John Beeler off the Deep End

I don’t mind a man looking like something out of the 1950’s or 60’s with similar glasses as those of my old schoolmaster, and who daubs his blog with cars of the same era. All right, I am an eccentric too and do the same thing with sailing boats, but I do have other subjects of conversation too. My attention is drawn to this man yet again by something he has written on Facebook (entry of 9th July from about 8am East Coast Time) perhaps hoping I would never find it. Most of Facebook is utter drivel, but it is there to find people I lost contact with as well as those who try to keep in touch in a light-hearted vein. Well, what is it?

He wrote a little entry linking to his blog article recommending us to read an interesting article by Fr Hunwicke and commenting on the new Antiochian Metropolitan in America. His comments on the latter subject are outright cruel:

Of passing interest at best but this might mean the end of another small counterfeit Catholic church, their Western Rite experiment.

That’s his way of describing the Antiochian WR Vicariate. John Beeler reads my Orthodox Blow-out Department, where some of the conversation has been about how the western rite vicariate is faring. One of his friends commented saying that Fr Chadwick’s site always contains some interesting characters.

John Beeler responded:

Dale (Fr. Griffiths?) is my favorite, and I’m not being sarcastic. Of course I’m sorry to see Fr. C turn away from the Catholic Church. When I met him online years ago he was an unusually sweet-natured independent traditionalist Catholic priest, but he’s long been in an independent Anglican phase. He has no congregation, no real ministry. Nice guy, most of the time, with a nice life in France: his wife, his translator’s job, and his sailing hobby. But he reminds me of Arnold Harris Mathew, a historical figure. A sensitive soul, he means well and is not stupid but he is foolish.

As he reads my blog, I will ask him if this kind of thing is really necessary. In reality it is full of double standards. For example, you are only Catholic if you’re in communion with Rome (unless you go to the SSPX as I suspect he does), but yet I was not in such a situation as an “independent” priest. Better to be labelled a traditionalist Roman Catholic (though canonically irregular) than to be associated with Continuing Anglicanism! Honestly, it drips with hypocrisy and the usual callousness of people who suffer from his “mental condition” (a form of autism).

I went to the TAC, and when that was wrecked and I was left with precious little as an ecclesial home, I joined the ACC. I did this to be in a canonical situation in an institutional Church whose essential way is classical Catholicism rather than Protestantism. I believe it is better to do this than continue as an “independent Catholic” priest saying the right words but being in total irregularity. Beeler has the gall to compare me with Archbishop Arnold Harris Mathew, I suppose on account of his shifting positions when faced with major challenges like theosophy and rogue bishops born from his mistakes. I have a good deal of sympathy with that historical character who lived in the “good old days” of Pius X and Sodalitium Pianum and forayed into the Modernist camp. I suppose the comparison isn’t entirely off-target, as I find it difficult to deal with major challenges and conflict.

I am, so-called, “long been in an independent Anglican phase. He has no congregation, no real ministry“. Phase? I could always relinquish Christianity. But for what? If I want to be a RC layman, I have only to go to church. No point in jumping through hoops for years just to receive the Sacraments. The divorced and remarried (the honest ones) live with their canonical handicap and lead lives of prayer as best they can.

Nice guy, most of the time, with a nice life in France: his wife, his translator’s job, and his sailing hobby.

How condescending! Quite honestly, I would like to stuff that big red American car sideways down his throat. Now isn’t that a nice thought? I didn’t comment about his cars or autism, but I do now. I’ll say it in American – The guy’s a complete jerk!

I gave some attention to his more recent blog articles:

  • Church chat: I’m not that religious – so he takes the aloof position of the mildly anti-clerical. I know the tune!
  • A portrait of the alpha, and more – “The more I think about it the more I’m convinced that religion was intended to police the two groups in society that required the most policing: Women and Alphas. I’ve long thought that.”

I am finally described as a sensitive soul, he means well and is not stupid but he is foolish. Foolish? For going Continuing Anglican? I shouldn’t spend time discussing such ideas, because I have discovered a life outside religion. I keep wondering whether 95% of the people living in the country where I live can all be wrong – they have given up on religion but they are not all materialists.The world is run by people with personality problems involving lack of empathy or care for other people, whatever the cause to which psychiatrists give a name. I know that not all of us are like that, that callous and cruel personalities are only a minority.

I suppose I’m lucky to have a good and pastoral Bishop in England. I leave it to others to decide whether I am a Raca or a fool, or whether I have done well to find my peace in an ecclesial community that allows a broken and contrite heart some peace and consolation.

Perhaps his biggest problem is that I embraced what he rejected (high-church Anglicanism) on going to the RC traditionalist camp via a fleeting brush with Orthodoxy. I seem to have hit a nerve!

