Thursday, December 03, 2020

Sticker wars in Oxford and Edinburgh

My latest on LifeSite.

After a pause due to everyone being confined to their homes due to the coronavirus, the war of the fly-posted stickers is hotting up. In Edinburgh, someone has posted stickers on street furniture saying, “Seahorses ARE horses. Hotdogs ARE dogs. There is no debate. #WarOnWomen.” Another says, “I © JK Rowling.” Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series of children’s books, has been attacked for not supporting the trans agenda.

I have seen similar stickers in the streets of Oxford. What the reports tend not to say is that this is a conflict of two sides. Certainly in Oxford, stickers asserting the existence of women (“Woman: noun. Adult human female”) are a response to a long sticker and graffiti campaign by trans activists. Last October, I captured images in Oxford of stickers saying “Oxford [heart] our trans sisters” and spray-painted “Trans happiness is real.” Posting stickers is a form of vandalism and is illegal, as is graffiti, but although the perpetrator was boasting about it on Facebook, where full personal details could be viewed, the local police had better things to do than enforce the law in this case. When someone started posting stickers from an alternative point of view, the reaction was very different.

Seeing lamp posts, poles carrying street signs, parking-ticket machines, benches, post boxes and so on covered in stickers, some partially torn off by irritated humans or the effects of the weather, contributes to an impression of lawlessness and neglect. Along with litter from fast-food outlets blowing about the gutters and homeless people sitting in doorways, central Oxford, which is of course a World Heritage Site, can look pretty slummy. Perhaps the police really do have more pressing priorities, but it doesn’t take much imagination to anticipate the consequences of allowing one side in the most contentious cultural issue of the day to have the run of public spaces for their propaganda, in a city full of students. Yes, someone is going to go into competition.

Read the whole thing.

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Wednesday, December 02, 2020

LMS Launches the Iota Unum podcast series

Another image from the Bedford Pilgrimage

You can now listen to the first ever LMS Podcast, an interview by me of Matthew Ward, the Director of Music at Mayfield and a leading exponent of Gregorian Chant, on Chant and Prayer.

You can find our podcasts on Podbean here.

There are some older recordings on the channel, the talks from a conference the LMS hosted a few years ago, but the interview with Matthew is the first of a new series. 

These are a continuation of the Iota Unam talks in London by other means - these talks have been impossible since early this year due to the Coronavirus. Queeezing forty people into a church basement to hear a talk and to chat and drink wine is about as far from Covid-safe as it is possible to imagine, so when we will be able to get back to that format I do not know. This is sad as the talks served an important social function for those who attended, quite apart from the content of the talk.

To salvage something from this initiative, including some of the people who had already agreed to give talks, we are doing these podcasts. Our guests are not all household names but we are talking about issues of interest and importance to Traditional Catholics in navigating modern life and the Church, and I hope they reach a large audience.

They will be published on successive Tuesdays in Advent. Coming up are discussions with Maria Madise, John Rao, Daniel Dolley, and Jules Gomez.

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Saturday, November 28, 2020

David Starkey attacks the Real Presence

The 'commixtum': High Mass for the LMS Pilgrimage
to Our Lady of Guadaloupe at Bedford

Having been “cancelled” by various charities and academic institutions for racism, David Starkey has taken to a new, British, anti-woke magazine, The Critic, to snipe against the “trans” phenomenon, as the champion of common sense against the “experts”. How does he do this? By comparing gender ideology to Catholicism.

In case anyone of intellectual self-respect was inclined to feel sorry for Starkey, allow me to fisk this strange article for you. The idea, you see, is that when transsexuals tell us that they can change sex just by saying so, so the Church says that the bread and wine is changed into the Body and Blood of Christ just by a priest saying some words. This is terribly neat because Starkey can then say that trans ideology is taking us “back to the Middle Ages”.

