Taking the devil seriously

From the Vicar of St Barnabas, Beckenham

Fr Ed Tomlinson is absolutely right to take the Church to task for its coyness about exorcism [ND August]. His experience also chimes with mine. I well remember a post-ordination-training session in the Chichester diocese with the then diocesan exorcist, Fr Dominic Walker OGS, who told us about the cases he’d dealt with in his work. But as the talk proceeded it gradually became apparent that he believed the distresses of these unfortunate people had little to do with supernatural powers but were essentially psychological in origin. He certainly did not mention any rite of exorcism, and as Fr Tomlinson says, Common Worship has not made good this omission.

Like him too, I am more than willing to take seriously Bishop John Broadhursts proposal that the Devil is active in Church House. But I have heard it said that the reference was just a rhetorical flourish. I hope the Bishop will take the opportunity to write an article for New Directions developing his analysis in order to correct that impression. [See page 17] The psychological reductionism Fr Ed rightly deplores in his article is not the only way of trivialising this important subject.

Simon Heans

The Vicarage, Oakhill Road, Beckenham BR3 6NG

Bishop Dave did it first

From Mr John Dearing

The new liturgies combiningbaptism and marriage proposed by the Church of England [ND Comment, August] seem to fulfil at least in part a satirical sketch by the late, great Dave Allen.

As I recall it, the scene is the commencement of the Marriage service at which the Revd Dave is about to marry an elderly gentleman and a heavily pregnant lady of more youthful vintage. He launches into the marriage service, when suddenly the bride goes into labour and, in apparent

defiance of the principles set out in Genesis 3.16, promptly gives birth. The resourceful clergyman immediately launches into the Baptism service, whereupon it is all too much for the elderly groom who expires on the spot. It is hardly necessary to describe the priest’s next move…

Perhaps in tribute to its progenitor the new combined service should conclude with the benediction: ‘May your God go with you?’

John Dearing

27 Sherman Rd, Reading RG1 2PJ

Be more robust

From Miss Juliet Hole

When I received the August ND, I hoped to read some robust comment about the withdrawal of the Communion wine from CofE congregations. But there was nothing, other than some flippant remarks under the heading ‘Rubrics!

It is a deeply shocking affair which overturns clear Anglican teaching, damages individual worshippers and displays a church permitting secular imperatives to interfere with her sacramental life. Those hurt take Scripture and church teaching seriously, and it is disappointing when ND can come up with no other response than flippancy.

Juliet Hole 4 The Leasowes, Bayton DY14 9NA

Not for the squeamish

From Mr Anthony Kilmister OBE

I was intrigued by the book review in August’s ND which refers to Prime Minister Harold Macmillan’s resignation in 1963 on grounds of ill-health. Macmillan had convinced himself that he was suffering from cancer (which was not the case) and having suffered acute urinary retention in October 1963 a retropubic prostatectomy was performed by Mr Alec Badenoch, a leading urological surgeon of the day.

Macmillan was delighted to have a chance to resign from the Premiership on medical grounds at a difficult political time though there was, in reality, no medical reason for him to do so. In retrospect he probably rather regretted the decision since he went on to live to a ripe old age, eventually dying 23 years later in 1986.

Anthony Kilmister 36 The Drive, Northwood HA6 1HP

Music for the soul

From Mr Alan Edwards

In his perceptive devotional article in August’s ND, Gareth Jones commented that, in pursuing the ascetic life, he passed up on the chance of a Country & Western CD for his birthday and settled instead for socks.

Such stern asceticism deserves reward this side of the Heavenly Country. Could I suggest that next year he tactfully refuses socks -barefoot is an ascetic tradition – and asks his family to buy him Alan Jackson’s CD Precious Memories (ACR Records USA).

Spiritual refreshment as well as a birthday present. Among the classics on the CD are ‘Blessed Assurance,’ ‘I love to tell the story,’ ‘Standing on the promises’ and ‘I want to stroll over heaven with you.’

Singing along as I type.

Alan Edwards 10 Meteor Avenue, Whitstable

Episcopacy course

From the Chairman oftheJBCT

The John Bishop Charitable Trust is currently preparing a short teaching course on the contemporary theme of Bishops. In launching this venture we are pursuing one of the aims of the trust, to foster right relationships with the Roman and Orthodox Churches in these difficult times.

The course will be available on our website (at present being rebuilt) where it can be downloaded and printed or copied to disc as desired. Our target audience is mainly parish priests of our own integrity, as we envisage the course being used in parish groups (though not exclusively so).

The object is to strengthen the faithful laity with a simple and clear understanding of episcopacy, its origin, symbolism, purpose and function in the Universal Church to which we belong. The shape of the course is: four sessions, each with an introduction and scope for questions and controlled discussion.

The text is being written by Fr Charles Card-Reynolds and Fr Ian Forrester, who are trustees of the JBCT and parish priests of experience and ability – as you probably know. The course should be up on our new website before Christmas.

I will give more precise details nearer the time, but I would be glad if you could share these initial plans with your readers.

Elaine Bishop

Word games

From Mr Antoine Le Cameau

Thank you for publishing the whole of that fateful Resolution D025 from the recent General Convention of The Episcopal Church [August p. 20]. From the way it had been commented upon in the secular media, one had supposed that it was a straightforward, even militant assertion of an inalienable right of partnered gays to become bishops.

Instead we find a seven-stage procession, laden with touchy-feely, apple-pie support for the Anglican Communion, and the final ‘decision about those called to the episcopate left (of course) in the hands of the Holy Spirit. It is so cleverly worded, it is not immediately obvious where the objection lies. Whatever else these people are, they’re damned clever!

Antoine Le Carneau

Liturgical battle ahead

From Mr John Wetherell

Thank you for the wise and balanced commentary on the inception of the Anglican Church of North America and its future prospects by Fr Warren Tanghe [August]. Fr Tanghe is uniquely placed, as a participant in almost all of the negotiations, to bring together the constituent parts of the new province, to be the historian of those events.

One factor to which Fr Tanghe did not allude, and which I venture to say may become increasingly important as time goes by, is that of liturgy. Already the blogsites of American traditionalists are alive with comment on the proposed liturgical arrangements of ACNA; and the battle looks as if it may be a long one.

English Anglicans have not, for the most part, been as concerned about liturgical niceties as their American cousins. But the 1979 Prayer Book in the American Church contributed at least as much as the ordination of women to the disaffection of traditionalists.

What a tragedy it wouldbe if the new province, having negotiated the rapids of women’s ordination, foundered on a trans-Atlantic version of Prayer Book Fundamentalism. I fear it is a distinct possibility.

John Wetherell

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