* * *

Update: I found this on Why women are no longer as attracted to providers, and it’s not about church size:

Church: does size matter? Ha ha ha. Seriously, while it’s great being Catholic in a place where many Catholics settled, such as the immigrant American Northeast, and the church fulfilled the Great Commission while the schismatics either were dhimmi or building their own empire, it’s really about principle. We accept the East. They reject the West. There are different schools of thought in Catholicism as there are different rites. I just see one faith: Trinity, hypostatic union (blessed be Jesus Christ, true God and true man), Mother of God, apostolic bishops, Real Presence, and images, for example. (We defend the use of images but they’re optional: the Nestorians often don’t use them, and of course the Roman Rite doesn’t have the iconostasis. Icons are great, but they’re cultural.) They mistake cultural differences for theological ones. As for Anglicanism, the plain meaning of the Articles of Religion speaks for itself, putting it out of serious consideration. And actually I’m as “romantic” as you: the church is best as the Church Local, run by custom (simpatico with Orthodoxy, no?), as long as it’s part of the Church Universal.

It seems to be about finding the “true church” by process of elimination. I have known this with others. If they went to the limit of the logic, there would be no true church – and then the answer is Christianity without church, another religion or atheism. That may well happen. Paradoxically, we find the use of “private judgement” in a matter that of off-limits to that miraculous oracle called the “magisterium“.

So, the Thirty-nine Articles put all forms of Anglicanism out of serious consideration? One thing that made it possible for me to join the TAC and then the ACC was that I never had at any time to accept the Articles. I have been in trouble with low-church Anglicans for this reason. That being said, I find this situation no more incoherent than belonging to the RC Church and saying that the Novus Ordo “sucks”. One can go through a thousand off-the-peg garments in a shop, and find that none fits perfectly. There is always some measure of compromise and acceptance of imperfection.

Perhaps there is nowhere left. The subject of this article has been a mild challenge, one that forces me to consider various loyalties and patterns of behaviour in terms of personality typology. The human personality is incredibly complicated, and I do not entirely trust the psychiatrists in their typing of personalities. I become increasingly aware of personalities that are devoid of empathy for others and are caught up in a black-and-white or binary world. The types like “malignant narcissists”, “psychopaths” and “sociopaths”, “borderline personalities” and others generally show this lack of empathy in common. Not all are devoid of moral conscience like the first categories. My eyes have been opened on reading introductions to this branch of psychology, but I remain sceptical due to the belief that the human person is free and responsible for his moral acts.

The search for the “true church” seems to go with an intolerant and cruel personality. This is something I am just unable to get over with most institutional churches for which Christ was some kind of “muscular” reactionary figure. I come to the stage of life when I see that the more we dig, we less likely we are to like what we find. Much of Christianity and the New Testament is difficult to justify in intellectual terms. That was the drama of the end of the nineteenth century when scholastic apologetics lost their credibility faced with the natural sciences and historical criticism. We are left with analogy and poetry to communicate with the Mystery to some measure through faculties we have outside our reason.

What we live through is the same as a hundred years ago, made worse by the two World Wars and the end of the old civilisation. We are called to enter the darkness and the via purgativa, preparing for something we cannot define for future generations. That is if we have time given the threats we face to our planet and what’s left of the life on it. Coming to terms with our own helplessness certainly brings us to evolve beyond the “machine” and its impotent apologetics.

This article, though emotive in places, is not about an individual – but what that individual believes he represents. I live in a world where people are extremely diverse and exercise their freedom in their lifestyles, jobs, hobbies and everything else. We need to be tolerant and let each person find his or her own way, even if if means that person having to learn the “hard way”. I won’t repeat my article of the other day on Berdyaev and religious freedom. What concerns me is the general tendency of the modern world – perhaps a return to twentieth-century totalitarianism. If that happens, there will probably be nowhere to go, no escape other than death.

The churches are impotent and discredited. The institutions we have known like politics and the media are being exposed as corrupt to the core with paedophile networks among other things. The major churches are not exempt and have to be purged. Most of us have lost faith in institutions. The shepherd is struck down and the sheep scattered, and no light is visible at the end of the tunnel.

Yet, we have to do something little and humble whilst we are still here – and do good around us. Our efforts are puny and feeble, and appreciated only by God, certainly worthless to man. So be it.

* * *

Another update (July 10): Beeler has been piling up the poison on Facebook. I don’t know Beeler, but Paul Goings does. I find the comment from another blog posting very apposite.

For the record, I quote the conversation.

John Beeler Dale (Fr. Griffiths?) is my favorite, and I’m not being sarcastic. Of course I’m sorry to see Fr. C turn away from the Catholic Church. When I met him online years ago he was an unusually sweet-natured independent traditionalist Catholic priest, but he’s long been in an independent Anglican phase. He has no congregation, no real ministry. Nice guy, most of the time, with a nice life in France: his wife, his translator’s job, and his sailing hobby. But he reminds me of Arnold Harris Mathew, a historical figure. A sensitive soul, he means well and is not stupid but he is foolish.

<…>

Anthony Chadwick Thank you for your criticism. Most appreciated. Would you like to expand on the similarities between me and Abp Mathew. I would be most interested, since you can’t say much behind my back on Facebook. Foolish? Perhaps there also, you can expand. In the end of the day, I come to the conclusion that aspies should stay away from religion!

John Beeler Speaks for itself. Now you know what I think. You’re not cut out for the ministry.

Anthony Chadwick Certainly not for the idea of the ministry that seems to be yours.

Benedict Andersen Forgive me for butting in, John, but this way of speaking to Fr Chadwick is simply not on. He deserves more respect than that. Disagree with him, yes, but you have no business standing in judgment over who is or isn’t “cut out for the ministry.”

