Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Prospectus for a Journal of Anglo-Catholic Life

Another valiant attempt, sadly discontinued.
In November 2013, The Anglo-Catholic published its last post, and was thereafter heard from no more. It had enjoyed a happy life, hovering more toward the Anglo-Papist corner until, at last, its contributors almost unanimously embraced the Ordinariate. It endured for a while in much the same way, but has been silent now for ten months. And in its absence, there are no multi-contributor blogs or ‘e-journals’ catering to Anglo-Catholics.

The nearest we have now is the various, wonderful groups scattered around Facebook. Before I quit my account, I was a member of a number of them and, relative to the other religion-oriented Facebook groups (which I did keep tabs on), there was more warmth and intelligent discussion between the Anglo-Catholics by far. And while I couldn’t devalue those virtual meeting-places, they are more inclined toward a conversational medium rather than a scholarly or prosaic one.

Wouldn’t it be ideal to channel a bit of that warmth, intelligence, experience, and holiness into something more substantive and pre-meditated? Couldn’t we benefit from a forum where a single well-wrought argument or meditation is presented to the readership; where the reader in turn feels no need to type up an equal response; but rather, simply to study and consider the thoughts of one’s fellow Anglo-Catholic? We could only serve to benefit from a more conventional forum, wherein the greatest minds and strongest hearts of our Communion could reach out to one another, informing one another, and supporting one another. 

And where Anglo-Catholicism has (or once had) a reputation for being one of very few traditions devoted so equally to Liturgy and Word, to scholarship and service, to questions of culture and society—oughtn’t we have a means of putting that face forward to the wider world? On blogs, in newspapers, and in every conceivable out, Anglo-Catholics are so more often talked about than spoken to. We ought to be able to offer a corporate, thoughtful response. We ought to allow the world to speak to us on our own terms.

For the above reasons I’d like to humbly propose the creation of a new journal explicitly for the worldwide community of Anglo-Catholics.

I believe it would be ideal for this Journal to have a policy of open submissions, available to any who wish to contribute in any small or great way. Clergy and laymen have historically shared the role of advancing the cause of Catholicity in the Anglican Communion; and the survival of any religion or sect is dependent on the existence of an enthusiastic, engaged, and informed laity. I don’t envision there being any restrictions on who might submit.

This—and no doubt there will be those who disagree—would extend to ‘minority’ positions within Anglo-Catholicism, including those who have embraced Anglicanorum coetibus and others who would be called ‘Liberal Anglo-Catholics’. The fact of the matter is that, with the unlimited space offered by an Internet publication, to refuse them a place in a Journal of Anglo-Catholicism would be sectarianism. I myself am in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury, and consider myself a rather ordinary Tractarian; I imagine most contributors would also. The simple fact is that any Journal representative of world Anglo-Catholicism would be more inclined toward that position. But this is a matter of course, and perhaps needn’t be an editorial prejudice.

Having said that about ‘church politics’, we might discuss what such a Journal would concern itself with. I imagine the following would be of great use to the Anglo-Catholic community, though wouldn’t limit our prospects only to them:

I. Church news. The bread and butter of the publication would certainly be discussions and commentary on the affairs of the universal Church; as well as individual dioceses, parishes, clergymen, and laypeople. This is our best means of remaining in touch with our fellow Anglo-Catholics. The enemies of the Church would like us to think we’re nothing more than isolated remnants, dwarfed and insignificant within the greater Communion and irrelevant to the world at large. This isn’t the case at all. And while prayer, visiting preachers, missions, pilgrimages, community outreach, and even casual travel all help to dispel that lie, to be kept informed on the daily goings-on of our fellows across the world would put thousands of faces, names, and lives where they otherwise wouldn’t be. It serves to remind us again and again that we’re one Body and, though sometimes of different minds, always of one heart, one purpose.

II. Book reviews. Anglo-Catholicism possesses a tremendous history of scholarship, a great deal of which has, sadly, passed into obscurity. But there are also a great many Anglo-Catholics whose library contains many such titles, and who might generously share a few thoughts on them. Aside from ensuring the names of great Anglo-Catholic writers survive through passing generations, this would no doubt also serve to rekindle interest in those worthy men and women. Ideally, reviews would also serve as a gauge for what titles ought to be reprinted—either in partnership with an established Anglican publisher, or perhaps through a new publishing-house established explicitly for the Journal.

III. Essays. Theological and philosophical essays, whether on biblical scholarship or eschatology, Thomas Aquinas or Soren Kierkegaard, would ensure the Anglo-Catholic intellect continues to
nourish itself and bloom. These essays needn’t necessarily be groundbreaking—they might, for example, be a few words on a statement made by the Archbishop of Canterbury regarding the Mass, or the anti-Empiricism of Austen Ferrer.

IV. Poetry. Anglicanism is responsible for some of the finest devotional poetry in the world, and Anglo-Catholics have produced more than our share of that verse. Poetry is integral to the spiritual life of the Church; perhaps its decline—as with the decline of liturgical language—is responsible in part for the decline in Anglicans’ spiritual life. Along with devotional poems, like T.S. Eliot’s ‘The Journey of the Magi’, the Journal would also welcome light verse, like John Betjeman’s ‘Anglo-CatholicCongresses’. Such poems serves to humble us, as well as to see the lovable, human face of our tradition.

V. Travel logs. We can all speak endlessly about our own home church—and, of course, we should!—but there’s also tremendous insight to be gained from the reflections of others who, traveling abroad, visit another Anglo-Catholic Church. The Journal would encourage an American traveling to London, or a Scotsman traveling to Sydney, &c. to attend the local Anglo-Catholic Mass and send us a reflection on that church. In truth, only an Anglo-Catholic can understand the Anglo-Catholic rite; and only an Anglo-Catholic from abroad can truly observe an Anglo-Catholic church with both understanding and freshness. This would help the wider Anglo-Catholic community to engage and learn from one another; it would also, undoubtedly, be tremendously interesting for those Americans who’ve never had a chance to worship in England, or those Scots who’ve had no occasion to visit Australia, to read a familiar personage’s thoughts on an unfamiliar country’s ‘way of doing things’, as it were, as well as the varied personalities and perspectives that make up worldwide Anglo-Catholicism.

VI. Meditations. This is a broad term, and I don't know that I could explicitly define it. But there will be articles of worth that don't fit into the previous five categories. 

