Monday, June 22, 2020

Online Latin Course in August and September

I'm delighted to announce that although our annual, residential Latin Course has had to be cancelled for 2020, another option for learning Latin has emerged. I can't take any credit for this, but am happy to advertise it: an online course using Christian Latin run by an experienced teacher of ancient languages, Matthew Spencer.

One reason for optimism about Latin is the continuing enthusiasm of teachers and students, and their continuing willingness to experiment with different approaches to language learning and the delivery of lessons, to reach new people, both beginners and those wishing to improve their Latin.

These won't take over your life: they will be 2 hours of online tuition a week, and homework between sessions is optional.

I am myself planning to do this course: join me and Mr Spencer in the adventure of Christian Latin!

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This year the Latin Mass Society's long-standing annual residential Latin Course has had to be cancelled due to the Coronavirus epidemic. We are delighted therefore to be able to announce a new initiative by an independent language teacher, Matthew Spencer, for the online teaching of Christian Latin over August and September.

Mr Spencer has previously been teaching ancient languages to university students preparing for further studies, and he would now like to apply his skills to teaching Latin. The course’s focus on the distinctive, later period of Latin of writers such as Augustine and Boethius will make this course of particular interest and usefulness to Catholics and all those interested in discovering the rich world of Christian Latin.

He plans to teach very small groups once or twice a week, some aimed at 'Beginners' and others at those with some previous experience of Latin.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Conservatism after Bostock

The recent Supreme Court decision, penned by Neil Gorsuch, has knocked the wind out of a lot of Americans on the right. The central claim, that an Act of Congress in 1964 intended to include sexual orientation and gender identity in the word “sex”, as a characteristic to be protected against discrimination, is so evidently insane surely—one might think—no person of intellectual integrity could affirm it. If we view it as not, strictly and literally true, but as a necessary legal fiction, then the question becomes one of policy. What urgent issue of natural justice is served by erasing the distinction between biological sex, erotic preferences, and feelings-about-what-one-is?

The answer is protecting people from discrimination on the basis of those two other things. I can understand why the liberal Justices on the Supreme Court should think this. In UK law “sexual orientation” and “gender reassignment” are both “protected characteristics” which must not motivate discrimination. So is “sex”. The Bostock decision goes much further than the UK law, however, in bypassing the need for any formal “gender reassignment” (the very concept seems old-fashioned today: the UK law dates from 2011), and also by rolling the three characteristics into one. Gorsuch’s remarkable reasoning is that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation just is discrimination on the basis of sex.

The precise legal consequences of the decision will emerge over time. The most astonishing aspect of it is that this decision was approved not only by liberal judges, but by two supposedly conservative ones: John Roberts and Neil Gorsuch. Republican-nominated Supreme Court Justices turning into liberals in office is nothing new, and it is part of a wider pattern of conservatives in positions of power and influence not wanting to stand up for conservative causes. At the individual level this is easy to understand: if you want to preserve your ability to earn a living, you have to watch what you say. But collectively, it is incomprehensible. On many occasions, liberal views have triumphed despite lacking popular support. If the conservative opposition to the latest progressive cause simply stood up for itself, in many cases the issue would not be in doubt. But not only does this not happen, but people tend to accept each step of the progressive revolution after it has happened.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Pagans attack Statue of St Boniface in Devon

As regular readers know I have an interest in neo-paganism and the related New Age movement. There is a FIUV Position Paper on these phenomena here.
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When St. Boniface traveled from Devon in England to convert the pagans of Germany in the 8th century, he did so with supernatural courage. The Germans’ savagery had been notorious for centuries, and they did, indeed, eventually martyr him, while he was traveling in Frisia (now the Netherlands) in the year 754. Fourteen centuries on, it seems that the pagans have returned to Devon. A stone statue of him in the small town of Crediton has had sprayed onto its pedestal the words “God is dead” and “Pagan justice,” the latter accompanied by a pentangle, the symbol of Satanism.
There is a lot of neo-paganism in England’s bucolic southwest. Glastonbury, some way to the north and east of Crediton, is a particular center. The incongruous combination of messages — suggesting atheism, paganism, and Satanism — is characteristic of the more militant varieties. The local newspaper describes the attackers as “anarchists,” which may be a fair description but seems intended to distract attention from the central point: that this vandalism has got nothing to do with the riots in the United States or London but is the manifestation of local anti-Christian hatred.
Pagan attacks on Christian and above all Catholic symbols and churches are nothing new. What the secular press would rather not say is that Christians are the targets of a sustained, if low-level, campaign of physical and spiritual violence: thefts, vandalism, and sacrilege. That this is so is very clear, talking to Catholics in this part of England, and also to pagan converts to the Faith. Neo-pagans are not all dreamy nature-lovers. It is common for them to harbor a deep antipathy to Christianity.
Read the whole thing.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Archdiocese of Munich in bizarre stunt with monstrance

My latest on LifeSite. 

