Sunday, June 30, 2019

Miserable offenders

Again from The Book of Common Prayer 2019, Confession. "Miserable offenders" is gone.
The Officiant says to the People

Dearly beloved, the Scriptures teach us to acknowledge our many sins and offenses, not concealing them from our heavenly Father, but confessing them with humble and obedient hearts that we may obtain forgiveness by his infinite goodness and mercy. We ought at all times humbly to acknowledge our sins before Almighty God, but especially when we come together in his presence to give thanks for the great benefits we have received at his hands, to declare his most worthy praise, to hear his holy Word, and to ask, for ourselves and on behalf of others, those things which are necessary for our life and our salvation. Therefore, draw near with me to the throne of heavenly grace.

or this

Let us humbly confess our sins to Almighty God.

Silence is kept. All kneeling, the Officiant and People say

1928 Episcopal Book of Common Prayer
Almighty and most merciful Father, we have erred and strayed from your ways like lost sheep.
We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts.
We have offended against your holy laws.
We have left undone those things which we ought to have done, and we have done those things which we ought not to have done; and apart from your grace, there is no health in us.
O Lord, have mercy upon us.
Spare all those who confess their faults.
Restore all those who are penitent, according to your promises declared to all people in Christ Jesus our Lord.

And grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake, that we may now live a godly, righteous, and sober life, to the glory of your holy Name. Amen.

The Priest alone stands and says

Almighty God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, desires not the death of sinners, but that they may turn from their wickedness and live. He has empowered and commanded his ministers to pronounce to his people, being penitent, the absolution and remission of their sins. He pardons and absolves all who truly repent and genuinely believe his holy Gospel. For this reason, we beseech him to grant us true repentance and his Holy Spirit, that our present deeds may please him, the rest of our lives may be pure and holy, and that at the last we may come to his eternal joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Friday, June 28, 2019

A few prayers

For the Unrepentant
Merciful God, you desire not the death of sinners, but rather that they should turn to you and live; and through your only Son you have revealed yourself as the God who pardons iniquity. Have mercy on the unrepentant and those who do not believe [especially _____]. Awaken in them, by your Word and Holy Spirit, a deep sense of their sinfulness and peril. Take from them all ignorance, hardness of heart, and contempt of your Word. Grant them to know and feel that there is no other Name under heaven given among men by which they must be saved, but only the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. And so bring them home and number them among your children, that they may be yours for ever; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen

To Please God Rather Than Men                                                    Thomas à Kempis
Our God, in whom we trust: Strengthen us not to regard overmuch who is for us or who is against us, but to see to it that we be with you in everything we do. Amen.

In the Evening                                                                                   John Henry Newman
O Lord, support us all the day long through this trouble-filled life, until the shadows lengthen, and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed, and the fever of life is over, and our work is done. Then in your mercy grant us a safe lodging, and a holy rest, and peace at the last. Amen.

For Daily Growth                                                                               Richard of Chichester
Thanks be to thee, my Lord Jesus Christ, for all the pains and insults thou hast borne for me, and all the benefits thou hast given me. O most merciful Redeemer, Friend, and Brother: Grant that I may see thee more clearly, love thee more dearly, and follow thee more nearly, day by day. Amen.

For Joy at the End of Life                                                                   Miles Coverdale
Lord Jesus, be mindful of your promise. Think of us, your servants, and when we shall depart, speak to our spirits these loving words: “Today you shall be with me in joy.” O Lord Jesus Christ, remember us, your servants who trust in you, when our tongues cannot speak, when the sight of our eyes fails, and when our ears are stopped. Let our spirits always rejoice in you and be joyful about our salvation, which you, through your death, have purchased for us. Amen.