Of course, all of these must be undertaken with a certain levity and charity. If it isn’t un-Christian, nastiness is simply uncivilized. The Journal wouldn’t think to publish any article rubbishing a bishop, priest, church, or theologian, whether they’re among the quick or the dead. Disagreement, even condemnation, is entirely different from making a reasoned and just criticism. There will also necessarily be standards of how well articles are constructed and written (especially regarding poetry), as well as a question of relevance. We would, for instance, ask for some refreshing new insights in a review on a book as renowned as Lewis’s Mere Christianity; we couldn't, sadly, publish every reflection on the majestic procession of the Cross.

In the next phase, there are four functions that supporters of this project will, I hope, be willing to undertake.

Firstly: We’ll need to promote the Journal. If you’re as excited about the prospects of an Anglo-Catholic publication as I am, I encourage you to speak to your friends, fellow parishioners, and any Anglo-Catholics who you believe would share our enthusiasm. There can be no journal without a readership.

Secondly: We’ll need contributors. As we said, there are no criteria for who can contribute, though we would encourage our ‘promoters’ to speak especially to those well versed in the historical, liturgical, theological, philosophical, literary, and cultural heritage of Anglo-Catholicism. It needn’t be a scholarly journal, so to speak, but it simply must be worth the readership’s time.

Thirdly: We’ll need editors. This, I don’t imagine, will be an issue immediately (if ever); but if, God willing, the Journal gains a considerable audience and is inundated with submissions, it would be preferable to have some able minds on standby, to relieve one another’s workload. As this may never be a journal that pays its editors, the slightest imposition on those kind volunteers must be made.

Fourthly: Being a technological illiterate myself, I’ll badly need someone to help me with web designing. I have, admittedly, no idea how to create or maintain a website. Anyone willing to lend a hand in that regard—and as soon as possible—would have my endless thanks.

I hope it goes without saying that I don’t feel myself especially (or even adequately) qualified to ‘take the reigns’, so to speak, in such an effort as this. I would be grateful for more pious and studied individuals to lead this effort, if they would simply step forward. But at the same time, to begin the conversation sooner than later is to be desired. And, if the conclusion is that Anglo-Catholics don’t generally feel there’s a need or interest for such a Journal, then so be it. But I certainly feel this would be a worthy endeavor, and hope and pray that others feel the same way.

Any who are interested in this project, I welcome to email me at Thank you all, as ever, for your consideration; and I am

Yours in Christ,

Michael Warren Davis

P.S.—Please note, I'm unable to reply to comments on this post, so if you'd like to discuss the prospects of the journal in more depth, I can only do so over email. Again, my address is

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The life of the mind, post-tobacco

Yesterday one of my favorite websites, The Imaginative Conservative, republished one of my favorite articles from First Things"Tobacco and the Soul" by Michael P. Foley. It seems, at least to me, like an eerie coincidence. Six days ago I was told by my doctors to disuse all tobacco products forever, a heartbreaking end to my slavish two-year romance with smoking. I could write a rather odd memoir about my relationship with cigars, cigarettes, pipes—and I could make it a long one. But a blog post or two might be more reasonable. If only slightly.

I should say I never touched the stuff before I was legal. I can't say I particularly avoided it for the first 18 years, or that I raced to that birthday eagerly anticipating my passage to manhood via a shriveled, cracked blunt that had been sitting on a dear friend's dashboard for a few weeks, stashed over the heater just for this occasion. It was, of course, a rather bad first smoke; and though I had no other exposure to tobacco I knew it was rather bad. I felt cheated. So went out in search of a better smoke... Just to say I had it.

Sweet, sweet Punch.
To trace my rapid fall into addiction (or what I thought was addiction) would invite ridicule. First it was Punch cigars. (I imagine I would still enjoy a Punch cigar if I knew where to find them in Australia.) My cigar phase was idyllically happy, because (a) it was relatively tame, and (b) I always had friends to share it with. That was one of the infinite beauties of drawing one's friends singly from one's upper-middle all-boys Catholic prep school: we would always indulge one another with those silly eccentricities. I can't imagine how it looked: three or four groomed youths sitting in a parking lot smoking cigars. Actually, I needn't imagine at all; there are photographs of the same around here somewhere. I remember looking at the picture and being disappointed: the flowing black overcoat, the billowing smoke, the red hot embers on the end of the cigar, dark shadows falling over my eyes—why did it look ridiculous? The answer, yes, is because I'm baby-faced, rosy-cheeked, and wasn't 19-years-old at the time.

But eventually my cigar phase humbled itself. The best show of it is, I believe, my current profile picture: the pink jacket, the lush New England summer foliage, the old wooden porch-swing. By then I'd already established my feeble reputation as "the cigar guy", a.k.a. "that guy who spent all his parents' money on cigars", a.k.a. "that guy who showed up to school Mass in the morning smelling like stale cigars", a.k.a. "that guy who pressured all his friends into spending their parents' money on cigars". It was vain, it was glorious. At least I thought so. But by the Age of the Pink Jacket Photograph I'd learned to be more or less discreet with my smoking. My friends who decided they just didn't like cigars gave up, and I coldly accepted their surrender. (Most of them are now either working on Capitol Hill or are in the Army; but, hey, I had the cigars.) Those who did fancy a puff would bring their own favorite brand, and when they tottled over to the Ch√Ęteau d'Avis we'd repose on the porch with coffee and a cigar. In our minds we seemed to be getting much older very quickly; in reality our last months before college were no doubt going some way to temper us. I was off to D.C.; one of my cigar buddies was off to St. Andrews in Scotland; another to Manhattan College in New York; and another to St. Anselms in New Hampshire. 
Read: they're disgusting and will make you
want to not smoke.

Ah, but I've forgotten—the cigarettes! I certainly began smoking before college. My first cigarette was a couple days after the Pink Jacket photograph was taken, I think. My Manhattan College friend, an inveterate post-Kerouacian hipster-ish, bought a pack of American Spirits Blue, smoked one, and gave me the rest, sighing, "If I keep them I'll just chain smoke the whole pack." He didn't insist I try one, but I did. It was unpleasant, as anyone's first cigarette is. I didn't throw up—tobacco has never made me physically sick—but my first attempt to inhale smoke did get me choked up. And why did I smoke the rest of the pack, dear reader? Freud would call it the death drive. Cigarettes taste worse than cigars, they smell worse than cigars, and I knew they'd end up being more expensive than my manageable one-$7-cigar-per-day habit. I suppose I did it because I wanted to see how people could fall hopelessly in love with something so vile.

