Archive for April, 2018

Snarks and Low Sunday



Fourth of Henry Holiday’s original illustrations to “The Hunting of the Snark” by Lewis Carroll. From Fit the Second: The Bellman’s Speech.


For reasons unknown, in preparing the homily for tomorrow, I found myself rereading Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark. The plot follows a crew of ten trying to hunt the Snark, an animal which may turn out to be a highly dangerous Boojum. The poem is dedicated to young Gertrude Chataway, whom Carroll met at the English seaside town Sandown in the Isle of Wight in 1875. Included with many copies of the first edition of the poem was Carroll’s religious tract, An Easter Greeting to Every Child Who Loves “Alice”. 

The ocean map used by the Bellman to lead the snark-hunting expedition seems an apt metaphor for the state of the disciples. Despite all of the teaching and all of their witness, the events of the Crucifixion seem to have erased entirely the map of salvation the Lord had given them. It is, perhaps, equally as apt for our modern world which seems to be bent on likewise forgetting or even erasing the “map” to our own salvation.

After all, the Bellman’s map (above), which, being blank, is equally useful everywhere, unlike normal maps. “Other maps are such shapes, with their islands and capes! But we’ve got our brave Captain to thank” (So the crew would protest) “that he’s brought us the best– A perfect and absolute blank!”  We can, after all, populate our own map, with our own landmarks and fancies, never mind the actual shoals, reefs and deeps!  Could that be a recipe for a shipwreck?

Well, to see how this somewhat nautical tale ends up, stop in to St. Alban’s, Richmond, Virginia, at 8:30 (Morning Prayer this week) or 11:00 a.m. (Holy Eucharist with music).

Read Full Post »

secret faults

“And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us. But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me.”-St. Mark 9:38-39

Today I wish to share a note about claims of membership in “the one true church” and the incredibly angry people who make them.  As some of the readers are aware, yesterday a layman backed up by several priests of the East asserted that I shall not be saved because I am not a member of the “Holy Orthodox Church”.  Apparently, one can be wholly “orthodox” and suffer condemnation and consignment to…well…you know.

My accusers, members of the Russian Church Outside of Russia, insisted that no one save the big “O” Orthodox may enter into the gates of Heaven.  There was even a list of other Christians who would, in the vision of the zealot and his clerical backers, be best served to take a pop-up thermometer with them into the next life given where they were headed.

Any attempt to challenge this position was met with vitriol by the lay person and smug condescension on the part of the clergy.  None of these folks appeared to be cradle Orthodox.  In fairness, I have received the same treatment at the hands of some Roman Catholic “trads”, albeit not with the force and anger I was treated to by their Eastern counterparts.

To those who wish to wave the bloody standard of “one true church”, particularly those who can’t seem to get past the events of 1054, I offer the above quote from St. Mark.  Even the disciples themselves did not appear to have the “exclusive franchise”.  Maybe, just maybe there might be other folks who can comfortably claim to be Christian and even (shudder) believe in accordance with the Vincentian canon.  What the hey?  Given the our Lord’s admonition to St. John and the boys, one just might be cautious in claiming who is “in” and who is “out”.

The Fathers had some pointed remarks on all of this.  In response to, “We Forbade Him, Because He Was Not Following Us”,  St. Augustine noted that, “[t]here may be something catholic outside the Church catholic. The name of Christ could exist outside the congregation of Christ, as in the case of the man casting out devils in Christ’s name. There may by contrast exist pretenses within the church catholic, as is unquestionably the case of those “who renounce the world in words and not in deeds,” and yet the pretense is not catholic. So as there may be found in the church catholic something which is not catholic, so there may be found something which is catholic outside the church catholic.”  St. Augustine, ON BAPTISM, AGAINST THE DONATISTS 7.39 (76).

Again, from St. Augustine who appears far more charitable than some moderns, “We ought not be disturbed because some who do not belong or do not yet belong to this temple, that is, among whom God does not or does not yet dwell, perform some works of power, as happened to the one who cast out devils in the name of Christ. Although he was not a follower of Christ, Christ ordered that he be allowed to continue because it gave a valuable testimony of his name to many.…”   LETTER 187, TO DARDANUS 36.

The words of the saint seem to fit yesterday’s electronic stone casting.  It involves some who are intent on severe disciplinary principles that they disturb the peace of the church that they try to separate the wheat from the chaff before the proper time. Blinded by this error, they are themselves separated instead from the unity of Christ. St. Augustine, FAITH AND WORKS 4.6.

So, it would seem the more profitable course to stop picking up stones to cast them at other Christians.  In the end, Our Lord will let us know who “got it right”.

I’ll bet it’s a short list.

Read Full Post »


Tomorrow’s Bible study will cover I Kings 17-20. As usual, we will meet in the parish library at 10:30 a.m. Please bring your Bible and some note taking materials.

“But Solomon was building his own house thirteen years, and he finished all his house.“-I Kings 7:1

Read Full Post »