Creek Sailing

I have just made a wonderful discovery of the blog of an English gentleman who is a lover of halyards, sheets, sails, rudders and the gentle lapping of water against the bow. He also has a more elegant term than gunkholingcreek sailing, meaning navigating through inland tidal waters. In England, they are most plentiful on the Essex and Suffolk coasts, and right the way up to East Anglia and Yorkshire.

The discovery is Creeksailor and the man running it is called Tony Smith. His favourite sailing areas seem to be similar to those of Dylan Winter. I wonder if they know each other with such close common interests. If not, perhaps they will discover each other thanks to this posting! Mr Smith not only sails his gaff cutter, but also has a duck punt and an eight-foot rowing boat he converted into a beautiful sailing dinghy. I look forward to looking into this blog in greater detail. I ought also to buy his book.

Here in France, there are some interesting waters fitting such a description in Normandy south of the Seine and both north and south Brittany. I greatly enjoyed the Dives as I wrote in Gunkholing but found my rig-down arrangement in my 12-foot Zef a little awkward for ultra-low bridges. From there I came up with the idea of adapting my 10-foot Tabur for this purpose with an Optimist rig like on the Mersea Duck Punt. I intend to “do” some other creeks in Basse Normandie (the Orne in particular) and the Eure (where it can be navigated away from the weirs and rapids). I also intend to return to Abbeville to continue my journey on the Somme towards Amiens. One day, I am going to take some time off along the Essex coast and find the El Dorado of creek sailors and gunkholers – before hauling the boat up to my native Lake District and Windermere! Mr Smith is also on Facebook.

Creek sailing is something I only really discovered this year, with the encouragement of reading Dylan Winter’s blog and seeing his wonderful videos. I think my true initiation was the Rade de Brest and the Golfe du Morbihan, where many muddy creeks radiate out from the deep water. Creeks are a challenge because the water can get very shallow, and the boat has to sail without centreboard or rudder, just a carefully trimmed sail and an oar to steer with. The punt has a hard chine to allow a reasonable upwind angle. A more “conventional” dinghy has to be rowed – and that can be a slog against the wind. But, creeks bring the rewards of natural life relatively unmolested by man and a profusion of wind birds and mammals. Sometimes, the top of a creek is filled with a small village, a place to tie up the boat and go and buy some food and get into conversation with some lonely soul dedicated to wind and sail in some way. Each has his tale to tell.

I have now finished work on my little ten-foot creek boat and hope for a daysail or two in December between the damp and rain on one extreme and the brass-monkey freeze on the other. I have hardly done any winter sailing, just once on a lake in January 2014 (see First Boat Outing of 2014). Same boat but with the Optimist rig, since the Mirror rig went to my sea boat Sarum. I will doubtlessly venture up the Orne and the Eure, and go and have another sail on the Lac des Deux Amants at Poses like in January 2014. The sea is too heavy for winter sailing in anything less than a ballasted yacht, though there are calm and sunny days to take the bite out of the frost. Winter is no time for capsizing and hitting the drink! Up the creeks, winter has its charm like the other seasons.

There are a few of us. We should encourage each other by mutual linking in our blogs. We are Romantics – with a foot outside the world of “reality” and people, men of another philosophy of life who cannot be imprisoned in any system or fashion trend. My faith in human nature is somewhat restored!

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The modern western secular world is itself a Christian creation.

It often happens in these gloomy November days that I become more reflective about some of the fundamentals of our existence. Today is the feast of St Martin and Remembrance Day, celebrating the end of World War I in 1918. As I wrote yesterday, the twentieth century knew crimes so heinous that civilisation could not survive their being repeated – to quote the chief prosecutor at the Nuremberg Tribunal, Justice Robert Jackson.

The title of this little piece is perplexing. It is about the notion that human persons have rights to dignity, life, freedom and the pursuit of happiness. The utter paradox of Christianity proposed something so radical in the place of competition, power, money and the use of “lower” human beings for the use they would bring to their “masters”. Today, concentration camps, slavery and torture are repugnant to us. Going into a church and killing tens of innocent human beings with a gun without a care in the world is beyond most of us – but wasn’t to a young man whose mind had flipped in some mysterious way.