But, knowing me, I couldn't be content with American Spirits. I asked my mother what the proper cigarette for a WASP would be, and she innocently said most of her friends from that circle smoked Benson & Hedges. (She didn't find out I was smoking for another year or so.) They weren't for me. Next I tried Parliament and Newport respectively, and solely because of the names. When I consulted the internet I found myself on the most harmless website in the world,, which has a helpful thread called "Cigarette Brand Stereotypes" for the aspiring poseur. One user promised—or at least it sounded like a promise to me—"Rich kids that casually smoke smoke turkish silvers." So naturally I hopped in my Toyota Corolla, headed to the nearest gas station, and met my new darling. They were light, they had lovely form, and they were just what I would be expected to smoke. They served me well for the rest of the summer and right through my internship with the Republican Party. As I went from one campaign HQ to the next, I got a reputation for being a hard worker—and, even better, as a smoker. Smokers in politics stick together. You have to wander out into the Yukon, grow a beard, and 
That's me on the left, having a puff with ol' Nige.
live in a cave if you're an elected official and want to have a quick puff. Unless you're Nigel Farage—and, politics aside, the man has style—one simply can't be a smoker. Sure, you might get away with the occasional cigarette, but if the press keeps catching you with a butt hanging out of your mouth, it will become a cancer that slowly eats away at your career. So the smokers—politicians, candidates, staff, whomever—will huddle out back and have their poison. To belong to that pow-wow beside the dumpster is like being a Freemason: everyone here gathered is one another's equal. We're all powerless in the sights of the Almighty Smog. That was where I heard all the best gossip about senior Republicans, who was being positioned to run for what seat in ten years and why—riveting stuff I wouldn't dream of repeating. But that, too, came to an end when it was off to college.

Most of my fellow-smokers in the George Washington University Freshman class of 2012 were 
Camel Turkish Silver, the Grace Kelly of filtered cigarettes.
Marlboro Gold types. The Turkish Silvers went over well, in conjunction with my tweeds and bow ties. They're much prettier than any other cigarette, that's true. And they taste as close to nothing as anything on the market, so if the passing frat bro says, "Hey, man, do you have a cig?" you can give him a Camel Silver, he'll light it, smile, and say "Thanks, dude. Sweet tie," and go staggering back down the sidewalk. That way, you get to feel like you've impressed one of the Establishmentarians, and the Establishmentarian gets a cigarette. On the other hand, I've seen frat bros ask for a cigarette, be offered a Camel Crush (foul stuff) or Marlboro Red, seen the look of disappointment, and then heard him say, "Ah, that's all right. Thanks anyway." Camel Turkish Silver is the only safe bet for your social smoker who wants to impress with his cigarettes more than enjoy them himself.

During that time I fell in and out and around a couple of different social circles, all of them upper-middle prep school types, Episcopalian or Catholic—well-dressed, clean-cut, funny, easy to get along with. One chap in particular, the illustrious Sean Kumnick, WASP extraordinaire, was also especially partial to a fine cigar. Sean's probably a rising star in the GOP and doesn't notice. He's a throwback to the old Northeast Republican establishment, a moderate conservative and extreme patriot. It didn't take long for him to work his way into the GW College Republican inner circle, and I should say he earned that spot. Sean and I—and I still thought of myself as an aspiring Republican powerbroker—would go for a walk one night a week, around the White House and down by the National Mall, being two of the too-few New Englander, Episcopalian, campaign-veteraned, and Coors-averse members of the Freshman class. I let Sean down as I began to opt for a couple of cigarettes in place of my cigar, finding myself increasingly desperate to have a cigarette as often as possible. In the first couple of weeks I began drifting from two or three cigarettes a day to ten... to twenty... to two and a half packs. I'm sure there are farmhands in Indiana who smoked four and a half by the time they were sixteen, but for me that was a lot. And it didn't help much when two new friends—a New York landless gentry and a bourgeois Marylander Jazz musician—introduced me to the true love of my nicotine life. Whatever I'd had with Camels was just for show, the faint heat given off by a volcano about to erupt. When I met Lucky Strikes, that was it for me.

If you've ever been graced with the sight of a pack of Luckies, there's a label on the bottom that says, L.S./M.F.T., which naturally stands for "Lucky Strikes Means Fine Tobacco". And, dear reader, it does indeed mean fine tobacco. Lucky Strikes are one of the epitomes of earthly pleasure, joining all the heavenly tastes and smells of a cigar with the satisfaction of a hardy cigarette. Luckies bonded us together and gave purpose to our resistance. They'd be flicked from silver cigarette cases and lit with gold-plated lighters, drawn with black-gloved hands and tapped in glass ashtrays. They looked fine with an ascot and a pair of pince-nez. They were the perfect company for a glass of Laphroaig—or, rather, a glass of 'phroaig is the perfect company for a half-pack of Luckies. I managed to keep up the two-and-a-half packs a day, despite my horseback riding (being allergic to horses), boxing (being an asthmatic), and almost total sleep depravation (being in love with a woman on the other side of the world). It was a very good and a very awful time to be me, and it was all the better for being so awful. We could sit on the balcony of my gentry friend's apartment, smoking endless Luckies and appreciating our slow martyrdom. But mostly it was the Luckies.

Add caption
The same gentry friend also happened to be a pipe collector, and he introduced us to what I can only imagine is the world's finest pipe tobacco: King Charles. Being, naturally, all Monarchists (their loan of confidence in my own latent Monarchism rather ended my career with the Republican Party) and as a devotee of St Charles Stuart, King and Martyr, it was all too perfect. And yet. while I was in D.C. we never more than tinkered with pipes. Lucky Strikes were still the go-to, always and everywhere. And when the university decided to ban smoking on sidewalks, we naturally rallied to the cause of smokers' rights. The picture to the left is of our grandest show of force—that would be me on the right in the green jacket, and my gentry friend, the ineffable Alexander P.M. Horan, at my right. (And yes, those are Lucky Strikes.)

George Washington was happy times, if not for my lungs than at least for my blue blood. And while it was a great relief to finally move to Australia, it was also the unexpected death-knell for my smoking. 

Australia is where true tobacco enthusiasts go to die. From their hideous plain packaging laws to the excessive taxation (a 20=-pack of Benson & Hedges cost about $18), there's no mistaking what sort of moral judgement the Aussie government is levying on its smokers. What's infinitely worse, though, is that something—a special chemical treatment, the extensive shipping time, I don't know—something makes Australian tobacco taste like newspaper and dry weeds. To my further dismay, the plain packaging laws also demand cigarettes be of a uniform size, making it impossible to sell the significantly smaller unfiltered variety I so desperately loved and craved. No Lucky Strikes—not even Camel Basics, which are a more common and still delightful substitute. I tried rolling my own, but even the quality of rolling tobacco here isn't great. So as I reverted to Benson & Hedges Smooth, smoking one after the other, churning out bad articles and bad short stories, slowly realizing I was now an addict rather than an aficionado. Which is why I decided it was time to move on. That's when my pipe made its unexpected comeback.