<…>

Anthony Chadwick What I find most significant about Beeler is his posting in his blog that he’s “not very religious”. This whole thing is a game to him like collecting stamps or pictures of cars. I wonder if he drives a car… if you get my meaning. He doesn’t bother me at all – bad Christianity does and burns me out!

John Beeler <…> Fr. Chadwick, you ran away from the only real pastoring job you’ve had (as a Catholic deacon), abandoned your religious order, left the church, and write passive-aggressive swipes at the church, and you wonder why that bothers some Catholics. There was no way the church was going to take you back in your orders. Laicized, sure. The parallel to Mathew stands: good intentions (you’re sensitive and there are problems in the church) but one mistake after another. Not having the calling to the ministry doesn’t mean one is bad or worthless. You don’t have the calling.

Anthony Chadwick You’re a bit late to be going on at me about that. Of course, at the time you were yourself vacillating between high-Anglicanism and Orthodoxy. Now you have gone over to Rome (or Ecône?) you expect everyone to snap into line at your whim. I don’t want ever to hear from you again. About my calling or whatever, I have more confidence in my Bishop than you. If ever he tells me that not having a calling is his judgement, then that will be it. No more blog, no more chapel, nothing. Just go away. Your blog will be down to a dribble again in just a month or two.

John Beeler I wasn’t really vacillating between any kind of Anglicanism and Orthodoxy; rather, I was hanging out with Anglo-Papalists (whose beliefs are Catholic, not Anglican) with the goal of coming back to the church. I’ve been upfront in my blog about my mistakes, such as becoming Orthodox, which were about 20 years ago or older. Fr. Chadwick, man up and do likewise. Unlike you, I wasn’t in holy orders or a vowed religious, and I wasn’t charged with the care of others’ souls. Your soul’s in danger, and a kind heart like yours (I know you’re angry, but still) deserves better.

<…>

Anthony Chadwick Don’t give me any of that! I have enough information from people who knew you at St Clement’s. And don’t even begin to play spiritual director with me. You are the once who will be an atheist within a couple of years.

John Beeler What of it? I have nothing to hide. That you’re trying to threaten me only proves one of my points. You don’t have the calling.

Anthony Chadwick Maybe not, but you are not a Christian.

* * *

In many respects, he is right. Simply I will not take it from him. Today I feel very down and weak emotionally. Perhaps I should clear out the chapel and turn it into a music room or something of the like. There’s no question of my ever going back to Roman Catholicism or any other “true church”. The question is something of a red herring, as I am very well with my Bishop and the ACC in England, and Beeler is no authority for me in inferring that my Church is fake or whatever. This kind of thing takes its toll, but I can’t take it lying down.

I used to worry about not having a ministry. I have to look at the fact that there is no “market” for my priesthood in France. There might be if I were doing healings and exorcisms, at so many Euros per shot. I disapprove of such a use of one’s image as a priest. I have dealt too much with people who smelled of sulphur. I am emotionally and spiritually repelled from Roman Catholicism and from the traditionalists. I have done my best to live my priesthood in an honest way.

When I was interviewed for my ACC Diocese, they asked me what I would offer the Diocese. I told them – very little other than my daily Mass and prayers. I have been blogging over the past few years, and I don’t think it has done any good. I have held out for longer than most of the others. In myself, I know I really ought to be writing books and doing some more musical composition. Blogging only brings me into conflict with the weirdos of the dregs of bad religion.

Am I justified in remaining a priest, given that I would not go to the RC Church even if they were prepared to accept me as a priest? I go through a great deal of inner conflict and questioning, but I have a Bishop and a diocesan Church, in something instituted enough to be as much of a Church as some of the smaller Orthodox jurisdictions, who have accepted a useless servant. I am being given non-parochial responsibilities which I am not at liberty to discuss, and that is also a priestly ministry. I am on my Bishop’s Council of Advice, and sometimes my opinion is sought on one subject or another.

* * *

A few days ago, I read an article about blogging, asking the question of where the bloggers had gone. Those who are left seem anxious to put each other out of business to justify their own agendas. It reminds me of a film with Clint Eastwood about Alcatraz and the meaning a pile of steps had for some of the prisoners. Being higher conferred status. I read one blogger (not Beeler) whose awowed intent is to make Anglicans wake up and go over to Rome. They compass earth and sea to make one proselyte who will be twice the child of hell as themselves!

I will continue with this blog if it is of any use to others, but I am not interested in the rat race or the stairway of status at Alcatraz. I have escaped the stereotypes of polarised religion here in France, and I rarely look anything like a priest. Put on a cassock and I am masquerading as a traddie. The clerical suit means the conservatism that developed in France in the 1980’s and was reinforced by the Benedict XVI papacy. I am ill at ease in a “white collar” style, so I revert back to an earlier period of my life when I was myself. Occasionally, the subject of religion comes up, and any progress in spiritual matters is always hampered by the old dialectics and binary prejudices. That kind of religion must disappear so that Christ can once again be perceptible in some way.

I considered blogging as a ministry of sorts, but I have my doubts. The religious blogosphere is taken over by curmudgeons and fogeys. Woe betide anyone who mucks up their stamp albums or gets onto a higher step than them. It is almost a vision of hell. The internet makes someone who is small into an important person, and that can go to our heads if we are not careful.

