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views, reviews and previews

THE FIRST GEORGIANS

Art and Monarchy 1714-60

The Queen’s Gallery

11 April-12 October

Admission £9.75, concessions available

It was one of the triumphs of Queen Victorias image makers that they played down the Germans. Not so much Albert but Victoria’s own German background. This exhibition brings us the first Germans and even Doctor Lucy Worsley struggles to make them charming or active. This show opens with the family portraits — they couldn’t help what they looked like but they are off-putting — and then gives us the campaign maps of William Augustus, second son of George II, better known after the Battle of Culloden as `Butcher Cumberland: The maps are an interesting illustration of how small the forces involved in the ’15 and ’45 were twice the number were killed at the Towton, the great battle of the Wars of the Roses, than took part at Culloden. Cumberland himself comes across as a limited and dull man. The tactful notices — and there is no reason why they should be too direct about Her Majesty’s ancestors — can only say that his tactics were often criticized even though he was himself personally brave. In fact, on the Continent the French regularly defeated him. Compared to such great predecessors as Cromwell and John Churchill or the later Wellington he was a very ordinary soldier. He retired from the army to race horses.

Next in the show we have some Hogarth prints, fine in themselves but you can see the paintings at the National Gallery or Tate Britain. Visitors who are not that close to the Royal Family might at this point be tempted to give up but in the main picture gallery there is a change of quality and tempo. Ignore the dull Battle of Agincourt, hold off from the Virgin and Child with St John (workshop of Andrea Del Sarto), but turn to Hals’ Portrait of a Gentleman, and Van Dyck’s powerful and affecting Thomas Killigrew and ? Lord Crofts. The Hals is standard in subject matter — a cheery middle-aged man, well-off, dressed in black with white ruff against grey background. But the quality of the brushwork which gives life and vigour and a restrained dynamism are wonderful. Hogarth might have complained about all the foreign artists and styles patronized under the first Georges but he is in the same tradition as Hals.

The Van Dyck — another foreign artist, for this is not a UKIP show — is one of the great paintings of the seventeenth century. The sad and sensitive men with long hair, billowing black and white mourning robes, and long noses (for looking down), are the epitome of the wrong but Romantic Cavaliers. Killigrew was a man of the theatre as well as a devoted servant of the Stuarts. We cannot know how staged the picture is but it is a defining image of its age.

We should also be grateful that the Hanoverians collected works of the German Holbein the Younger and two fine paintings are on display. One of them is of Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk, and Holbein has painted the kind of man who makes you glad you don’t live in the court of Henry VIII.

There is the standard fare of the collectors of the day Claude (good), Poussin (not so good), and a sprinkling of third rate Italians. Guido Reni’s Cleopatra with the Asp is not third rate and though it is not as moving as the Killigrew portrait, the painter seized the chance to set beautiful pink silks and white fabrics against a great deal of uncovered flesh.

There then follows much porcelain — including a splendid Chelsea-ware pin case in the shape of an asparagus spear —and dinner table gilt and some good, solid furniture of the time — no age did dolphins better. The final room contains more royal portraits but also a double view by Canaletto from the Thames Embankment looking up river to Westminster and down to the City. They are well-made panoramas and more accurate than, for example, his version of Eton College in the National Gallery.

Finally in this section there is Hogarth’s portrait of Thomas Garrick with his wife, the very pretty Austrian dancer Eva-Marie Veigel. They are labelled the celebrity couple of the age, and as today, celebrities and the monarchy helped one another. Hogarth’s painting captures the liveliness of the couple. The arm of Mrs Garrick is clumsily shown around her husband’s wig and the perspective on his desklooks as though it has been left to the studio. But there is no doubt in the context of this show, and of the dutiful royal portraits across the room, the Garricks represent a shift that had taken place — the monarch is no longer where it is at.

The exhibition catalogue on the Palace website is as always a model for clarity and information.

Owen Higgs

RETHINKING FUNDAMENTAL THEOLOGY

Gerard O’Collins

OUP, 384pp, pbk

978 019%73988, £18.99

I must modestly disclaim any right to review this book at all, as I am not even an amateur theologian. I suppose there must be those theologians that are characterized in this book as knowing what questions to ask because they are quite certain that they know what the answers are. At least I can say that I am not one of those — and certainly not one of those that must be ruled out as any sort of serious enquirers because they are `unconverted’ and think it possible to view the faith without sharing in it.

