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Issue 01 – Easter 2020



On the Ordinariate


One of the most lasting effects of my long (and long ago) years as a homicidal Bolshevik is that I now really cannot stand sectarianism. It is fortunate for the world that Marxists waste so much of their time on fighting each other. They would have done even more damage if they were less keen on huge doctrinal quarrels about tiny things. Which Fourth International is the true Fourth International? What is the difference between a deformed and a degenerated workers’ state? Was the Soviet atom bomb a force for progress? Over such things, fingers jabbed, voices rose to screaming pitch, friendships broke, organizations split. You may be a comrade of all those folks, as the song goes. But you ain’t no comrade of mine. For all of us, I suspect the best possible sect would have been one in which we were entirely right and entirely alone—a Red Army of One.

In the same way, it would surely be better for the world if Christians spent less time attacking each other, and more on attacking, or at least resisting, the Devil and All His Works. And where would you expect Beelzebub to be busier than in the Church itself? So when, after long vicissitudes of unbelief and mistaken belief, and simple confusion mingled with panic, I settled with a sigh on the lovingly embroidered cushions in the worn oak pew behind the crumbling pillar in my nearest Anglican cathedral, the last thing I ever wanted to do was to tell anyone else what to believe. Couldn’t I just listen to the Magnificat—“He hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts”—and the Nunc Dimittis—“Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace”—and heartily endorse the minister as he pointed out that “There is none other that fighteth for us, but only thou, O God.” Wasn’t it enough to join in with “Lighten our darkness, we beseech thee O Lord, and by thy great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night,” possibly the most perfect prayer devised by sinful man? It was all I could do to work out what I believed myself. My form of Christianity, vague and inclusive, rarely if ever intransigent, feeble in the eyes of more enthusiastic persons, might have some very appealing characteristics. But it was my experience that other people liked other things. Sometimes—a problem which made my insides shrivel—they sought to press their differing ideas on me. I fled quietly. But I did not close my mind. I made occasional expeditions to other forms of worship, and into the world of other sorts of believers, and didn’t take to them. I am sure others did the same.

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About the author

Peter Hitchens

Peter Hitchens is a columnist for the Mail on Sunday. He writes monthly for the website of The Lamp.