For the Coming of God’s Kingdom
Hasten, O Father, the coming of your kingdom; and grant that we your servants, who now live by faith, may with joy behold your Son at his coming in glorious majesty; even Jesus Christ, our only Mediator and Advocate. Amen.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019


Bilbo Baggins in The Fellowship of the Ring:

I sit beside the fire and think
of all that I have seen,
of meadow-flowers and butterflies
in summers that have been;
For still there are so many things
that I have never seen:
in every wood in every spring
there is a different green.
Of yellow leaves and gossamer
in autumns that there were,
with morning mist and silver sun
and wind upon my hair.
I sit beside the fire and think
of people long ago,
and people who will see a world
that I shall never know.
I sit beside the fire and think
of how the world will be
when winter comes without a spring
that I shall ever see.
But all the while I sit and think
of times there were before,
I listen for returning feet
and voices at the door.

And this, late in Lord of the Rings:
There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was a light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach. His song in the Tower had been defiance rather than hope; for then he was thinking of himself. Now, for a moment, his own fate, and even his master’s, ceased to trouble him. He crawled back into the brambles and laid himself by Frodo’s side, and putting away all fear he cast himself into a deep untroubled sleep.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

"I know not what it will bring forth"

The Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) has published The Book of Common Prayer 2019. I've ordered it, but have not yet received a copy. It can be downloaded as a pdf here. I've been browsing a bit and in a section titled "prayers for use by a sick person" I found these which a person not sick could just as well pray:
O heavenly Father, you give your children sleep for the refreshing of soul and body: Grant me this gift, I pray; keep me in that perfect peace which you have promised to those whose minds are fixed on you; and give me such a sense of your presence, that in the hours of silence I may enjoy the blessed assurance of your love; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

This is another day, O Lord. I know not what it will bring forth, but make me ready, Lord, for whatever it may be. If I am to stand up, help me to stand bravely. If I am to sit still, help me to sit quietly. If I am to lie low, help me to do it patiently. And if I am to do nothing, help me to do it gallantly. Make these words more than words, and give me the Spirit of Jesus. Amen.
The illustration is of the pew edition. Except for the Psalter most of the scripture quotations are from the ESV. I particularly like their choice of the Jerusalem cross on the cover. It is a favorite of mine and also of my pastor.

Some things don't change very much

Selected quotations from The Road to Wigan Pier (1937) by George Orwell, himself a Socialist:
  • In addition to this there is the horrible — the really disquieting — prevalence of cranks wherever Socialists are gathered together. One sometimes gets the impression that the mere words "Socialism" and "Communism" draw towards them with magnetic force every fruit-juice drinker, nudist, sandal-wearer, sex-maniac, Quaker, "Nature Cure" quack, pacifist, and feminist in England.
  • The truth is that, to many people calling themselves Socialists, revolution does not mean a movement of the masses with which they hope to associate themselves; it means a set of reforms which 'we', the clever ones, are going to impose upon 'them', the Lower Orders. On the other hand, it would be a mistake to regard the book-trained Socialist as a bloodless creature entirely incapable of emotion. Though seldom giving much evidence of affection for the exploited, he is perfectly capable of displaying hatred—a sort of queer, theoretical, in vacuo hatred—against the exploiters.
  • Sometimes when I listen to these people talking, and still more when I read their books, I get the impression that, to them, the whole Socialist movement is no more than a kind of exciting heresy-hunt — a leaping to and fro of frenzied witch-doctors to the beat of tom-toms and the tune of "Fee fi, fo, fum, I smell the blood of a right-wing deviationist!"
  • It would help enormously, for instance, if the smell of crankishness which still clings to the Socialist movement could be dispelled. If only the sandals and the pistachio-coloured shirts could be put in a pile and burnt, and every vegetarian, teetotaller, and creeping Jesus sent home to Welwyn Garden City to do his yoga exercises quietly! But that, I am afraid, is not going to happen.