Their view, being objective; is therefore invalid. For theology is properly an attempt to enter into a personal relationship with God. For the Christian, of course, that means relationship with the `tripersonal’ God, who is seeking to reveal himself to us, not simply through inerrant Scripture but also by Tradition; and not to Christians only but also to people of other faiths who have seen at least something of his light.

Whenever we realize that `God’s other people’ are loved by him and seeking to enter into this sort of mutual relationship of love, service and praise, we are slowly and tentatively — but surely — moving towards the sort of society that the Holy Spirit is nudging us towards. I recall C.S. Lewis asking, Is it not frightfully unfair that this new life should be confined to people who have heard of Christ and been able to believe in him? But the truth is God has not told us what his arrangements about the other people are. We do know that no man can be saved except through Christ. We do not know that only those who know him can be saved through him: He points out that we would be perverse to refuse to believe in God until he does tell us.

O’Collins is one theologian that does wish to help to get theologians thinking prayerfully as well as philosophically. Far from reading only a few who agree with him, he quotes copiously from a]1 sorts of sources: Protestants like Luther and Calvin and, not unnaturally, the great Catholics such as Augustine and Aquinas. To follow him through all his multifarious authors would be a labour well worth undertaking but daunting in the extreme.

The title of this book suggests a God revealing himself to us both in the Jewish and in the early Christian editors and writers — i.e. fundamental theology. Some say that all that we have is Holy Scripture, a collection of inspired writings. It is the task, for one thing, of theologians to inquire how they came to be written, by whom, and how we should understand them, not to mention what we mean by `inspired’. The truths of God’s self-revelation are indeed in Scripture, but not only there. In the history of the early Church we may discover how the Apostles and other early Christians regarded Jesus, his works and his teaching. This is not Scripture but Tradition and in the post-

Apostolic period continued to develop under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. It would be pointless to stick to what can be ‘proved’ by reference to the letter of the Bible truths and not to honour the work of philosophical theologians — and, of course, the insights of Christian mystics and the examples of numberless Christian men and women in their daily living.

As might be expected, even these truths are capable of leading us astray. When we assert that the Holy Spirit is leading us forward it appears that he is leading some in one direction and others in an opposite one. How to decide between them? It must surely be in the light of both Scripture and Tradition, i.e. orthodoxy and obedience. I do not think I can add much to this, except to assure readers that I have touched upon very few of the many matters giving enlightenment in this work of massive scholarship, faith and love. Among many areas of illumination I have found in it is the explication of the structure of St John’s Gospel. This has opened my eyes to truths I had not seen quite so clearly before.

About one thing I should like to enter a possibly dissenting view. It is about the founding of the Church. O’Collins takes this to date from Pentecost, as do many other commentators. But it has also been suggested that it actually took place when the risen Christ breathed on his disciples and gave them the power to bind and loose. Geoffrey Ainsworth Williams, in his book A Stranger in Jerusalem, held that this is what makes them ‘a living organism… To this body was given an authority which only God can give’; and he describes this as ‘the breath of sanctification as distinct from the breath of life as recorded in Genesis’ (but a parallel of that too). The presence of the Holy Spirit to the whole body of Christians is recorded in the account of the events of Pentecost, but this distinctive authority is given to the Apostles at Eastertide in the Upper Room.

If this is a correct understanding it appears to me to give to the Apostolic Church a standing in the Tradition in line with the understanding of O’Collins.

Dewi Hopkins

CHANNELS OF PRAYER

Praying with Sacred Objects, Structures and Symbols

Innocent Chibueze Ezeonyeasi

St Pauls, 96pp, pbk

978 0854398560, £7.99

When I was a young and pious altar server, I collected servers manuals with a dedication which bordered on the pathological. This book therefore struck a delightful chord: it is not a manual for servers as such (being wider in scope and intended readership), but it does share many of the characteristics of such manuals. It is no surprise that the author, a Nigerian priest currently working in the Nigerian Catholic Chaplaincy for England & Wales, has a handbook for servers among his previously published titles.

