Tuesday, June 19, 2007

99 Names: Contempt at Westminster Cathedral

John Taverner
Those 99 Names, are being performed at Westminster Cathedral tonight. I have no problem with addressing God as Allah, lots of Catholics do in Arabic speaking countries, I have no problems with "God the Merciful" and most of the other titles. I have a bit of problem with "God the Deceiver" as this seems to be a direct reference to the Muslim belief that Jesus was not God or crucified, but even that can be understood in the Eckhartian sense that God is totally other than man.

I do have a problem with an Islamic devotion in Westminster Cathedral. I do have a problem with a certain trend in Orthodox mysticism that fails to recognise the uniqueness of the Incarnation and the Person of Jesus Christ, the historical Christ Incarnate in the womb of the Blessed Virgin, who suffered, died and rose from the dead is the Christ of Christianity. There is always a temptation to dis-Incarnate Christ. John Taverner seems to be part of that Orthodox trend that almost denies the Incarnation preferring the idea of Eternal Logos who can be seen in all religions, for example Orpheus descending into the underworld, is actually Christ, Buddha being enlightened is actually Christ extending himself in communion to the whole of the cosmos, in this trend the Historic Jesus himself becomes metaphor rather than as we Catholics believe, the Absolute Reality.

I am more worried about how this performance will be received by Muslims, for most the use of instrumental music in prayer or worship is quite unacceptable, the use worship, the Holy Names as an entertainment will be seen as a gratuitous and blasphemous insult. In a time when it is really necessary for the Church and Islam to work together this seems to be an ill thought out attempt by the Cardinal and the Monsignor Langham, the Cathedral Administrator to ingratiate themselves with Prince Charles, there is too much of this type of thing, it is indeed a form of simony. The Prince's agenda, to become the Defender of Faiths, is about a religious syncretism that makes religion into a mishmash of emasculating and ethicless New Age beliefs that are far from what we as Catholics believe.

The Taverner piece seems to sum up all that we Catholics should oppose, the Muslim devotion performed in a Catholic Cathedral, accompanied by American Indian drums, with Buddhist and Hindu instruments, as part of a secular entertainment, is not just New Labour - multi-cultural and inclusive, but New Age and contemptuous of all our Traditions!

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is a state of affairs that Anglicans have known in their cathedrals for some decades. What starts as a 'gesture of inclusive and community sharing and outreach' becomes, by increments, a complete loss of objective faith, in the incarnation, atonement and the death of Christology. Without realistic direction orthodox (Classical) Roman Catholics could become as rare as orthodox Anglicans (and we are as rare as hens teeth).

anne-marie said...

Spot on Father!!! I also have real problems with this 'entertainment'. I think it is utterly misjudged having it proceed in a Catholic cathedral. I can see it serving no positive purpose whatsoever. What's wrong with staging it in a concert hall, if it has to be at all?

Clare said...

Mysticism
Begins in Myst
Ends is Schism
and has "I" in the centre of it.

White Stone Name Seeker said...

So the Cardinal wants to be cosy with Prince Charles- WHY? It was not so long ago he was making out that the Pope would not be accepting his retirment letter in a couple of years-and now he does this!

Michael Petek said...

What I'm worried about is that Muslims will use the performance to claim the Cathedral as being rightfully a mosque, on the grounds that Muslim prayer has taken place in it.

Moretben said...

I do have a problem with a certain trend in Orthodox mysticism that fails to recognise the uniqueness of the Incarnation and the Person of Jesus Christ, the historical Christ Incarnate in the womb of the Blessed Virgin, who suffered, died and rose from the dead is the Christ of Christianity.

This certainly doesn't correspond with any "trend in Orthodoxy" that I'm familiar with. How "orthodox" an Orthodox is Taverner? - not very, I'd propose. In any case, before it's necessary to introduce the notion of motes and beans, let's remind ourselves where this performance is taking place, and contrast that with the likelihood of anything remotely analagous being staged at Moscow Road.

One of the Cathedral canons, I think, excused this aberration on the grounds that it's not a liturgical performance. In that case, it's a flagrant breach of Canon Law.

Moretben said...

...and, infinitely more importantly, a profanation of the Temple, whatever its subject-matter.

Of course, having substituted the anthropocentric notions of "worship space" and "sacred space" the concept of profanation baffles us. It doesn't get more "disincarnational" than that.

A very useful exercise, in fact, is to read modern documents on the Liturgy (Sacramentum Caritatis is as good a place to start as any), mentally substituting "Temple" whenever either of these egregious phrases occurs. One begins instantly to understand the extent to which modern Catholicism has grappled the disincarnational spirit to its very heart.