I am a priest in a very small Church. The advantage of the small Church is that we do away with many of the things that corrupted Roman Catholicism, the Anglican Communion and some of the Orthodox jurisdictions. We Continuing Anglicans have more of a popular basis, less intellectual and elitist, than Old Catholicism. That is something positive, but it can’t survive faced with the Promethean titans – themselves crumbling and trying to reassure themselves that they will get “muscular” young conservative blood and get rid of the liberals.

We can only let those people get on with their certitudes. It is not Christianity but is reactionary. As Berdyaev defined it, reactionism is referring to a “golden” time just preceding the “revolution” they seek to overturn. We are called to go through a long dark age before someone in a far-off future once again sees the light of Christ’s grace and a new civilisation. Until then, the “debts” have to be paid, and many of us just have to quietly slip away entrusting our poor souls to God’s mercy. This is what is meant by Berdyaev’s New Middle Ages, from the perspective of someone observing a historical parallel with the end of the Roman Empire. We will not enter the Promised Land. Perhaps God will thank us for having pointed a few souls in the right direction so that the great grandchildren of their great grandchildren may reap the harvest.

What more is there to be said?

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47 Responses to John Beeler off the Deep End

  1. I object to unpleasant personal criticism on Christian websites. I approve of well written and informed comment. Including potentially controversial comment if it is properly reasoned, fair and avoiding nasty personal remarks aimed at individuals. As a member of the Holy Laity I am always hesitant to offer advice to priests validly ordained in the Apostolic Succession but here I would advocate it best to simply ignore this individual’s remarks as being unworthy of comment.

  2. Dale says:

    Yes, for some strange reason the pathologies of both the Byzantines and the Romans are very much the same; why is it impossible for them to understand that we who are Anglicans, especially those who are Anglo-Catholic, are often quite happy with the Continuum as well as our living tradition? We do not suffer from a need to belong to something outside of our reality simply because it is BIG. Bigger is not always better and as I have mentioned so many times before, when looking at both Rome and Byzantium from the outside, with its scandals and political intrigue, the smallness, unimportance of the Continuing movement is actually rather nice.

    There are indeed, even within the Continuum, people who feel the need to belong to something bigger, not necessarily more respectable, but not all of us suffer from this disability.

    • I suppose it is like the person who wants more “status” by working in a big corporation rather than being self-employed or working for a small family firm. We post-moderns (for want of a better label) have rejected the gods that failed in the twentieth century and find ourselves like the Romantics in the early 19th century in the ruins left behind by rationalism and classicism. I was born in the era our friend idolizes, and the stinking paedophile ooze is coming out, all those TV stars and politicians we as kids thought were lovely men. We will not find grace in the Promethean titans!

      • Dale says:

        Well said,

        By the way, my own automobile is a 1959 Morris Minor.

      • Great cars. I knew a parish priest in Manchester in 1984 who had one. I have never known a more reliable engine except in Citroën’s Deux Chevaux. Those are engines you can fix yourself with a good toolbox and a packet of spare parts. Look after that car and your grandson will be driving it.

      • Dale says:

        I originally learnt to drive in a Citroen Deux Chevaux…anyone reading this who has ever driven one will know that they do not have a transmission…changing gears is always a new experience! Not always pleasant!!!!!

      • They take a lot of getting used to. An old priest gave one to our seminary, and we had the use of a few old cars to go on our Wednesday afternoon trips to Florence. In February 1991 I had the gruelling experience of driving it from Gricigliano to Lourdes with three seminarians as passengers, with one stop at Le Barroux. I had a nasty skid on the ice, but no one was hurt and the car wasn’t damaged. The clutch works like any other car, no double de-clutching so I assume the gearbox was already a synchromesh job. The gearstick is a round bar of steel coming out of a hole in the dashboard, bent at the end with a bakelite knob. You have to twist it, and the positions are the traditional four gears (twisted to the left and pushed in for first, twisted to the left and pulled out for second, twisted to the right and pushed in for third, etc.). I can’t remember what you do to reverse. You get used to it.

        My driving school car was a Ford Escort. All of a sudden we all seem to know a hell of a lot about cars!

        Give me a tiller and a mainsheet any day together with a stiff breeze and a clear day at sea…

      • Dale says:

        Still laughing! I remember the first time, with my brother in the car, having to go into reverse…in the end, we got out and pushed the car backwards! I was always happy that my father, who as a retired military officer often lacked a sense of patience sometimes, was not there to see us do this…he also, if automobiles were concerned, often lacked a sense of humour as well!

        Isn’t it much nicer to speak about old cars and sailing rather than the rather ludicrous bile that Mr Beeler has been spouting?

      • Actually, I agree. My vehicle is a Renault Kangoo van with a 2L diesel engine – sluggish on the uphills but it gets me there. My brother has some nice old motors he’s doing up in his garage, now he’s more or less retired. Our English classics are smaller but are appreciable.

        You read my story on the Route du Sable. My 10-foot dinghy is an undistinguished dinghy with a gunter rig (also described in this blog with technical details). I was the only one to go under the low bridge at Chateaulin with my mast up and I had about a foot to spare! There were some lovely wooden boats there with traditional lug rigs. I’m not so much up on cars than the silent and dignified sailing vessel going its stately way as the rest of the world indifferently passes by.