Channels of Prayer arose from Pope BenedictXV1’s address to young people outside Westminster Cathedral during the Papal Visit of 2010, and is designed to offer a `theology and spirituality that matches our mobile world,’ and in particular to make the objects, structures and symbols of the Church attractive and interesting to a younger generation whose knowledge of such things can no longer be taken for granted, even among those brought up in the faith. In practice, however, all Christian people would benefit from reading this book, such is the simple and attractive style in which it is set out. Having been read through, it would subsequently serve very well as a reference work for those preparing for confirmation classes or indeed any form of Catholic education.

Fr Ezeonyeasi encourages his readers to connect to God through sacred structures, sacred vessels, sacred clothes, vestments, liturgical colours, and sacred symbols. Within each category, a page (occasionally more) is dedicated to each specific entry: The Purificator, The Corporal, The Crozier, The Chasuble, The Sedilia, The Confessional, The Lamb, and so on. Each page begins with a clear and simple definition of what the subject actually is, and where the name of it derives from (Alb is the shortened form of the Latin phrase tunica alba, which means “white tunic”‘). After a more detailed explanation, each entry concludes with a suitable prayer and an `inner voice’ that asks questions of the reader relating to the subject matter. (What are your reactions toward correction? The pastoral staff is for restraining and guiding…’). These are thought-provoking and sometimes inspiring, and once again everyone who aspires to good discipleship would benefit from reading and considering them. Each page is decorated with a black and white line drawing of the object or symbol under discussion. What makes Channels of Prayer unusually satisfying is that all of this is rooted explicitly in the and teaching of the Church, with frequent references to Holy Scripture and the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, The author takes as his guiding light the instruction of Sacrosanctum Concitium to uphold and encourage the liturgical instruction of the faithful and also their active participation, internal and external, taking into account their age, condition, way of life and standard of religious culture’. So Fr Ezeonyeasi argues that his book `contributes to an all-important responsibility the church has in providing Christian education. He is right. Channels of Prayer is a manual and a reference book; but it is also much more than that. Through the depth of its learning and the simplicity of its presentation, it is also an attractive work of theology that all would do well to read. Thoroughly recommended.

Luke Briers

FORGETFUL HEART

Remembering God in a Distracted World

Lucy Milts

Darton, Longman Sc. Todd, 176pp, pbk

978 0232530711, £9.99

`It’s not just an age thing. Not for everyone. From my teens I’ve been climbing the stairs and then wondering why I went up in the first place: This first sentence of Lucy Mills captures, as she goes on to say, the consequences of a creative albeit cluttered mind. Forgetfulness additionally has moral and spiritual elements and the writer weaves her book skilfully around these.

Like the seedlings in Jesus’ parable that got choked by thorny ground, the distractions we encounter crowd in, entangle and `choke out our abilities to grow in our faith and remember what we have learned about Cod’. Worry, stress and fear link to this spiritual forgetfulness. So does our need to seek approval from any other than the Lord. Mills chronicles the things that are energy-draining in life such as a chronic tiredness built from refusal to see rest as something constructive.

This analysis moves to a scriptural exposition of the forgetfulness of God’s people concerning his loving provision for them, and its consequences. The story of Josiah, who followed such forgetful Kings and brought the people to remember God, and the psalms of the exile provide us with a wake-up call. If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand wither’ (Psalm 137.5).

The God who remembers is the good news pervading this book, the God who comes to us in Jesus. In the books latter part there is a fruitful playing upon images of forgetfulness and remembrance. Jesus points out the things the people had forgotten; he would tell them of a God who did not forget. He hung out with those forgotten…and dismissed: Scripture, Eucharist, the Holy Spirit in the fellowship of believers all help our recall of what is meant to be primary to us as Christians. They help us engage with God’s grace which overcomes the memory makers of worry and fear’. Memory is selective. Lucy Mills ends each chapter with questions along the lines are you selecting the right things to remember?’ Her chapter on compassion fatigue ends by asking `what things have we chosen to ignore because they’re just too hard to face? What would you like to be remembered for? What do you wish your obituary will say?’ The book is enriched by the questioning of its reader at regular intervals, challenges that build from the personal testimony and biblical reflection of the author.

Forgetful Heart ends by inviting the reader to `remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead’ (2 Timothy 2.8a) whose Spirit `helps us remember who we are…transforms and reshapes us, illuminating the false memories we accumulate in this broken world. This inspiring book includes a free postcard prompting the daily remembrance of God.