Monday, June 24, 2019

The Hound

From The Complete Paget Portfolio: Every Sherlock Holmes Illustration by Sidney Paget, Paget's original illustration for The Hound (of the Baskervilles):

Sidney Paget

In the mail this morning: The Complete Paget Portfolio: Every Sherlock Holmes Illustration by Sidney Paget Reproduced Directly from The Strand Magazine Including the Original Artwork. When commenting on this book before I indicated that it seemed rather expensive. I take that back having seen the quality of the reproductions and understanding how much effort it took to produce that quality. This particular illustration was for "The Resident Patient," and next to it in the book is Paget's original work. Only a few of those have survived. All of the illustrations include the original Strand caption and, often, comment by Nicholas Utechin, the author of this collection.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

"There is but one living and true God...."

I've just been re-reading the "Thirty-Nine Articles" of the Church of England from 1571, when Elizabeth I was Queen. describes how they came to be:
Thirty-nine Articles, the doctrinal statement of the Church of England. With the Book of Common Prayer, they present the liturgy and doctrine of that church. The Thirty-nine Articles developed from the Forty-two Articles, written by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer in 1553 “for the avoiding of controversy in opinions.” These had been partly derived from the Thirteen Articles of 1538, designed as the basis of an agreement between Henry VIII and the German Lutheran princes, which had been influenced by the Lutheran Augsburg Confession (1530).

The Forty-two Articles were eliminated when Mary I became queen (1553) and restored Roman Catholicism. After Elizabeth I became queen (1558), a new statement of doctrine was needed. In 1563 the Canterbury Convocation (the periodic assembly of clergy of the province of Canterbury) drastically revised the Forty-two Articles, and additional changes were made at Elizabeth’s request. A final revision by convocation in 1571 produced the Thirty-nine Articles, which were approved by both convocation and Parliament, though Elizabeth had wanted to issue them under her own authority. Only the clergy had to subscribe to them.

In form they deal briefly with the doctrines accepted by Roman Catholics and Protestants alike and more fully with points of controversy. The articles on the sacraments reflect a Calvinist tone, while other parts intimate Lutheran or Catholic positions. They are often studiously ambiguous, however, because the Elizabethan government wished to make the national church as inclusive of different viewpoints as possible. ....
They provide insight into the theological controversies of the time and I found myself agreeing most of the time with exceptions regarding polity and a few other points of doctrine (I am a Baptist). Here they are:

Thursday, June 20, 2019

“He who marries the spirit of the age will soon find himself a widower.”

If this guy is right "contemporary" worship isn't contemporary anymore.
...[O]nly 27 percent of millennials attend religious services weekly (boomers claim a rate of 38 percent; their parents, 51 percent).

One of the reasons they don’t go to church seems to be a disaffection with one of the most popular worship styles going now—a style much embraced by their parents and, especially, by their grandparents, the baby boomers.

That style is contemporary worship, as in praise bands and rock musicians, generic auditoriums with fixed theater seating or big boxy rooms with stackable church chairs and worship screens. This worship style is frequently found shallow and trendy, caught up in innovation and cultural conformity. The theology attached to it is often found wanting for the same reasons—it lacks spiritual gravitas, it is grounded in what is new and culturally relevant. ....

Is it too much to suggest that the old ways of doing “church” are the better ways? That a worship style that has prospered for many centuries has something theologically substantial, something religiously solid, to offer a generation that finds itself floundering among the flotsam and jetsam of religious ephemera and trendiness? ....

.... A Barna survey from 2014 found that millennials were favorably disposed to traditional sanctuaries. Of four options presented to persons aged 18 to 29, a plurality (44 percent) chose a traditional worship space, as opposed to the semicircular megachurch mode or a more straightforward theater-seating mode. Seventy percent preferred an unambiguous Christian chancel arrangement, largely traditional with an altar and a cross/crucifix on the back wall. Commented the researchers on the chancel setting: “These patterns illustrate most Millennials’ overall preference for a straightforward, overtly Christian style of imagery—as long as it doesn’t look too institutional or corporate. Not only do such settings physically direct one’s attention to the divine, they also provide a rich context of church history as the backdrop for worship.” ....

