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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Anglocatholicism - there is hope in thine end..., 5 Jun. 2010
This review is from: Lift High the Cross: The High Noon of the Anglo-Catholic Movement, 1919-1950 (Paperback)
Of recent chronicles of the rise and fall of Anglo-Catholicism John Gunstone's congress history is most hopeful. It ends with an indulgent image from John Betjeman but is throughout concerned to draw the reader's attention to solid Christian truth.

Betjeman's poem `Anglo-Catholic Congresses' declares: `The bells and banners - those were the waking days when the Faith was taught and fanned in a golden blaze'. The waking up to ritual caught attention easily. The waking up to the church as a divine society extending the incarnation and establishing justice for the poor in anticipation of God's kingdom is by contrast an ongoing and costly arousal.

It is fascinating to read how the Anglo-Catholic Congresses were born a century ago out of a perceived apologetical challenge that sounds quite contemporary. For Richard Dawkins read Bertrand Russell! The credibility of Christian faith is as much an issue now as then. The catholic religion practiced by Anglicans speaks to this challenge through adherents who put flesh onto their words to demonstrate their truth. Where are the successors of Bishop Weston of Zanzibar or Fr Jellicoe minister of the Kings Cross slum clearance? They can be found in what remains of the catholic Anglican tradition.

Congress contributor Bishop Kenneth Kirk saw five truths the nineteenth century Oxford Movement had recovered for the Church of England. These were sacramental vision, social mission, personal holiness, pastoral authority and the spiritual independence of the church. Kirk claimed there was much ground to be made up on the last two and this seems evident 70 years on as ethical conflicts unravel Anglicanism. Chesterton, who flirted with Anglo-Catholicism en route to Roman Catholicism, complained justly about the Church of England of his day: `We do not want, as the newspapers say, a Church that will move with the world. We want a Church that will move the world'.

John Gunstone is a writer concerned for spiritual and theological renewal. This is no dry history. It brings out how the early Anglo-Catholics had a strong mystical element. Writers like Evelyn Underhill would be dismayed at the severance between the mystical and the sacramental that seems to abound in the church today. The ascendant evangelical and pentecostal streams in today's Anglicanism seem to be turned away from the sacraments. A rigidity and lack of charity among the Congress succession has played a part here, perhaps in response to the confusing impact of liturgical change and the divisive repercussions from attempts to make women and homosexuals more up front in the church today.

`Lift High the Cross' is an easier read than its size and historical chronicle might appear to offer. It provides many gems of wisdom for today's church. I liked part of the Curate of St Barnabas, Pimlico's, Father Rawlinson's address to the 1921 Convention: `The longer I live the more convinced I am that sins are not conquered; they are crowded out. The energies are directed into a fresh channel. The disappearance of sin and the growth of the interior life are not successive but parallel movements'.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still a work still on progress, 13 Dec. 2011
Mr. D. P. Jay (UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Lift High the Cross: The High Noon of the Anglo-Catholic Movement, 1919-1950 (Paperback)
I love histories of the Anglo-catholic movement because it is like reading about my own family.

Dean Inge said that the movement was chiefly supported by women of limited intelligence.... `The seeds of decay are...'present in it.'

There was much criticism of those who went to Anglo-Catholic churches for the ceremonial but didn't undertake the discipline. Only a minority went to confession and it was suggested that this sort of religion was dangerous without confession and fasting. The author controversially claims that the seeds of the movement have been sown diffusely across the Church of England (most cathedrals use vestments and have reservation and a daily celebration - but they don't teach the discipline.) That is why the Catholic movement is still a work still on progress

There were calls for a stricter baptism policy, reminders that redemption is corporate as well as individual, so Christian laymen should belong to a trade union as well as helping their vicar, A churchwarden who rents out slum property has not seen the connection between the faith and ethics and masses are idolatrous and sinful where there is no passion for social justice. There were calls for a controlled form of capitalism - still relevant in this time of economic turmoil.

The English Church Union sought legal means to stop bishops censuring the rituals we now take for granted such as the mixed chalice but they did not fight for Benediction because they knew they would lose. It was also encouraged to oppose the used of child labour in Africa. They didn't want to involve diocesan bishops in their rallies because they'd ban Benediction (which is still the case in some dioceses now.)

Then, as now, religious communities such as CR and SSM were divided on the issue of supporting the congresses and of being seen as `arty' communities. Retreats for individuals were criticised for addressing everyone as if they had the same needs. Pilgrimages were undertaken as luxury for middle class who could afford them and coaches meant they weren't arduous.

One mistake was an obsession with ceremonial which gives the impression of Anglo-Catholicism being a little sect within Anglicanism. Why not celebrate a simple sung mass as on continent? (Perhaps because continental Roman Catholics didn't have to prove that they were Catholics.)

As with the current legal hearing against the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament giving funds to the Ordinariate, it was criticised for increasing number of meetings Catholics were expected to attend and for competing with other societies for financial support in the 1920s

The chapter on Prayer Book revision explains why still, today alternatives have to be voted on by PCCs. I was surprised to learn that a liturgy in contemporary language was published as far back as the early 1920s. I was not surprised that few bishops knew much about liturgy.

As today, conversion to Rome was a two way traffic. Many priests returned because they didn't like authoritarian bishops.

Then, as now, Christian Socialists were wary of affiliation to Labour Party

One abiding memory is the description of three children going to a prayer vigil as `smutty little Catholics'. It reminds me of a street procession of the Blessed Sacrament in the 1970s to All Souls' Leeds, where a women invited `the street urchins' who had followed us to come inside and kneel at the back of the church to watch Jesus in the monstrance.
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