I refer my readers to Scholar: ‘Human Dignity’ Rare Before Christianity by Michael Liccione and Human Dignity Was a Rarity Before Christianity by David Bentley Hart. These are remarkable studies of a very profound theme in Christianity. If we totally extirpate Christianity from our world and our philosophy, the result could be horribly inhumane. Is that what we want?

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In Memoriam

Richard Strauss wrote these words in 1945 shortly after he completed Metamorphosen, a study for 23 solo strings: “The most terrible period of human history is at an end, the twelve year reign of bestiality, ignorance and anti-culture under the greatest criminals, during which Germany’s 2000 years of cultural evolution met its doom“. Here is that sublime piece conducted by the great Herbert von Karajan.

It occasionally quotes Beethoven’s Eroica. Other than the above quote from the composer’s diary, scholars continue to discuss the meaning of this work. I find the idea of an elegy for the downfall of Germany and the whole of Europe in ruins, with millions of lives lost, altogether plausible. Some lewdly suggest that Strauss was a Nazi sympathiser. His initial sympathies for the Hitler regime rapidly evaporated. He feared for his family’s lives, especially his Jewish daughter-in-law and grandchildren, some of whom ended up in concentration camps. How much would any of us have done in his place?

This seems to be an ideal piece to contemplate Remembrance Day as we consider man’s ultimate folly in warfare. Syria today is London, Dresden or Nuremberg in 1945. Culture and civilisation are lost and countless people are dead. When I drive along the coast of the D-Day beaches to Caen and the Bessin area to Sainte-Mère Eglise, there is a German military cemetery. They too died doing what they believed to be their duty, hopefully loving what of their country transcended the Nazis. This cemetery invites us also to pray for the souls of the fallen enemy soldiers as well as those who fought on our Allied side.

I was born fourteen short years after the end of World War II, and only occasionally saw ruins of buildings destroyed by the bombing, including a church near St Paul’s Cathedral in London. I did not suffer those dark days, but I could in my childhood feel the anguish in my grandfather who was a prisoner in an Oflag camp near Linz (now in Austria) and my parents who saw the devastation of the bombings.

Two world wars in the century of my birth destroyed Europe and civilisation. We are still paying the price now. The collective memory is long and the suffering is still present. Man’s inhumanity to man was supposed to have been condemned and hanged at Nuremberg, but the basis of the same old ideology is still there in the “herd” mentality so denounced by Nietzsche in his agony – fascist or socialist. Tweedledum and Tweedledee are essentially the same smoke of Satan.

We can’t do much about the political situations in our countries and the underlying conflicts, but we can discover our own souls and come to terms with them, enter into communion with a God who is Father and truly cares for us all, and thereby to transcend the bestiality and the cruelty of whoever it is at a given time. Perhaps if all those people died in the prime of their lives, it was to teach us this.

We will remember them…

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Straining at the Leash?

Archbishop Peter Robinson wrote in Facebook:

One of the things that is quite characteristic of modern Anglicanism, it seems, is its ability to ignore its own statements on doctrine, discipline, and worship. One area in which this is particularly evident is ceremonial, not that “Anglican Authority” makes it particular easy to obey the Church in this regard. The problem very largely lies with the fact that the one authoritative statement in the 1662 BCP is couched in legalese, and refers us to what was authorized by Parliament in the second year of the reign of King Edward VI – i.e. January 28th 1548 to January 27th 1549. I am using New Style dates for convenience.