C.S. Lewis said, "The pipe gives a wise man time to think, and the fool something to stick in his mouth." That's certainly true. But what I remember more distinctly in my transition from cigarette to pipe was a section of Stephen Fry's biography, where he claimed he couldn't write for months after he quit smoking. In Australia my circles moved from almost purely political to purely artistic ones—to Marxists, Fabians, and Freudians—all of them brilliant thinkers, poets, writers, and good friends. As my poetry became increasingly important to me, the last thing I wanted to worry about was kicking cigarettes. 

The main obsticle for this grandiose idea of withdrawal is I didn't have much to brag about to begin with. The world would get along just fine without more of "The Politics of Escapism" by M.W. Davis. My best article (if I may say so myself) is still one published on the American High Tory, "An Anglo-Catholic's Dissent from the Ordinariate". It's not groundbreaking, but it's at least consistent. That was certainly written on tobacco. I remember the day well—it was written specifically on two packs of Camel Unfiltered (I was in a bit of a pinch). My first published poems were with cigarettes. My most-shared-on-Facebook article, "Why I'm a Monarchist", was half-cigarettes, half-pipe. My two latest poems, "To Richard II" and "To Hylas" were both on the pipe. And, after a bad chest infection and three days in the ICU, anything published after the 3rd July 2014 will be under the influence of no tobacco products whatsoever. I've been frantically trying to see if I can write without tobacco, and there are three or four pieces sitting with various publishers at the moment. But I'm not sure I could write with tobacco. So maybe it was for the best that I got out before I have the opportunity to get good.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Superfluous Liberalism

I don't know about that.
I recently penned an article at The Imaginative Conservative called "We're All Liberals Now” that’s since given me a bit of consternation—as my writings tend to do when I finally see them in print. The problem I came up against on this particular occasion was trying to reconcile my own Tory inclinations with the omnipresent Liberal tradition. My argument went something like, “Liberalism simply means ‘advocating individual liberty as widely as possible’; therefore, most of the Right is indeed infected by Liberalism to some degree.” In such a case, we would all be Liberals, wouldn’t we? Let me quote my own comment from the post-script:
Firstly, there are undoubtedly political philosophies that are definitively illiberal—that’s to say, they don’t have a particularly high regard for individual liberty. We can again name Feudalism, Mercantilism, Corporatism, Socialism, and all breeds of Communism. So perhaps we can’t take “Liberalism” as such for granted.

Secondly, I don’t necessarily mean this to be an argument in favor of such a high regard for individual liberty. By all means, there are abundant arguments that the liberties we take on the individual level severely limits the range and depth of liberties we might enjoy with greater emphasis on social liberty. (I suppose this would be, “Do we value the individual freedom to do drugs more than the freedom to live in a healthy, upstanding society?” and the likes.) It only seems to me that the high emphasis on individual freedom—i.e. Liberalism—has been the dominant philosophy throughout American history. So those of us who do indeed oppose authentic Liberalism might: (a) have a clear understanding of what Liberalism is; and (b) argue against the philosophy itself, rather than the specter of some vaguely rude and petulant ideology.

We must be frank: it’s impossible to deny that Distributism isn’t much more than a Feudal ‘aesthetic’ (for lack of a better term) combined with the Liberal ethos. It’s every bit as concerned with individual liberty as laissez-faire or social welfare economics; only Distributism happens to suggest we got off on the wrong foot by opting for large-scale private production as the means of freeing John Q. Public from the overbearing power of the landowning class. Anyone who does a bit of research into the history of British Liberalism and the context of Chesterbelloc’s Liberal Party affiliation will know that they joined the Liberal Party rather than the Tories for good reason. By 1906, when Belloc entered Parliament, abusive landowners and un-Christian exercise of power by the aristocracy was either extant or entirely possible within the mechanisms that governed the State contemporaneously. Chesterton and Belloc were (rightly) defensive of the ideal of agrarianism and localism, but Traditionalists who have sympathies with Distributism—myself included—must reconcile the fact that neither of them, on the other hand, had much good to say for the remnants of the landed gentry. They were as Liberal indeed as they were ‘Conservative’ in creed.

But I couldn’t help but think: if all of the –isms we’ve come to use are infused with Liberalism, are we as Conservatives just calling a rose by another name more sweet? Are we, say, Agrarian Liberals rather than Industrial Liberals, or Aristocratic Liberals as opposed to Populist Liberal? Do we think State intervention is necessary for the maintenance of that liberty, or is the State predominantly a hindrance? Let me again vainly quote myself—in this case, the miniature dictionary of liberalism in the same article on TIC:

Liberalism is a political philosophy that emphasizes individual liberty.

Economic Liberalism or Classical Liberalism is a variant of Liberalism that believes the Liberal objective is best served through free international trade, free domestic markets, and
Or that.
a minimal or non-existent welfare state.

Social Liberalism is also a variant of Liberalism that believes the Liberal objective is best served through robust social welfare measures, examples being public education, old age pensions, unemployment benefits, and universal access to healthcare. Social Liberalism does not necessarily have to do with “social issues” as we understand them, like same-sex marriage.

Neoliberalism is, depending on whom you ask, either the same as Classical Liberalism, as Social Liberalism, or sort of a middling-ground.

So anyone that gives more than a damn about individual freedom must be a Liberal, correct?

ResPublica recently held a forum on ‘Post-Liberalism’, which sounds both extremely interesting and totally superfluous. If any of my dear readers could recommend a transcript or summary I would be hugely grateful. What I’ve found so far is two quotes from the director, the great Mr Phillip Blonde, on Twitter:

If a political party is simply an amalgamation of concerns, then it's merely a forum and can't succeed.
The real problem is extreme liberalism... a huge challenge ... but liberal orthodoxies are broken.
That’s not telling us much. But what could offer a better insight is an article from Mr Blonde published in 2012 called “The Post-Liberal Agenda”:
It might well come as a surprise to members of the other parties but most of our current politics and policies are, I believe, liberal and indeed they have been largely liberal since the 2nd world war.

Perhaps many would not disagree if I said most of our post-war politics has been an oscillation between collectivism and individualism. But part of my point is that individualism and collectivism are actually not socialist or conservative but rather two extreme forms of the liberal inheritance.

If we can begin to agree with Mr Blonde—and I hope anyone reading this blog would be willing to try!—the real divide between Liberals and non-Liberals becomes a bit clearer. To say anyone with any regard for individual liberty is a Liberal would be rather unhelpful. Individual liberty is generally a good thing. And even Liberals know it has limits; otherwise, of course, they’d be Anarchists. But the real problem is that we can’t go around giving everyone an –ism for something they happen to feel strongly about. 

