.

People do need to be careful to distinguish between the older Continuing Church emerging from the St Louis meeting of 1977 and the Affirmation and the later bodies which are much more Evangelical than we are. The TAC and the ACC together with several other jurisdictions are definitely Catholic in ethos, with the use of vestments and the Eucharist as the main public church service on Sundays. I don’t find my diocese in England “over the top” like some Church of England parishes. We are quite sober in our liturgical usage and the life of our clergy. Many of the “Anglo-Papalist” tendency in the TAC joined the ordinariates, and there is a slow process of rebuilding, now led by its very able new Primate, Archbishop Shane Janzen in Canada. Since those tumultuous years of 2011 and 2012, things have calmed down considerably, and the dialogue is very positive.

There are certainly differences in terms of academic theology between scholasticism, both Protestant and Catholic and a more contemporary approach. We should be thankful that some clergy and laity are interested in studying theology and discussing it. The problem is when theology becomes ideology. Even the Thirty-Nine Articles are not expressions of dogma but a precisely historical landmark. For many of us, they are obsolete and belong to the bitter polemics of the late sixteenth century. Theology has advanced in Anglicanism, Roman Catholicism, Orthodoxy and Lutheranism. I see no sense in stoking old fires of anger.

Roman Catholic apologists make much ado about their magisterium, constrasting it with the “private judgement” of everyone else. Pius IX died in 1878 and things have changed a little since then. The Roman Catholic Church has kept a male priesthood, at least until now, and is fairly steady doctrinally. Those temporally displaced apologists seem to forget that Eastern Orthodoxy is stable in terms of faith and doctrine, even if they hate each other to death! We in the ACC have the Affirmation of St Louis, and then we have the entire Tradition of the Church, the Fathers and Councils – and our own sensus fidei informed by what we learn in school. That doesn’t seem much like “private judgement” to me. I often speculate about things that aren’t terribly orthodox, but I don’t blurt them out in public. I prefer to study ever deeper into things and go by a comparative approach. As a priest, I teach the faith of the Church.

When there are differences between us, what do we do? St Augustine came up with the saying In necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas (unity in what is taught as Church dogma, freedom in things that can still be discussed and charity in all things). There is a “hierarchy” of truths ranging from the articles of the Creed to questions of liturgical rites, vestments and particular spirituality. The ideal is clearly that we should be one Church, but is humanly impossible after centuries of division, hatred and predatory pillaging of each others’ tithe-paying clients (cough, sorry), faithful. Given the divisions between the big Churches, I have the impression that we little Churches are doing rather well in working on these points.

In bygone days, Anglicanism was divided by differences between Arminianism and Calvinism, the old high-church and the Evangelicals, conservatives against liberals and finally the widest difference between “extreme” Anglo-Catholicism and the Evangelicals, with everything else in between. The Roman Catholic Church has been through similar trouble: Jesuits and Jansenists, counter-revolutionaries of the 1860’s and 70’s, liberals, modernists, worker priests, Archbishop Lefebvre and the traditionalist movement with the small offshoots of sedevacantists and “home-alone” folk. I get the idea that we all got it wrong, especially through our intolerance.

There are three fundamental notions of what Anglicanism is or ought to be:

  1. An attempt to take a step back from the raw hatred of the Reformers against medieval Catholicism and an attempt to restore what little was known of the Church in the fifth and sixth centuries shortly after the fall of the Roman Empire. It would be a Church of absolute sobriety and altogether suitable for British reserve!
  2. Something like in the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries minus the abuses, the corruption of the clergy and popular superstition due to excessive compromise with paganism. Such a vision would affirm an “old” Catholicism based on the authority of the Monarch and the bishops together rather than the Pope. It would be a different form of “Gallicanism” that what was found in France, Germany and central European countries. Anglicanism would perfectly suit the English culture and yet be Catholic.
  3. The growth of Anglo-Papalism, understood as an attempt to imitate post-Tridentine Roman Catholicism for the purpose of finding a way to reconciling the Church of England corporately with Rome is a large subject. Probably the best book on the subject is Michael Yelton, Anglo-Papalism, Norwich 2008. I have this work and recommend it to your attention.