Fr Ray Blake said...

I think the trend is there every type of mysticism; in Orthodoxy it is taking Alexandrian school to an extreme.

Michael Petek said...

And another thing! Westminster Cathedral wants to go ahead with this just as Muslims the world over are screaming for Salman Rushdie to have his head sawn off over his knighthood.

What's the Alexandrian School?

Tom W said...

Well said, Father. Sadly, I suspect that the Prince knows they would fall at his feet in an instant (so to speak), as we can see from his great coup this evening at Westminster Cathedral. I wonder what Charles' next plans are for our Cathedral?

Of course, back in 2000, +Cormac, then rapidly approaching 70, was the eldest of the all the potential candidates and may have been seen as a safe interim measure (!), but does it not seem odd to you that, in the 21st Century, it is still felt that the Papal Nuncio must collaborate with Lord Tom, Dick or Harry in order to discern who should be the next archbishop of Westminster? Why on earth are these people considered to be 'leading Catholics'. For pity's sake, someone like Miss Ann Widdecombe has far more credibility as a leading Catholic than the Earl of whoever.

We are no longer living in feudal times. Something needs to be done to break this dangerous and diseased mentality.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you completely Father - I am afraid nothing good will come of it.
Amette

Fr Ray Blake said...

Michael,
Briefly Alexandria emphasised the transcendence of God, the unknowable; Antioch the immanence, the knowable.
In Christology we always have to do a balancing of the Divine and Human, when one gets out of balance we loose sight of the Incarnate God.

Moretben said...

And here, by coincidence, is:

http://blogs.timesunion.com/books/?p=735

Off topic? No - I don't think so at all.

Tim Shamoon said...

The problem in the West in general is that people (Religious or not) seem to think that it is OK to be inclusive not to upset not to offend even if it means watering down their laws, beliefs and traditions. I speak besides English Arabic and a little Chaldean and I yes like Father in this blog correctly said we do call God Allah when we pray in Arabic even as Christians but please note we will live, work respect and be friends with our Muslim neighbours be it in the East or the West BUT I do share something with many Muslim people! I would not compromise or water down my faith just so that I would fit in. I could never ever think of a Mosque hosting a reading from the Bible (why should they?) But in England our Church leaders do! I hope that it was worth it. The values of Christianity is being watered down and eroded by society, media and other faiths but it is truly sad state of affairs when the Church leaders engage in such s shameless act of wanting to be oh so PC. Please leave that to some members of the church of England who have time and again gone down that path only to find that they have not pleased anyone. You can never please all the people and when you try you will always fail. By the way many Muslim people would themselves feel very uncomfortable being in a Church and would have a hard time trying to understand the motivation or benefit of such an act. I mean is it just empty gesture or is it an act of faith? If it is the former then I do not get it, why did we allow a Cathedral to become theatre when London is full of them?

hermione hollis said...

Tom W

A combination of the Duke of Norfolk plus the priests of Westminster got Cormac selected. It was always a crazy decision as there were far more articulate, less intellectually lazy and generally more media savy prelates available from within the ranks of the tyranical gang of liberal modernists who have dominated our Church these last 40 years.

There are people in the Vatican who are simply out of touch with the Church inside the Anglo-Saxon diaspora. Indeed the "Malines Conversations" from the 1930's (check them out) are indicative of the level of ignorance which prevails.

Yes, you are right the word of an English Lord has huge significance for the Curia. Baffling, truly baffling and an insult to the faithful.

Mrs Jackie Parkes MJ said...

What on earth are we to do?

Fr Ray Blake said...

Tim,
I always enjoy your comments, have you considered starting your own blog and keeping us in touch with the Church and life in Iraq, & giving us a Chaldean slant on the Latin Church?

tom said...

Dear Father Blake, you wrote on another blog that Card Lavada is a regular guest at Abp House. Can you explain further please.

Fr Ray Blake said...

The two Cards were introduced by the Brit. Ambassador at Cormacs request shortly after Levada's appointment. Levada has been a regular visitor at Westminster ever since.

Anonymous said...

"Dear Father Blake, you wrote on another blog that Card Lavada is a regular guest at Abp House. Can you explain further please"

What is the significance of all this?

Andrew said...

Lets face it: Levada won't do a thing though. For the last 40 years or so, whenever abuses and heresy are reported to the Holy See, nothing is offered but a contemptous silence. At most Archbishop Cormac can hope to get is a slap on the wrists.

