The Continuum Blog

The memories come flooding back about Fr Robert Hart’s blog The Continuum when we read this again from John Bruce – What’s Become Of The “Continuum”?

This blog was founded by Albion Land who at some point became Orthodox and went to live in the islands of the eastern Mediterranean. He still has a presence on Facebook and is an interesting character. From a certain point, the blog was taken over by a couple of American priests in the ACC.

The position of the ACC has always been clear about Anglicanorum coetibus, and it is one reason why I joined it in 2013. It has to be said also that in the ACC, we have a certain diversity of “churchmanships” between Anglo-Catholicism in England and a “Classical Anglican” approach that is more widespread in the USA. That viewpoint emphasises a stricter adhesion to the Prayer Book (American 1928) and the Thirty-Nine Articles as a standard of doctrine. The more mainstream view in the ACC, as in some other Continuing Churches is adhesion to the Affirmation of St Louis with its more Orthodox ecclesiology and the notion of Tradition.

To the “Classical Anglican” view, Anglican-Papalism is foreign, perhaps even a red rag to a bull. It is understandable that the polemics in 2010-11 were particularly passionate, and I was not always very helpful in my postings to The Anglo-Catholic and my own defunct English Catholic. The Continuum, as Mr Bruce observes, is – we might say – not more than a shadow of what it was. Fr Hart sends in his sermons (written and recorded) and some nice spiritual and doctrinal reflections from time to time. Fr Hart has had some health problems, and the cause of the polemics no longer exists. The Ordinariate clergy have joined the Ordinariates, and others have stayed in their respective Churches.

I do remember everything getting quite out of hand mainly on account of the “Hepworth narrative” on the process leading to the Ordinariates. Fr Hart has remained very low key since then, even if he has “liked” some comments on Facebook postings asking for our prayers for his health. I think, however, that Mr Bruce could read through the Continuum blog to see that it is not merely a matter of Low Church against High Church. If you look on the site of St Benedict’s in North Carolina, it can be seen that Fr Hart wears vestments, has an Anglo-Catholic style altar and a High-Church style. However, his theology is more Tractarian than Anglican-Papalist. I think diversity in these matters in a charitable dialogue in a Church is a good thing. Mr Bruce would see these nuances if he cared to read through the blog and Fr Hart’s parish website.

Are “continuum” denominations without exception (…) shrinking and losing credibility? I don’t think so. We might be small, but we have learned many lessons from our experience, whether of squabbling bishops and priests in the 1990’s or Archbishop Hepworth’s attempt to be the chief mover of the Ordinariate movement. Our Churches are smaller, but better ordered and organised within.

I cannot foretell the future of Continuing Anglicanism. It may well die like other small Churches in history. It might persist for centuries. It might contribute to a “repairing” of communion at a grass-roots level like Forward in Faith. I am a priest in the ACC and have no plans of moving anywhere else. Certainly the events of those years did a lot of damage to the TAC, less to the ACC on account of its having remained quite aloof. The TAC is moving ahead slowly, and there are sincere dialogues between the TAC, the ACC and other Continuum bodies. Every little gesture means something and is positive.

Maybe in Mr Bruce’s mind, the Continuum should disintegrate and people be told that they have no alternative other than converting to mainstream American Roman Catholicism, but that they should be treated with prudence lest they should be tainted with “Anglican baggage”. I am not rising to the provocation here, nor is anyone else.

Maybe, our “prestige”, whatever that means, has been damaged. However, our life as Catholic Churches of Anglican tradition continues to worship God and witness to the life of the Gospel in our little way. The past is in the past, and those events are even less relevant to the ACC than the TAC and other Churches working for dialogue and unity. As for the “prestige”, I cannot say it worries me in the slightest.

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3 Responses to The Continuum Blog

  1. ed pacht says:

    It’s a bit of a sad story. Albion’s vision for that blog was a refreshing one, a place where various ‘flavors’ of Anglicanism could interact quietly and build one another up. I was accepted as a member of the blog and was one of the co-owners to whom Albion left it when he moved on. Unfortunately that was just as the Hepworth affair was heating up and Fr, Hart felt it necessary to become very combattive and angrily anti-TAC. I was a member of ACA/TAC, one of very many who saw through the archbishop’s maneuverings and a member of a diocese that (on the whole) had no interest in what those plans had become. The blog was not what it had once been and I, though a co-equal owner, soon found I had no place there, as it had become an organ of one somewhat rigid and angry segment of ACC. Regretfully, I had to leave the blog.

    • I’m now back from England (family and Council of Advice meeting in London) and can be a little more reactive. Thank you for your reflection. My own blog is a little too “personal” to be a Church blog. Continuing Anglicanism is about – being a continuation – rather than a break. One of Pope Benedict XVI’s favourite themes was the “hermeneutic of continuity” englobing the notion of organic development. In the Anglican Continuum, we are generally agreed on the need to keep the old Prayer Book (with material from other traditional liturgical sources in the Western Church), the integrity of the Priesthood, and orthodox dogmatic and moral teachings. We don’t always understand or agree on the notion of Tradition, whether it just passes on fixed beliefs and practices, or whether there is a characteristic of growth and movement. This question came up with the discussion of Newman’s theory of doctrinal development that caused him to become a Roman Catholic in 1845.

      I noticed the angry reaction of Fr Hart against this tendency which was largely led and motivated by Archbishop Hepworth’s narrative which was almost entirely illusory and based on unrealistic wishful thinking. It must have been so frustrating for Fr Hart and others in the peaceful ACC enclave to see so many of us going along with something that would lead to such calamity and unhappiness.

      There are still some valuable elements on “The Continuum”. Fr Laurence Wells is in poor health. Archbishop Peter Robinson is an element of great value, even given his position about the 39 Articles and Anglo-Catholicism. He is a man of integrity and has his own Old High Churchman blog, to which he has not posted since 2014. Fr Matthew Kirkby is in Australia, and he hasn’t sent anything in for a very long time. Fr Hart has had health problems, and the Hepworth “Coeti-bus” broke down on the road and was towed to the scrapper’s yard. There was nothing else to discuss. Fr Hart is quite talkative on Facebook, and mainly about political and moral issues in his country, arguing for a conservative position.

      Blogs do run out of steam and often end up being left available as “archives” but are no longer serviced. Mine goes up and down, and my own self-discoveries are being reflected. A blog is a person talking to the world and engaging in a dialogue with those who care to take interest. That is the wonderful thing. Everyone is absolutely free of any coercion or pressure. The internet is a machine, but with humans operating it. The humanity needs to come through so that academic and “technical” things mean something to us all. Experience has made me think deeply and try to do better at offering a service and a place for people to dialogue and learn.

      I pray for Fr Hart, a good priest with a thriving parish, a lot of pastoral work. He also has his family to look after, and he is a talented musician and composer. He is also human, and a human being can get badly hurt when he bites off more than he can chew. I think that’s what happened. I hope he will pick up courage and find a new purpose and direction for the Continuum blog other than a mere extension of his parish ministry of preaching and pastoral work.

  2. Caedmon says:

    The Non-jurors lasted at least 150 years. I’d expect the Continuum to do as well or better. The Prayer Book is becoming increasingly hard to find in mainstream Anglicanism, which may bring in a trickle of new members.

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