until 9th September, 2018
‘You don’t resist Picasso … a woman doesn’t resist Picasso.’ So Marie-Thérèse Walther, Picasso’s muse and mistress from 1927-1935. Picasso left Marie-Thérèse for Dora Maar shortly after Marie-Thérèse gave birth to their daughter Maya. They had never married – it would have cost Picasso too much in French taxes to have divorced his wife Olga Khochlova. Picasso said that the catfight he provoked between Marie-Thérèse and Dora Maar was one of his choicest memories. Marie-Thérèse committed suicide shortly after Picasso’s death.
It is odd that Tate, which promotes justice for women and minorities, should have put on a (highly popular) show which features an artist who cheerfully described and treated its main female character as a doormat. Odd too is the catalogue which steps decorously around Picasso the man, even though the works on show are intensely personal. Maybe the celebrity of artists puts them above the suspicion of abuse. And perhaps having an affair with Picasso was like life in the trenches in World War 1 – not a happy experience but one which made many of those who took part feel intensely alive. Certainly, this show presents some of the finest, most life-enhancing works of Picasso’s middle years.
The early Thirties were a time when Picasso was in danger of becoming a grand old man of the art world. He was very well off, wore English suits and his chauffeur drove an Hispano-Suiza. Partly to put himself back on the modernist map Picasso organised a retrospective of his work for the summer of 1932. The Tate has brought together a number of the earlier works displayed in that retrospective, largely from the Musée Picasso in Paris, and they are some of the highlights of this show.
But alongside those earlier works – and Picasso mixed up the chronology of the hang to ensure he wasn’t pigeon-holed (or understood – the show was a critical flop) – there were new works, primarily of Marie-Thérèse Walther. They are the heart of this show. They deserve to be seen together and their impact is strong.
The Marie-Thérèse portraits were painted over twelve days. Tate helps us see this outburst of creativity in its totality and appreciate it for its rapidity of execution. The paintings are in flat blocks of colour. The picture plane is right up against the canvas. Marie-Thérèse is typically shown asleep, probably post-coital, and presumably dreaming of Picasso the Bull. Indeed, in ‘The Dream’ part of her face has become a penis. It’s no surprise that Picasso’s main dealer at this time refused some of his more gynæcological pictures (Tate is not so squeamish).
But – there is a tenderness in these paintings. The curves are beautiful, stylised, an erotic dream of Marie-Thérèse. Indeed, since Picasso rarely painted from life these works have to be seen as the Marie-Thérèse of his imagination. They are also Picasso’s response to Matisse’s odalisques. In these paintings he copied Matisse’s subject matter of the voluptuous naked woman and Matisse’s stage settings with their hangings and patterned wallpaper. More crudely painted but more finely judged than Matisse’s works, Picasso’s portraits have an energy which is not of the harem. They are sensual and colourful – great slabs of colour, thick black lines, waves of paint moving across the canvas like an octopus (the analogy derives from Picasso’s interest in octopi, and the shunga works of Hokusai). But they’re no more sexy than graffiti on a lavatory wall.
Fortunately, Picasso beautified his sex drive since for all the naughtiness he is first and foremost an artist – paint comes before the erotic. And we can assume Picasso does in a way capture an essence of Marie-Thérèse. That was one of the things he said he tried to do in his art so at one level the cubism or surrealism or the classicism were just the scaffolding for that attempt to portray an essence through markings. The great 1932 paintings take elements of those earlier styles to make a new and very attractive style.
They also honour Marie-Thérèse by taking her seriously. Critics have often treated Marie-Thérèse as a bimbo who went dress-shopping unlike the more serious/neurotic mistresses who stayed at home to discuss art with the Master. But Marie-Thérèse should remind us that for all the artistic seriousness of Picasso’s work and ideas, his motivations were of the earth.
There are other paintings, sculptures, prints and drawings in the show. The landscapes in the rain around Picasso’s house at Boisgeloup are especially charming. The pictures of drowning women less so.
The Armour of Light
The Life of Reverend Doctor Barry Marshall
Lothian Custom Publishing 124pp, hbk.
