Early Modern English

Archbishop Haverland has been on Facebook, exhorting us priests to get it right with memorized texts like the doxology after a collect:

All traditional clergy should commit to memory the basic rule for expanding a collect ending to full Trinitarian form: If the prayer is addressed to the Father, it concludes ‘who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end.’ If it is addressed to the Second Person of the Trinity, the ending is ‘who livest and reignest with the Father in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end.’ Father is ‘-eth’, Son is ‘-est’. The two are NOT interchangeable. We don’t say, ‘You is using bad English’ or ‘He are not getting that right.’ Confusing ‘-est’ and ‘-eth’ is the same basic mistake.

There are also rules for when the Holy Ghost or Jesus Christ are mentioned in the collect: “Through the same our Lord Jesus Christ…” “… in the unity of the same Holy Ghost…”

I left a comment:

Here is an introduction to Early Modern English which includes the Renaissance period, giving a table for the declension of personal pronouns – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Early_Modern_English

There will be some standard text books on English grammar of that period, and suggestions would be welcome in comments. I have a copy of Fowler’s The King’s English, which sets the standard for modern English, in much greater depth than the books we had at school, but only indirectly deals with archaic English.

Someone on the thread did make the point that we do well to have knowledge in Latin and German to understand the principles of declension of nouns and pronouns and the conjugation of verbs. The rules of English grammar have changed over the centuries, and we Anglicans (some in the Canterbury Communion and in the Continuum) use a style of English that stretched over from the mid sixteenth century to the middle of the seventeenth. I often make the comparison between our use of an archaic style of our language with the use of Church Slavonic by Russians, Ukrainians, etc. and the use of Latin by Italians. It gives a distinct otherness to liturgical language whilst remaining comprehensible to the average churchgoer.

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Glitter Ashes

I thought I had heard them all! This is going “viral” on Facebook.

A number of people responded to the provocation to express indignation or wonder whether it is a joke. Even some gay people object to this aberration and feel insulted.

It certainly calls us to remember what Ash Wednesday is really all about. It is fundamentally about the inevitability of our death, our mortality, the great leveller that makes no distinction between rich and poor, etc.

In the Facebook thread, I was quite cynical in saying – I can’t imagine why they bother.

Someone responded: I suspect most of those to whom this silliness would appeal likewise have little concept of sacraments and sacramentals – more of the faith is what I think and what I like category.

I continued in the same light vein: Then I suppose it is “hip” or “cool”. There’s now’t so queer as folk!

Next response in a more serious tone: It misses the whole point, doesn’t it? Glitter is associated with celebration – which Lent certainly is not – and ashes with penance. Penance presupposes guilt which is very out of fashion.

I then finished with my own more serious reflection: This is why I said that it was difficult to understand why they bothered. The Ashes are a sacramental, but above all are symbolic of receiving sackcloth and ashes like when public sinners were told to leave the church and were only reconciled on Maundy Thursday, a sign of humiliation and our mortality – our commitment to repent of our sins and prepare ourselves to renew the vows of our Baptism, to rise with Christ in his Paschal Mystery. Death has to precede resurrection! Glittering ashes are simply a mockery.

This is what we should remember on Ash Wednesday. There’s no point to it unless we have some kind of resolve to adopt a Lenten discipline. It doesn’t have to be self-torture or giving up something pleasurable. It can be a decision to read a spiritual book or spend more time reading the Bible. It can be a pilgrimage or perhaps something like the painful journey of self-knowledge I have confronted over the past few months. In this reflection on mortality, I am particularly sensitive to the Parable of the Talents. What have I achieved? Too little, I know.

That’s what the Ashes are for. The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.

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Aspie Days in Lille

I went to the second day of Aspie Days in Lille (near the Belgian border). It was quite fascinating and I might venture to say, illuminating. It was the first time I had met people diagnosed with Aspergers and other degrees of autism leaving the intellectual faculties and use of language intact. Some had a “nerdish” look about them, but not all. They are generally very anxious souls until they can be reassured that they are among sympathising and empathising people. I would have liked to go to the first day too, but I had a translation order to deliver yesterday afternoon and I only knew about Aspie Days last Thursday.

It was all held at the Grand Palais in Lille, and assembled several hundred people concentrating on the theme of Aspergers Syndrome and other degrees of autism without intellectual deficiency. Apart from Aspergers autists, there were many parents of children with autism, researchers, psychologists and psychiatrists and a few associations. There were also companies specialised in head-hunting “aspies” for extremely specialised and technical jobs in the computer industry in particular. This approach works well in America, and French companies are catching on to the prospect of having people who work with extreme precision and are completely honest, on condition of providing the right working conditions (no stress, competition, bullying, etc.).

