Saturday, 10 November 2012

Bishop Richard Williamson - Fall of a Wykehamist

As all watchers of the Catholic extreme right must know by now, Bishop Richard Williamson has been expelled from the ultra-traditionalist Society of St Pius X (SSPX).  This development has been years, if not decades, in the making, and is fascinating on a number of levels.  A great English eccentric, Williamson is a highly cultured, charismatic and intellectually gifted man.  He is also a political extremist and conspiracy theorist who has managed to alienate most of his fellow traditionalist Catholics, and who now finds himself cast into ecclesial outer darkness.  He would be a gift to a novelist.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Some examples of "cases of conscience"

See also here

Some sample casus conscientiae (cases of conscience) taken from the early 20th century Catholic publication The Casuist.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Review of "Goddess Unmasked" by Philip G. Davis

This book is Triumph of the Moon's evil twin.  It is a work in roughly the same genre - a well-researched academic inquiry into the historical and cultural roots of contemporary neopaganism.  The difference is that, while Triumph (published in 1999) was written from a broadly neutral perspective by an author who was sympathetic to neopagans, this book (published in 1998) is a hostile critique written by a conservative Christian.

Monday, 2 July 2012

The Western esoteric tradition

A review article based on Western Esotericism by Kocku von Stuckrad and The Western Esoteric Traditions by Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke.

Western esotericism is a two millennium-old intellectual and religious tradition encompassing alternative philosophy and spirituality, astrology, numerology, alchemy and ritual magic.  After some years of neglect in intellectual circles, the tradition has in recent times reclaimed its rightful place as an object of academic study.  There are professorial chairs in the subject at the Sorbonne, Amsterdam and Exeter, and both of these books contain brief histories of the treatment of the subject in academia by previous scholars, including Frances Yates, Antoine Faivre, Wouter Hanegraaff and Gershom Scholem.

Paganism in English law

The historical background

As I have pointed out in an earlier post, modern English law is essentially secular in character.  Survivals of historical Christian culture such as the special legal status of the Church of England are best seen as just that - survivals, rather than defining features of the contemporary legal landscape.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

The origins of neopaganism and Prof. Ronald Hutton

Neopaganism is a modern movement that is inspired by and/or seeks to reconstruct the ancient pagan religions of Europe and other parts of the world. 

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Monday, 18 June 2012

Gerald Gardner and the origins of Wicca

This is a review article based on Philip Heselton's Witchfather.  I also draw on material from Heselton's earlier books, as well as Aidan Kelly's Inventing Witchcraft and Ronald Hutton's Triumph of the Moon.


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As Ronald Hutton has noted, the tradition of pagan witchcraft known as Wicca is the only religion that England has ever given to the world - and Gerald Brosseau Gardner (1884-1964) was its prophet.  Various aspects of Gardner's life and work, and of the religion that he founded, have been hashed through by a succession of previous writers.  Until now, however, only one dedicated biography of Gardner has existed, this being his authorised biography, Gerald Gardner: Witch (1960).  Philip Heselton's new magnum opus, Witchfather, fills a gap in the market by providing a properly researched two-volume study of Gardner's eventful life.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Review of "Work of Human Hands" by Rev. Anthony Cekada

This is an interesting and illuminating history of the reform of the Catholic Mass liturgy which was undertaken in the 1960s, written from an archconservative perspective.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Another post about confession

An extract from A Commentary on the New Code of Canon Law (1918) by Fr Charles Augustine:

The Church in court

One of the more curious features of Victorian history was a series of legal battles in which clergy and laypeople in the Church of England used the English civil courts to vindicate their various differing interpretations of orthodox Anglican belief and practice.