[Obtained from Book Depository, www.bookdepository.com]
Fr Barry Marshall was the Principal of Pusey House who never was. He arrived in Oxford from Australia in June 1970 to take up his appointment from September. In August he fell from a stepladder and sustained fatal head injuries. He was forty-seven. Under his successor the House suffered financial difficulties and a crisis of identity that almost brought about its closure. A disadvantageous agreement with the University kept it open but in much reduced circumstances. It took several years for it to enter a new phase in which it recovered its confidence and mission. In the oral tradition of the House, it was felt that had Marshall lived history might have been very different.
Marshall was a radical, ‘he dealt in root ideas.’ He was much influenced by the liturgical changes which became fashionable in the years following Vatican II, installing a nave altar and a circle of cushions around it in his chaplaincy. He vigorously opposed infant baptism as a ‘social’ convention rather than a commitment to Christ. He felt similarly about marriage and recommended civil ceremonies for those who wanted a church wedding only for the background photographs but who lacked the necessary Christian commitment. He opposed racial discrimination, was vocal in his opposition to apartheid, chided the church for its historical complicity in slavery: a turbulent priest.
Underlying these radical passions, was his recognition of the materialism and secularisation of society and the inadequacy of the church’s response. Convinced that Christianity had never really been tried and, much concerned with priestly formation and the priestly life, he once wrote, ‘if he is simply and solely a pastor, he degenerates into a domestic chaplain to those who ask for help … it is easy for the church to drift into treating priests in this way. But if he is also a prophet under the Word of God, he is not false. He is a servant of God who is a consuming fire.’ One who read his unpublished doctoral thesis commented that it was ‘academically neither dispassionate, nor non-adversarial.’
Subversively witty, companionable, he ‘mixed fun and solemnity and eschewed pomposity.’ A gift for friendship made lasting impressions, however briefly or sparingly he had met them. One remembered his ‘chirpy voice and laugh, a grace partly studious and mostly boyish. He had the Anglo-Catholic gift of laughing at itself while making a serious point.’ ‘What is the point of this jiggery pokery unless you’re going to do something in the world?’
Before his teens his parents divorced so acrimoniously that they engaged in a five year court battle. In the Outback he had a solitary upbringing, more sheep than people, and was educated by correspondence course. Exceptionally bright, he had an innate sense of responsibility, was an accomplished artist (drawings mainly). He was sent to boarding school where he was influenced by a High-Church master (Keble, Oxford and Christ Church St Lawrence, Sydney). He served in the forces during the War, studied at Trinity College, Melbourne; after ordination joined the Brotherhood of the Good Shepherd (Bush Brothers) and served as Brother Timothy in the remotest part of the Outback to scattered groups, sharing their material privations. His ministry was punctuated by study for a doctorate at Christ Church, Oxford. After a further stint in the Bush, during which he broke his back and punctured a lung in an accident, he was appointed Chaplain to his alma mater. At Trinity College he served what was clearly a charismatic and significant, innovative ministry, engaging fully, strenuously and acerbically in the ecclesial conflicts of the day. It is a credit to the book that while it illustrates his remarkable gifts, it does not shy away from less attractive features of his combative character. He turned down a bishopric but after an exceptionally well-received and vividly remembered chaplaincy, he accepted the invitation from Pusey House. A ministry that was cut off before it began.
This generously illustrated book with its vivid memories of students and friends (remarkable so long after his death) is a welcome tribute. It may have a particular resonance for those who know Australia. A few errors have crept in: he would have been the seventh Principal of Pusey House not the fourth – p. 95: Jabberwocky was written by Lewis Carroll, not C. S. Lewis – p. 44.
He was a fine priest who had achieved much for Christ’s Kingdom in a short time, yet had the potential for so much more, had time and fate allowed.
Barry A. Orford
As Used at St Stephen’s House
Kyle G. McNeil, Ed.
St Stephen’s House, 624 pp, £20.
At the heart of the life of any priest must be prayer, and St Stephen’s House seeks to form those who train there in a disciplined and vital interior life. It is only by being grounded in this work of God that the apostolic work can be sustained, as Bishop Martin Warner reminds us in the preface to this volume. He also points out that, whilst electronic resources can be useful, there is no substitute for the paper and board reality of a book. It’s very specifity locates us in the material world in which God became incarnate. Furthermore, it has the capacity to be moulded by the one who uses it as well as signifying by its location in the church the threshold of sacred encounter which we find there.