Personally I am more in tune with the second notion. It was partly through the third notion that the TAC largely came unstuck when Rome came up with Anglicanorum coetibus and the Ordinariates. It was an entirely Anglo-Papalist endeavour and was designed as such from the beginning. One thing that makes me happy in the ACC is that our ethos is largely according to the second notion. Some of our priests in America would be more for being like seventeenth-century Arminians and high churchmen. Our Church tolerates them as she does for me with my liturgical eccentricities. After all, Sarum is an Anglican rite.

In the thread I describe in this posting, I would qualify perhaps a third of commenters as trolls, whose purpose is to cause trouble and whose behaviour is predatory. Don’t feed ’em! I am too distant from anything to know whether the squabbling is still fairly generalised or whether it is merely a “cyber-illusion”. I would prefer to believe the latter, given the progress our Churches are making in coming to an understanding.

I suppose that Anglo-Papalism in the Continuing Anglican world is largely a thing of the past, which brings the ACC to have much more in common with the present-day TAC. That reduces the Continuum to the first two notions which are both retreats from sixteenth-century Protestantism. The only difference is the period of reference for anchoring present-day practice, the sixth or the sixteenth century. Like in the RC Church between the ordinary and extraordinary usages, I don’t see why we can’t continue to have a certain amount of liturgical diversity within the Anglo-Norman tradition on which all our usages are based. Such would not imply moral or doctrinal relativism or infidelity.

If we are up against intolerant Protestantism as inspired by Calvinism, in the absence of human civility and courtesy, then we have to part company. Hopefully, we would keep friendships and be in dialogue to understand each other justly. I don’t think there are more than a few cranks in the world who would maintain such a position. They can rightly be ignored and left in the marginal position in which they placed themselves.

We need to be aware that we are all very marginal and fragile in the world and contrasted with the “mainstream” churches with money and credibility for ordinary churchgoers. Diversity and flexibility in secondary matters (within reasonable limits) is essential if we are to have any credibility and hope of our Churches surviving beyond our own lifetimes.

Do not give way to predators and fanatics, but rather listen to your own reason and intuitions, searching for what is right and taught by the Church of all times and places. We have to be ourselves and not allow ourselves to be bullied.

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Sarum Compilation

Some time ago, I took on the project of compiling a complete Sarum missal in English from the translation of Canon Warren (which uses Prayer Book style English) and the biblical readings from the King James Bible.

The problem with the Warren missal is that it is rare and expensive to buy from second-hand book dealers. The text is now out of copyright and in the public domain. It is full of cross references and references to sources, which is great for a study edition. It is in two volumes, so it becomes very cumbersome at the altar. The order of mass is full of rubrics, which I have decided to separate into the text for use at the altar and a sort of ritus servandus at the beginning of the missal like in the Roman rite. The Warren missal only gives biblical references for the readings, so you need a Bible or booklets with the pericopes as I have compiled in Lectionary for the Sarum Missal in English. All that involves two books, a booklet for the order of mass and a booklet for the readings. I have organised myself to manage all these books and booklets, but it could be discouraging for others.

My project involves the compilation of texts with as few cross references as possible, so that it is possible to say Mass from a single book on any one day, even when there is a commemoration of the feria on a saint’s feast or a commemoration of the saint’s feast on a Sunday. My initial idea is to finish the editing and correcting of a scan of Warren’s missal, copying and pasting in the biblical texts.

Initially, I copy and paste the texts into Publisher and make A5 format booklets of about 40 pages each. This gives me three booklets at most on the missal stand at any one time: temporal, sanctoral (votive) and the order of mass. You just reverse the order of the booklets, and you have no books lying on the altar.