John Twisleton

A SLAP IN THE FACE

Why Insults Hurt — And Why They Shouldn’t

Wiliam R Irvine

OUP, 253pp, hbk

978 019993’1154, £14.99

William B. Irvine is Professor of Philosophy at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. His book is not a collection of insults, though it does contain some as examples, a number of which are new to me. It is divided into three parts: The Insult Arsenal’; `Insult Psychology’; and `Dealing with Insults’.

“The Insult Arsenal’ points out that words can be more effective than gestures when it comes to insults. They can be used to insult a single person, on his own, or in front of others, or a whole group of people. Insults can be conveyed by anonymous letters or by backbiting whereby A says something to B about C in the sure and certain knowledge that it will be passed on to C. Insults can be given in subtle ways: addressing Tom, Dick, and Harry and praising Tom and Dick but not Harry is nonetheless an insult, whether or not it is intended. Sarcastic praise that is so excessive that the recipient notices is also an insult.

In contrast, benign insults, for which Irvine has coined the term ‘un-sults’ can bind a group together. However, I would add that there are a few simple rules that should be observed: Those who give it should be prepared to take it: this applies particularly to groups where authority or power are involved. Benign insults are best given orally, face-to-face, so that, if a mistake is made, it can more easily be corrected. Care should be taken not to tease someone in areas in which he is vulnerable: a beautiful woman, for example, who fears she may not be as bright as the other members of a group may be more prepared to be teased about her appearance than her intelligence.

`Insult Psychology’ examines the hurt caused by insults, the type of people who are more likely to be hurt, and why people insult. Insults cause pain and give rise to negative emotions such as anger and hurt feelings. We are social animals and form social hierarchies. Those who insult do so to improve their position in the social hierarchy. We are more hurt if insulted by those closest to us, and more so if we feel the relationship is insecure. Moreover, those with high self-esteem are buffered against the effects of insults while those with low self-esteem are more vulnerable.

`Dealing with Insults’ looks at both our external responses and our internal responses. It is not enough to respond calmly to an insulter if we are boiling up inside. The author recommends the Stoic approach. We should stop playing the social hierarchy game. If we have chosen proper values, insults can do us no real harm. Most people are unhappy because they have chosen the wrong values by which to live.

There are various ways of responding to insults. The simple approaches are to avoid other people, or, at least, those likely to insult us, to capitulate, or to retaliate. There are more subtle ways. One is to dismiss it: `You’ll feel better now you’ve got that out of your system: Another is to make ajoke of it, for example by thanking the insulter along the lines: `Thank you for pointing out that I am fat. My doctor has already warned me that being overweight is bad for my health but it is good of you to give me your advice’.

Irvine recommends the `insult pacifism’ of the Stoics that simply refuses to respond to insults. He adds that it was not only the Stoics that took this approach, quoting the Book of Proverbs: a clever man slighted conceals his feelings’. He relates a story of George Bernard Shaw who published an attack on G.K. Chesterton’s economic views. GKC chose not to reply and, when asked why, stated: `I have answered him. To a man of Shaw’s wit, silence is the one unbearable repartee’.

J Alan Smith

LIVING WORDS

Meaning Underdetermination and the Dynamic Lexicon

Peter Ludlow

OUP, 200pp, hbk

978 0198712053, £25

This a short and often technical analysis of word meanings, a proper piece of philosophy, but one that is clear enough and sufficiently imaginative to engage the interested layman. Indirectly it offers a number of valuable suggestions for theologians, constrained as they now are by the rigid formalism of scientific atheists.

I still remember the first public lecture I gave as a tutor at theological college. As soon as I had finished and the moderator asked for questions, one student, keen for an effective put-down, asked, `Surely, Father, it would have helped if you had begun by defining your terms!’ `If I had done that; I would have replied if I’d thought fast enough, ‘that would have been the end of the lecture. The definitions of the terms are precisely what we searching for:

It is widely recognized that both science and epistemology tend to assume a far more rigid and stable view of the meaning of words than is the case in even the most formal discussion. The truth is we develop our language and our shared meanings as we discuss, not before we begin. As Ludlow puts it, We build micro-languages on the fly’ Or as I used to say to my students as I gained experience, `If you have understood everything I’ve said to you, then I’ve told you nothing’.

That context plays a huge part in setting out the limits and constraints on word definitions, and on which definitions are appropriate and with what degree of precision, all this is commonly accepted. Where Ludlow is valuable is in going much further than everyday experience or subjective terms such as `person. His summary of the changing meaning of the word `rape’ is a clear example; his discussion of the changing definition of the term `planet and how this has affected the classification of Pluto (now, informally, an ex-planet) is for the non-scientist great fun.