The spur to prepare this volume was the arrival of more ordinands than Briggs and Frere psalters. Not only that but sung evensong had become rather complex: there were a number of hymn books in use and a collect card had to be produced each week. This office book, published to bring all this together in a single volume, provides all the material needed to sing morning and evening prayer in their entirety throughout the year to simple plainsong tones. It is a proper sewn volume with five ribbons, printed in two colours on bible paper resulting in a book only 22mm thick. As for the content, the book draws on the rich patrimony of the Anglo-Catholic tradition, bringing together the BCP and modern Roman Catholic office. So together with the Coverdale revised psalter and canticles, proper material is ordered according to the General Calendar with some local saints inserted (Charles, King and Martyr and Edward King, Bishop for example). The Prayer Book forms the backbone of the collects, whilst additional material, such as the antiphons for the Venite and canticles as well as collects for new feasts are rendered in its language and style.
The hymn section draws upon the English Hymnal, English Catholic Hymn Book, Anglican Breviary and other sources to provide English translations of the office hymns that accord with the modern calendar. The daily ferial hymns that reference creation are all there. There are proper hymns for all the major feasts of the church year (and some more minor ones), often with verses that other editors have omitted. A full set of hymns for the common offices completes the selection. There are also some entirely new translations – the hymns that are now provided to be sung in the office of the dead have been rendered into metrical hieratic English along with the proper hymn for the new feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Eternal and Sovereign Priest.
For those not currently at St Stephen’s House, this versatile book can be used in a number of ways. It could be used simply as a hymn book for morning and evening prayer in any setting.. Or, because the antiphons and collects follow the General Calendar, those that use the Divine Office would be able to sing the hymn and gospel canticle with its antiphon at Lauds and Vespers. Or, it can be used its entirety, which allows the singing of the whole office either following the structures found in Common Worship: Daily Prayer, but in traditional language, or that of the Book of Common Prayer. All the details of how to use the book are set out clearly in the editorial introduction. The whole enterprise – the work entirely done by students on a voluntary basis – speaks volumes of the seriousness with which corporate prayer and the development of the interior life at St Stephen’s House are treated.
Copies of The Office: As Used at St Stephen’s House are available to purchase only by emailing email@example.com.
12 Rules for Life
An Antidote to Chaos
Jordan B Peterson
Allen Lane 2018, 403pp, £9.99
How had thinking so simple, clear, direct, deep and traditional found a voice on BBC and gone viral on YouTube? This lay behind my ordering Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson’s new book on how to live your life that I imagined would be in a different league from other self-help books.
I struggled with the individualist focus until I grasped it would be the natural approach of a psychologist, i.e. set your own house in order before you criticise the world (another of Peterson’s rules), and the fact that the book is being marketed as one for self-help. As the author opened up how social activism can be fuelled by grievance more than generosity, I recalled spiritual counsel on holiness as key to fruitful activism; how much you do mattering less than how much love is in the action. Another thing that grated with me was his ‘realism’ about winner-takes-all human achievement and a new take on Matthew 25:29, ‘the Matthew Principle … the harshest statement ever attributed to Christ: “to those who have everything, more will be given; from those who have nothing, everything will be taken.”’ Peterson defends hierarchy in business and elsewhere as something forged by achievement. ‘The order that is most real is the order that is most unchanging – and that is not necessarily the order that is most easily seen. The leaf, when perceived, might blind the observer to the tree. The tree can blind him to the forest. And some things that are most real (such as the ever-present dominance hierarchy) cannot be ’seen’ at all.’
Seeing, opening eyes to what’s real, however unpalatable, is a refrain flowing through this hard hitting, controversial book. I found the heavily illustrated section on parenting insightful. ‘You can discipline your children, or you can turn that responsibility over to the harsh, uncaring judgmental world – and the motivation for the latter decision should never be confused with love…Infants are like blind people, searching for a wall. They have to push forward, and test, to see where the actual boundaries lie (and those are too-seldom where they are said to be)…What no means, in the final analysis, is always “If you continue to do that, something you do not like will happen to you.” Otherwise it means nothing. Or, worse, it means “another nonsensical nothing muttered by ignorable adults.” Or, worse still, it means, “all adults are ineffectual and weak.’’’