I attended three lectures, two of which seemed to presuppose university-level knowledge of psychology – which was challenging. The second lecture was by the psychologist Julie Dachez who has a blog (in French). She made the point that many neurotypicals (most people) were “autistic” in regard to themselves, reminding me of a saying of C.G. Jung that society is mentally ill rather than his patients! She spoke about “coping strategies”, namely resolving the problem, manage one’s emotions, find support with family and friends and “cognitive restructuring” – turning the whole thing around and seeing one’s condition as a gift and not only a handicap. For more about this subject, I refer readers to Dr Tony Attwood, one of the greatest present-day authorities on Aspergers.

The whole conference was extremely well organised, and I was very happy to be there and meet some beautiful souls “in this world but not of this world” as St John put it.

* * *

There is a little reflection I will share with my readers. It was the first time I had knowingly met autistic and Aspergers people and attempt to get an impression of them, trying to feel the difference between them and most people in the world. One thing in common is the Angst, the sense of anxiety which is heard in the voice and seen in their faces. Some seemed to have the “look” of autism, something in the face and eyes, but most looked just like ordinary folk. You don’t just go up to them and say “Hi, I’m Anthony” and engage small talk – that’s what they hate most. We’re all already coping with high levels of noise from hundreds of human voices and people all around. You need to look for common interests – looking at similar books on a stall of the exhibition or simply he and I having long hair. A tiny spark establishes the contact.

As the day finished, I met a young man of about thirty years with his mother. Always the same edginess. We discussed things like diagnosis and special interests, and then we were about the split up to go back to our cars. There was a look in his eyes, limpid and sad at the same time, he has already bonded with me in some way. I then suggested that we should exchange e-mail addresses and “befriend” each other on Facebook. A reflection came up during those final moments whilst his mother was getting her car keys out of her handbag. The “otherness” of the mainstream world, the fact that we are “other” but all the same have to “play the game” in the world. It made me think of St John quoting Christ, as I mentioned above – They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. In its context, the verse refers to Christ’s disciples and the Church, otherness from the world of power, money and sexual lust. Last Saturday brought me into contact with people who are not “of this world” because of neurological abnormalities. The idea is mind-blowing!

One can find many articles describing aspies as predisposed to spirituality, but it is not always true. For many, institutional religion is just a part of that world they eschew, whose sophistry is as apparent as a sore thumb! I am sceptical about narratives of “indigo children”, but a common core is an understanding that life is something other than competition, power, money, lust and status. Many neurotypicals also have the same understanding through their spiritual paradigm (Christian, Buddhist, pagan, etc.), but high-functioning autistic persons and aspies seem to be pre-disposed to this clarity of vision. God made us differently. To whom much is given, much will be demanded…

I asked the young man and his mother if they were believers, because this is not something one can presume in France. I was not in clerical dress, since it would have been most inappropriate at this occasion. I was dressed casually with a hoodie and wore my hair loose. There came a point when I told them that I was an Anglican priest. Immediately, they asked me for my blessing. At that moment I felt something that I had not felt for a long time – the sense of having ministered to souls as a priest, to transmit virtus to others. Such a small and discreet gesture meant so much to them and to myself. It was most unexpected.

I went there as a part of my pilgrimage and quest for self-knowledge, since it is by knowing oneself that one can know God and enter into a relationship with the Divine. I went to observe and learn, attended three lectures, and spent time in the common area. I learned a lot about what is being done for autistic and aspie children (except that the two terms refer to the person’s history). Aspergers follows a more normal development and the child experiences difficulties towards 6 to 7 years. Autistic children, even in those whose intellectual faculties are not impaired, often take a while to learn their language and start talking. After 7 years or so, the symptoms are exactly identical, but not the history. This is why it was a big mistake on the part of the American psychiatric establishment to do away with the category of Asperger’s Syndrome in 2013. This distinction has ample scientific support and is maintained by medical establishments in Europe specialising in diagnosing autism and Aspergers and caring for those affected, whether children or adults.

All in all, an illuminating day.

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A Certain Sense of Style

As Clint Eastwood would say, “You guys sure have a certain sense of style”.

Here’s an amazing video from Palmar de Troya. Photography in their church used to be strictly forbidden. I am surprised that the ceremonies seem to be fairly well ordered and the bishops involved seem to take it all seriously. The organ seems to be a pipe organ, reasonably well played. It’s all quite a surprise.

Perhaps with Pope Peter III, it might grow into a sane independent Catholic Church if they can get rid of the totalitarian control aspect and the worst of the devotional quirks. All in the tradition of Spanish flamboyancy and far from our Anglican sobriety. I still don’t advise anyone to join them! Have fun with the video!

However, I do recommend the site of Magnus Lundberg (mostly in English) and his research into the Palmar de Troya phenomenon and other pretenders to the Papacy. This is where I found the link to the video on Facebook.


