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Archbishop Cranmer – 10 years of religio-political edification and enlightenment

 

Ten years ago today, on 21st March 2006, the Archbishop Cranmer blog burst into the Blogosphere. Well, perhaps the irruption wasn’t so much a burst as a seep, for in those darkened days before the ubiquity of all-singing Twitter and all-dancing Facebook, there was no real means of bursting anywhere without the tacit support of Paul Dacre or Baron Bell of Belgravia. Come to think of it, there wasn’t really a concept of ‘Blogosphere’ either: it seemed just a random cacophony of sundry egotists. But joining their number was irresistible – especially given the evident religio-political ‘gap’ in the medium – and so the Archbishop Cranmer blog crept onto the incipient social-media stage to join a few prominent others (namely Guido Fawkes, Conservative Home and Iain Dale’s Diary) in publishing political polemic and personal opinion dressed up as freewheeling journalism.

If it hadn’t been for the initial inspiration and support of those giants of the Blogosphere, this blog would have sunk into the cyber-ether which has consumed so many thousands of others, who give up – quite understandably – when having to get out of bed at 5.00am to face a blank screen becomes a reason for never wanting to sleep. Blogfather Iain Dale was an unfailing well-wisher, and Paul Goodman (then an MP; now editor of ConHome) a source of great wisdom and insight. There are many others one could thank, but this blog post really can’t take the form of an Academy Award gabfest.

21st March 2006 was also the 450th anniversary of the martyrdom of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, who was burned at the stake in Broad Street, Oxford, for ‘heresy’. Today we remember him on the Church’s Calendar, and this evening some 80 guests will toast his memory at Lambeth Palace, which is hosting the Grand Decennial Dinner to commemorate what feels like a lifetime of thankless blog-slog trauma, black dog and botheration. Thanks go to His (present) Grace Archbishop Justin Welby for allowing this celebration during the solemnities of Holy Week, and thanks also to the Bishop of Leeds, the Rt Rev’d Nick Baines, who (hotfoot from Iraq) agreed to be the guest speaker.

Aaron Biber 3There have, of course, also been one or two pleasurable moments over the decade. Together we have raised in excess of £20,000 for various charities: for the poor victims of famines, floods or earthquakes, and the personal favourite – the sum of £2,400 donated by readers and communicants for barber Aaron Biber following the 2011 Tottenham riots (and delivered personally). When a blogging community can pull together and raise that sort of cash for the world’s destitute, dispossessed, abused and unfortunate, it makes the whole enterprise feel so much more worthwhile.

This blog was never meant to be a source of news, or even of an exclusive apprehension of Christian comment on conservative matters of political Conservatism. It was certainly never conceived to peddle spin or break a scoop, but rather to offer a platform for erudite and intelligent comment upon that dimension of politics which is increasingly ignored or completely sidelined in the contemporary ‘secular’ sphere.

So many of our politicians have failed to notice that the Western world has entered its most ‘spiritual’ phase since the Reformation. The Enlightenment manifestly failed to usher in an era of scientific rationalism, with assurances of the end of human conflict and promises of eternal Utopia. And now a postmodern era of inviolable human rights and environmentalist tree-hugging has swept across the known world, promulgating a new uniformity of belief which presents its own unique set of dangers. The Archbishop Cranmer blog has at least offered a platform to some of the dissenters, diggers, levellers and protestants of postmodern political absolutism.

Through eight years on Blogger and two on WordPress, this blog has received in excess of a million visitors from 127 states, including the Vatican. It is good to cyber-reach beyond the temporal ecclesial edifices of the other, and to be able to cyber-commune in Cranmer’s Cathedral with a host of saints and sinners whose erudition (mostly) and intelligence (largely) have made this blog what it is. You keep coming back for more, so it must be offering a daily bread of sorts. Perhaps it is iron sharpening iron. Thank you all for your fellowship.