Now this throws up an interesting problem because, although the Sarum Use was in use for the whole of the second year of King Edward VI, and into the third year of Edward VI, the first Act of Uniformity was passed 21st January 1549, that is, just before the end of 2 Edward VI, the Act itself being cited as 2 & 3 Edward VI c.1 – the first Act passed in that session of Parliament. This fact has given rise to two conflicting opinions as to how the Ornaments Rubric is to be interpreted. Dearmer, in common with many other late 19th century authorities, sees the Act of 1559/1662 as authorizing anything under the Sarum Use that was not forbidden in the second year of Edward VI, and proceed from that point to dress the BCP in the clothes of the Sarum Use, insofar as they will fit the Prayerbook.

The other point of view, which was maintained by the Royal Commission of 1906, and the Report to Convocation in 1909, is that the reference is to the BCP annexed to the 1549 Act of Uniformity, and therefore to the rubrics of the first Book of Common Prayer. Given the way Parliament usually cites legislation in the Tudor period, this makes a lot of sense, if not a lot of difference! Subsequent legislation in England, such as the draft Prayer Book of 1927/8, and the 1965 Canons have tended to take this line, whilst still leaving room for the more austere customs authorized by the Canons of 1604. Two things that neither the Ornaments Rubric, nor the 1604 Canons, allow are Genevan nudity, or Baroque Roman sentimentality, sadly, we see too much of both in Anglican Churches, though the latter tendency seems to be stronger in the USA.

Had the use provided for by the Ornaments Rubric prevailed, Anglican services would have somewhat resembled those of Lutheran orthodoxy. In addition to the choir habit, and choral services, Mass vestments, chant, and much of the old, modest, ceremonial would have survived, and the work of revival in the 19th century would have been so much easier, and so much less controversial. As it was, what so often came into use in the late 19th century was a mingle-mangle of private opinion and Baroque Romanism, neither of which is in accord with the spirit of the Book of Common Prayer. Even now it is not too late to put things right. All it would take is an honest attempt at obedience, and the use of reliable Anglican sources such as the old Alcuin Club “Directory of Ceremonial.”

Anglicanism does have a tradition of its own, and one that is rooted in the tradition of the Church before the forces of Reformation and Counter-Reformation distorted the traditions of the Western Church. There is nothing unprotestant or anti-reformed about the use of a dignified ceremonial in Church, and for many in this visual age, a modest ceremonial with colour and movement rooted in centuries of tradition might bring the eye-gate as well as the ear-gate to the human soul into the service of true religion.

Does anyone get the impression he would like to use Sarum, or do things Dearmer-fashion? One commenter asks the question – Perhaps you could explain this a bit further Archbishop. Are you referring to Sarum Rite? From what I have read that was a most complicated service.

Archbishop Robinson is certainly familiar with my Sarum page and what is available in classical English alongside the Latin. He is not a member of the Sarum group on Facebook, but he would of course be most welcome to join it. I refer readers to my previous discussion on the Prayer Book. It is indeed a stumbling block in the question of Anglican identity, and dialogue / reunion between continuing Churches.

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Further Reflections on Independent Sacramental Churches

Dr William Tighe sent me an e-mail this morning with a reference to a book I bought some time ago – The Many Paths of the Independent Sacramental Movement (Independent Catholic Heritage) by John P. Plummer. I wrote Independent Sacramental Movement more than five years ago when I bought this book and emphasised with his perspective. I also wrote at various moments Further on the “indie” conversation, A Serious Look at Old Catholicism and The Desire for the Mitre.

With precious little experience of the American situation, I can only really go by what is found online. In October 2012, I collected a number of websites and blogs showing bishops and other clergy with a less self-important attitude, and who had simplified their “style” to suit reality. Nearly all these sites have disappeared, and some also provoke my Norton Anti-virus software to warn me about the dangers of being on such-and-such a page with nothing relevant to the subject of independent Catholicism. I tend to heed such warnings to keep my computer clean. What has happened. John Plummer’s Youtube videos have disappeared and his blog page has remained untouched since September 2012. On Facebook, he and some of his friends like John Treat appear like delightful gentlemen, committed to academia and good living, but with precious little in the way of ecclesiastical appearance or language. It is altogether understandable. Already, in the conclusion of his book, John Plummer described his disillusionment of people “playing church” and representing a whole kaleidoscope of conflicting ideas of what Christianity should be to certain minority groups.