Monday, November 23, 2020

The new normal

Viewing Mass through the window at the back of SS Gregory & Augustine, in Oxford

Some people are excited about a post-Covid future, since the epidemic and government responses to it have had some good results, such as cleaner air, and have speeded up some processes they regard as positive, such as a move of economic activity online. For the World Economic Forum, which may perhaps be beginning to regret popularizing the phrase “the Great Reset” (too late now), a bright future beckons. All we need to do is “adapt”. Well, I don’t mind if some tedious and pointless meetings in the future take place online, and if that means that some people take fewer long-haul flights, that’s great. But I’m not sure they have really thought about the cost.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Ecumenical martyrs: Letter in The Tablet

I'm sorry to say that The Tablet are back to their old trick of removing the key section from my letters. They can publish what they want, of course, but it's not an honest way of hosting a discussion. 

Here is my full letter, with the bits not published in bold. On the egregious Stephen College, see his Wikipedia entry.



John Mulholland (Letters 7th Nov) regrets the lack of a memorial to both Catholic and Protestant ‘martyrs’ in our cathedrals. Having lived with such a monument in Oxford’s University Church for some years now, I cannot agree.


As well as obvious candidates like Cranmer, Latimer, and Ridley and a number of canonised Catholics, this large and expensive memorial lists Catholics who took up arms in the local version of the Prayer Book Rebellion in 1549, who were executed by Cranmer’s regime, Archbishop Laud, executed by Protestant zealots, and Stephen College, a co-conspirator with Titus Oates, executed by the spiritual heirs of Laud.


I think College’s name alone renders this memorial deeply embarrassing, not to say insulting, but the alternating rounds of persecution it recalls raises deeper questions. Do we really want to say that the persecutors of the Prayer Book rebels, or of later Protestant non-conformists, or of High Churchmen, were sanctified simply by the fact that the wind changed direction and the law caught up with them?


It is surely a good principle that people should not be commemorated together who would not wish to be. Putting Thomas Cranmer alongside Edmund Campion may make us feel virtuous, but it is an historical falsehood. As Mgr Ronald Knox pointed out, ‘Each of them died in the belief that he was bearing witness to the truth; and if you accept both testimonies indiscriminately, then you are making nonsense of them both.’


Yours faithfully,


Joseph Shaw

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Wednesday, November 04, 2020

Gregorius Magnus, magazine of the FIUV: new edition available

Want a break from the US election?

You can read a good dal about the response of the Foederatio Internationalis Una Voce (FIUV) to the survey of the world's bishops on the Traditional Mass carried out by the CDF earlier this year in the newly published magazine of the FIUV: Gregorius Magnus 10.

Having recently returned from Rome, I can say from multiple sources that what the bishops have said about the EF in their dioceses is not all negative by any means, and no one seems to expect any bad outcomes from this survey. Nevertheless, the FIUV has also presented the CDF with a report, covering 364 dioceses from 52 countries, of the experiences of the traditional faithful, whether in enjoying the Traditional Mass or merely asking for it, to supplement the perspective of the world's bishops.

Gregorius Magnus also has much else of interest which I hope readers will appreciate, including extracts from traditional Catholic magazines from around the world, some published in English for the first time.

It is now available as a pdf here.

For the first time, and thanks to sponsorship by the Latin Mass Society, it is also available to read on ISSUU, which optimises the content for display on mobile devices. You can download the app, or look at it on the web.

Direct link to Gregorius Magnus 10 on ISSUU here.

Link to Gregorius Magnus on ISSUU with the last three editions here.

Monday, November 02, 2020

Coronavirus restrictions and Mass-going

A be-masked Supply of Ceremonies Omitted in the Private Baptism
in Oxford last weekend.

A lot of people are very upset about the obligation to wear masks, particularly in church. Certainly, there is something a bit weird and oppressive about being obliged, nor for any religious or symbolic reason—for example as a sign of mourning—to cover one’s face, and to see everyone around one doing the same. I can’t say I’m happy about my four-month old baby not being able to see me smiling at her during Mass.

Perhaps the public health arguments in favor of masks are justified, and perhaps they are not. I’m not qualified to take a view on that, but equally I’m not one to insist on the most stringent interpretation of the rules where there is room for maneuvre.

What I determined to do, however, is to make the most of what freedom there is to maintain my own sacramental life, and to help others to do the same. The Latin Mass Society is organizing and facilitating events to the maximum amount allowed. Most parishes and dioceses are doing the same. If the Government says something is allowed, after all, then it is allowed.