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Stewart Headlam's Radical Anglicanism

Stewart Headlam's Radical Anglicanism: The Mass, the Masses, and the Music Hall

John Richard Orens
Copyright Date: 2003
Pages: 200
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    Stewart Headlam's Radical Anglicanism
    Book Description:

    Standing in stark contrast to the conservative churchmen of Victorian Britain, the Anglican clergyman Stewart Headlam was a passionately progressive reformer, a champion of the working poor--especially women --a defender of the music hall performers his colleagues attacked as licentious, and, in short, a man of God who remained firmly and controversially engaged with the society in which he lived and worked._x000B_This book, the first significant study of Headlam since 1928, paints a rich and complex picture of this larger-than-life man of the cloth, charting the trail he blazed across the social, political, and religious landscape of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Britain._x000B_Dissatisfied from an early age with his familys Evangelical faith, Headlam became an Anglican curate, but his political views were increasingly radicalized as he befriended working-class atheists and trade union leaders. John Richard Orens details Headlams repeated conflicts with the establishment figures of his faith over his defense of music hall ballet performers right to reveal their legs, his role in the early years of the Fabian Society, his anti-puritanism, and his passionate socialism. Headlam was even instrumental in having Oscar Wilde bailed out of prison following the writers arrest for homosexual offenses.?_x000B_With this intellectual biography, Orens places Headlams life, beliefs, and actions in the context of the period, contributing to the ongoing debate about the proper relationship between Christianity, on the one hand, and society, sexuality, and the arts, on the other.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09204-6
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. 1 Anglican Difficulties
    (pp. 1-15)

    STEWART HEADLAM WAS THE MOST bohemian priest in the history of the Church of England. Throughout his fifty-four years of ordained ministry, Headlam defended atheists, consorted with ballerinas, and befriended political radicals, all the while denouncing the Anglican establishment and the respectable prelates who led it. He took special delight in shocking conservative churchgoers by using the doctrines they held most dear to justify the things they most loathed and feared: dance, drink, doubt, and social revolution. Few of Headlam’s contemporaries took seriously the faith that inspired his scandalous behavior; those who did were bewildered by the synthesis of Catholicism,...

  5. 2 The Curate’s Progress
    (pp. 16-35)

    HOLY ORDERS HAD BEEN SCANDALOUSLY easy to come by at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Many Anglican clergymen had never studied theology while at their universities and were ordained after only a cursory examination by the bishop. All this had changed by the time Headlam left Cambridge, in part because of demands from Evangelical and Anglo-Catholic reformers. Strict requirements were set for divinity degrees, and ordinands were subject to rigorous questioning from the bishop and his examining chaplains. Incompetents could now be weeded out, but so could men like Headlam whose unconventional views would seem especially threatening in an...

  6. 3 The Bishop and Mr. Bradlaugh
    (pp. 36-49)

    ANGRY AND BEWILDERED, Jackson now pondered Headlam’s fate. Although Broad Church clerics might strain the limits of orthodoxy and ritualists might defy the law, Jackson could understand their religious principles. But he could not grasp the connection between Christianity and the ballet. Headlam’s attempt to bedeck the music hall with sacramental trappings only increased Jackson’s perplexity. And what the bishop heard from Septimus Hansard exasperated him still further. The rector of St. Matthew’s, resentful of the support that Headlam continued to receive from the people of Bethnal Green, was struggling to reassert his authority. He complained that young parishioners were...

  7. 4 Building Jerusalem
    (pp. 50-65)

    ENGLAND STOOD AT THE BRINK OF momentous change: of this Headlam was certain. In 1878, more than two years before H. M. Hyndman announced “the dawn of a revolutionary epoch,” Headlam had warned that if the cries of the poor were not heeded, their only redress would be revolution.¹ Again and again he decried as illusory the belief that the charity of the rich and the continence of the destitute would cure the nation’s ills. There was only one remedy for hunger, disease, and bad housing, he told a Maundy Thursday congregation at Westminster Abbey in 1881: “the Christian Communism...

  8. 5 Christ at the Alhambra
    (pp. 66-78)

    ON THE FEAST OF THE EPIPHANY 1885, after nearly seventeen years as bishop of London, John Jackson passed away in his sleep. Although his episcopate had been turbulent, Anglicans of all parties mourned his death. Evangelicals remembered his piety, liberals praised his moderation, and Anglo-Catholics rejoiced that in his old age the bishop had learned to respect their faith and tolerate their ceremonial.¹ But Headlam, whom Jackson had left unlicensed and unreconciled, refused to grieve. He was troubled only by the question of who Jackson’s replacement would be. Another Evangelical, he feared, would renew the sentence against him and turn...

  9. 6 The Banner of Christ in the Hands of the Socialists
    (pp. 79-94)

    HARSH THOUGH IT WAS, Temple’s refusal to license Headlam was no bolt out of the blue. Since his ordination, Headlam had been at odds with his superiors. He questioned their theology, decried their politics, and condemned their moral certainties. And in return his incumbents dismissed him, his bishops repudiated him, and his fellow clergy ridiculed him. Yet even after Temple’s edict, Headlam insisted that the Church of England was the divinely ordained instrument of social emancipation. His atheist friends, long puzzled by his faith, again urged him to loose the shackles of ecclesiastical bondage and devote his energies to social...

  10. 7 Headlong and Shuttlecock
    (pp. 95-108)

    A GROUP OF UNDERGRADUATES lunching with the principal of Pusey House at Oxford were discussing the recent events in Trafalgar Square when their usually restrained host startled them with his opinion of Bloody Sunday. “It’s a pity,” Charles Gore told his guests, “they did not loot the West End.”¹ Gore’s bold words were remarkable even for a cleric well known for his radical sympathies. They were all the more significant because in choosing Gore to be the first head of Pusey House, Henry Parry Liddon had anointed him the future leader of the Anglo-Catholic movement. As yet, of course, Gore...

  11. 8 Triumph, Tumult, and Scandal
    (pp. 109-125)

    In the summer of 1888 Headlam was approached by friends from the Commonwealth Club, where he had given his controversial lecture on theaters and music halls. Would he be willing, they asked, to run for one of the five London School Board seats in Hackney, the borough encompassing Bethnal Green? Although he had never sought public office, Headlam leaped at the opportunity. He still thought of himself as an East Ender, and to be nominated by his former parishioners ten years after Hansard had expelled him from St. Matthew’s was a personal vindication. It was also a political vindication, for...

  12. 9 Prigs and Bureaucrats
    (pp. 126-140)

    As the century drew to a close, Headlam faced a political quandary. For years he had defied censure and ridicule to preach socialism. He had summoned the people to demand their rights and the church to assume its responsibilities. But now that socialism was a force to be reckoned with, its leaders, both Christian and secular, were charting a course he could not follow. His relations with the SDF were strained. He was struggling to keep the GSM afloat and its youthful dissidents at bay. And his quarrels with the Fabian Society were becoming more frequent and more serious. A...

  13. 10 The Age to Come
    (pp. 141-158)

    MORE THAN POLITICS stood between Headlam and his comrades. He believed that like the Evangelicals, many socialists so feared passion and spontaneity that they wanted to drag the people into an antiseptic utopia. Democracy would be swallowed up by administration, morality by science, and community by class interest. For apostasy this grave, he argued, there was only one sure remedy: the Catholic gospel of the kingdom of God. Thus to critics who dismissed the GSM as obsolete, Headlam and the guild council replied that there was “as great a necessity as ever for a society, openly and even aggressively Christian...

    (pp. 159-178)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 179-184)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 185-188)