* * *

Update about the finances of this cult The Palmarian Catholic Church: a lie that lasted 40 yearsFormer ‘Pope,’ Gregorio XVIII exposes the shady financial dealings and greed of this Spanish sect with global followers. It will be quite a field day for the fiscal authorities in Spain, quite apart from the fact that lives have been ruined and former believers are now atheists. I wonder what will happen to that church once they have been taken to the cleaners…

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Temple Grandin

I have just made the discovery of an amazing American woman by the name of Temple Grandin. I have just ordered the DVD by her name, a film about her life as an autistic. You can find clips from this film and talks by searching on YouTube. I was very struck about her as a little girl when her mother takes her to the psychiatrist. Temple looks at the wallpaper and two pieces that were misaligned by a sloppy decorator, and she visualises the pattern as it should be. I often did this as a child, and loved looking at a world map and how continents would have fitted together before the Continental Drift millions of years ago. Even looking at random forms like knots in a piece of wood, I sometimes catch myself looking for patterns and something logical. It just doesn’t occur to most people!

Another scene is at a Christmas party when some friendly people come to engage Temple in small talk. It ends up with a meltdown in another room, such is the confusion coming from the way most people socialise. An austistic or Aspergers person just can’t handle the contradictions and strategies of manipulation. The little I have seen of the film through the YouTube clips (the full film is only available from streaming merchants – so I ordered the DVD) is impressive. It is full both of intimate familiarity and strangeness.

Apart from being a university professor and an accomplished scientist, Temple Grandin is distinguished for having designed humane animal slaughtering systems. Animals like cattle, sheep and pigs are kept in a state of calmness. When they are shot with a a captive bolt pistol or electrocuted prior to being bled, their death is instantaneous – far better than if they were caught by a lion in Africa. In the short presentation Stairway to Heaven, she outlines her slaughterhouse inventions involving curved and walled pathways and ways to prevent the animals from seeing the plant’s employees doing their job.

As the son of a veterinary surgeon, I have seen plenty of animal blood and gore from post-mortems, euthanised dogs and cats on the floor in the cremation room, and even a view through an open door of the local slaughterhouse in Kendal. A stunned animal hanging by the back leg moves a lot, giving the impression of being still alive, and the impression is quite revolting. I once had to finish off a mortally injured cat on the road, and I have killed fish that I caught and which were good for eating. With the cat, it was an act of euthanasia. It is a terrifying truth, but in order to live, we have to kill. That is true even if you are a vegan, because plants are also living things and they die when you cook and eat them. If we use milk, cheese and eggs, the animals and birds concerned will still be killed and eaten by others. The leather for our shoes and belts also comes from dead cows!

It is very reassuring to relate that many slaughterhouses in the USA have adopted Temple Grandin’s invention. It certainly represents a significant capital investment, but the meat of relaxed animals is of much better quality, and the animal is respected until the instant it is stunned and killed. Not so here in Europe, where business demands the killing of all animals except pigs using Kosher and Halal methods: using a very long and sharp knife to slit the beast’s throat once it is turned upside down in a special revolving pen. The top part is sold for Jewish and Muslim consumption, and the bottom part, considered ritually impure, is sold to “ordinary” butchers. The best steaks come from the rear end, but beef chops are much more expensive because they come from the “pure” part. There is a significant level of protest here in France and other European countries against the bleeding of animals without prior stunning, and conditions are often barbarous.

Here is a video of such a killing – warning, not for the squeamish! It is sickening – so be warned. The animal is reckoned to be dead when its tongue hangs out, but conscious life is likely to continue for the time it takes for the brain to become starved of oxygen – generally three to four minutes. The properly stunned animal (captive bolt pistol, electricity or carbon dioxide) is certainly completely unconsciousness before it is bled. The law in the USA and all European countries requires stunning. I fail to understand the issue with ritual slaughter, because a stunned animal is just as completely bled as a conscious one when the man with his knife does his job. Why refuse modern stunning? Even on traditional farms, for the Saint-Cochon in November, the pig gets a bullet in the head or a hard hammer blow before being hung up and bled (think of those yummy black puddings).

Temple Grandin can be proud of the fact that she has devised ways of respecting the animals whilst they are alive and giving them a painless and instantaneous death.

I eat meat myself, but I increasingly buy it from farms that breed their animals humanely and in good conditions of comfort and health. I eat very little beef or lamb, and tend to eat more pork and chicken. I know that pigs are killed properly and cleanly because they are not eaten by our non-Christian monotheistic brethren. Her view of death has been to a great extent formed by the slaughterhouse but also by accounts of near-death experiences of people whose brains were totally flat lined. As a visual thinker, formal religion makes little sense to her, but she has this original approach to death which is as inevitable for us as for the steer in the slaughterhouse.