I could do a private binding following the method adopted for the Breviary, in two or four parts as would leave books of a reasonable thickness. You have so much of the temporal (typically Advent to Pentecost and then Trinity to the Sunday next before Advent, the September Ember Days and the Dedication) and the amount of the sanctoral that would always cover that part of the temporal. The Breviary repeats saints’ feasts from one volume to another to ensure the overlap. It seems like a headache, but it needs doing. The result will be a one-off, a small run which will give books even rarer than hen’s teeth, or perhaps something that could be organised and the cost of it shared or crowdfunded.

Here is some unfinished work in Word (doc) format:

The sanctoral contains only December, October and November. I have already done booklets for myself. In time, I will add the rest. With what I already have in Word documents, I can do a month in a few hours, checking for scanning errors – a lot of work!

The temporal goes from Advent to Easter, and then the Sundays after Trinity, the September Ember Days and the Dedication. I haven’t yet touched the Common of Saints, the votive masses, masses of Our Lady and the Dead. There is also the marriage service, the least reformed service in the Prayer Book! I also intend to do a ritus servandus from the rubrics in the order of mass, the first Sunday of Advent and a few bits and pieces from practical experience and comparison with the Dominican rite.

These texts may be copied into booklets or other formats as needed. Download the Liturgy font to get the Maltese crosses and the versicle and response signs. I recommend using the Book Antiqua font which is installed on most computers as part of the standard Windows package. It is sober, elegant and easy to read.

A note on the order of mass in English: I edited a booklet which I use at the altar. I removed most of the rubrics one I was confident that I was doing everything properly. The prefaces are complete for each one, and not just the middle sections. The translation is extremely sensitive, as we read these texts every day. My principle is that everything in common with the Anglican Missal (for example the Gregorian Canon) uses that translation, and what is not in the Anglican Missal comes from the Warren translation. I still have revision work to do before publishing it. It is essential to have familiar texts.

My first goal is to compile the entire missal, complete with biblical readings and texts from cross references inserted, all in Word format, and see if anyone wants then to discuss the bookbinding problems.

A question for my readers, is there a DTP package that arranges the pages into a series of booklets with equal numbers of pages? Publisher only does booklets for stapling. If that problem can be solved, then it is only a question of bookbinding using the traditional method of sewing in sections. That is the only way to have a book that withstands liturgical use.

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Totalitarianism via Corporate Management

I don’t have a lot of experience of the corporate world. I work for it by translating stuff from French into English, and I sup with the Devil with the very long spoon of the internet and e-mail. Occasionally, an attempt is made to pull me into a project team, and I prefer to refuse the job and the client – because I will always find jobs from elsewhere. I work alone. I feel this thing like a parasite or a disease. It is no less than an insidious new industrial revolution, a new elitism and an attempt to dehumanise by work, the means we all need to earn our living. Money is all that matters and someone is worth his money, so the “Beast” would have us believe.

The language of this thing could be called techno-babble. A cleaning lady is now called a surface technician, road haulage or transport is called logistics, or even worse Flow Management (gestion de flux as I saw a few days ago on the side of a lorry). Orwell called this restructuring of language Newspeak. Corporate jargon is the language of managers of large corporations, those involved in business management and politics. It usually involves the use of neologisms, long and complex sentences, abbreviations and euphemisms. I remember a French bishop wanting to call his contemporaries homo technicus. You wouldn’t believe some of the langue de bois (literally “wooden tongue” meaning techno-babble) coming from church meetings and offices in this country! French texts from this corporate world often (mis)use English words, but with a different meaning from their use in English. This kind of stuff is a nightmare for a translator!

