The Long Now

Civilization is reviving itself into a pathologically short attention span. The trend might be coming from the acceleration of technology, the short-horizon perspective of market-driven economics, the next-election perspective of democracies, or the distractions of personal multi-tasking. All are on the increase. Some sort of balancing corrective to the short-sightedness is needed—some mechanism or myth which encourages the long view and the taking of long-term responsibility—where ‘long-term’ is measured at least in centuries.

– Stewart Brand, founding board member of the Long Now Foundation

Published in: on November 16, 2009 at 6:08 pm  Comments (2)  


Anglo-Catholicism claims the continuity of the Church of England with the early days of Christianity in Great Britain, even before St. Augustine. Pope Gregory the Great sent St Augustine in the late 6th century from Rome to evangelise the Anglo-Saxons, a process completed in the 7th century. It is commonly thought that the conversion of the English marked the beginning of Christianity in Britain, though the Romano-Celtic society which existed in Britain prior to the arrival of the pagan Germanic tribes from Denmark and northern Germany practised a non-papal, episcopal Christianity…

King Henry VIII took England into schism from Rome when the Pope refused to declare null his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, but retained Catholic views in theology and liturgy, while some reformers (such as Bishop John Hooper) wanted to follow the radical reforms of Geneva… Consequently, when Queen Elizabeth I took the English throne, she sought to steer a via media between what her bishops felt were the excesses of both Rome and Geneva. Thus was born the Elizabethan Settlement and the promulgation of a single Book of Common Prayer for all theological persuasions in the Church of England. This marks the birth of the Anglican ethos which was championed by the Elizabethan divine, Richard Hooker.

From that time, through Archbishop Laud and the Caroline Divines, up to the time of the Oxford Movement Tractarians, the Anglo-Catholic Congresses and the present day, there has always been a theological party within Anglicanism which has sought to stress apostolic continuity all the way back to the Twelve Apostles. In response to Pope Leo XIII’s Apostolicae Curae (1896), which declared the Anglican apostolic succession invalid from the Vatican’s perspective, the Anglican Archbishops of Canterbury and York have claimed, starting with their official response, Saepius Officio, that there is an unbroken apostolic succession in the Anglican priesthood and that the historical episcopate has been in the British Isles from the earliest days of the Church…

A minority of Anglo-Catholics, sometimes called Anglo-Papalists, consider themselves under papal supremacy even though they are not in communion with the Roman Catholic Church. Such Anglo-Catholics, especially in England, often celebrate Mass according to the contemporary Roman Catholic rite and are concerned with seeking reunion with the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches.

— Wikipedia article: Anglo-Catholicism

Looking back over the controversies that drove many an embattled and despairing priest to renounce the Anglican Communion and deny the validity of his own priesthood, and even question that of his baptism, it is tragic and ironic to realize that many, perhaps most, of these were over points of practice and doctrine then considered hopelessly Protestant or even sacrilegious which are now common in the Roman Catholic Church since Vatican II — the vernacular liturgy, open communion, communion in both kinds, birth control, divorce, married clergy, the redefinition of scriptural, traditional and magisterial authority, of baptismal regeneration, and justification. Once the now apparently inevitable permission for a married clergy is granted, many Anglican and even some Lutheran churches and priests and ministers will be considerably more “High Church” than their Roman Catholic fellows.

— Kenneth Rexroth, The Evolution of Anglo-Catholicism

I attended the Remembrance Sunday service at Winchester College a week ago and found myself returning for another service this morning. Sitting in the serene but magnificent 14th century chapel, listening to the choir sing in Latin, I felt connected to a continuity of worship that transported me, albeit temporarily, to somewhere timeless.

Irrational though it may be — and recently I have begun to think that it probably isn’t, if rationality is to be a meaningful term at all — I experienced something during those services that my life otherwise lacks. No doubt there are many aspects to such an experience, some more profound than others, but the sense of being part of something ancient or eternal, immune to the vagaries and caprice of the outside world, is clearly an important one.

Win: Coll: Chapel

Published in: on November 15, 2009 at 8:50 pm  Comments (3)  


Every human faculty, by which we attempt to make sense of the world, may have its origins explained by evolutionary theory. But the validity of evolutionary theory presupposes the validity of such a human faculty. Thus the existence of an evolutionary Just So story, purporting to explain the origins of some faculty, cannot be used to invalidate the results of that faculty on pain of self-contradiction. Therefore, if we consider the faculty whereby we explain the actions of other entities in terms of purpose, or the faculty whereby we perceive the presence of the divine, in order to refute the claims of such faculties it is not sufficient merely to provide a plausible explanation of their origins.

Published in: on November 11, 2009 at 12:52 pm  Leave a Comment