That is to say, there are no circumstances where an endless chain of such –isms would be at all helpful. I appreciate individual liberty, strong communal bonds, rural values, pan-Anglosphere identity, Monarchy, and an Established Church—but I'm not about to buy a t-shirt that says “Hi, I’m a Liberal-Communalist-Agrarian-Anglo-Monarcho-Antidisestablishmentarian’. Some people do things like that; most of them are Libertarians, either of the Marxist (‘I’m a Revolutionary Trotsykist-Luxemburgist with some Freudo-genderqueer tendencies’) or Capitalist (‘I’m an Anarcho-Hayekian with Social Darwinist and Voluntaryist sympathies’) variety. Those tight little ideological boxes can be very cozy. And it would be nice to be able to say, ‘Alas! If only everyone else understood the minute details of these theories; then we would all be satisfied!’ But what about those of us who can’t say we appreciate individual liberty necessarily more than social order, or even social liberty more than individual order? We’re a long way from proving that it’s possible to have a morally disinterested State and not inevitably implode, i.e. the Roman Empire effect. Nor can we guarantee that a moralistic State will yield any of the most precious rewards of earthy life—that Milton emerged from Cromwell’s Purtian theocracy is nothing short of a miracle.

If you, dear reader, are slowly starting to ask yourself, ‘All these labels seem perfectly useless. Why don’t we just agree that individual liberty is good within reason and get to discussing what the limits of that “reason” is, and forget about that unhelpful -ism?’ Dear reader, to such a point I’m beginning to agree with you. 

Conservatism is meant to be the anti-ideology. No single value can be held up as always and everywhere better than its supposed opposite. Progress is good; preservation is also good. Reform is good; restraint is also good. Freedom is good; order is also good. The two, in a Conservative's worldview, are never mutually exclusive; only that in certain instances preservation is called for more than progress, or reform more than restraint. More often than not, when something does need to be fixed, having a voice of caution—the fellow looking over your shoulder waiting to call out your smallest errors—can, in the end, can be a blessing. We ought to know how we’re getting along, where things are starting to go awry, so we can correct them as quickly as possible. That’s true progress from the Conservative perspective: it’s tedious and gradual, and in that way it’s unfailing. We can’t get the recipe wrong, because there’s no such recipe. We’re not striving for any abstract—equal property ownership, a legal system sans the coercive state, etc. Whether Lord So-and-so should really be charging such exorbitant fees is one thing; whether Corporal What’s-her-name should be allowed to serve on the front lines is another. These are questions that, as Conservatives, we don’t deflect with broad ideological umbrellas. We have standards and ethics: we value loyalty, courtesy, self-sacrifice. We think human beings are born with limits, too. We can very easily be tempted into doing the absolute wrong thing by our friends, or some petty pride might compromise our duty to our family. But society, and the State, don’t come with instructions and interchangeable parts. We have to be much more diligent than that. Perhaps it’s as easy as that: perhaps at heart of Conservatism is simply that rejection of absolute –isms that, over time, become clunky and unhelpful as we realize that opposites so often compliment one another—really, are so often dependent on one another. And if that’s the case, then we probably aren’t all Liberals after all.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

In response to Mr John Kellner

This is in response to Mr John Kellner's comment on my post, "The Future of Traditionalism". Technical difficulties won't allow me to post the reply directly, but his comment is entirely valid and deserves a response.

Mr. Kellner,

I should admit, I hardly contemplate God as often as I ought to. On the contrary, when these issues come to mind God is much farther from my thoughts than he ought to be. I've a heavily Agnostic quality to my character, and a "WWJD" Conservatism is as unappealing to me as Marxism or any of its offspring. Perhaps my own logic isn't clear enough on that point, but the article is excruciatingly long as is.

To be brief, I'm very sympathetic to Sartre, Camus, etc. in the Existentialist claim that value is something that cannot exist by nature. I don't agree with the claim, but I'm alright with saying, "Nothing is good in itself." That includes monarchy. I'd hazard to guess I'm not so fuddy-duddy as you believe (though I take pride in how fuddy-duddy I actually am, to whatever degree that's the case). I'm not interested in monarchy for the sake of Monarchy, but for what value it offers. Though I think there are values—all of them fundamental to our Civilization—that are inseparable from legitimate monarchies, and would rather recover them than throw the whole endeavor away.

I'm also of the strong belief that, as Jung pointed out, there's a real physical (and metaphysical, if that term means anything to you) need for certain elements of religious tradition. Confession and prayer, for example, have proven health benefits. But what I dislike about neopaganism, as Evola pointed out in somewhat more abstracted terms, is that a re-embracing of primitive or pre-civilized beliefs would be committing ourselves to a real, measurable mental devolution. That's what I take issue with the ND for. And that mightn't be what you yourself stand for, but I can only speak to what I observe in the ND's ranks.

Where I think you're disagreeing with me—and correct me if I'm wrong—is that you think I'm pro-immigration to some extent. That's not true, I'm as keen on Englishmen ruling England and Frenchmen ruling France as I am on the spirit ruling the body. As we see with the United States, for better or worse, the character of the nation itself has changed with every new wave of immigrants, from the Puritans to the Mexicans.

But what you're implying is that High Toryism, or whatever it is I'm advocating, won't get the job done. I'd disagree with you in terms of logic before I do in ideology. There are not more Nouvelle Droiters than there are Tories in the Anglosphere. Not by a long shot. The ND is a loud but small minority; groups like the Traditional Britain Group and the Sydney Traditionalists are much larger than any New Right groups. So if your concern is statistical advantage, you'll want to be going for the old Tories.

But I don't at all presume you mean to say you're more an anti-Leftist than a Rightist; or, to put it another way, that you'll take any sort of "Far Right" ideology as long as it's Far Right. You do, I'm sure, have principles you want to see come to fruition. As I said, I'm against atavism. My priority is civilization. A Civilized man who's in favour of gay marriage is better than an anti-gay African tribesman in my book. Of course it becomes more complicated than that, though if we were all to toss out internationalism and all the advances of the modern world, there's no doubt we'd develop more traditional morals. But voluntary atavism isn't defending Western Civilization, it's defending Western Homophobia at the expense of Civilization. There's a very great difference. At least in my mind.

I think that's where we don't see eye to eye. I don't think the current Civilization in the West started with pagan Rome, it started with the Christianization of Europe. Throwing away Christianity and its institutions (such as the Monarchy) to save Western Civilization is something like taking out the ice cream in a hot fudge sundae because you prefer the cherry and the chocolate sauce.