Thomas Cranmer lived in an age of controversy, when an allegation of ‘heresy’ was the convenient denunciation by which church-state irritants were silenced and dispensed with. In the modern era, it is allegations of ‘bigotry’, ‘phobia’ or ‘conspiracy theorist’ which are hurled to muzzle debate and murder reputations. Those who care for the truth and perceive beyond the soundbite are those who will care for and guard doctrine. It is a disjunctive, luminous intrusion into the shadowy reality of political correctness. “Full, perfect and sufficient” are not qualities which resonate in the itching ear.

Through 10 years of holding and debating matters of religion and politics in tension, some errors have been made – in content, tone and often by omission. For these, apologies and penitence are due. But condemnation fosters isolation; negativity, confusion; and threats, intimidation. They have been forthcoming in abundance over the years, and make blogging a passion and an agony. One longs for an end, but the sun always rises on another day when something needs to be said, and so it is, sometimes with stumbling, often with struggling, and always bound by the filthy rags of human inadequacy and sin. Public confession makes a walk to the stake a daily burden, but death is preferable to deception.

“Forasmuch as my hand offended in writing contrary to my heart, therefore my hand shall first be punished,” cried Thomas Cranmer as the acrid smoke caught in his throat and choked the greatest of Reformation saints. The Archbishop Cranmer blog is a woefully inadequate memorial to the man’s spiritual influence and theological genius, but we must remember that he penned two versions of his final declaration; and that he affirmed and recanted and then recanted his recantation. There is no end to rightly dividing the word of truth, and no boundary to the contemplation of the words which seek to expound the Word.

The Book of Common Prayer still resonates its mercies through a thousand cloisters, and a right hand is still held defiantly in the flames of intolerance and hate. This blog offers no comparable liturgy or proximate sacrifice, but it has now for 10 years sustained a glowing ember in the darkness of the days which long to be shortened. Thank you and bless you all for reading, communing, carping and criticising. It has been a remarkable decade, but the best and the worst are yet to come.

  • Congratulations, Your Grace. Although we don’t agree on everything, I can be ecumenical here and say that you are definitely a GOOD THING.

  • William Lewis

    Happy tenth anniversary YG! I, for one, am ever grateful for all your efforts and labours that make this blog such a jewel in the cyber sphere. Your words are invariably a pleasure to read, whatever the subject. A daily staple indeed!

  • Anton

    One trusts that his Grace has invited the longest-standing Regulars.

    Vivat Cranmer!

    Cranmer, Latimer, Ridley: made in Cambridge, burnt in Oxford. The man of blood Charles Stuart: received in Oxford, beheaded by Cambridge. I suppose that the Boat Race is a better way to do these things today…

  • Dreadnaught

    Congratulations Cranny. Ten years on and always something fresh to chew over; quite an achievement, not to mention the prospect of a few obscure words to look up. Well done Sir.

    • Ivan M

      I thank His Grace for tolerating me all these years.

      • dannybhoy

        Me too!
        (joke)

        • Ivan M

          🙂

  • magnolia

    Congratulations! Taking time off Lent here to raise a virtual glass of cyber champagne to your blog and wish it the very best health in the future!

  • Royinsouthwest

    Congratulations! Keep up the good work!

  • bluedog

    A magnificent achievement, Your Grace, and congratulations on your first decade in the blogosphere. Your comments are always a joy to read, informative, entertaining and educational. Your Christian witness is much appreciated.

  • Congratulations!

  • IanCad

    Congratulations YG.
    Thank you also for maintaining the archive, a very valuable resource for those who, like me, post regularly and need to check out our prior comments so as not to contradict ourselves.
    Memory, inconstancy, impulsiveness and all that.

  • preacher

    Heartfelt thanks & congratulations on a decade of illuminating posts. Keep up the good work. You’ve brought the light into dark places & even one candle lights a whole dark room.

  • Jill

    Only the best … Congratulations, and happy anniversary to Your Grace.

  • Congratulations on a remarkable achievement, Your Grace. Your dedication is remarkable, all the more so considering the difficulty of typing with charred stumps. Long may you reign over the blogosphere.

  • The Explorer

    Hang in there, Your Grace. Here’s to the next decade.

  • Shadrach Fire

    Bless your diligence and faithfulness to presenting His Holy Name.

