The Anglican Non-Jurors

Last spring, Philip Jenkins wrote about the Non-Jurors, who reacted against the replacement of James II with William and Mary. From his first post:

High Churchmen were aghast at the outcome of the Glorious Revolution, and the new constitutional settlement. In their eyes, when the church’s new leaders consecrated the change, they had abandoned God’s truth in the name of political expediency. Worse, the new order was demanding that all clergy and office holders take oaths to the new king. Many clergy, including some of the church’s greatest spiritual and intellectual beacons, found that they simply could not accept. They refused to swear those oaths, and by dint of that, became non-swearers, “Non-Jurors.” They began a domestic schism from the established church, and ordained their own succession of bishops.

That is the political background, but the consequences were lasting. The Non-Juror movement continued into the early nineteenth century, and it developed a potent High Church ideology. I do not mean that in the Victorian or Oxford Movement sense of quasi-Catholic liturgy, “bells and smells.” (Although some Oxford Movement thinkers, notably Newman, did look back fondly on the Non-Juror inheritance). Rather, the Non-Jurors struggled to create a kind of Christian practice that was fully in tune with the Bible and the Fathers, with “Primitive Christianity,” and which did not just depend on the good will of a state or king. They agonized over issues of ecclesiology, and at the same time sought new ways of leading a pure Christian life. Taking sacramental life very seriously, they were devoted to the ideal of small-c catholic Christianity. At so many points, they have much in common with their very influential near-contemporaries, the German Pietists.

One of the Non-Jurors, Thomas Ken, wrote the Doxology (“Praise God from whom all blessings flow…”).

The most surprising element of the story is described in Jenkins’ second post: “around 1716, the English Non-Jurors approached the Eastern patriarchs to be acknowledged as a church under their jurisdiction, whether that of the Patriarch of Alexandria or Jerusalem. Although resident on English soil, they would nevertheless obey these distant masters, who represented authentic ancient Christianity.”

Jenkins quotes from Reverend H.W. Langford’s 1965 paper on the subject:

The Non-Juror bishops showed in their correspondence a strong reluctance to ‘go behind’ the English Reformation Settlement, and were obviously very ill at ease in dealing with Orthodox belief on such subjects as transubstantiation and invocation of saints. With regard to the nature of the worship due to Our Lady, the patriarchs replied with some sympathy but with a possible touch of ridicule. “It is not to be wondered at for being born and bred in the principles of the Luthero-Calvinists, and possessed with their prejudices, they tenaciously adhere to them like ivy to a tree.”

As you can surmise from the current ecclesiastical arrangements, things didn’t work out.

A political history of medieval and early modern Europe

Birth of the Leviathan: Building States and Regimes in Medieval and Early Modern EuropeBirth of the Leviathan: Building States and Regimes in Medieval and Early Modern Europe by Thomas Ertman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ertman gives a very helpful comparative history of the development of different European states, categorizing them as patrimonial absolutist (mainly France and Spain), bureaucratic constitutionalist (England/Great Britain), bureaucratic absolutist (mainly Prussia), and patrimonial constitutionalist (Poland and Hungary). The absolutist/constitutionalist contrast is well-known, but the patrimonial/bureaucratic contrast adds an interesting twist. In patrimonial systems, officials view positions of power as their own property, while bureaucratic systems place a premium on trained and qualified officials.

It’s understandable that Ertman favors the British system of strong central government with oversight by a Parliament responsible to local communities within the realm. After all, Britain outmatched its competitors in power, stability, and the ability to finance its wars in the early modern period. It was an age of centralizing states that were at war with each other, and so it makes sense to focus on how the states met this challenge. Yet there does seem to be a conceptual bias toward the centralized nation-state, and I wonder how a book that had a different standard for political development might have looked. I also would have liked to see more on Habsburg Austria.

Those are quite small nits to pick considering Ertman’s accomplishment in producing a history of over 1000 years of political development in Western Christendom.

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Romance and restrictions in Riyadh

Girls of RiyadhGirls of Riyadh by Rajaa Alsanea
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It kind of reminded me of Pride and Prejudice, but set in modern-day Saudi Arabia (which made for an interesting story) and not nearly as well-written. Fun overall, but not great literature. I assigned it for my Middle Eastern history course, and it made for a good discussion with the student taking it for independent study.

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Welcoming wounded kids

Wounded Children, Healing Homes: How Traumatized Children Impact Adoptive and Foster FamiliesWounded Children, Healing Homes: How Traumatized Children Impact Adoptive and Foster Families by Jayne E. Schooler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A good introduction to the topic, in my layman’s opinion. Since it came from a Christian publisher, I was hoping for a more thoroughly Christian approach in addition to a review of the social and psychological factors.