Of course you're going to say, "Mr Davis, with all due respect, your history and sociology are all wrong." Maybe that's what you happen to think. But I hope you'll see that I'm not senselessly waxing on about fluffy generalities. The poetry, the institutions, and yes, even much of the progress made in recent times mean as much to me as the values that go with them. I think they're inseparable. Evola didn't, but I'm more a Burkean than an Evolian anyway.

I hope you'll respond if you have the interest, and thank you again for your comment.

As ever,

Friday, November 8, 2013

Publications on the Sydney Traditionalist Forum

To those gracious enough to follow this blog, I've begun to branch out into other mediums for publication. Recently two of my pieces have appeared on the Sydney Traditionalist Forum, a remarkable group of young men and women in the greater Sydney area dedicated to direct action for the Traditionalist cause. Please do take a look at their website, and if you'd like, here are the links to my pieces.

Classicism: Its Theory and Practice: Literary essay calling for writers and other artists to adopt a new perspective in their approach to their craft, especially in regards to their predecessors.

Pied Noir: Short story about a repatriated Franco-Algerian family set on the day of Dominique Venner's famed suicide in the Notre Dame Cathedral.

I hope you enjoy!

Yours ever,
M.W. Davis

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

An Anglo-Catholic’s Dissent from the Ordinariate

            It seems Anglican-bashing is the new black these days. Orthodox Christians have begun in some instances to look at Anglicans as little more than Lutherans or Calvinists, which I’m not sure there
are newly broken grounds for. Roman Catholic lay apologists have more or less begun using 'Anglican' as a byword for CILOs (Catholics in Liturgy Only)—a handy means of denouncing liberals within their own ranks. And the generic, mainline Protestants are pleased as punch to welcome us into their happy-clappy post-Christian communion.

            This massive hatred directed at Anglicans from without seems curious to me. Anglicans, and Anglo-Catholics especially, have long been associated with gin, in no small part because of our charmingly dry character. I’ve found Anglicans the least-likely to be bothered by others’ hostility, which might be half the reason we’re the target: it’s not that we’re afraid of the fight, we’re just not terribly interested in it. We don’t feel like we have a whole Hell of a lot to prove to the rest of the religious universe. That may be a wonderful thing or a terrible thing—perhaps the test of the One True Faith is how vicious its followers are on the Internet—but it’s just who we are.

            Yet those former Anglicans who have accepted the papal encyclical Anglicanorum Coetibus and signed on with the Roman Catholic Church while maintaining their Anglican Patrimony (whatever that means) have become some of the most vitriolic anti-Anglicans, often within moments of their conversion. Ex-Anglicans laugh harder at Henry VIII jokes than any Roman Catholic—often so loud that the natives of Rome start to chuckle nervously and look at each other sideways as though to ask, ‘What’s this guy’s deal…?’

            When I first considered becoming an Ordinarian (a term coined in this Anglo-Papist forum) the first person I discussed it with was a dear friend of mine who is an extraordinarily devout layman of the Church of Rome. He asked me, ‘Mike, why not just become a full-on Catholic?’

            My response was something to the effect of preferring the Anglican liturgy, which had been promised to the Ordinarians if they would come home to Rome. But I had to ask myself, what’s so Anglican about a liturgy?

            Roman Catholics take offense to the term Romanism, and in a historical context they’re correct to do so. But I find myself gravitating toward the term because ‘Anglican’ is simply a contraction of ecclesia anglicana, or English Church. So to speak, I’m an Anglican, my friend is a Rome-icans; I’m an English Churchmen, he’s Roman Churchman. Etymologically, there’s nothing so offensive about the term. Anglicans are used to identifying a geographical association with denominations. So it seems an Anglican liturgy is simply one that comes from England.

           I can’t speak for you, dear reader, but this line of thought made me a bit confused. Is Anglicanism a theory of liturgy? Can one be a theological Romanist but a liturgical Anglican? Or a theological Mennonite but a liturgical Lutheran? I’m told Anglo-Lutherans existed somewhere; is that the same formula as an Anglo-Romanist?

            This is a lot of wordplay, but I thought about my friend’s question for weeks until it turned on its head: ‘Why do I want to be a Roman Catholic in the first place?’

            I don’t want to talk about the ‘heart of Anglicanism’ because that’s perhaps the least Anglican terminology possible. The gut of Anglicanism, perhaps. What’s the stomach, the mettle, that comes with being an Anglicanism? What does an Anglican savour and digest that is uniquely Anglican? And at what point does one cease to be an Anglican?

Personal Ordinariate
of our Lady
of Walsingham
            Like many, my frustration with Anglicanism is rooted in moral theology, which are certainly pressing issues in the Anglican Communion. Gay marriage, abortion, and women’s ordination are the three issues that have been driving Anglicans into Roman arms like a child who’s just watched his first episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. And many like to compare themselves to Blessed John Henry Newman. This, too, is a bit fishy. The Oxford Movement, of which Anglo-Catholics are the decedents, have led more Anglicans to Rome than any other factor until the Ordinariate—and the Ordinariate, interestingly, could not have flourished as it has without the revival of Catholicity in Anglicanism whose foundation was solidly laid by the Oxford Movement.

            But what is so remarkable about Cardinal Newman is that no new circumstances arose in the course of his conversion. The Anglican Communion did not become noticeably more liberal in the progression of his remarkable life. His knowledge of Church history, ecclesiology, and sacramental theology led to his conversion, not as a sort of liberationist for politically conservative Anglicans, but simply as a very devout Catholic who found Catholicity’s truest expression in the Roman tradition. I’m not here to argue with Cardinal Newman—God knows I have no such right—but there’s quite the disparity between the Blessed Cardinal and our Ordinarians.

            Is it merely a coincidence that so many Anglicans suddenly realized that the Church of England has stood on absolutely rotten foundation for the last 480 years? Many Ordinarians I know have said, ‘It started with the political issues [moral theology] but as I studied the history of the Church more I realized that Henry VIII is the worst person in the history of the world and everything Anglicanism stands for is positively Satanic.’ (That quote might be a bit of an exaggeration.) (Or it might not be.)

            I have no doubt that’s true for a good many Ordinarians, nor do I doubt that, as Eliot said, ‘For some souls … there is no satisfaction outside of Rome; and if Anglo-Catholicism has helped a few such to find their way to where they belong, I am very glad.’ Anglo-Catholicism naturally widens the likelihood of Anglican conversion to Rome or even the East wider than an Anglicanism sans Catholicity. I don’t wish to, nor do I have any right to, say that there have been no genuine conversions to Rome via Anglo-Catholicism and the Ordinariates. It’s not my place to judge any man’s heart.