The key word that I shall take away from this study is that of `underdetermination’. Our definitions of words, even the most formal, are never fully determined. Our task as scientists is very often to provide the most complete and precise definition we possibly can: the definition in this case is the answer to the question or the solution to the problem, hence the need for maximum coherence and completeness.

The important thing to acknowledge is that our task is not simply to gain ever greater detail and precision. Sometimes — often — as with the word `planet and the object Pluto, we have to unravel what we have lready established and argue against others for a new definition, what L7 If- flow calls `litigation’. Or, in simpler terms, we cannot base our inquiries upon set, agreed definitions of the objects and ideas we are investigating.

What is particularly fascinating is how the notion of underdetermination in words is related to the philosophical problem of overdetermination of causes. That is somewhat beyond this elegant study, which ends on the (important) place of metaphor in science, a helpful reminder that simplistic definition and stable meaning is not the solid foundation for any worthwhile knowledge.

There is no support here for the touchy-feely, mystical mish- mash approach of too much theology, but it is salutary reminder that atheistic literalism is yet more woefully moribund.

Nigel Anthony

THE ARCHITECTURAL WORKS OF A.W.N. PUGIN

A Catalogue

G.J. Hyland

Spire Books, 320pp, hbk

978 1904965473, £35

Few catalogues are as sumptuous as this one. Think National Gallery, not Littlewoods. Spire Books has developed a reputation as a publisher of top quality architectural and ecclesiastical history books. In Pugin, of course, the two fields meet in one remarkable person, so it is perhaps no surprise that Pugin is something of a favourite topic for Spire (Michael Fisher’s beautiful study of Pugin and Lord Shrewsbury; Goihic For Ever’, published by Spire, was reviewed in July 2012’s ND — ed.). In this catalogue, Gerard Hyland (a theoretical physicist by profession!) presents for the first time a catalogue of Pugin’s architectural works, prompted by the bicentenary of the great man’s birth in 2012.

In the foreword, Michael Fisher notes the neglect and condescension which Pugin’s reputation suffered for many years, beginning with the deliberate hostility of John Ruskin (who loved Gothic but hated Catholicism) and continuing with the equivocal opinions of Kenneth Clark, Nikolaus Pevsner, and successive official guidebooks to the Palace of Westminster. It was Phoebe Stanton’s Pugin (1971) that reinvented and revitalized Pugin studies, and since then a large corpus of work has been compiled, including Fr Fisher’s own superlative study. Fisher concludes his foreword by saying of Hyland’s catalogue that it draws together in a single volume all that readers need immediately to know, while the extensive bibliography — comprising over 200 publications — gives directions to those who may wish to pursue matters in greater depth’.

It is not necessary to dissent from that judgement, and in some senses difficult to add to it. This book does exactly what it says on the tin, and does it extremely well. After a brief preface in which Dr Hyland sets out the nature and extent of his subjects work, there is a clear guide to using the catalogue and a chronology of Pugin’s life. The catalogue itself is divided into several sections: Catholic places of worship (by far the longest section, naturally); convents, monasteries and associated chapels and schools; additions to churches and chapels by others; clergy houses (charmingly divided into Episcopal and Parochial!); almshouses and orphanages; educational buildings; buildings for the Church of England and Catholic Apostolic Church; secular buildings; miscellaneous building works;
rebuildings and restorations; fittings, furnishings and decorative schemes. Fulsome appendices include generous background and biographical notes.

If it is true to say that even the list of section headings seems exhaustive (and exhausting), then that is because this is a serious piece of work, designed to be a weighty contribution to the academic world of architecture and ecclesiastical history. Having said that, the sheer quality of the book as a physical object will ensure that it merits a place on the shelves of many people who have no desire to avail themselves of the encyclopedic detail which Hyland has so lovingly gathered and so carefully displays here. Not the least reason for that will be the photographs, the majority in colour, with which the book is beautifully illustrated. So long as the prospective buyer is clear that this book is a catalogue (albeit a very beautiful one) and not a monologue, she should be delighted with her purchase. Axios!

Conrad O’Rïley

2017-10-16T20:27:41+00:00 August 2014 Articles|