  • carl jacobs

    So … Does this mean we start getting Commenter Pay? 😀

    • When the blog turns a profit, His Grace might consider sharing the profits of growth (but on present forecasts that won’t be this side of heavenly treasure).

    • bluedog

      A dangerous idea, Carl.

      What if His Grace’s communicants decide to fine one for a post of which they disapprove? This communicant is happy to post at no charge, believing that his posts are worth nothing anyway!

      Would you like your posts to be assigned a dollar value by acclaim?

      • carl jacobs

        I figure we could form the National Union of Cranmer’s Commenters, and apply the Labor Theory of Value. Jack could play the part of Arthur Scargill.

        What could go wrong?

        • Fulltime official and paid? Jack would consider it.

          Jack will not and cannot accept the principle that incompetence justifies dismissal. That is victimisation.

        • bluedog

          Perfect casting, Carl. Jack has a marxist background and only needs training in thuggery, corruption and stand-over tactics to fulfil the role of a union racketeer. Over to you.

    • Anton

      Let’s stick to the laying up of treasure in heaven.

      • carl jacobs

        Away with the false consciousness of “treasues in heaven”! Away with the bourgeois moderator class and its Capitalist privileges built on the backs of the proletariat! All Power to the Soviets!

        [So whaddaya think, Jack? Pretty good, huh? You never knew I was a closet Leftist, didya. Admit it.]

  • carl jacobs

    Congrats on a remarkable achievement. Many are written but few are chosen.

  • James60498 .

    Congratulations.

  • len

    Congratulations your Grace, ..and thanks for all the thought provoking articles and putting up with us all through the years.

    May your blog continue to be salt and light for many years to come……

  • William Lewis

    It seems that Twitter is also celebrating its tenth anniversary today! No wonder they made HG Archbishop of the Twittersphere.

  • Happy Anniversary from Happy Jack and all his “associates”.

    • The Explorer

      All we’re missing is well wishing from Linus and his (internal) associates.

      • dannybhoy

        Sssssh!!

      • William Lewis

        Careful what you wish for.

      • He’s disappeared since Malapropgate.

  • dannybhoy

    Thank you so much for persevering with a blog for Christians of all sorts and all shades of opinion.
    I like the blend of sacred and secular, and that as Christians we have politeness and consideration for each other.
    Does our Lord read it..
    I suspect He does.

    Congratulations

    • Uncle Brian

      … as Christians we have politeness and consideration for each other.

      Regrettably, not all of us can claim to live up to your high standards, Danny. I’m only too well aware that my short fuse shows through from time to time, and I’m grateful to His Grace for allowing me to get away with it. The freedom from censoriousness here is quite remarkable in the present-day climate, with bigotry and intolerance creeping up on us from all sides.

      • dannybhoy

        I’m only too well aware that my short fuse shows through from time to time, and I’m grateful to His Grace for allowing me to get away with it.”

        All kinds of people UB, and it’s holy grace which binds us together; not perfection.

        • Yeah, you people are terrible. Try to be more like me. Sage-like. Always sweet and pleasant to all.

          • One agrees. Us ‘old timers’ on the blog are cool, calm and collected at all times.

          • dannybhoy

            “Sage-like”?
            That’s a euphemism for waccy baccy?

      • Anton

        “Safe spaces” is an insidious conflation of the notion of physical assault with the desire not to hear words that you might not like. If you want to avoid words that you might not like then you should stay in your own abode.

      • David

        Well said Uncle Brian.
        Are you still in Brazil ?
        If so we are, uniquely perhaps, both on the same continent, being in southern Argentina at present.
        Best wishes.

        • Uncle Brian

          In the Welsh-speaking region, by any chance? Though in fact I don’t even know if they do still speak Welsh there, though.

          • David

            Oh no – Tierra del Fuego !

          • Royinsouthwest

            Yes, some people in Patagonia speak Welsh.

  • seansaighdeoir

    Congratulations Cranmer.

  • Uncle Brian

    Long may Cranmer’s thrive and prosper. It’s a unique source of information and ideas on just about every subject that can possibly be squeezed into the space where Christianity and politics overlap.