            But the concern that lingers is still legitimate: in this mass-conversion, as many ‘Anglican Loyalists’ remaining in the Anglican Communion have observed, there is a huge rate of rabid anti-Anglicanism. It has often been remarked that converts to Roman Catholicism become the most passionate apologists for Roman Catholic doctrine, but I’ve never known them to become as passionately hateful toward their original faith as Ordinarians are toward the Church of England and the Episcopal Church, USA. I’ve noticed they express how relieved they are to no longer have to worry about what nonsense the Anglicans spout next, and then are hung up on that nonsense more than the average, decently informed Anglo-Catholic in the Anglican Communion. It has always been the Anglo-Catholic way to go follow Christ’s path gently and solemnly; the first, it appears to me, is conspicuously lacking in the Ordinarians. I often wonder who they're trying to prove their new Faith to—the rest of us in the Anglican Communion, or themselves?

            Now, it would be far-fetched to say that, even in the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic
Church, a mass-conversion should go entirely smoothly. No doubt there will be hiccups and other diaphragmatic spasms during this transition period, but there’s a question that always comes of these dreams-come-true: what could possibly go wrong?

            That the entire Anglo-Catholic community would suddenly have a rather Popish revelation and jump on the next ferry across the Tiber would (literally) be a Godsend. Isn’t this what we’ve been waiting for, guys—a place in the Roman Catholic Church for those of us with English tendencies? One Ordinarian said to me, ‘It’s not possible to be an Anglo-Catholic outside of the Roman Catholic Church after the formation of the Ordinariates.

            Hold on, now. What exactly are we striving for? It sounds to me like a balancing act between ‘most Anglo’ and ‘most Catholic’. Are we meant to believe that all Anglicans have ever wanted is a place in the Roman Catholic Church? We’ve always been free to convert at any time and place of our choosing (well, more or less). There’s always been a place in Rome for Anglicans who wished to convert to Catholicism; they never refused us entry. 

            The truth is that there were certain serious theological convictions that, despite being a mere butchering of canon law by a horny king so he could get a divorce or two, have persisted to this day, and have kept such monumental intellects from theologian John Keble to poet T.S. Eliot from becoming Romanists for almost five hundred years.

            I could probably cook up a joke about my extreme hesitation to abandon my hierarchy being the most enduring proof of my Catholicity, but that’s not quite dry enough for me go execute well. Still, to quote the great Australian conservative commentator Luke Torrisi,

It is actually a question of identity —you can't change what you are. (…) When you actually engage in real life events like marriage, baptism, funerals etc. and actually engage in the full life of a church you can't just switch off and barrack for another "team" like you are changing brands of coffee. Whilst there are segments (and vast ones at that) of the church that disengage from the horrors outlined above, one needs more than just a political disagreement with the "other wing" to turn one's back on a deep and genuine life investment full of conviction.

If indeed there is a political motive behind Ordinaiate Catholicism rather than a deep, binding conversion to Romanist principles, that can’t bode well for Christian unity down the road. I suspect that, with thousands converting largely in the spirit of social conservatism rather than a gradual, learned Newman-esque awakening to the Supremacy of Papal authority, Christian unity down the line is jeopardized.

            The Ordinariate certainly isn’t full of former Anglo-Papists, as they’re called, and Pope Benedict XVI certainly didn’t dispatch his Papal Encyclical at a point of feverish Anglican devotion to Roman Catholic ecclesiology. It was, more or less obviously, a political advancement. Anglican discontent with creeping Liberalism was at an all-time high, and Benedict XVI went so far as to create what amounts to a new liturgical Rite in the Roman Catholic Church to accommodate Anglicans who just needed a little push in the right direction. And so the voice of one Ordinarian comes back to me: ‘No one has the right to call themselves Anglo-Catholic outside the Ordinariate anymore.’

            But I can’t be the only one who sees the danger in converting to another religion, in a large part, due to its politics—and yes, I say politics interchangeably with moral theology for a reason. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the Ordinariates aren’t driven by concerns about divorce, contraception, or marrying priests, which were the ‘gay marriage’ of their day, and remain extremely divisive issues in English-Roman dialogue, but these days don’t receive as much attention. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the opportunity and motive for the Ordinariate both come from hot-button social issues in Anglican
This is only here because
I have no idea what
it means. Interpretatiins
Communion provinces where those battles seemed to be lost to liberalism. There are more Anglicans in Africa than in England and the United States, and those areas are overwhelmingly more conservative—and yet there is no Ordinariate in Africa and no intention of creating one. This might all seem a bit obvious, but we have to consider that the Ordinariates really were created to attract disaffected conservative Anglicans. Yes, these Anglicans also tended to be from the Anglo-Catholic side rather than the Conservative Evangelical, which is more the African standard, but throughout Anglican history, when the Anglican Communion was as Conservative in moral theology as the Roman Catholic Church, there was no thought of an Ordinariate. There was no audience for it.

            We may well find ourselves, fifty or a hundred years down the road, regretting the Ordinariate in proportion to how many Anglicans it attracts. The cause for the English Schism has not been resolved. Again, if you’d rather stand your archaic ground and sling mud about Henry VIII, this post isn’t for you. But if, as an Anglican or a Roman Catholic, you take the theological divide between our two Communions seriously, it is not a question that can be resolved over mutual disdain for same-sex marriage and a cup of tea. There are questions of Papal authority, obviously. But in ‘Thoughts After Lambeth’ (1931), T.S. Eliot makes an important distinction between the fundamental thought process of Anglicanism and Roman Catholicism:

To put it frankly, but I hope not offensively, the Roman view in general seems to me to be that a principle must be affirmed without exception; and that thereafter exceptions can be dealt with, without modifying the principle. The view natural to the English mind, I believe, is rather that a principle must be framed in such a way as to include all allowable exceptions. It follows inevitably that the Roman Church must profess to be fixed, while the Anglican Church must profess to take account of changed conditions.
The admission of inconsistencies, sometimes ridiculed as indifference to logic and coherence, of which the English mind is often accused, may be largely the admission of inconsistencies inherent in life itself, and of the impossibility of overcoming them by the imposition of a uniformity greater than life will bear.
I hope that it is unnecessary to give the assurance that I do not consider the Roman way of thought dishonest, and that I would not endorse any cheap and facile gibes about the duplicity and dissimulation of that Church; it is another conception of human nature and of the means by which, on the whole, the greatest number of souls can be saved; but the difference goes deep.