The American situation is indeed fleeting and ephemeral. In France, some of the Gallican churches (some more Roman in expression, some using a “Gallican” rite) have become quite stable and endure over the years. Others have vanished. Roman Catholic traditionalist radicalism has motivated others, and some have survived, and others have gone or emigrated to the USA in the hope of finding some respectability. I had something of a brush with this world in the early 2000’s but became disillusioned and sought a more ecclesial dimension. That led me back to Continuing Anglicanism.

I don’t think there is much to say now. In England, some of the more spectacular prelates have shrunk into the underworld whether or not they maintain some internet and Facebook presence. There was one pretending to be a regular Roman Catholic whilst being in the Duarte Costa succession. Others show their honesty and originality like Archbishop Jerome Lloyd, who is a delightful person.

Let us be frank: it is an underworld full of good and bad, like any church, including the mainstream ones. What is the minimum for being in the Church of God or just some kind of false pretence? I don’t think the criteria are set in stone, but we all have decisions to make in life. Times have changed and Christianity is no longer something of the masses except in American mega churches and in past times. The priesthood has to mean something different, and that is the great insight of men like John Plummer and John Treat with his monastic experience.

The first thing is not appearing to be what we are not. My Bishop in England can do what he does because he has a real little diocese with priests, deacons and parishes – however small they are. I live in France and the people here, my wife included, haven’t the remotest interest in the kind of religion to which I aspire. Should I change, become an uber-extrovert mega-church pastor? No, I have to be what I believe in, so that means the intellectual life and education of those disposed to take an interest. With the rest of the world, you might as well photograph my 12-foot boat in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean (before it sinks!). We are swamped by indifference on every side, and none of us matters. Perhaps we matter at another level, and this is a part of our self-discovery and acceptance. Life is above the “low-born clods of brute earth”.

What has always encouraged me is the fact that monks can become priests, and often do. They will not (ordinarily) be parish priests, but contemplatives, intellectuals and craftsmen. It occurs to me that the Benedict Option will not be so much the construction of intentional communities (though that might happily happen in some places) but our own focus on finding God’s calling and living it where we are, the way we are. Some independent priests, like us in the continuing Anglican churches, will find their meaning and authenticity in this way. However, I fear that few will have the humility and spiritual maturity for it.

Some of us have been down this road, and remain modest and circumspect in our expression. We should express ourselves with compassion, giving souls credit for the good they try to do in the ways they alone know.

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Bishop Leslie Hamlett

My Bishop has just published a brief notice on our diocesan website Rest in Peace + Leslie Hamlett (Bishop Ordinary 1992 – 1997).

Given his being in extremis for some time (he was in a hospice), I can understand that his son and daughter were upset on seeing a caricature on him on this blog, drawn by a man who was helping in Bishop Hamlett’s pro-cathedral-parish in Madeley Heath and apparently living according to a Franciscan way of life. This person also drew caricatures that became increasingly grotesque, and though they seemed for a time to be amusing, they showed a process of radicalisation and bitterness. This grainy photo is all I have from about 1996 other than one of the Palm Sunday procession which I have already posted.

Il tempo fa passare l’amore e l’amore fa passare il tempo. Things lose relevance with the passage of time.

It is always a reminder of our own mortality to hear of the passing of someone we have known. When I first met Bishop Hamlett in 1995, I was in a difficult situation in the Roman Catholic Church as a deacon in a parish in rural France. He seemed to be a man of sympathy and vision with his having Fr Michael Wright in his diocese. Fr Wright had been an Army chaplain with a special interest in the dialogue between Anglicanism and Orthodoxy. There was a definite understanding of Orthodox theology in Bishop Hamlett’s discourse and an original approach to human iniquity. These themes, which have been uppermost in my mind over the past few days, formed a part of Bishop Hamlett’s thought. I remember the day when he told me all about his abortive attempt to found an Anglican-Use group in the Roman Catholic Church. When I wrote A Couple of Lovely Postings, I found material in my archives that reminded me of these early aspirations.

