Tack­ling mam­mon

The Church of England - - ENGLAND ON SUNDAY - Ox­ford Move­ment an­a­lysed

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.

Paul Richard­son

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