Marketing is even more treacherous and I constantly have to warn my clients that I am not culturally equipped for rendering perhaps what they are looking for. If left to my own devices, I will make a guess at what they are on about, analyse words etymologically, tease out the grammar and put it in plain English. It is not usually what they want. I now frequently refuse such jobs. At the origin of this is often a very average person trying to create an impression of sophistication, technical knowledge and the kind of patter needed to make the sale. It is a power game of the ability to manipulate other people.

I give an example. A translation agent wrote to me to ask me if I would do a job in the field of sociology. I suggested that she could send me the file for translation, and I would have a look at it.

She replied:

Could you please send me A concrete but precise description of your experience in social science field (Academic article geography / urbanisation) (type of documents translated/revised, number of pages  and a list of your final customers in this specific field if possible).

The language is simple enough, but the thought behind it is quite invasive. I answered:

When I began translating fifteen years ago, I had no professional experience other than being an educated Englishman able to speak French fluently. I have adapted to the specialities with which I was confronted, mostly technical and industrial. For this particular field, it is merely a question of vocabulary and terminology, all of which can be found.

I do not give lists of clients for reasons of professional secrecy. I’m sure you will understand.

I suggest sending me a test and seeing if it is right for your client.

I got the order, which I need to deliver tomorrow. It is simply necessary to know the game to push away the invasive behaviour and what Americans call bullshit. I didn’t even need to do a test sample – I got the job. This was to me a very interesting experience.

Language is a mere symptom of this encroaching invasive totalitarianism that seeks to abolish humanity and personality. The future is believed to be “post-humanist” or “trans-humanist” – a boot stamping on a human face forever. Corporate management has found its way into churches, especially in England and the USA. The most recent example is the sacking of the entire team of bell ringers from York Minster. The reason given was “health and safety” whilst the ringing master carefully explains that he has always complied with safety requirements and been accountable to the Dean and Chapter. The Dean seems to want to abolish volunteers from roles in the church and replace them with professionals according to managerial criteria. Common sense tells us that bell ringing the way it is done in England is a craft that is learned the old way through apprenticeship and experience. The Dean even refused to let the bells be put into a down position for the sake of safety! I will keep an eye on how this situation develops.

I have seen corporate management creep into the selection and training of clergy. It was already in full sway in the 1980’s. It was one thing that motivated me to spend time in other European countries. Of course, it’s all catching up everywhere, in France, Germany and even Italy and Spain, those countries where corporate life is obfuscation and absolute chaos characterised by omertà and la combinazione. Everything is forbidden or available for money, but everyone is cunning enough to get round the rules and obstacles. In England, it is just slavish compliance to any amount of invasion – absolutely stifling and soul-destroying.

Essentially, my experience of this disease is little more than its language written in the texts I translate for money. I also come into contact with people who have to work in that world (as in commuting to that big shiny building in town), wear the right clothes and hairstyle. They often seem to be happy living and working like that. There are those who are made for that kind of life like a part of a car like a carburettor or a steering wheel. St Paul’s vision of the Church sometimes seems little different with his analogies of the body and its component organs. I can understand the argument that no man is an island unto himself in the words of John Donne. In a colony of insects like bees or ants, there is the Queen, the workers and the drones. It appears that no insect has any autonomy or personality away from the community. Man lives with the contradiction of his own personality and identity against being a component of humanity ruled by the strongest and meanest and being forced to fight for the highest status possible so as not to be eliminated with those at the bottom. Through the Beatitudes, Christ contradicted this model of human life. Those at the bottom would rise and the alpha males would be sent to the last place.

The ultimate expression was Nazism under Hitler and Communism under Stalin. Both ideologies are based on the basis of Socialism. Mussolini’s Fascism was defined by the complete subservience of the individual to the State. This is what inspired George Orwell in his dystopian vision (which he wrote in 1948) of worldwide totalitarianism that had completed the task of invading and controlling every human being. So far, neither dystopia (Orwell or Huxley) has occurred on a general scale, though it plays a big role in North Korea and China, increasingly so in America and Europe through bureaucracy, policing and anti-terrorism security. I do see this paradigm growing not only in the State, but also entities like the European Union, large companies, banks, churches, any corporation where the elite few enjoys immense power over that corporation’s subjects. It is from about the 1980 that managerial totalitarianism found its way into churches, education, the arts, healthcare and even leisure.