We as humans need ceremony. We are comforted by ritual. Every worship service of every ilk is built on form, on repeated acts. From the glitziest arena church to the little brown church in the dale, a worship service is constructed after a pattern that is repeated, sometimes identically, week in and week out. Everybody does liturgy. Why not return to a ritual that’s been around the spiritual block, that’s been tested by generations of fellow believers, that’s been known and authenticated as an effective transmitter of saving faith, that connects you to generations of Christians, to your grandparents and their grandparents and believers back to Martin Luther and maybe even Thomas Aquinas? You’re going to do liturgy anyway. Why not make it the real thing? (more)

Wednesday, June 19, 2019


Just ordered. Sidney Paget was another great illustrator. A purchase place was hard to find online and the book is rather expensive but I'm very much looking forward to browsing through it. Michael Dirda in The Washington Post on this book:
Edited by the eminent English Sherlockian Nicholas Utechin, The Complete Paget Portfolio (Gasogene) showcases — in the words of its subtitle — “Every Sherlock Holmes Illustration by Sidney Paget Reproduced Directly from The Strand Magazine, Including the Surviving Original Artwork.”

These early depictions of Holmes are nearly as iconic as Dr. Watson’s accounts of his investigations. The lean face, aquiline nose, piercing eyes — all are here from the beginning. Sidney Paget reportedly modeled the detective after his brother Walter and a photograph of the latter, reproduced here, makes that a near certainty. As it happens, both Pagets were artists — I own an edition of “Robinson Crusoe” beautifully illustrated by Walter Paget — and Sidney apparently got the Holmes commission through a mix-up: The Strand initially wanted Walter to do the art.

If you were to ask members of any Sherlockian sodality — perhaps the Six Napoleons of Baltimore or Ellicott City, Md.’s Watson’s Tin Box — odds are the second-most popular choice would be the double-portrait, from “Silver Blaze,” in which Holmes, sporting a deerstalker and Inverness cape, talks with a bowler-hatted Watson in a roomy railway car. The winner, though, would be Paget’s depiction of the climactic moment, in “The Final Problem,” when Holmes grapples with Professor James Moriarty on a mountain path high above the swirling waters of the Reichenbach Falls.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

A different Tolkien

Upon discovering that one of the mystery authors who set their plots in Oxford was a grandson of JRR Tolkien I decided to read at least one of his books. The first in a series of three came this morning. From its flyleaf:
When a famed Oxford historian is found dead in his study one night, all the evidence points to his son, Stephen. About to be disinherited from the family fortune, Stephen has returned home after a long estrangement—and it happens to be the night his father is shot to death. When his fingerprints are found on the murder weapon, Stephen's guilt seems undeniable. But there were five other people in the manor house at the time, and as their stories slowly emerge—along with the revelation that the deceased man was involved in a deadly hunt for a priceless relic in Northern France at the end of World War II—the case begins to unravel.

Everyone has a motive, and no one is telling the truth.

Unwilling to sit by and watch the biased judge condemn Stephen to death, an aging police inspector decides to travel from England to France to find out what really happened in that small French village in 1945—and what artifact could be so valuable it would be worth killing for. ....
From two reviews of the book:
A deft combination of Agatha Christie manor-house whodunit, Erle Stanley Gardner courtroom drama, and Dan Brown thriller, The Inheritance is nonetheless unique to its creator. And Tolkien, with this compelling read, proves himself worthy—and then some—of his literary pedigree. Richmond Times-Dispatch

Display[s] a narrative skill that the author of The Lord of the Rings would surely have recognized and admired. The Philadelphia Inquirer
I think I'll take the book outside and find out whether it holds my attention.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Is civility a Christian virtue?

