Agood deal has been written about the roots of the financial crisis but not many people have been ready to face fundamental problems about the role of money in our society. In Decoding Mammon (Wilf and Stock) Peter Dominy argues that despite the fact that it has enabled economic development, money is a flawed instrument, created by fallen human beings to suit the interests of those in power rather than of people in general. He argues that money should only be allowed to operate with severe restrictions.
Rectories have played their part in English literature and been celebrated by those who grew up in them and those who lived in them, including those who bought them when they ceased to be the official rectory and became ‘old rectories’. Vikram Seth lives in the rectory at Bemerton that was once home to George The Oxford Movement: Europe and the Wider World 1830 -1930 Stewart J Brown and Peter Nockles (eds) CUP, hb, £60.00
According to the editors this is the first volume to examine the wider influence of the Oxford Movement since Northern Catholicism, edited by NP Williams and C Harris, appeared in 1933. This is certainly an important book that casts a good deal of new light on its subject although, as the editors recognise, there are significant gaps in the areas covered. To some extent these gaps are explained by the book’s origins in a conference held at Pusey House, Oxford, in 2008. Such conferences are always limited by the availability of speakers.
Perhaps the two most significant gaps are the absence of a study of the impact of the Oxford Movement on Anglican missionary work or of the influence it had in Scandinavia, particularly in Sweden. Canada is also ignored and little is said about Herbert; John Betjeman bought and loved the old rectory at Farnham; and the Old Vicarage at Grantchester exerted a strong appeal for Rupert Brooke. In The Wr y Romance of the Literary Rectory (Thames and Hudson) Deborah AlunJones tells the story of a number of enchanted homes that have attracted and inspired writers down the years.
In Unconditional (Hodder and Stoughton) Justin Lee writes in an autobiographical way in an attempt to bridge divisions on the gay issue. His book is commended by Tony Campolo (‘this book is crucial for the destiny of the church’) and Rowan Williams (‘What makes this book different is that it is not essentially about arguing a case but about bridging the gaps in understanding and sympathy that have distorted or muffled the overwhelming miracle of God’s gifts in Christ and in Scripture’). Highly recommended.
Simon Holden CR is well known in the Church of England from his work as a chaplain at London University and from his ministry as a retreat leader and spiritual director. Mir field Publications have produced a short book by him, Ways of Loving, New Zealand. In compensation for these omissions some subjects are covered which have not been discussed in standard accounts of Tractarianism.
There are chapters on the reception of the Oxford Movement in Germany, Belgium and France. In the case of Belgium Jan de Meyer and Karel Strobbe are forthright in condemning a missed opportunity by ultramontane Roman Catholics to appreciate the richness and significance of the Movement. Steward Brown demonstrates the Movement’s influence on the Church of Scotland.
Looking at the overall impact of the Oxford Movement it is possible to identify a number of trends. One important consequence was to give a new emphasis in ecumenism. Before 1830 members of the Church of England looked chiefly to Protestant Churches in Europe; by 1840, as Nigel Yates points out, high Anglicans were looking elsewhere towards the Old Catholics in Holland or towards the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox. Cultural and theological divisions remained and the Dutch Old Catholics were not to accept Anglican orders for 100 years but a change a short pamphlet, Ways of Praying, and series of six picture meditations that will appeal to all who have known Fr Holden and to many others who have never met him.
The Fresh Expressions movement has provoked criticism as well as enthusiasm. Some have argued that it gives too much weight to consumer choice and is only concerned with church growth, not with promoting justice. Fresh Expressions of Church and the Kingdom of God (Canterbury) contains essays by Rowan Williams, Graham Cray, Sam Wells and others that consider criticisms made against Fresh Expressions.
Canterbury Press has also published 101 Great Ideas for Growing Healthy Churches. It is a collection of ideas from people in different walks of life to improve church life. Contributors include Richard Dannat, John Sentamu, John Pritchard, and John Adair.
Lent is looming up on the horizon and many people will be wondering about a Lent book. In Friends, Foes and Families (SPCK) Judith Dimond reflects on biblical characters and relationships to find a repeated pattern of wilderness, death and resurrection. was set in motion. As Yates concludes: “The legacy of the Oxford Movement eventually helped to underpin and strengthen Anglican engagement in Europe and the wider world.”
In English-speaking countries the Oxford Movement is usually thought to have been attractive because it gave Anglicans a sense of identity in situations where they could not depend upon links with the state. Authority flowed from the apostolic succession and continuity with the early church, not from association with the crown. As a result, we see Australian bishops having the confidence to meet together and make doctrinal pronouncements.
But while largely true this picture needs some qualification. The Episcopal Church in Scotland grew in numbers and in confidence in the 19th Century but Brown argues much of this growth came from immigrants from Northern Ireland and England who were often evangelical in belief and this led to some tensions. In the US, Peter Nockles suggests, without the influence of the Oxford Movement, the high church cause might have made smoother progress and been better adapted to local politics and culture.
The Episcopal Church is an interesting case because it was said by one observer to need the Oxford Movement less than the Church of England. Tractarians were encouraged by what they saw when they looked across the Atlantic until they examined the American situation more closely. When they did this, they concluded that democratic fervour had led to bishops with little real power and began to harbour doubts about American commitment to doctrinal orthodoxy in the face of secular pressures.
Dean Hook detected among Americans a tendency ‘to yield to the prevailing patterns of the age’ – a criticism that has often been made about American religion and not just about Episcopalians.
A theme that does come through very strongly in this book is the diversity of views among Anglo-Catholics. Henry Manning was an enthusiast for the Empire and not at first opposed to the Jerusalem bishopric scheme; the Society of the Holy Cross did not welcome recognition of Old Catholic rebels against Rome; Australia and America yielded fewer converts to Rome than England. Divisions in AngloCatholicism go back to the early days of the movement.