As a softie churchman I’m embarrassed by the Sermon on the Mount and few writers have so winsomely used it to invite me pull my socks up as Peterson does. ‘Aim high’ is his frequent rejoinder true to Christ. ‘Start to stop doing what you know to be wrong. Start stopping today. Don’t waste time questioning how you know what you’re doing is wrong, if you are certain that it is’. The book starts with the rule to ‘stand up straight with your shoulders back’ and goes on to encourage ‘metaphysical standing up’ based on positive self-regard linked to the meaning of life. The central section of the book is on pursuing what’s meaningful rather than what’s expedient. It contains Dostoyevsky’s story of Christ brought before a cynical, ruthless Inquisitor representing the worst aspect of the church’s legalistic dogmatism. Christ endures him, kisses and confounds him in a pointer to his divinity triumphing historically over sinful human failings in his church. Religion is important to Peterson – Christianity especially – but this as the pursuit of goodness more than obedience, though that unfashionable quality is addressed throughout 12 Rules for Life.
The book’s sub-heading is An Antidote to Chaos. ‘We require routine and tradition. That’s order. Order can become excessive, and that’s not good, but chaos can swamp us, so we drown – and that is also not good. We need to stay on the straight and narrow path. Each of the twelve rules of this book – and their accompanying essays – therefore provide a guide to being there. “There” is the dividing line between order and chaos. That’s where we are simultaneously stable enough, exploring enough, transforming enough, repairing enough, and cooperating enough. It’s there we find the meaning that justifies life and its inevitable suffering.’ One of the richest theological themes is on how meaning can be brought to suffering among, for example, those who place faith in God’s kingdom and the triumph of truth. The author is burdened by the intense evil of Soviet communism (he quotes Solzhenitsyn), Hitler and the Holocaust, seeing the biblical narrative as illuminating the source of this evil as the human refusal to walk with God. ‘If we wish to take care of ourselves properly, we would have to respect ourselves – but we don’t, because we are – not least in our own eyes – fallen creatures. If we lived in Truth; if we spoke the Truth – then we could walk with God once again, and respect ourselves, and others, and the world. Then we might treat ourselves like people we cared for. We might strive to set the world straight. We might orient it toward Heaven, where we would want people we cared for to dwell, instead of Hell, where our resentment and hatred would eternally sentence everyone.’ Jordan Peterson has some intriguing thoughts on creation. Maybe God, who is without limitation, acted to form limited beings so as to increase his glory through choices by human beings made in his image to grow into his likeness. The power of the book is in its wake-up call to such transformation, the gaining of character through suffering and refusal to hide from what is true.
In defence of free speech Jordan Peterson has recently challenged a Canadian law forcing professors to address self-identified transexual students by their preferred pronouns, which has brought him mixed fame. This book digs deep into what helps individual flourishing. It is a positive yet challenging thesis and some of the challenge is to current rethinking of gender and male-female relations. ‘Our society faces the increasing call to deconstruct its stabilizing traditions to include smaller and smaller numbers of people who do not or will not fit into the categories upon which even our perceptions are based. This is not a good thing. Each person’s private trouble cannot be solved by a social revolution, because revolutions are destabilizing and dangerous… the so-called oppression of patriarchy was instead an imperfect collective attempt by men and women, stretching over millennia, to free each other from privation, disease and drudgery.’
If Peterson pays a price for standing against the tide this is not evident in the book where the main autobiographical detail concerns the health crisis of his daughter and another price paid: that of prolonged suffering and its impact on his family. They look for what’s meaningful and sustaining and find wisdom to shrink their time frame and live day by day rather than looking months and years ahead. This tactical approach complements the strategic thrust of a book rich with insights and illustrations about seeking a vision of transformation and following lines to accomplish that end. It is powerful in its realism about human waywardness and the problem of evil as well as in its applause of ancient wisdom including Christianity. ‘Life is short, and you don’t have time to figure everything out on your own. The wisdom of the past was hard-earned and your dead ancestors may have something useful to tell you.’ That’s a pragmatic quotation to conclude this appreciation of a book about adopting life-changing principles that will get people talking and hopefully get some of them changing for the better.
