Title Modification

I decided to make a change in the title of this blog to reflect my broader interest in Christian faith in a post-Christian world. I have not lost interest in the liturgy or the Use of Sarum, but I feel the need to have a much wider idea reflected by my Goliard theme.

This blog has nothing to do with the radical left-wing French periodical Golias, and I try to work out a new and unconventional angle of priestly vocation and ministry. The original Goliards were monks and priests who went their way very much like many religious and clerics in the 1960’s. They wrote secular poetry and music, often not very respectful of conventional church life and in a spirit that showed their independence from the local Bishop and the Inquisition. Unlike them, I am a priest under a bishop in an instituted Church body and I am only too aware of the limits of individual freedom. I don’t write dog Latin verses, and nor do I burn old leather in the thurible!

I am concerned about the possibility of a ministry to those who live on the edges of society. I often meet the victims of life in odd places, near boats and the sea, people living with next to no money but yet earning their bread honestly by their work. Many people live “off the grid” for different reasons. Some hold weird conspiracy theories, but most want to be as independent as possible from the consumer society and the pressure to have and spend ever-increasing amounts of money. Sometimes, one finds communities in which there are ideas similar to those of Hilaire Belloc’s Distributism, though perhaps in a less organised version. As I have discussed before, there is the danger of sectarian drifts as someone with the callous soul of the school-yard bully decided to base a base of power and money. Many things cannot be institutionalised without corruption creeping in. It will happen too in my Church, but I hope not within my lifetime.

It is essential for Christianity to be connected with some kind of praxis and culture. Marginal people are unlikely to accept bourgeois and conventional church religion, and this is why so many priests after World War II decided to side with the working class and join in solidarity with their lives. In the spirit of Charles de Foucault, many priests began to live contemplative lives in towns to be a leaven in the desert. Traditionalists and conservative Anglicans often dismiss such ideas as left wing politically and tending towards secularism and loss of faith. This seems to be the place of the modern Goliard, not necessarily working in a factory or on a farm, but living close to those who have declared as much independence as possible from the consumerist and capitalist society and the reign of unbridled technology and the more frightening excesses of science. There is also the example of Fr Guy Gilbert, the Prêtre des Loubards with his long hair and motorcycle jacket working among young people kicking drugs and finding something better in life. The important thing is to have been a Christian witness to people who may never make the step of going to a church service or receiving the Sacraments. If some good is done, I’m sure Christ will in some way fill in the rest…

I imagine that I will continue to write articles on the liturgy and our old English patrimony, but in this greater context of culture and life. In early July, I will be at our Council of Advice in London. I have booked my ferry crossing a day in advance so that I can visit a residential marina on the north bank of the Medway, a place where people live in boats. I hope to learn a thing or two. Kent and the Thames Estuary is a strange place, full of stories of grinding misery related by Charles Dickens – different today but still a world of its own. I would dearly like another time to bring my boat over and explore some of those waters at high tide.

People live in more different lives than we can imagine. Look at any house and we can only speculate what happens within its walls, both good and evil, longing for love and kindness – or for wealth and power. The great unshriven mass of people, the thousands on whom Christ had pity, and our awareness that we, clerics or regular laity, are among all those people with their concerns, problems, illness, grief and everything imaginable. Perhaps then the priest rediscovers his vocation.

I have no real plan in my own life, but a constant idea in my mind moves onwards and forwards, waiting for a time and opportunity to bring it to fruition. So much will depend on so much. Does anyone else here share this kind of thought?

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Title Modification

  1. Debra says:

    “The great unshriven mass of people, the thousands on whom Christ had pity, and our awareness that we, clerics or regular laity, are among all those people with their concerns, problems, illness, grief and everything imaginable.” This moves me to tears. My heart connects deeply to these words, with the awareness that there is so much brokenness and yearning that connects us all. My faith is important to me, and I appreciate how beautifully you articulate your journey.

  2. What a nice reminder. I should really change the name of my blog. I find liturgy nowadays to be a defeating subject and whenever it is forced upon my attention I become angry. I have taken instead to reading the Bible alone. I can see no discernible harm in that except perhaps in the spirit in which one might take to reading the Bible.

    I have tried conspiracy theories but the old skepticism kicks in after a while. Of course one doesn’t need to hold weird conspiracy theories to perceive that the Orwellian all-pervading superstate is here in the rudiments already. You only have to take a bus or train into town and buy something and the Government knows where you are and what you’re doing. Join a social network online and someone somewhere, and not your “friends” or “followers” is reading what you say, looking at your pictures, videos and taking notes. To what purpose? Who knows, but I’ll wager it isn’t benevolent. I think attributing these threats to our liberties to any one group/religion/whatever is the weird conspiracy theory; but to understand that these things are in place to manipulate and eventually enslave us is common sense.