  3. Jules says:

    Without getting off topic, what I find all the more offensive is the elitism and the other things that same post links to. I am just about as reactionary as it gets on ethnic, social, and religious issues, but linking to a blog that implies the racial supremacy of Caucasians is a no-no.

  4. Rubricarius says:

    It all seems rather like some people wanting to re-arrange their retro-chick deck chairs on the Titanic oblivious to the fact the ship is sinking.

    Keep your spirits up Fr. Anthony you are above the ‘neo-Con Wackos’ – as Taft recently referred to them.

  5. Paul Goings says:

    In my experience there are times when discretion is called for, and there are times when plain speaking is much more appropriate. I think that this is one of those latter times. One of my mother’s favorite sayings, especially when I felt slighted in some way, was “consider the source.” So, Fr Chadwick, having been viciously set upon by Mr Beeler on numerous occasions, I would ask you to consider the source, and dismiss from your mind any consideration that Mr Beeler’s criticisms of you are valid, or even the result of any sort of rational thought process. They are, I hasten to assure you, nothing of the kind.

    For the record, there was a time when I would have thought of John Beeler as a good friend. He spent any number of holidays with his legs under my family’s dining room table, he went on outings with us, I was the one person to help him move house a few years ago, I was the person who picked him up at the hospital after a procedure, etc. So I think my bona fides are sufficient to demonstrate that I harbor no particular animosity towards Mr Beeler as a person.

    While it is true that Mr Beeler has admitted (as he really must, in this age of the internet) to a peripatetic ecclesial career, his account of it has been painted in very broad strokes, and, even then, sanitized for the consumption of his current readership. Many of us recall all too well his extolling the virtues of the “naturalness” of Orthodoxy and the joie de vivre of a certain variety of Anglo-Catholicism, against the straitjacket of institutional Catholicism, which he was wont to refer to as “Scientology with Rosaries and Exposition.” More recently he has espoused a furious sort of traditional Roman Catholicism, vehemently criticizing anyone who didn’t sign on to the glories of the Benedictine restoration. And now it seems he has turned to a sort of quietism rooted Eisenhower-era American Roman Catholicism, proclaiming the perfection of Low Mass, and the joys of not caring about religion very much. I look forward to his next incarnation, as either a Mohammedan, a Jew, or possibly a Druid.

    One thing that should be noted is the connection between Mr Beeler’s frequent changes in religious affiliation and his ability to fall out with people on a regular basis. So, much of the congregation at the Church of Our Lady Joy of All who Sorrow, his friends at S. Clement’s–twice–more than fifteen years apart, and his associates at several of the local traditionalist Roman Catholic venues in the Philadelphia area, have gone from being at least companionable to foes and enemies, at least from Mr Beeler’s perspective. And this to the extent that he pays a service to block certain people from even seeing his ‘blog! His record of intellectual engagement is equally abysmal, simply refusing to engage with anyone except those who agree with him, and not hesitating to resort to name-calling and other childish tactics when someone disagrees with him.

    Yet more bizarre is his fixation for the past few years on the PUA (pick-up artist) movement, and his use of the taxonomy of one “Roissy,” his “virtual wingman,” who classifies men on an Alpha, Beta, … Omega scale, based on their ability to score with “hard tens,” as Roissy refers to sexually desirable women. For those of you may not know Mr Beeler personally, this is the height of irony. He has always appeared to be what a previous generation would have referred to as a confirmed bachelor, and in the years I’ve known him (and from what I’ve heard from others, for years before that) has eschewed female companionship, choosing instead to write homoerotic paeans to the half-naked Orthodox Slavs of upstate Pennsylvania. Not, as they say, that there’s anything wrong with that, but to go from the one position to embracing the “pump and dump” culture of Roissy’s Alphas is strange indeed. I have read a few things by people in the PUA movement, and not one talks about short, perpetually un- or under-employed men, who live in tiny apartments in an unfashionable suburb of Philadelphia, and have no past history of dating (much less scoring with) any women of any type, as fellow Alphas. But I suppose that there were probably even a few Jews in the Nazi party; self-hatred is all too human.

    Mr Beeler does, I understand, now have some sort of relationship with a young girl from New Jersey, of whom he apparently has had carnal knowledge, although he has refused point-blank to even discuss legitimizing their relationship by marrying her. Given either his admitted autism spectrum disorder, or her own intellectual disabilities, her family may well have forbid it. Or perhaps Mr Beeler is just waiting for his own hard ten to come along, and this girlfriend is just for pumping and dumping?

    In any event, I am afraid that the inescapable conclusion is that Mr Beeler is a sad little man, who has spent virtually his entire adult life trying to live out one or another unrealistic fantasy, ecclesial, sexual, what have you. As he slides into full middle age it is increasingly apparent that he needs immediate psychological or psychiatric assistance, but this will almost certainly not occur until he has somehow harmed himself or someone else. He has, over the years, rejected every person who has tried to help him, when they refused to buy in to his world view (and what sane person would?) There is little hope for such people, from a human perspective, although it would certainly be available to him if he ever asked for it.