Like the plight of the York bellringers, we can sometimes encounter presentations of small charity shops being “restructured” and “rebranded”. From that comes the need to develop “objectives” and “strategic plans” like in large companies like Microsoft or car manufacturers. The poor little volunteer ladies have to be “evaluated” according to their plans for meeting targets and quota. In the end, the shop ceases to be cost-effective and has to be closed down. Bravo! All the time in translating, I have had to learn about objectives, stakeholders, milestones, critical paths and all kinds of other things that might be more appropriate for large manufacturing or civil engineering companies. Most of the work I have in this field is exactly for industry, especially in high technology. Everything has to be ultra-rational, What would William Blake or Percy Shelley have said if they could see the world two hundred years after their deaths? Dark satanic mills?

The trouble with such a paradigm is not coherence and efficiency, getting the job done properly at a budgeted cost. It is Plato’s Republic where everything is planned, watched and nothing is left to chance. It becomes the anthill or beehive, impersonal and mechanical. Every part of the process is rational and optimised, but the result is the police state. It favours the strong over the weak, penalises compassion and abolishes personality and identity. The strong become ever more powerful because they lack care or empathy for their subjects. No morality holds them back and the end justifies any means. This is the basis of Nazism and Soviet Communism – and corporate pragmatism.

I read a lot of alternative news about the current situation of America, and I know there are many conspiracy theories flying around, some of which are patently absurd, especially when put out by fundamentalist Christians. Youtube is increasingly filled with such junk with the asinine music designed to provoke excitement and anxiety. The more we are repelled by such garbage, we can be brought to refuse perfectly plausible theories or even proven realities. One such idea is that of the oligarchy of mega-rich people like the Rothschilds and other historical Jewish banking families. The idea that they have bought themselves into positions of political control might be plausible, but the idea is discredited when there is talk of the Illuminati and shape-shifting aliens. Hitler’s “conspiracy” was real enough when it killed millions! The ultimate insanity would be the “banksters” starting Word War III thinking that they would be safe in their bunkers. They too have to die one day, whether from their own fallout, starvation or old age.

When I isolated this absolute rationalism, I turned my attention to Romanticism, which had reacted against the excessive rationalism of another period, the eighteenth century. This is why I am looking for modern versions of it for the sake of humanity and the dignity of the human person in a natural environment also enjoying intrinsic rights to life, freedom and happiness.

For the most part, this encroaching totalitarianism concerns our work – which we can’t avoid if we want to eat, house ourselves and pay the bills. Some of us can escape the worst by being self-employed, doing distance work like I am privileged to do via the internet – that last space of liberty. Even using a part of my house as an office, I got a letter some months ago asking me for evidence that I had equipped my space for handicapped customers. I wrote back saying that I never have the physical presence of clients in my house or office, but that all my communications, incoming orders and outgoing deliveries all happened by internet. I will probably be classified as an establishment not open to the public, and therefore not obliged to install facilities for the disabled or special safety equipment. I seem to be OK for the time being!

I have one client wanting to know what training programmes I am following to be compliant with standards in matters of translating. I ignore such requirements, because it always means the same things: objectives, plans, strategy to control variables that cannot be controlled because I am so tiny as a business. I’ll see if they stop sending me orders. There are still agencies who have not yet been taken in by the bullshit. So far, so good…