Book of the month
THE OXFORD HISTORY OF ANGLICANISM, VOL. I:
Reformation and Identity, c.1520-1662
Anthony Milton (ed.)
Oxford University Press, pp. xxvi + 500, £95
The five-volume Oxford History of Anglicanism (full disclosure: I contributed a chapter to vol. 4) is likely to remain the standard history of the post-Reformation Church of England and its counterparts or offshoots elsewhere for decades to come. This first volume, covering the period in which Anglican identity was shaped, certainly lives up to the challenge that that poses.
25 relatively short chapters (averaging 20 pages), many of them by the current leading experts in the relevant fields, offer first an outline narrative and then cover a range of themes including church-state relations, the parish, liturgy, canon law, art, cathedrals, piety, and the Bible. Ireland and Scotland are treated in one chapter and North America in another, but otherwise this is very much an English story.
Modern scholarship, summarized and taken forward here, has exploded cherished myths about the English Reformation, many of them propagated by the high-church and Anglo-Catholic historians of earlier generations. At the time, the ‘Elizabethan Settlement’ of 1559 was not regarded as a ‘settlement’ at all or thought particularly likely to endure longer than the successive innovations and renovations that had preceded it. In the sixteenth century Canterbury was not viewed as a via media between Rome and Geneva. The century between 1559 and 1662 was marked by turbulence, not serene stability. The Church of England’s identity was contested, ambiguous and unstable: as Anthony Milton remarks in his introduction, ‘Few contemporaries embraced incoherence, uncertainty, and ambiguity as not only good things, but as inherently “Anglican” things.’
Much that came to typify the Anglican tradition, from the end of the sixteenth century onwards and especially in the seventeenth century, cannot be read back into the mid-sixteenth century. If some of the origins of later developments can be found there, that does not mean that they were inevitable or envisaged at the outset.
In short, not only were the nineteenth-century term ‘Anglicanism’ and the use of ‘Anglican’ as anything other than an ecclesiastical synonym for ‘English’ unknown in this period: the thing so described did not exist either. The authors of this first volume of the Oxford History of Anglicanism have therefore deliberately sought, as far as possible, to avoid reference to ‘Anglicanism’ altogether!
All of this makes for a helpful and stimulating book. With any revisionist approach there is a danger that the pendulum swings too far and the resulting picture is as distorted as its predecessor, albeit in the opposite direction. These historians are too good to fall into that trap: there are very few questionable statements here. One of this volume’s merits is the emphasis it places on charting the ways in which, over the century from 1559, the Church of England moved towards a position much more distinct from that of much Continental Protestantism than could be foreseen at the outset.
Any quibble can only be with the balance: some facts that would prove crucial for the later story are mentioned but not emphasized; some are missing. Elements of the picture that prove earlier portrayals mistaken are stressed, while others are somewhat downplayed.
In determining the doctrines and identity of a church, two approaches are possible. One is to analyse the opinions of its current leadership and members; the other is to study its formularies (including its ordinal and other liturgies), its law, and its structures of oversight, governance, legislature and discipline. A moment’s contemplation of the present-day Church of England will indicate the difference that adopting one of these approaches rather than the other can make. This book generally prefers the former approach. The survival of the structure of provinces, dioceses, archdeaconries, deaneries and parishes, of the pre-Reformation canon law, the Convocations and the church courts, is mentioned but not emphasized.
In the past, the hermeneutic of continuity has certainly resulted in distortions, but the same can be true of a hermeneutic of rupture. The effort made to ensure that Archbishop Parker was consecrated by three bishops in the historic succession goes unmentioned here; the term ‘succession’ does not appear in the index. That some survivals were accidental and others were not accorded at the time the significance they would later accrue is certainly true, but how far they created a context that would be likely (albeit by no means certain) to develop in a more catholic direction deserves more reflection.
More could be made of Gordon Jeanes’ comment, quoted by Bryan Spinks, that ‘what was unusual in the English Reformation was the use of the liturgy as the central plank’ (p. 152). This volume rightly reminds us that in this period the Church of England formed part of the spectrum of European Protestantism, but arguably it was more distinctive than is sometimes allowed here. More attention should be paid not only to its liturgy’s distinctiveness but also to the significance that it always ascribed to that liturgy. Also, the fact that ambiguity was not regarded as a virtue does not necessarily mean that some of the ambiguities in the drafting of the Church of England’s liturgical and doctrinal texts were not deliberate. (How could one be sure that all were unintentional?)