When I first composed this it wasn't clear whether the host in the monstrance being placed in different locations for photographs was consecrated. Apparently it was not. This is a good, but the stunt is still outrageous. As something which holds the Blessed Sacrament, under the old rules the monstrance should not even be touched by a layman. Under the new ones, it should at least be treated with respect (Canon 1171; GIRM 327). In the FIUV Position Paper on Reception under the Form of Bread Alone, Appendix A is devoted to the subject of the handling of sacred vessels. It was forbidden for laymen to touch them in the very earliest sources of Canon law which we have, and is taken for granted by Gregory of Nazianzen, who died before the end of the 4th century. The Munich website would have shocked the Fathers and Doctors of the Church.

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The Archdiocese of Munich has endorsed a bizarre and sacrilegious website that supposedly celebrates and elaborates the message of Corpus Christi. The creators, two “pastoral advisers,” Michael Raz and Johannes van Kruijsbergen, explain (translated from German by Google):
This festival is about showing people on the spot that God is in the middle of us, in the middle of the world, at all times. The idea arose to photograph the monstrance, i.e. this vessel for showing the body of Christ, in different places of everyday life. The oral project received broad approval from the other sixty or so pastors.
And so we have photographs of a monstrance in a playground, on a roadside bench, on a pedestrian crossing, in a car, next to a building site, on a water feature in a park, and so on, with supremely un-memorable little texts to accompany each one: how our lives are bit like a building site or whatever.
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Saturday, June 13, 2020

Western Civilisation has got to go!

My latest on LifeSite.

A lot of academic subjects have been infected with political correctness. Today, we are seeing on the streets and in the newsrooms some of the consequences. 
Not only are activists defacing and toppling statues of the kinds of people their university lecturers dismissed as “dead white males,” but they are being defended by journalists and politicians. 
The defacement of the statue of the man who, more than anyone else in Europe, opposed Fascism, Winston Churchill, and the memorial of the men and women who died in their tens of thousands for this cause, the Cenotaph in London, is not about opposing “racism” and “fascism.” It is about denigrating and removing from public view manifestations of the “Western Civilisation” that has been denigrated and reviled, especially in second-rate academic institutions, for the last 30 years.
Some academic disciplines have fared better than others. One of the least affected, Classics, is now under sustained attack by people who regard the whole idea of the study of ancient Greece and Rome as intrinsically problematic. I don’t think this is primarily about the colour of ancient Romans’ skins, and efforts by trendy Classicists like Dr. Mary Beard to point out (correctly) that ancient Rome was ethnically diverse, and that a black officer in Roman Britain was perfectly possible, will not be enough to get the activists off their backs. 
Read the whole thing.

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Thursday, June 11, 2020

J.K. Rowling faces down the mob

My latest on LifeSite

I’m not a great fan of J.K. Rowling. I regard her as overrated as an author of children’s books, and her forays into adult fiction have, by all accounts, been less successful. I don’t object in principle to magic playing a role in fiction (many great Catholic writers used it), but the Harry Potter series ends with a strange apologia for the culture of death. Watching her 2016 film, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, ended any lingering doubts. A triumph of computer-generated special effects, the plot is an attack on religion, at both obvious and subtle levels: something for another post perhaps. I came away thinking that with this film, and of course her notorious post-mortem outing of her fictional character Dumbledore as a homosexual in 2007, fame and fortune had seized her for their own. She had decided to maximize her sales by serving the progressive fashions of the day. From now on, we can expect the kind of material Hollywood will instinctively love.
It is all the more surprising, then, to see her emerge as a champion of the rights of women, in defiance of the trans lobby. She has generated a few Twitter storms already and has now written an essay setting out her position in some detail. She has been ritually denounced by actors who played leading roles in her films, and, as she must realize, she is risking a lot of future revenue, as well as death threats, by leaving the winding but brightly-lit path of wokery. However she is already extremely wealthy, and has an immense fan base, so her vulnerability to the lynch mob is unusually low for a celebrity. This is of considerable significance, because people who defy the Jacobins of our age usually disappear from public view, if they refuse to back down. Rowling is not going anywhere.

Read the whole thing.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Guild of St Clare sponsorship for RSN Embroidery Certificate

Crewel work completed by our first sponsored
student, James Sharpe
Cross-posted from the Guild of St Clare blog.

In 2019 the Guild of St Clare made the first award under its Sponsorship Scheme to help a student through the Certificate Course at the Royal School of Needlework. Our sponsored student has made good progress, and as he enters his second year of part-time study, we can start sponsoring a second.

The deadline is 22nd June.

The RSN Certificate Course takes between one and four years, depending on how intensively students wish to do it. Its great flexibility makes it ideal for those who can only spare limited time, or whose availability fluctuates over the year. The Certificate gives its graduates a thorough grounding in a range of traditional hand-embroidery skills, skills for which the RSN is renowned, and which its experts apply to historic restoration projects and important commissions.

Sponsored students will be able to reclaim half the cost of their tuition days, up to a maximum of £2,000 a year (September 1st to September 1st), subject to satisfactory progress in the Certificate course, and their attendance at least one of the Guild’s two annual Sewing Retreats. Students at the RSN have to pay for tuition days when they book them; they would be reimbursed at that point. Progress will be monitored by reference to the successful completion of each module, and the reports which are provided by RSN tutors on each piece of work.

More information, and how to apply, can be found here.
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