  6. C. WIngate says:

    I’m another who perhaps once could be called a friend of John’s, and may still be counted so, at least in one direction, because among my faults or virtues I can pretty much always forgive injury or stupidity or whatever. I’ve gotten to watch his serial Cyprianism, as well as that of a host of others, over what are now the decades, For me, it is an unfollowable path, because I was called back into the church as an Episcopalian and I do not see how to reconcile that with flight to churches that deny that relationship. Or to put it in other words, I find I have to place loyalty to my church above some hypothetical loyalty to some other church which I personally may or may not find superior.

    There’s a certain Aristotelian quality about the various topics which dominate his blog: they all seem to revolve around constructing a certain absolutist and contrarianly “traditionalist” picture of things which categorically ignores the complexity and diversity of real things and people and is literally reactionary to “liberal” thought. It’s the kind of perspective which makes Austrian economics plausible and allows for sweeping retrogressive statements about the nature of men and women, which theories by the way which I would have to agree he doesn’t fit into. But it’s a position which is stubbornly immune to reality checks. You should not be surprised to hear that I’ve been around with him over and about the right-wing conspiracy theories about World War II even though every competent historian rejects them; my wife’s great uncle was a diplomat in Japan for many years and thus we have a lot of source material on this, and it’s quite clear that for instance the various Pearl Harbor conspiracy theories are quite false. But evidence, apparently, is beyond the point now.

    And the same thing comes up in religion. I suspect that he’ll never leave Catholicism, because infallible Thomism is the apotheosis of this tendency, but it’s possible that he may eventually cease to have a trad-ish service to go to, and then he’s going to be stuck shopping again because he knows better than the bishops what a mass is supposed to look like. I don’t know that his current posture of saying that the mass (whatever it may be) is valid will survive, because right now he doesn’t have to put it to the test. And now that the inevitable cycle of papal types has taken Benedict away and given him Francis, he’s been reduced to saying “the pope can’t break things” after some years of being able to hope that “the pope will fix everything,” not to mention is determined refusal to accept that Francis’s economic teachings may have a point (since after all they contradict his paleo-con/Miesian dogmas).

    I’m willing to engage him on all these things, out of friendship, now that he has stopped blocking me out of his comments. But my impression is that he ignores everything I say there.

    • I have never met this fellow, so I can only get an inaccurate impression from his writing. However, your testimony and that of Paul Goings are precious. I don’t have the professional qualifications to evaluate him, but if his portrait of the “true church” was the “right” one, then we can all pack up and go home.

      He has some good ideas about “local” and “natural” Catholicism as opposed to it being an ideology, but he falls into the trap himself. With his idea about conversion to the RC Church being mandatory for all, he should be the first to accept the liturgical reforms and the ecclesiology / ecumenism of Vatican II. That is the cognitive dissonance traditionalists have to face. He would be more obedient to the “magisterium” by staying in his native Episcopal Church or whatever was the religious practice of his family when he was a child.

      A Roman Monsignor once said to me that Anglicans converting to the RC Church are unstable. The RC Church is for “cradle Catholics”. Experience tells me he is not wrong. Like the Antiochian Orthodox Church, the RC Church doesn’t need converts with their “baggage”.

      Some people torture themselves throughout their lives trying to remake the world. To stay sane, we have to accept the world as it is and accept that our freedom is possible only at the level of the spirit. As physical beings, we are subject to the determinism of the “machine” – and Christianity is no longer a part of its paradigm.

      • Like the Antiochian Orthodox Church, the RC Church doesn’t need converts with their “baggage”.

        Antiochian Orthodox here. And married to a first-generation Syrian who would change the locks on me if I left the Church.

        Isn’t this something for the Antiochians to decide? So far, they have probably been among the most open jurisdictions to converts. People marry out, they marry in. What would you tell these families? It is a crowded marketplace these days, and nobody is going to turn away tithing warm bodies.

        In the old days, there was The Church, not the churches, and most people lived and died in the same 25 square miles. We are all in undiscovered country at this point.

      • Your comments are being let through on a one-by-one basis. You are going to change your general tone, or your comments will simply not appear. For my part, I never encourage anyone to convert to any kind of Orthodoxy. If they wish to, that is their own business. The behaviour of many of your converts has been enough to put me off Orthodoxy for life – and I seriously considered it back in the 1980’s when I was a student. It did in my old friend Dr Ray Winch (see The Canonical Mass of the English Orthodox). He attended masses in a Roman Catholic church towards the end of his life and asked for secular burial. He was a broken man. That’s enough.

        If you have something constructive to say, respectful of what I clearly represent on this blog, I’ll let your comments through. Otherwise, go and buy a soap box and take a trip to Hyde Park Corner or the equivalent in your country – and don’t bother us here. It’s my blog. You have your blog and I don’t heckle on yours. So, let’s get that straight.

        Guests who are invited to my house don’t crap on the floor and expect to be invited back. My language is raw, but I am from northern England of a solid Yorkshire culture, I went to seminary which is surprisingly human and masculine – and blogging has taught me to fight. I know a first-rate prat when I read one. It’s up to you.