One is reminded once again of the personal influence of Elizabeth I on how the Church of England’s identity developed. As Diarmaid MacCulloch comments, the 1559 tweaks to the 1552 liturgy were not only a signal to Continental Lutherans but probably also ‘chimed with the queen’s personal inclination to Lutheran views on eucharistic presence’; that ‘the new Church of England was different in tone and style from the Edwardian Church’ reflected her preferences. As Bryan Spinks remarks, more catholic elements of the 1559 Primer and the 1560 Latin Prayer Book both ‘suggested an ambiguity about Elizabeth’s ideal for her Church’. The same is true of the 1559 Injunctions, which – unlike their predecessors – endorsed liturgical music, and ordered the use of wafer bread, bowing at the name of Jesus, and placing the Holy Table ‘where the altar stood’ when not in use. In Elizabeth’s Chapel Royal, the table always stood altarwise, vested, and adorned with cross and candles; her clergy wore copes, and choral music was composed and performed. Her dislike of clerical marriage contributed to the fact that after Parker’s death in 1575 it was more than a century before another married man became Archbishop of Canterbury. She appointed notable conservatives to her ecclesiastical household – including Lancelot Andrewes, whom she made one of her twelve select chaplains in the early 1590s. As MacCulloch has observed, ‘the accumulated vision of Hooker’s work is uncannily close to what we can glean of [her] idiosyncratic private opinions’. The Chapel Royal out of which what eventually came to be called Laudianism later sprang was her creation.
All of this makes it difficult to agree with MacCulloch’s contention (p. 325) that it was merely due to ‘inertia’ that Elizabeth failed to revive the ultra-Protestant replacement for the medieval canon law that her brother’s Parliament had rejected (in MacCulloch’s opinion, ‘out of sheer spite’). That this ‘carefully drafted scheme’, which ‘was vocally hostile to Lutheran belief on the eucharist as well as to Roman Catholicism’ held no appeal for Elizabeth seems unsurprising. To MacCulloch it is ‘one of the great might-have-beens of English history’, apparently because it would have introduced procedures for divorce. Whether the English Church’s lack of such provision was ‘the first respect in which the English Reformation diverged from the European-wide norm’ may be doubted, but it was certainly one of the many differences that might be enumerated.
Space is lacking here to discuss the significant developments whereby the early and mid-Elizabethan Church of England became the ‘Laudian’ church of the 1630s. Some mention should, however, be made of the book’s ending. One of its interesting features is the inclusion of chapters on the Westminster Assembly and the Cromwellian Church, as well as on Episcopalian identity during the Interregnum.
Hitherto, the Church of England had simply been the English Church. Now, many (by no means only ‘Laudians’) held that episcopacy, episcopal ordination, and the Prayer Book were so integral to that church’s identity that when the state rejected them they must be continued none the less. Episcopalianism acquired a quasi-denominational identity based on the three pillars of royal supremacy, episcopacy and the Prayer Book. In the fourteen years after Parliament officially abolished episcopacy in 1646 no fewer than 2,500 men chose to be ordained by bishops. The ‘great ejection’ in 1662 of those who refused to accept episcopal ordination and the Prayer Book needs to be viewed against the background of the even greater ejection by the Cromwellian church of some 3,000 clergy, of whom only about one-third found other posts. It was not in 1662 but during the Interregnum that episcopal ordination became a non-negotiable element of future ‘Anglican identity’.
That said, the clock was not simply turned back in 1660. The restoration, we learn in the book’s final sentence, was ‘followed by a further intense period of reformulation and adjustment, influenced by the experiences of 1640-60, and culminating in time with the creation of a distinctively Anglican identity’. Thus a book which for the most part eschews reference to ‘Anglicanism’ finds it in its conclusion – in 1662.
In this work of academic history much that contributed to that Anglican identity is rightly attributed to what might be called the accidents of history. A catholic Anglican might discern in some of those accidents the providence of God.