    I want none of this. I don’t want to be urbanised, useless and illiterate anymore. I don’t want to be observed by the Ministry of Peace/Love/Truth going to and from my house with every step, breath, conversation and transaction assiduously recorded to be used against me at some miserable time yet to come. I want a quiet life in obscurity. I want to be part of a church, and I want that church to be traditional. I would preserve England’s green and pleasant land against concrete, immigration and multiculturalism. Except in the most rural, remote places, however, I can’t see that it’s possible. Twenty minutes from where I live is a town called Otford. It’s still pretty and has a beautiful church, two nice pubs and some good antique shops…but it’s becoming increasingly urbanised. I don’t mean that more houses are being built in the ugly modern style (although to an extent that is happening), but the old residents are dying off and city people are taking their place. Commuters who spend their weeks in central London and return with their urban and cosmopolitan ideas on weekends to host cocktail parties and buy up everything in sight; they don’t go to church and probably take little interest in local activities like amateur operatics and fetes. And so the town becomes a London satellite; you don’t need to build ugly modern metal structures and bigger and bigger shards to ruin a place. And I daresay this is not solely limited to Otford.

    The only solution if you want to escape this is to move to somewhere like Tintagel or one of the remote Scottish islands; returning to London only when yearning for the National Gallery or the Royal Opera House gets the better of you.

    I could go on but this was supposed to be a succinct comment, not a blog post! Good luck with the new blog title, father!

    • Thanks for the comment, Patrick. For me, it was a change of emphasis. Liturgy is a part of the whole of Christian culture, even though we see the cultural aspect from different angles. I am increasingly skeptical about what is called “culture”, the world of concerts, art galleries and museums (the “real” world being money and technology). There has to be a compromise because total self-sufficiency is impossible and the “system” gets more and more glauque (“it sucks” as the Americans say).

      I tend to be a bit “conspiracy” myself, because it has an easy way of explaining things. I do believe we are in a situation like in the 1780’s in France, except that that the counts, dukes and princes are now in power suits running multi-national companies and banks. We are told to eat cake if we can’t afford bread! There is something there even if the Royal Family isn’t a brood of shape-shifting lizards as David Icke claims to believe!!!

      I have discovered that you can’t have a traditional church without a traditional society or sub-culture. There are as many sub-cultures around us as in the middle-ages, most associated with a particular style of modern “music”. In the 1960’s, you had Mods and Rockers and all sorts of things. Some of those groups have evolved into a more spiritual seeking mode. I am interested in knowing off-grid people who live in communities that are often associated with ecology and environmental issues. Sometimes the ideology is downright silly, but there is an appealing foundation. They live in sheds and yurts, do away with machinery and technology as much as possible – and find happiness. That can’t be bad! If religion can mean something different from the establishment run by the wealthy elite, something spiritual and affirming of nature and beauty, perhaps there is a new opening. Perhaps whet their appetites with some “medieval liturgy” theme and how it would be counter-establishment. Naughty but nice!

      Country living in any “nice” place. You will be priced out by the pensioners and city people buying second homes. I’ll tell you about the Medway, just down the road from you, and what I think. Places need to be quiet, but unattractive to the OAP’s and the rich yuppies.

      I ought to take you out to sea, and you will experience silence and solitude as you could never imagine… Good luck with your blog too.

  3. Stephen K says:

    The important thing is to have been a Christian witness to people who may never make the step of going to a church service or receiving the Sacraments. If some good is done, I’m sure Christ will in some way fill in the rest…
    Yes, Father. This encapsulates what I have come to think is the core of the Christian call. I think your new title is very apt given your explanation.

    The great unshriven mass of people, the thousands on whom Christ had pity, and our awareness that we, clerics or regular laity, are among all those people with their concerns, problems, illness, grief and everything imaginable. Perhaps then the priest rediscovers his vocation.
    Like Debra, I find these words particularly moving and inspiring, and the final sentence truly insightful.

  4. David Llewellyn Dodds says:

    This may seem too tangential, but you are speaking of poets and poetry in part: when you say, “a constant idea in my mind moves onwards and forwards” it makes me think of Eliot’s “The Dry Salvages” which, unlike the other three Quartets, is not about a particular place ‘on shore’ and ‘inland’. It would be good someday, if you thought it appropriate, to hear how you, as a seafarer, see that poem about ‘faring’. (While I’m about it, your mentioning “communities in which there are ideas similar to those of Hilaire Belloc’s Distributism” makes me think of the 17th-c. Little Gidding of the Farrars, and the Community of Christ the Sower which Wikipedia tells me “was founded at Little Gidding in the 1970s” and “ended in 1998”, and about neither of which I know nearly enough.)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s