    Congratulations, Your Grace, and thank you.

  • Good show your grace.

  • Long time no comment, but I had to pop by and wish His Grace all the very best.

    • Cressida de Nova

      Smirks:)

      • Why Cressida. A big hello to you. Good to see a friendly face; and a very beautiful one too.

        • Cressida de Nova

          You’d better head back to the jungle Doddles. Neither of us are supposed to be here:)

          • His Grace is at a posh bash at Lambeth Palace, Cressie. But, as you say, time to retire back to my jungle paradise.

  • Owl

    YG, thank you. That’s all.

  • Phil R

    Congratulations

  • Martin

    Long may you continue.

  • Thank you YG for a great blog.

  • Matt A

    Congratulations YG

  • David

    Well I for one have greatly appreciated the honest debate, cut and intellectual thrust, not to mention at times “spikey” fellowship, but fellowship no less, of “Cranmers” excellent site. So many thanks for it, Your Grace. It is one of the few truly independent conservative centres of excellence.

  • RationalSpeculation

    Congratulations, Your Grace, your one of this agnostics daily “go-to” blogs and, having spent 4 years living opposite the site of your martyrdom, it’s nice to see there were no ill effects…

  • chiefofsinners

    And now you will be in double figures until you are 100.
    I have made a cake with lots of candles… Oh, sorry, insensitive.

    • Lienus

      I have organised the strippers.

      • Have you sought permission from Mr C. Jacobs, Cultural Standards Commissar?

        • carl jacobs

          No, Jack. It’s just you. You’re the one who got himself in trouble. I’m just looking out for you so you don’t wander off the reservation again because you start getting comfortable. Others can sip the occasional glass of wine. But it’s sparkling water for you.

          Just think of me as your sponsor.

          • Goodness … does this mean Jack can contact you 24/7 if he ever feels tempted?

            Now that’s settled, what about the Manchester derby?

          • carl jacobs

            No, you don’t have time for soccer right now. You need to focus on modifying your behavior.

          • Yes by distraction from temptation – the best method is to think about something else.

            So to the football …

          • carl jacobs

            Quiet contemplation, Jack. Like in a Monastery. It’s for your own good.

          • No; no. Watching a recording of the Manchester derby is all that is required to refocus Jack’s mind.

          • carl jacobs

            By not responding I am refusing to enable your self-destructive behavior. Monastery, Jack

          • Yes, Carl.
            Now, this competitive streak of yours, has it always dominated your life? You know, this need to win and the inability to be gracious in defeat. We’ll leave your judgemental behaviour aside for the moment.

      • Pubcrawler
        • Lienus

          We will do the job ourselves. Findy, Tuts et moi. The pleasure will be all mine.

  • Congratulations, Your Grace, and thank you for the uncounted and invaluable hours of reading, commenting, thinking and learning.

  • Findaráto

    A decade of identity theft and he’s still getting away with it.

      • carl jacobs

        I knew I shouldn’t have clicked on that link. I knew it. I knew it.

      • Why did they bother with the fangs and the horns? It was the corn kernels that put it over the top.

          • Horrid, Jack, horrid. I can smell it from here. This stuff belongs on the Dark Net. Someone actually spent time drawing this. While snacking on cookies, maybe.

          • “Horrid, Jack, horrid. I can smell it from here. This stuff belongs on the Dark Net.”

            Exactly; just like Linus and his comments.

        • IrishNeanderthal

          This is definitely political rather than religio-, but do have any thoughts to share about Rob Ford?

          • Ah, poor Rob, the wild and troubled guy so hated by all decent, upwardly mobile Torontonians and the honourable City establishment for embarrassing our World Class City with his outrageous antics. O, how they cringed.

            The best, and oddly enough the cleanest mayor we’ve ever had, a millionaire from an old and wealthy WASP family who moved among and sided with the little people and our petty concerns over climbing fees , shitty services and pot-holes against the globally-thinking elite leeches and fops who are now back to expertly picking our pockets, apoarently on behalf of Important Causes and Big Projects. The surprisingly shy man who answered or returned every call, who saved us millions and outraged the still-bitter media and the moralizing, professional scolds for coming out with excuses to avoid the obligatory tribute appearance at the annual Toronto Gay Pride Parade. I voted for him, and would have voted for him again.