That was a lot of text, but consider it carefully. The Anglican way has always been to abide by principle, but apply that principle to modern circumstances. There are unbending prohibitions, certainly, just as God’s justice is unbending, but the struggle of Anglicanism is to understand modern circumstances according to ancient Tradition. We don’t believe, as Roman Catholics do, that anyone in our Church has the ability to perfectly clarify and expound upon the Church Fathers, the immediate successors of Christ and the leaders of the Early Church. We have no Pope or Council that can equal the authority of the Fathers. And that is a theological conviction: Anglicans do not believe that
sort of authority has existed on this earth since the first five centuries or so.

            My purpose isn’t to defend this Anglican doctrine; it has been defended elsewhere, and by better theological minds than my own. But I foresee two unfortunate—and not, I think, unlikely—outcomes.

            The first is that Anglo-Romanists might not overcome the philosophical differences that currently separate even the most Catholic Anglicanism (such as Eliot’s) and the Roman Catholic doctrine. As Mr. Torrisi noted, it’s almost an entire conversion of identity. After decideding to become a Roman Catholic, John Henry Newman, who was one of the most Catholic of Anglicans at the time of his conversion, still needed a two-year respite before joining the Roman Catholic Church… Suffice to say, not because he was so attached to a vague notion of ‘Anglican Patrimony’. Conversion from Anglicanism to Catholicism is a radical change in thinking, believing, and practice. Is it possible that thousands of Anglicans could have realized that the third pillar of Anglicanism—Scripture, Tradition, and Reason—is incorrect, and that the fullness of Truth exists in the Scripture, Doctrines, and Hierarchies of the Roman Catholic Church alone, all over the question of gay marriage and abortion? Perhaps. That may very well be the case. But I wonder if these conversions were taken too lightly, and if an Anglican impulse toward a fixed concept of Tradition, corporate Reason, and the necessarily limited capacity for human beings to align themselves with God’s Supreme Design (and in such the inability of the Church to form perfect, constant dogma) will underlie the future of the Ordinariate. God forbid this imperfect reunion should lead to a second schism and damage English-Roman relations more than it helps.

            The second is the possibility that Anglo-Romanists, if they are indeed converting en masse for political purposes rather than in true reconciliation, would not only betray Roman Catholic Sacraments with a false conversion, so to speak, which any Catholic (Anglican or Roman or Eastern) must admit could do serious spiritual damage, but if this new Rite of the Roman Catholic Church is one founded on simply being ‘not Anglican’ and politically conservative, that does not bode well for the spiritual health of the Ordinarians and their successors. What identity does the Ordinariate have now except Roman Catholic theology and ‘Anglican Patrimony’—which, as a long-time observer of the Ordinariates, consists largely of attacking the Anglican Communion? This negative definition—defining one’s self as what they are not (Anglican, liberal, etc.)—is not a healthy foundation for a spiritual community. Again, this is the opinion but one observer, who does wish desperately for reunion between Canterbury and Rome, but I have seen more non-Anglicanism than Romanism in Ordinarians. Cardinal Newman’s conversion was to Roman Catholicism, not away from Anglicanism, and that has not been the case with the Ordinariates so far as I can see.

            I tentatively self-identify as an Anglo-Papist. I could believe Christ commissioned Petrine Supremacy in some form. Not the form it has taken in modern Roman Catholicism, but I am not unwilling believe all true Christians are under the primacy of the Successor to St. Peter. Nor do I believe the Orthodox Church is all wrong and the West is all right. One true conviction I hold is that the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church will not be united by skimming off the temporally disillusioned from one branch to another. It bothers me when liberal Anglicans evangelize pro-gay marriage Roman Catholics as it bothers me when conservative Roman Catholics evangelize pro-life Anglicans. You and I do not belong in Christ’s Church because we agree with it, but we must conform ourselves Christ’s Church because we believe in the Church. I don’t believe the Roman teaching on abortion is correct because I’m pro-life, but because I believe the Roman Catholic Church has the authority to teach Christ’s Word. It isn’t that we align ourselves with the Church, we submit to the Church. Anglicans converting to Roman Catholicism should not do so because they agree with the Vatican’s teachings, but because they understand and submit themselves to the Vatican’s teaching authority. The distinction is very important, and I just haven’t seen this occurring in the Ordinariates.

            My hope for English-Roman reunion has always been corporate, and I do believe that someday the See of Canterbury and the See of Rome will reconcile to each other. I don’t believe there will be any need for an ‘Anglican Patrimony’, because our only Pater should be Christ and that of His Church. If I believe that Anglicanism is the true expression of Christ’s Law, I am an Anglican. If I believe the Romanism is the truest expression of Catholicity, I am a Roman Catholic. But this ‘Anglican Patrimony’ strikes me as disingenuous. If there has ever been truth to Anglicanism, then it remains true. If it has always been incorrect, it will never be righted. This isn’t to say there shouldn’t be an English Rite of some kind, or a liturgical method that comes from the See of Canterbury, but it should not be Anglican. Anglicanism is not a style, it is a theology. It is a cultural heritage to some, yes, and any reunion between English and Roman Catholics will not predicate one being entirely correct and the other entirely wrong, but what we should strive towards is Universality—Catholicity—not distinctions between Anglo-this and Roman-that.  The retention of Anglicanism as a valid tradition is an admission of Branch Theory, which this Anglo-Catholic-Papist-Orthodox isn’t so broken up about. But from the Roman Catholic point of view, which is anti-Branch Theory, we may as well adopt a Lutheran Patrimony or an Amish Patrimony if these schisms and heresies are totally invalid but can be righted by Papal Decree.

            So I may join the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, or the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, or the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross. Or I may not. This expression of my misgiving will not, I hope, peg me as one of the ‘opponents of the Ordinariate’, as we insolent Anglo-Catholics who remain in the Anglican Communion have been branded (of course, by the Ordinarians). Anglo-Catholics in favour of Branch Theory are perhaps the least threatening human beings to Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians alike. We recognize their legitimacy and even the strict reasoning behind them. We ask to be included in their Communion and aren’t particularly broken up when we’re not. I understand those terms of exclusion, but the attitude continues to baffle me. It’s as though Anglicans are hoping to join a social club, and the members not only reject them based on their credentials (which is understandable, if disappointing), but then do all they can to publicly defame the applicant as a show of elitism. Anglicans and Romanists have a very strenuous relationship, and always have. Liberal Anglicans to this day continue to demonize the Roman Catholic Church to some degree, and vice-versa. But the assault on Anglo-Catholics, who came about specifically to reconcile the two and in many instances root for Rome over Canterbury, there’s still an attitude of dismissal and even contempt. I hope this is merely hurt feelings that need more time and Christian love before they heal, and not a deep fracture that will keep the Christian Church divided permanently.