And they want us to believe the last 40 years have been a "springtime" for the church?!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Francis said...

Fr. Ray,

Cormac's approach to Cardinal Levada sounds like an agreed initiative of the E&W bishops' conference to cultivate the new Prefect of the CDF after 20 years of friction with Cardinal Ratzinger.

The E&W bishops, I suspect, want to ingratiate themselves, win more sympathy for their ecumenical initiatives (Joseph Ratzinger was never a friend of ARCIC), and prevent another "Hollis incident" where an English episcopal appointee, about whom complaints have been received in Rome, is vetoed by the Prefect of the CDF.

The E&W bishops are a pretty transparent bunch!

Fr Ray Blake said...

Last Anon,
My appologies for not publishing your comment.
I don't want to go into that here, it obviously reflects on his judgement and pope John Paul's. Hat and job go together, one might have expected a year or two delay.

Karen H. -- San Diego said...

Dittos with re: to Vatican deafness regarding the English speaking diaspora. I had no idea the Vatican consulted the likes of the Duke of Norfolk as re: the appointment of a cardinal for the UK. don't those dummies know enough themselves from the ad limina visits?!

If it is any small comfort to you, it's not any better in the US. In my own little corner of the world in San Diego, the bishop, who shall go nameless, but whose initials are "Robert Brom" is such a ninny, with all the priest shortages, he wasn't willing to personally meet with a friend of mine who had been through 7 years of seminary, but who had left in the mid 60s to get married.
His wife had died after a 30+ year marriage, and he wanted to be considered if he could go back.
He was always a practicing Catholic and lead many to the faith. Gave excellent bible classes too. This fellow was at the top of his class in NY when there were a lot of fellows studying for the priesthood. This was when the course work was a mountain, and not watered down. He is excellent in scripture, and kept up with theology, and as an added bonus is very fluent in Spanish, having lived in Panama for a number of years. (A BIG bonus in the SW of the US I can assure you.)

Could the bishop meet with him? Nope. Fobbed him off with a meeting with his AUXILLIARY for a literal TWO MINUTE MEETING where the entire conversation was "the bishop thinks you are too old (61) thank you for your time."

In our diocese ONE priest was ordained this year and there will BE NONE for the next few years. The seminary has long since closed up shop and what vocations we have have to go up to Hell-A (aka Los Angeles.) Gee...the already overworked priests can't use another hand, can they? A guy who's been married...so no worries about the "is he gay" issue...he can speak spanish...was willing to pay for his own further studies that he would need. nope....Brom can't be bothered. Meanwhile, he's reeling from the impact of paying for the sex abuse scandals the church is shelling out millions for...but this guy can't see when a life-line is thrown him by the Almighty...he throws it back.

Meanwhile, they are canvassing the deacons, who have become recent widowers to see if they owant to take a ONE YEAR course to be ordained to the priesthood. Mind you most of them have had a two years PART TIME of the most elementary of studies. Right. Just what intelligent laymen want. A priest who isn't up to the mark. Would you want a surgeon to work on you after two years study? Didn't think so.

Stupid. Stupid....and did I say STUPID?!

My friend's "black mark?" 30 years go when the "diaconate for married men" was new, my friend applied.

They put him in classes he was literally qualified to teach...and the head guy was very jealous of his knowledge. On looking back many people in the diocese have come to realize that that guy had "issues" and shouldn't have been the sole arbitur. But do they have the brains to rectify the situation now and give the church, who desperately needs priests a hand? no. Let the people suffer from "lack of vocations." Our bishop literally doesn't know one when it's biting him on the butt.

And if I sound mad, it's because I am mad. And it's not just my diocese either. Young men get turned away from seminaries because someone with a liberal agenda doesn't think they are "Gay friendly" enough. Lavender mafiosa types...too many of them. Here and there there are bright spots like Bruskewitz [sp] in the midwest. But unfortunately, far too few.

If one wants to look at "is the catholic church the true church" one has to say "yes" simply because no other organization run so incompetently for so long would have lasted 2000 years without Divine Providence. Cynical, but unfortunately, true.

Fatimah said...

Dear Christian brothers and sisters,
As a Muslim I have to agree with you that it is inappropriate to fudge religions together and upset and hurt people. This is contrary to the message of all religions. This performance should not have taken place. Incidentally, don't worry, it doesn't mean that the Cathedral is now considered a mosque by Muslims. Most Muslims I know respect Christians more than Tavener does.