            May you find peace, Robbie, and may the Almighty comfort your family.

          • CliveM

            A side of him I had never heard of before.

          • No, you wouldn’t have and you couldn’t have. All of our media, including the “conservative” one, tripped over its own feet to apologize to the world and aligned against him and his surprisingly diverse and numerous supporters, whom they mockingly called “the Ford Nation.”

      • Pubcrawler
        • It captures the feverish childishness, but where is the merde Française?

          • Pubcrawler

            I see it as representing the (self-)pleasure he clearly gets from being exceptionally vile. I wonder how much Kleenex he gets through.

    • Anton

      When did you last rule Nargothrond?

      • Findaráto

        Archbishop Cranmer was a real person. When did the proprietor of this blog last administer the Church of England, which is a real (for the time being, at least) church? In his dreams, he probably does now. But only in his dreams…

        • Anton

          Some would say that you are abusing the Intellectual Property Rights of the estate of the late JRR Tolkien. I don’t take that view but you might exhibit a little consistency.

          • Findaráto

            Try being consistent yourself.

            Using a fictional nom de plume is in no way comparable to assuming the name of a real person. Others on this blog have used the names of fictional characters without inciting your ire. Or do you not remember the hobnob-obsessed Mrs Proudie of Barchester? Did you ever berate her for ripping off the estate of Trollope?

            Thought not…

          • Anton

            That’s out of copyright.

          • Findaráto

            Tolkien’s estate as represented by his descendants and the various companies that have licensed parts of his work for commercial exploitation have never claimed copyright over my nom de plume.

          • Anton

            So if you started selling products labelled Findaráto then you’d be entirely confident of winning any suit they launched?

          • Findaráto

            I see your fertile imagination is providing you with revenge scenarios that let you dream of seeing me carted off to prison as punishment for defying you.

            I don’t understand the need. If you really believe in this imaginary God of yours, you must believe that my punishment awaits me. Why is this not enough for you? Why the desire to see me punished here on earth too?

            Tch, tch! You’re really not a very good Christian, are you? You don’t trust the Lord and you don’t believe in his prophecies concerning unbelievers. If you did, you wouldn’t waste time fantasizing about inflicting your own elaborate punishments on us.

            See you in hell, ye of little faith.

          • Anton

            It is adequate reply to repost this: Some would say that you are abusing the Intellectual Property Rights of the estate of the late JRR Tolkien. I don’t take that view but you might exhibit a little consistency.

            I don’t wish you to go to hell, actually. I don’t wish anybody there.

          • Findaráto

            Ho ho! That’s the conventional Christian answer, the one you trot out when you think God might be looking.

            I shouldn’t worry if I were you. He probably isn’t.

          • Anton

            I know what’s in my heart and mind. You know what’s in yours. But whenever you speak as if you know what is in another’s heart or mind you are merely speculating.

          • Lienus

            I weel call you Victoria. It is your nom de plum.

  • Cressida de Nova

    Congratulations Y G. Ten years is a mile stone. Pity we cannot all have a’ get together’ to celebrate. I have never been to a Protestant party!

    • len

      Don`t know what you`re missing.

    • dannybhoy

      I think that’s a good idea. Probably have to be regional though.

  • Hope you enjoyed the “do”.

  • CliveM

    Looking forward to the next 10 years.

  • Pubcrawler

    Congratulations on your first decade, YG. I don’t know how I used to fill my days before I found my way here…

  • Hi

    Cool. Well done.

  • Ps : is inspector o.k.. haven’t seen him for yonks!

  • Pete Broadbent

    Thank you for the invitation and for being able to be present at your celebration! Highly enjoyable. Looking forward to the next ten years of online debate, subversion and controversy. Go well.

  • Daniel1979

    Happy Blogoversary

  • Aran’Gar

    Your writings on this blog played a major role in my introducing me to Anglicanism and ultimately to converting. Thank you for keeping at it.
    God bless.