I think the question [of whether civility is a Christian virtue] hinges on whether “civility” is a useful shorthand proxy for a series of traits that certainly are Christian virtues: patience, forbearance, kindness, generosity, turning the other cheek, blessing those who spitefully use you, etc.
And it should incorporate those things.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Thy will be done

The entire prayer delivered by FDR on D-Day, June 6, 1944:
My Fellow Americans:

Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our Allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.

And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:

Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.

Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.

They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.

They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest — until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men's souls will be shaken with the violences of war.

For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and goodwill among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.

Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.

And for us at home — fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas, whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them — help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.

Many people have urged that I call the nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.

Give us strength, too — strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.

And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.

And, O Lord, give us faith. Give us faith in Thee; faith in our sons; faith in each other; faith in our united crusade. Let not the keeness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment — let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.

With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogances. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace — a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.

Thy will be done, Almighty God.


Tuesday, June 4, 2019

A peculiar people

The Epistle to Diognetus is a second-century letter, a brief work of Christian apologetics. In the fifth section of the letter, the author talks about what sets Christians apart from other peoples in the Roman world. Christians are peculiar, he admits that. To be sure, they live with everyone else, and in many ways they live like everyone else: they work in the same kinds of jobs, they wear the same kinds of clothes.

But they are also different in significant ways: they are sexually chaste, they don’t kill unwanted children, they are generous and committed to sharing both within their churches and with people outside those churches; and, above all, they refuse to worship the Roman gods. For these differences they are hated, and hated the more the kinder they are.

And there’s one more thing that sets the Christians apart: when they are attacked, when they are persecuted, they don’t reply in kind. Others say to the Christians, “You are my enemy”; Christians say to the others, “You are my neighbor.”

Were they wrong to live this way? ....

Monday, June 3, 2019

Gervase Fen

At CrimeReads, "The Many Mysteries of Oxford," about authors who used that city and/or its University as settings for detective stories. Among the authors are Colin Dexter (Inspector Morse), Dorothy L. Sayers (Wimsey), "Simon Tolkien (Trinity College, Oxford), a barrister and grandson of JRR Tolkien"(!) and Edmund Crispin. Years ago I read and enjoyed all of the Crispins. From the blog post:
Edmund Crispin was the pseudonym of Robert Bruce Montgomery (St. John’s College, Oxford) who wrote nine detective novels and two collections of short stories featuring the slightly eccentric Oxford don Gervase Fen, Professor of English at (the fictional) St. Christopher’s College (which bears more than a passing resemblance to St John’s). The books are complex whodunits, often with locked room mysteries, and break the usual convention of the fourth wall [by having] Gervase Fen often directly addressing the reader. The best known of Crispin’s Oxford novels is The Moving Toyshop (1946) where a visiting poet (based on Crispin’s own Oxford contemporary at St. John’s, the English poet Philip Larkin) discovers a dead body in a toyshop before being knocked out and waking up the next morning to find the body gone and the toyshop now a greengrocers. It does have a lot of insider Oxford jokes but years of undergraduate study there is not required to enjoy the novel, which PD James (herself Oxford born) described as one of her top five crime novels. (the brackets indicate a modification of the original text)
There is an Inklings reference in one of the Crispin mysteries. From Chapter Four of Swan Song:
'Oh, for a beakerful of the cold north,' said Fen, gulping at his Burton. 'Impossible murders, for the present, must wait their turn.'

They were sitting before a blazing and hospitable fire in the small front parlour of the 'Bird and Baby'. Mudge had parted from them, with notable reluctance, at the door, in order to pursue his duties in less congenial circumstances; and Adam, Elizabeth, Sir Richard Freeman, and Fen were now toasting themselves to a comfortable glow. Outside, it was still attempting to snow, but with only partial success. ....

'There goes C.S. Lewis,' said Fen suddenly. 'It must be Tuesday.'

'It is Tuesday.' Sir Richard struck a match and puffed doggedly at his pipe. ....
The "Bird and Baby" is, of course, the pub named The Eagle and Child where the Inklings regularly met on Tuesdays in the 1930s and '40s.