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An evaluation of John Rawls’ political philosophy

Writing in The American Conservative in 2008, David Gordon of the Ludwig von Mises Institute gave what I thought was a helpful overview of Rawls’ strengths and weaknesses. A couple of snippets:

Biography affecting philosophy:

As Thomas Pogge has noted in his recent biography John Rawls: His Life and Theory of Justice, Rawls was especially sensitive to issues of luck because of a sad occurrence in his own life. Two of his brothers died in childhood because they had contracted fatal illnesses from him. Pogge calls the loss of the brothers the “most important events in Jack’s childhood.” In 1928, the 7-year-old Rawls contracted diphtheria. His brother Bobby, younger by 20 months, visited him in his room and was fatally infected. The next winter, Rawls contracted pneumonia. Another younger brother, Tommy, caught the illness from him and died.

Something that I’ve wondered about when reading A Theory of Justice:

There are other aspects to Rawls’s thought, however, that should give libertarians, and certainly conservatives, pause. Rawls never abandoned the principal tenets of his theory of justice, but in his 1993 work Political Liberalism, he changed course in one respect. He began emphasizing that in modern constitutional democracies like the United States, disagreements over fundamental values and issues such as abortion can threaten the stability of society. Given the degrees of disharmony, what are we to do?

His answer recalls the original position of TJ. Individuals should, once more, put aside their own conceptions of the good. But this time, in deliberating on these divisive issues, people must rely only on “public reason.” This consists of principles that everyone, regardless of his conception of the good, will have cause to accept. By an odd coincidence, if public reason is used properly, we will arrive at exactly the same principles as those set forward in TJ. It is difficult not to wonder whether Rawls’s enterprise is merely an attempt to find arguments in support of the political opinions of professors of his social class.

An example will show how public reason works. If your religion forbids abortion, you cannot appeal to this fact in political discussions, since religious views do not form part of public reason. Later, Rawls modified this rigid view. His final position was that you could mention your private views as long as you also had an argument from public reason to support your stand. Rawls’s introduction to the 2005 paperback edition of Political Liberalism states, “Certainly Catholics may, in line with public reason, continue to argue against the right of abortion. That the Church’s nonpublic reason requires its members to follow its doctrine is perfectly consistent with their following public reason.”

How the Vatican views canon law

An interesting interpretation of Amoris Laetitia by John Allen at Crux:

For Americans, and perhaps Anglo-Saxons generally, law is a lowest common denominator of civic morality. It’s what we expect everyone to do all the time, and if a law is being widely disobeyed, for us that’s a crisis – we either want to repeal the law or launch a crackdown, but we can’t have people making exceptions on the fly.

For Mediterranean cultures, which still shape the thought-world of the Vatican to a significant degree, law is instead more akin to an ideal. It describes a moral aspiration, but realistically it’s understood that many people much of the time will fall short. (If you don’t believe it, come to Italy sometime and watch how the locals approach traffic laws!)…

The “money quote” on this score comes in one of Francis’ footnotes (number 336, to be exact), in which the pontiff says, “This is also the case with regard to sacramental discipline.”

In effect, what he’s saying is that there may be cases in which a given divorced and remarried Catholic, after talking things out with a priest, could be justified in reaching the decision that they don’t carry the guilt that should exclude them from the sacraments, including Holy Communion….

In other words, what Pope Francis has done is let the rest of the world in on one of the best-kept secrets about the Catholic Church: Yes, the Church has laws, and it takes them very seriously. But even more than law it has flesh-and-blood people, and it takes their circumstances and struggles seriously too.

At one stage, Francis writes that the divorced and remarried can find themselves in situations “which should not be pigeonholed or fit into overly rigid classifications, leaving no room for a suitable personal and pastoral discernment.”

Hat tip: Albert Mohler, The Briefing

Russia and refugees

An interesting story from a few weeks ago by Josh Rogin:

Even before the latest terror attacks in Brussels, anti-Muslim and anti-refugee sentiment in Europe had been on the rise. Most of the refugees arriving in Europe are escaping war and poverty in the Middle East and seeking a better life in the West. But according to European officials, other migrants are traveling into the Nordic and Baltic states from Russia and are not fleeing the fighting in Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan, but rather have been living in Russia and are being encouraged by the Kremlin to join the tide in Western Europe….

 

Russia encourages these migrants, according to Ilves and other European officials at the forum, because they strain European governments and stoke anti-Muslim sentiment that benefits the far-right parties Russia has supported. Pro-Russian parties have gained influence in Slovakia, Greece, Hungary, France and elsewhere. They tend to support the weakening of European Union institutions and favor closer ties to Russia, including through the end of sanctions.

Russia’s campaign of airstrikes in Syria, which has largely targeted civilian areas, also adds to the waves of Muslim migrants entering Europe through Greece. General Philip Breedlove, NATO’s supreme allied commander in Europe, said earlier this month that Russia was “weaponizing migration,” as a means to “overwhelm European structures and break European resolve.”

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