An American in Oxford
Published on: June 1, 2010
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  • WigWag

    Welcome home Professor Mead. I know I can speak for your many fans when I say that we’re glad that the clotted cream and scones you enjoyed in Oxford had a better effect on your stomach than the falafel and hummus that you enjoyed in Jerusalem.

    Given your brief sabbatical from blogging, I have to confess that I was somewhat surprised and even a little chagrined to discover how addictive this blog has become. Like sitting down in the morning to eat breakfast while reading the New York Times, reading a “Mead post” over breakfast has become a real pleasure; in fact it’s like drinking a digestif.

    Another British tradition that I think Americans are fascinated by, but the British may think is anachronistic, is “High Table.” My understanding is that it once served as an opportunity for fellows and faculty members to dine with the undergraduates; the faculty literally set at an elevated table at one end of the dining room.

    I am told that it still exists at both Oxford and Cambridge but that now the distinguished faculty and their guests dine alone and engage in fascinating discussions about esoteric subjects.

    I wonder if this tradition really does continue in modern times. To me, it’s the one of the things that is particularly charming about the British system of higher education.

    Supposedly being invited to “High Table” is a real honor.

  • Luke Lea

    As professional landscape gardener (retired) I am naturally impressed by the standards of English landscape gardening. On piece of advice I remember on the proper mowing of lawns, namely not to cut the grass too short; What constituted too short? Anything less than one quarter of an inch. But maybe New Yorkers won’t get the joke.

  • MB

    “the Brits won’t live in a theme park wearing quaint costumes and thinking quaint thoughts just to amuse their American cousins”

    If you keep paying in hard currency, you can be sure that a few of us will be happy to oblige.

  • John Barker

    Your fans missed you. Your writing really gets to people. You add the human dimension and don’t treat countries and their people like pieces on a game board.

  • Godfrey Saint

    A very interesting blog post indeed, especially the comment about Tolkien and CS Lewis. It says more about the modern UK than it does America that Tolkien and Lewis are more respected in the USA.

    However, one thing for WRM and his Anglicanim: please note that there is NO such thing as the “Roman Catholic Church”, despite whatever he learned in his Protestant Sunday school.

    There is only the Catholic Church, which was founded by Christ, and is currently headed by Pope Benedict XVI, successor to Saint Peter. The Catholic Church has within it many different rites from Roman to Byzantine to Maronite and so on. A Byzantine-rite Catholic is a Catholic, every bit as much as a Roman-rite Catholic. The use of “Roman” is a pejorative, to try and hide the fact that in the Reformation the Anglicans cut themselves off from their spiritual patrimony and from the apostolic succession. It is a semantic to try and deny the universality of the Catholic Church, which makes small any other Christian church. Whenever Muslims or Jews think of Christianity, they think of Catholicism, and not some mega-church with a Pastor who drives a BMW, or some Anglican diocese with lesbian bishops and gay priests. As for global Christian leaders, there is only the Pope, something even the Archbishop of Canterbury recognises.

    Soon there will be an Anglican rite within Catholicism, which will provide a home for those who, like WRM, are finding the Episcopalian Church increasingly un-Scriptural, pagan and ridiculous.

    Come home Walter!

  • joe

    I have often thought how irritating Anglophile interest in Britain’s past must be to the current residents.

    I don’t believe this inclination reflects an implicit recognition of the UK’s lowered status in the world, as I may have inferred from your piece above, but a lack of cultural similarity between the US and post-war Britain. Think on it: has there been one writer or British novel or movie that has achieved any last place in American culture since ’46? Hitchcock, Boorman, Lean did most of their best work in America. Dick Francis might be the most popular novel in a second rate genre. Amis (both) are writers’ writers. Really, outside of Harry Potter, Monty Python and the Young Ones nothing the Brits have made has stuck over here. All the BBC America drivel is a reflection of Wodehouse, Agatha Christie, Saki, Defoe, and Dickens–the popular and cherished idea of American Britain.

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  • Margaret

    “The use of “Roman” is a pejorative, to try and hide the fact that in the Reformation the Anglicans cut themselves off from their spiritual patrimony and from the apostolic succession.”

    Nonsense. The use of the word “Roman” is because Protestants do not grant the adjective “catholic” to the exclusive use of the Romans. As Protestants believe themselves to be catholic — as opposed to *Roman* Catholic — there must therefore be a modifying adjective in front of “catholic” in order to communicate clearly about what church to which the speaker is referring.

    Nor is it a “pejorative” or meant to be to use such a modifier — although certainly it is irritating for those Roman Catholics who spend their time on blogs calling out to Anglican bloggers to “come home.”

    Great post, Dr. Mead. Thank you for your blog.

  • leif sodergren

    Would OXFORD 1962 by any chance be of interest?
    Donovan O’Malley’s comic novel, OUR YANK, is inspired by his years as a student at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art in Oxford 1960-1963. He describes the nearly surreal experiences of Leander Riley, a 17-year old American student, who arrives from California against a backdrop of possible nuclear war in 1962, to study at the ‘Rossetti’ School of Drawing and Fine Art.

  • Justin

    Godfrey Saint I agree with Margaret and would add that us in the Easter Orthodox church who ALSO LAY CLAIM TO THE NAME CATHOLIC are not represented in your church by the so called ‘byzantine rite’ Catholics which are a small number in the Roman Catholic church comparatively speaking.

    Also the way you speak about how in the future you believe Anglicans will join the Roman Catholic church and become an Anglican Rite Catholic implies that the byzantine rite catholics represent all the eastern churches. This is rubbish. And please don’t tell me that it not what you meant because it logically follows from what you said about Anglicans. The orthodox are over 1/2 a billion in the world and we are not a part of your eastern or byzantine rite department of your church so are we now invisible? I do agree there will be Christian unity in the future but it will be according to Christ’s design not the design by people such as you or the Roman Catholic Church. And be prepared to be humbled my dear brother in Christ as Peter was humbled by Paul when he sat at the judaizers table thereby snubbing the gentile converts. What I mean is the pope will become another bishop among bishops NOT the main head of the united Christianity of the future. I know I will probably get some hate postings on here after this but it’s the truth. Protestants, Roman Catholics, Orthodox, Copts and Anglicans will sit at Christs table AS EQUALS not as servants under the Pope or under Rome. Deal with it.
    And glory be to God.

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