Bishop Hamlett had a certain intellectual ability to understand some of these issues, which brought him increasingly to reject Anglican expressions and to go along a “proto” Roman Catholic trajectory. He accepted the systematisation of doctrine and devotion coming from the Council of Trent, systematic and regular auricular confession, and an outward expression that was quite similar to the Roman Catholic traditionalists. The main difference is that the liturgy would continue to be celebrated in Prayer Book style English, from the Anglican Missal – and the separation from Rome would be clearly expressed. His big problem was his parochialism and lack of any real originality of thought, his small-mindedness and some quirk in his personality that gave him an inflated sense of self-importance. These characteristics had unpleasant consequences in about 1997. I left before this came to fruition, but I could already discern the tendencies leading towards the break. The big problem was that the Pastoral Provision failed in England, and continuing Anglican Churches in America were only a poor substitute for a cleric trying to keep his parish going outside the Church of England.

Over the years, he tried to realign and re-group as best he could. He acquired a church building in Stoke on Trent, and when the local town planning authorities decided it was in the way of their plans, they provided him with another and better church building. It was a pleasant Victorian building with a modern church hall. It was furnished in good taste with an English altar and the “big six”. I have no idea about how well attended this church was as the years wore on.

In spite of these questions, Bishop Hamlett was certainly sincere in his ministry and vision of the Church and acted according to his beliefs. It is the time for forgiveness and our prayers for him as he has passed from his pilgrimage on earth. He is now where no mortal can judge him, and all that remains is to pray and accept our limitations faced with this terrifying mystery of death.

We should also pray for his son and daughter. I don’t know whether his wife survives him. A page turns for him and for us in the Diocese of the United Kingdom of the ACC.

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Liturgical Arts Journal

The launch of the Liturgical Arts Journal is very good news indeed. It was set up by a young Roman Catholic layman, Shawn Tribe, who set up the New Liturgical Movement in 2005 and withdrew from active contribution. He explains everything here in his introduction. Unlike the NLM, this blog concentrates on the artistic and cultural dimensions of the liturgy and in particular an authentic understanding of the expression noble simplicity in the Vatican II Constitution on the liturgy.

LAJ will seek out noble beauty, being interested neither in pious clutter and overly-sentimentalist liturgical art on the one hand, nor modernist minimalism and brutalism on the other. Instead it will seek out manifestations that are characterized by beauty, nobility, Romanitas, gravitas and so on.

This theme is close to my own thoughts and feelings with my love of the Arts & Crafts movement and the English liturgical revival. I am quite interested in the “other modern” Shawn Tribe has promoted, meaning churches built in the 1920’s and 1950’s during those two post-war periods as mankind sought to soar above the devastation he had suffered, both to human life and cultural monuments. I remember being particularly impressed by the chapel of Charterhouse school, built by Gilbert-Scott in 1927 and the 1962 restoration of St Alban’s Holborn, and not least the Anglican Cathedral of Guildford from the same era. Modern does not always mean ugly.

Myself, I have followed the simplification of vestments and linen, both for the altar and the clergy. I quite went off lace, and took to preferring plain albs and surplices. An article recently appeared on this subject, showing the late Fr Frank Quoëx wearing a sober Roman surplice – A ‘Via Media’ for Lace as Liturgical Ornament. It left me with memories of Grigliano, where there best lace surplices and albs were limited to a couple of inches of the stuff at the bottoms and sleeves. I am no longer Roman or baroque in my tastes, even though I sympathise with monastic sobriety!

Noble Simplicity and Noble Beauty gives another perspective, which I find more germane, going from the particulars to general principles. There are objective standards of beauty, such as symmetry and harmony, aspects that are eschewed by deconstructionism and post-modernism.

All in all, I recommend this site and its being bookmarked for regular reference.

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