Short Course in Ecclesiology

Is the Church under the authority of the State?

Rome: No.

Canterbury, Wittenberg, etc: yes

Constantinople: we’d rather not say

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Congregational Resources

What resources does a congregation have? What resources does a congregation need? Word and sacraments, of course, but also a choir, good child care, etc are in practice significant. In my opinion, there’s another very important resource which is essential to a congregation’s health but which is often overlooked: other congregations.  It’s not for nothing that the letters to the churches in Revelation include the exhortation: ‘…who has ears, let him hear with the Spirit says to the churches’ in each of the letters to seven local churches.


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Commitment, Continuity, and Conversation

The particular spirituality of the Appalachian Riders for our Lady is based on our three foundational principles of commitment, continuity and conversation in addition to the general Catholic evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, obedience and stability adapted to a lay context.

The Riders strive to promote a conversational culture, authentically Christian and Catholic, in the midst of a world largely lacking culture of any sort. While somewhat bookish, given the use of books to establish continuity, we prefer conversation over writing and recognize that mere talking is rarely conversation. I think apologetics is a waste of time better spent on positive statement of belief.

Our vows of commitment, continuity, and conversation do not necessarily mean that we have any natural inclination or talent in these areas. My own investigations center around the apparent paradox of Christologies seeming to be close together when their related Ecclesiologies are far apart.

My booklist (each Rider, during their novitiate, settles on 24 books) is:

  • Bible, unabridged Revised Standard Version
  • The Liturgy of the Hours, unabridged
  • Isaiah: A Commentary; Brevard Childs
  • Vergil’s The Aeneid; by Sarah Ruden
  • The Confessions, etc; by Saint Augustine
  • Dante’s Divine Comedy; Anthony Esolen
  • Sonnets & 11 Plays; William Shakespeare
  • Complete English Poems; John Donne
  • Collected Poems & Prose; Robert Frost
  • Collected Works; Flannery O’Connor
  • Galatians and Christian Theology
  • Remaining in the Truth of Christ
  • Saint Michael’s Hymnal; 4th edition
  • Church Doctors; Pope Benedict XV1
  • Jesus of Nazareth; Joseph Ratzinger
  • Enchiridion Symbolorum; Denzinger
  • Compendium of the Catholic Catechism

Essential to the culture of the Appalachian Riders for our Lady is participation in daily Mass at our particular parishes (7am Mass at St Ambrose in Salt Lake City, Utah in my case).

I’m also a member of the choir for the 9:30am Mass at St James the Just in Ogden. Here are a few music books related to that:

  • Lumen Christi Simple Gradual
  • The St Michael Hymnal, 4th edition
  • The Parish Book of Chant, 2nd edition

Thomas Gwyn and MaryAlice Dunbar

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The Early Church

Christian communities sometimes get enthused about being like the ‘early Church’. For me, the most significant aspect of this is gathering daily for prayer and public worship (see Acts 2:46), which is difficult to find outside the Catholic Church. Just saying :)


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On the Hatred of God

A translation of a sermon, in Latin, which Elisabeth Anscombe delivered at the University of Oxford.

On the Hatred of God

The great philosopher Spinoza denied that God could be hated by men. He relied on false arguments. For he thinks that the idea of God that exists in the human mind is always perfect and adequate. Certainly if we were to mount to an insight into the divine nature itself, we would necessarily love God as the supreme good and source of all goodness, but at present we see through a glass darkly, as the Apostle says, and we only know God by his works in this world. Of these his effects, some are intrinsically lovable and delightful, nor can God be hated on account of them; but to human nature corrupted by sin the divine law repressing vices seems intolerable, and much more the punishments which are to be inflicted on us for our offenses. On account of such effects, as is said by the Angelic Doctor, God is hated by some, inasmuch as he is apprehended by them as forbidder of sins and inflicter of punishments.

From such hatred of God some have fallen into open atheism: they do not want God to exist, hence they do not acknowledge God. For nearly two hundred hears now philosophers have been entangling themselves in involved arguments that they may believe there cannot be one supreme and infinite divinity: in fact on this account they reject the worship of God as being unworthy of a free spirit; they despise the worshippers of God and mock them as slaves. Yet others publicly profess to love God, but do not any the less hate the true God: as in former times rebels who wished for revolution began by attacking not the king but the king’s ministers, so these men praise God, but pour abuse on the saints and prophets. These false worshippers of God are easily known by the following sign: they condemn the fear of God; further, they do not know the divine law compelling virtue; they think the divine love towards men consists in men’s leading a pleasant life and having the fleshly desires of their hearts satisfied, that virtue is ‘to believe in man'; that such a faith is supremely manifested in the life of Christ. Where then is the severity and mercy of God (of which the Apostle speaks)? Severity is held to be a myth; mercy they do not understand; for they think that punishments cannot be justly inflicted, if they can be remitted without injustice. About such there are words from the mouth of the Lord in the prophecy of Ezekiel: “You are become to them like a musical song, which is sung with a sweet and pleasant sound”. But there comes: “When what was predicted shall have happened (for behold, it is coming) then they will know that there was a prophet in among them.”

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Brubeck documentary

Wonderful documentary at

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On The Fourth

Chief Sitting Bull

…instead of two thousand words…

Chief Sitting Bull

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