      • ed pacht says:

        Dear Father,
        With a great deal of respect I need to say that I am a bit distressed with your response to “Anti-Gnostic”. I do agree that some of his comments in the past have been a bit over the top, and some such response might have been appropriate there — but not this time. It was a fitting, moderate, and on-topic response to what appears a disparaging remark on your part. As it happens, a large part of the Antiochean jurisdiction in the US is composed of converts to Orthodoxy, and many of the parishes with strong convert presence are among the strongest they have. I’m at a loss to understand the problem with this particular comment.

        That said, I continue to love this blog.

      • This comment followed two particularly vitriolic comments which I deleted. The writing is between the lines.

      • ed pacht says:

        thanks. glad I gave you the opportunity to clarify.

      • C. WIngate says:

        Episcopalians who convert into the RC church (rather than marry into it) do so for the most dangerous reason: because their old church is Doing It Wrong, and especially because their old church has Gone Off The Rails. But if they come from the A-C or High-‘n’-Wide sections of ECUSA, as soon as they show up to a bog-standard Roman mass, well, they’re doing it wrong too, not to mention that the average US Catholic takes church moral teachings with European seriousness, i.e., not much at all. And that’s before they get to the problem that the Protestant rightist politics they bring with them do not align with Catholic social teaching of any sort. So they come in as Protestant schismatics looking for an infallible church, which as soon as they show up predisposes them to not fit into the real RC culture.

        A few clerics do manage it, but it takes a great deal of humility and commitment to being a parish priest and nothing more.

    • Jacob Flournoy says:

      Father,
      I too have benefited from your blog which I began reading during a period of my life when I was reconsidering several decisions I had made over the years concerning my life in the church. Not only did it encourage my to continue in a ministry which many would consider a “worthless” endeavor. It also strengthened my resolve to avoid Eastern Orthodoxy. I fully accept its dogma but cannot abide its practice, i.e philetism or ethnocentrism. Despite protestations to the contrary, it is an ethnic religion, western converts to Orthodoxy must denounce their ancestral heritage in order to “fit in”. Thank you for continuing this rather unique ministry.

      • Matthew C says:

        Too right. I was looking into Orthodoxy not long ago and came to that conclusion.

        What really annoys me is the triumphalism of Orthodox converts, so convinced they are winning over the world to their cause.

  7. Greetings,

    I thought I would comment on a couple of sentences in your post.

    You state: “I have been blogging over the past few years, and I don’t think it has done any good.” To the contrary, I think your blog has done a valuable service to those of us “Northern Catholics” who are part of a high church minority in Lutheranism and Anglicanism. There are seeds of hope for our future – I have seen it through my participation in the Society of the Holy Trinity, a North American pan-Lutheran ministerium. We need blogs like yours to keep the movement alive, which is why I started my own blog a little over a year ago.

    As to Mr. Beeler’s remarks, you state: “Honestly, it drips with hypocrisy and the usual callousness of people who suffer from his “mental condition” (a form of autism).” I don’t know enough about Mr. Beeler’s background, or the history of your relationship with him, to comment about how his unfortunate remarks might relate to his spectrum disorder. But, my 18 year old son is on the Autism spectrum, and my wife and I have known many who have this condition due to our involvement in a local Autism/Aspergers support group. Yes, callousness can be a part of a part of the condition due to the inability to recognize and respond appropriately to social cues, but I have also seen great examples of both sympathy and empathy from people on the spectrum. I see much more callousness in the way people on the spectrum are treated by others.

    Blessings to you on your continued ministry.

  8. Jules says:

    I was simply going to refrain from saying anything, but when an individual tries to suggest that a righteous and upstanding man like you, Father, is worthless to your Church and to the wider Christian community, I have a problem. You are unaware of this, but your blogs and resources on the Sarum Use and Anglo-Catholicism were a deciding factor in my conversion to Anglo-Catholicism from confessional Lutheranism and not to irreligion. It renewed my faith in Christ when I was in a very dark place. I look forward to reading your blog every morning, even if I do not comment on every post. I beg of you, continue your work. You are touching lives with the Gospel in ways you can only imagine.

  9. Paul Goings says:

    Certainly Asperger’s (or Autism Spectrum Disorder) is a real condition. If I submitted myself to competent examination I wouldn’t be at all surprised to learn that I fall somewhere on that line myself. But it is not a license to be a jerk. And yet some people (Mr Beeler not being the only one) seem to think that they can trot it out every time someone calls them on their bullshit.

    • C. WIngate says:

      Well, at the very least if you think you have a condition where you don’t read emotional signals well, it behooves you not to talk about subjects which involve reading such signals.

      • There are no emotional signals on the Internet or blogs.

      • ed pacht says:

        I can’t agree with that I know no medium where emotions run wilder than on the internet, or where discourse is any more emotional. If those emotions are not recognized for what they are rational discourse becomes sidetracked. The signals they embody are perhaps harder to see than in face-to-face communication, but that makes it more, not less, important to be able to read them.

      • Maybe we are emotional when we write, but we can’t read each other’s emotions. To read yours, I would have to be in your physical presence or at least be able to see your moving face and gestures, and hear your voice. That can be done by Skype and similar ways of communication. On blogs, forums, Facebook, etc. all we can see is written words. We might get an impression of emotion from words and contexts – but we are likely to be wrong. That is what I meant. The real question is whether someone has a “condition” assimilated to Aspergers syndrome can comment on another with a similar condition, whether that person (Paul Goings) is disqualified. I don’t think he is disqualified.