She is a fascinating person to listen to, so logical and tidy in her thought processes. I will be watching more videos of her talks and interviews. She can be quite intimidating with her chiselled and gaunt face and her twangy accent. Above all, she makes the point that however much we are held back by disability, we can all succeed by working hard and applying ourselves. Instead of getting addicted to video games, young aspies and ASD people need to learn skills and do something they are really good at. Schools seem to be improving in this respect as I could not know in the 1960’s and 70’s when we were just upbraided and punished for laziness or disobedience to authority. No one gets it served up on a plate. We all have to work hard. The world doesn’t owe us a living! It is said that Mozart didn’t get “inspirations” when composing his music – but worked long and gruelling hours. I know what it’s like to work in a counter-subject in a coherent chordal progression, and produce something that has form – and above all beauty. Good old-fashioned work seems a little out of date these days – but this is the way for us all, whether we are “on the spectrum” or “neurotypical”.

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Quid est Veritas?

vicar-brayLike in the political world, black seems to be white in the RC Church. I have received several links to news articles about the ongoing war between conservatives (including Cardinal Burke) and Pope Francis.

Given that degree of Francis’ vehemence against “rigid” thinkers, things seem to be moving forward for the Society of St Pius X – Pope Francis’s traditionalists by Damian Thompson. Regarding the conflict between Cardinal Burke and the Pope, I’m not sure that the Cardinal is being any more rigid in terms of moral teaching than Popes Paul VI and John Paul II. It is simply that the “liberal” expectations are becoming increasingly excessive and unrealistic – and typically “feminist”.

If I were an atheist, I would be having a field day with all this nonsense and conflicting messages! We have the American journalist telling us that we are on the point of getting some “reincarnation” of Hitler or Mussolini (and Paolo Sesto?). If I have to give a political opinion, I would favour some versions of American Libertarianism, Distributism à la Hilaire Belloc or some other socialist vision from the nineteenth century. I believe in private property, owning the means of production and being allowed to earn one’s living by work, but I also believe in humanitarianism and helping the less fortunate than ourselves. I detest “champagne socialism” as much as unlimited capitalism (big companies preventing small businesses from having any share of the market by unfair means) and elitism. I find nothing good in party politics in America and Europe. It burns me out. I don’t think Pope Francis knows what he is talking about when he simply echoes, parrot fashion, the agenda of some very evil people in this world. For this reason, I evoke the rhetorical question of Pilate facing Christ – What is truth?

Then we have Pope Francis being ready to take in the SSPX – unless it’s all “bait & switch”. In which case, would the SSPX be so stupid, given that they have reneged on previous regularisation attempts under John Paul II and Benedict XVI?

Perhaps there is a clue in this quote from St Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits: What seems to me white, I will believe black if the hierarchical Church so defines. The more lenient viewpoint would describe this notion in analogical and rhetorical rather than literal terms: trust the Church more than your own possibly erroneous judgement or belief. Taken literally, the idea is quite monstrous. For centuries, the Jesuits have been known for playing games with words and ideas. I have known some saintly Jesuit priests in England like Fr Hugh Thwaites, but most are just – – – boring.

Decidedly, this RC Church has definitely forfeited any claim it might have had to represent revealed Truth or being the “true” Church exclusively of all others. “Emotional” and “intellectual” sedevacantism are growing. I am finding both opposing camps toxic. Again, I thank God for the continuing Anglican Churches and all the little communities inside and outside the “mainstream” institutions. Thank goodness, Catholic Christianity can continue without becoming abject nonsense fit only to disposed of in the household rubbish!

Maybe, cujus rex ejus religio: Pope Francis will stop supporting the agenda people like Obama and Hillary Clinton represented, and will turn to the new nationalist and authoritarian tendencies – and no one will bat an eyelid.

When royal James possessed the crown, and popery came in fashion,
The penal laws I hooted down, and read the Declaration.
The Church of Rome, I found, did fit full well my constitution
And I had been a Jesuit, but for the Revolution.

When William was our King declared, to ease the nation’s grievance,
With this new wind about I steered, and swore to him allegiance.
Old principles I did revoke; Set conscience at a distance,
Passive obedience was a joke, a jest was non-resistance.

When Royal Anne became our queen, the Church of England’s glory,
Another face of things was seen, and I became a Tory.
Occasional conformists base; I blamed their moderation;
And thought the Church in danger was from such prevarication.

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Aspie Archbishop?

This is quite amazing – Michael Ramsey – an autistic archbishop ?

Diagnosing a dead person is not easy to say the least (it has been tried with King George III and Mozart among others), but people did notice some strange things about this great man of God and the Church of England. Asperger’s Syndrome manifests itself in many different ways and degrees, but when the symptoms fit…

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