There is a notion called Management by Objectives. It is really micro-management by “control freaks” to stop people from being able to work and get on with the job. They have to have rational targets known in advance. Calculating the forecasts costs more in time and money than simply doing the job, but the corporate blindness doesn’t seem to be aware of that. This disease grows from small companies into the large ones, and those who are the most “successful” in the chain are invariably the “snakes in suits” with personalities ranging from malignant narcissism to full-blown psychopathy. Many innocent words have been appropriated and made into euphemisms for sinister realities: empowerment, participation, commitment and others. The same has happened in corporate “churchianity” where evil is expressed in terminology proper to Christian compassion and spirituality. This perversion of terminology and vocabulary is known to those who have studied cultural Marxism. Modern corporate life looks shiny, efficient and organised, but morale and self-motivation are low. You get unhappy staff, and people can sometimes be driven to suicide by harassment at work. Management by objective is totally inappropriate for churches, charities and other non-business activities – yet it causes mayhem. This seems to be what has happened between the Dean of York and the bellringers.

Churches, especially the Church of England, and universities operated once by principles of the least amount of management possible. Personalities could be creative, eccentrics like Dr Spooner, whether they were parish priests, college dons, canons or bishops. The students would be inspired and professors had the leisure time they needed to research and write books. With totalitarian management, students would be under continuous evaluation and control. In the end, money would be everything. In just about every field of human work, including the Church, the notion of vocation has gone out of the window. My father became a veterinary surgeon because he liked animals. I still know doctors who are interested in helping the sick and relieving suffering, but some of that profession are no more than bureaucrats or cynical scientific researchers.

It is when I really came face to face with this reality that I really understood why I could go nowhere as a priest, except in the little Church that accepted me three years ago after the events in the Traditional Anglican Communion that left me an “orphan”. My own Church needs to be careful. We have to comply with standards pertaining to child protection and health and safety in buildings open to the public. When I applied to be a priest of the ACC, I felt allergic to the standard application form. I preferred to answer the questions in my own words and humanity prevailed among my Bishop and his Board of Ministry. I was accepted because I offered to show myself as a human being and not justify myself through impersonal criteria. That is what I would be concerned about if I were a diocesan bishop with an interest in the pastoral ministry.

One thing I have discovered through my experience in the Church and running a tiny self-employed business is that the bullshit only threatens us when we consent to it. It is in fact so easy to brush aside because we still relate to human beings and appeal to their humanity and empathy. The problem arises when we have to deal with malignant narcissists and psychopaths. Even then, the nothingness of evil is dissipated by light and the spark of divinity in each person. We can fight back, as I did when I told a translation agent that I respected professional secrecy, with the implication that this principle is probably one they would also expect of me working for them. We have to be polite and rational and we can break free.

Peaceful non-co-operation could be a precious expression for us. If enough of us are awake and aware, we can roll back this evil, this dehumanising ideology. We can reclaim our work, our creativity, our spirituality and worship in churches, compassionate doctors, inspiring teachers, priests who refuse unceasing and pointless meetings to get out and about in their parishes. We may not be able to do much at the level of multi-national companies, banks and the State, where the real villains may be found, but we can at our own little level. I am reminded of the old Chinese proverb saying that when there is peace in the heart, it will spread to the family, the village, county, country, continent and finally the entire world.

The essentially condition is consciousness, having the key of knowledge, intuitively and rationally knowing what is wrong and refusing to follow blind allies and deceits. We are often told to “wake up” by excited people, but it is true. We have to become self-aware in both our rational mind and our heart and imagination. Again, this is but one aspect of my essential mission as a blogger.

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Trump and Clinton

This is one last comment on the American electoral fever, since I found a few characters in films that bore an uncanny resemblance to the two horses in the race.

Donald Trump

I was watching Goldfinger a few days ago, and it dawned on me. The resemblance (minus the hair) is mentioned by quite a few sites on the Web. Both characters are fabulously rich.

The image of Trump has been tricked here with the face of Mussolini, with the original for comparison. Uncanny…

Hillary Clinton

Maybe the physical appearance is less convincing. The character? This is Rosa Klebb in From Russia with Love, a KGB agent working for SPECTRE and Blofeld.

