The Portal June 2018 - Page 10

THE P RTAL June 2018 Page 10 Thoughts on Newman Lux ab oriente Newman, Ma Xiangbo and the Royal Wedding The Revd Dr Stephen Morgan puts it all together T ry explaining the various flavours of Anglicanism to two Filipinos, one Portuguese, one Macanese and three Chinese seminarians over breakfast in the New Seminary of St Joseph in Macau, on the morning after the wedding of Their Royal Highnesses, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex: believe me, it wasn’t easy.   I had gone to stay with a priest friend of mine who shares an interest in Blessed John Henry Newman – his doctoral work compares Newman’s theology with his near contemporary Chinese theologian Ma Xiangbo.   It seemed to me to be fortuitous timing that meant I would be 6,000 miles away at the time of the Royal Wedding. screens the decorous aspects of Anglican Patrimony. Indeed, they are fortunate to know Felix Yeung, Ordinariate member (received into the Church at Warwick Street) and Music Director both of the Anglican Cathedral in Hong Kong and of a Choir in their own Catholic Cathedral in Macau, and so expected the extraordinarily high quality of the music. They could even grasp something of the “civic religion”, which so distinguishes any Anglican service at which royalty are present, but what they couldn’t “get”, as one of them said, was how a church of God save the Queen and Herbert Howells’ Psalm Preludes could also contain not only the style but the theology I went to Orvieto in 1997 to avoid the funeral of (if that is not too grand a word for it) of Bishop Michael Diana, Princess of Wales (may she rest in peace – if Curry’s extraordinary performance. only the Daily Express would let her). On the day of I explained to them that the Episcopal Church in the obsequies, I found myself in a small trattoria in Panicale overlooking the Trasimene Lake, only to have the US was not the same thing as the CofE, albeit my tranquility interrupted by the owner putting on the that it is – just about – part of the same communion. television, where RAIUno’s coverage was even more Inculturation is not alien to them and so they could breathlessly hysterical than I would have experienced understand that but they detected a problem when had I saved myself the airfare and settled down to variety of expression veils a variety of belief that encompasses radically different, incompatible, even whatever the BBC served up. contradictory theologies. Similarly, half a world and seven time zones away, “Ah”, said one of them, “is that what Newman meant in a former Portuguese territory on the south coast of China, there was no escaping the Harry and Megan when he spoke of the Liberalism in Religion as the show. For the seminarians – men who, because of the anti-dogmatic principle in which truth is really just a conversation between Fr Cyril and myself, had some matter of opinion?” Yes, I thought: they understand: notion of the Anglicanism of Newman – the whole they “get” it. occasion was bewildering. It isn’t that I don’t approve, or even enjoy these occasions, but that I can’t cope with paroxysms of enthusiastic celebrity-worship that overtake the entire nation – seemingly every conversation beginning with a virtue-signalling statement about the whole thing. They had recognised in what they saw on their