      • C. WIngate says:

        Apparently I was unclear: what I meant was that the very many posts on relationships between men and women lack credibility coming from someone who claims to have a condition which presupposes that he doesn’t really grasp the subject in his own experience. It smacks of posturing to cite (the in my opinion vile and blustering) Roissy when, according to his own words, he cannot see for himself whether people actually work that way.

  10. C. WIngate says:

    On the whole blogging thing itself: It can be really frustrating to be a “good” blogger because the medium is strongly biased towards forming these circles of people who get all their information from people who are mouthpieces for the views they already accept and who parochially attack anyone who dissents from the party line. I keep at it partly out of a sense of duty, partly because I do actually want to talk about issues seriously as opposed to superficially, and partly because I do get the rare pat on the back by those who think I’m doing something worth while– and I get them from people in different positions on the theological spectrum. But the endless, cheap vituperation does sap one; it takes stamina not to be a “dittohead” blogger.

  11. Dale says:

    Fr Anthony, one very good thing has come out of all of this, which is the numbers of strong supporters that you have, both personally and in regards to your excellent blog. Please count me as one of these.

  12. David says:

    Fr. Chadwick,
    I am sorry to hear of your most unfortunate experience.

    I have been reading and your blog for some time, though this is my first comment. What I want to say is this.

    I have some disagreements with your opinions, but to do as this poor wretch did is beyond ridiculous. The differences you and I (as a Roman Catholic hiding in Byzantium from obscene pietism, legalism, neoscholasticism, and ultramontanism) have would be the kind that we could probably pop open a bottle of good Spanish wine and have a laugh over it. Your outlook on the spirit of Christianity seems quite similar to my own.

    Also, as someone who grew up going to traddie churches that wanted to pretend the Pope Pacelli 50’s were a “golden age”, I cannot comprehend why anyone would want that or be the least bit interested in it (aside from an academic curiosity).

  13. bernardbrandt says:

    Dear Fr. Chadwick,

    We have certainly differed in our last few brief conversations on your weblog. Nonetheless, I entirely agree with you in your decision to respond to Mr. Beeler’s attacks upon you. I also agree with you that Mr. Beeler went beyond the call of both good taste and clear logic in attacking your priesthood.

    MY standard of priesthood, and of ecclesiastical hierarchy in general, is that of Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite, in his Ecclesiastical Hierarchy: the purpose and sole end of Christian Hierarchy is divinization, or theosis. There is a corollary to that thesis: to the extent that a Christian hierarchy does not assist in the process of theosis of its clergy, and more particularly, of its laity, it is no hierarchy at all. Or, as Forrest Gump would say, hierarchy is as hierarchy does.

    By that standard, the hierarchy that Mr. Beeler presently follows has a lot to answer for, and again, by that standard, neither Mr. Beeler nor that hierarchy are really in a position either to cast stones, or to enter into judgment with or upon others.

    And by that standard, you, in your humble parish, and in your weblog, have done more than most to lead others to that Kindly Light. I have been impressed with your work with Sarum Chant and the Sarum rite, and I have come to the conclusion that you might have found a Christian ‘reset’ which might lead back both to Christ, and to the theosis that He has promised to His followers.

    Please continue your good efforts.

  14. Speaking as someone considered eccentric when I face criticism I tend to think of three pieces of wisdom – one from Siddhārtha Gautama and one each from the stoics Epicetus and Marcus Aurelius.

    First, from the Buddha, Dhammapada (Verses 227, 228): “It is not new, O Atula! It has always been done from ancient times. They blame one who is silent, they blame one who speaks much, they blame one who speaks little. There is no one in this world who is not blamed. / There never has been, there never will be, nor is there now, anyone who is always blamed or always praised.”

    Secondly, Epicetus: “If you hear that someone is speaking ill of you, instead of trying to defend yourself you should say, “He obviously does not know me very well, since there are so many other faults he could have mentioned.”.

    Thirdly from Marcus Aurelius, from Meditations “Written among the Quadi on the river Gran”: “Say to yourself in the early morning: I shall meet today inquisitive, ungrateful, violent, treacherous, envious, uncharitable men. All these things have come upon them through ignorance of real good and ill. But I, because I have seen that the nature of good is the right, and of ill the wrong, and that the nature of the man himself who does wrong is akin to my own…, I can neither be harmed by any of them, for no man will involve me in wrong, nor can I be angry with my kinsman or hate him; for we have come into the world to work together, like feet, like hands, like eyelids, like the rows of upper and lower teeth. To work against one another therefore is to oppose Nature, and to be vexed with another or to turn away from him is to tend to antagonism.”

    Hope that this may be of use.

  15. Matthew C says:

    My prayers are with you, Father Chadwick.

    I find your blog very enjoyable and interesting.

  16. Chris says:

    I just discovered your blog via Liturgiae Causa, so I apologize for commenting on an older post, but this caught my attention:

    “That was the drama of the end of the nineteenth century when scholastic apologetics lost their credibility faced with the natural sciences and historical criticism. We are left with analogy and poetry to communicate with the Mystery to some measure through faculties we have outside our reason.”

    Nice to see that there’s at least one person besides myself who appreciates Fr. Tyrrell.

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