After this, I can think of Irma Bunt, also working for Blofeld, in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. The character may have been inspired by Irma Grese, the notorious female SS guard in the Nazi concentration camps. Bunt comes complete with an exaggerated German accent.

Another candidate is Frieda Maloney from The Boys from Brazil. She is in prison for her part in the Final Solution as a concentration camp guard and for having taken her part in the adoption agency to place the ninety-four clones of Hitler “made” in a secret clinic in South America by Dr Josef Mengele (played by Gregory Peck). The appearance isn’t exact, but…

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Solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short

In such condition [human nature without government], there is no place for industry; because the fruit thereof is uncertain: and consequently no culture of the earth; no navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by sea; no commodious building; no instruments of moving, and removing, such things as require much force; no knowledge of the face of the earth; no account of time; no arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.

These are the words of Thomas Hobbes in his Leviathan which he wrote in the wake of the English Civil War. I have no stake in the upcoming choice of all Americans between the present status quo and unpredictable revolutionary forces. However, as a European, I am aware that the choice between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will have repercussions here in Europe, especially Germany and France. I leave my readers to consult sources of mainstream and alternative news – and make their own choices and conclusions.

In a world where there is no truth, only propaganda, one can only try to navigate around the preachers of deceit and form an intuitive impression. What seems to ring true? The situation in Syria is really worrying, and I am inclined to believe that Russia is not the side to be interested in aggression and imperialism. The USA has done nothing for the countless Christians being persecuted and martyred as Jihadist Islam increases its strength in western Europe. The choice in Syria is between Assad who is authoritarian but tolerant to all religions and points of view – and the living hell of Daesh. We face the end of the Enlightenment and humanism, the end of civilisation and humanity.

Radical Islam is not alone in being a symptom of human depravity. Culture and civilisation seem truly to be mere skins covering something very ugly. This following video was apparently produced by the American Army for its own in-house training.

I am usually very wary of videos and other media with themes of doom and gloom, especially depictions of the end of the world by fundamentalist Evangelical sects. Such material is often linked with the dimension of human psychology linked with fear of solitude and death. Other sources encourage the cult of “preppers” who adopt a more or less bestial lifestyle in the belief that they can face any enemy from their positions of safety. Christian humanism seems by far to be preferable to the dour view of Calvinism, but I often wonder to what extent it is illusory. If the “fire and brimstone” view is right, then we might as well end it all right now and cease any attempt to give our lives for the causes of love, beauty and truth.

I am fortunate to live in the country, but there is no reassurance in the event of a nuclear war or a society breakdown leading to shortages and unavailability of food. I still have to depend on money, the internal combustion engine and industrial food. Safety is an illusion. We just have fresh air and natural beauty for just a little while longer.

We stand a watershed between going on with a political system in which we have no trust in terms of integrity or interest in the common good. I am inclined to support some event that would break the stranglehold of such unprincipled cartels of corruption – and face an uncertain future. Revolutions are messy and blood-drenched. The Kingdom of Louis XVI was replaced by the Terror of Robespierre. Human beings could follow each other on the guillotine in less than half a minute and the blood flowed all the way to the Seine. Is this what we want? The continued lies and corruption? The feeling is that something has to move to allow a new beginning and something to hope for.

We pray for divine intervention, a miracle from Our Lady… There seems to be none. The world was spared at the time of the 1962 Cuban missile crisis and other near-misses. The present degradation between America and Russia is so futile and pointless – just so that America can take over the Middle East and push the Muslims into Europe. Even that seems too incredible and in no one’s interests. The situation becomes even more incomprehensible, confusing and anger-provoking. In the end, we face pure evil, the Antichrist.

Most of us have no hope in a fight. We can pray, try to replace hatred with love at a scale we can grasp. In the end, we must have no fear of death even if it seems to have no meaning or purpose.

Perhaps some of my readers could try to cheer me up a little!

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