The Procession of the Holy Spirit (Part Two)

Brother Causticus observes with a certain knowing resignation that once again St. Euphemesius Day has descended upon our parish in a somewhat untidy manner. Tucked as it is in the between the third and fourth Sundays of Advent, it tends to be overshadowed by the general penitential bludgeonings of preparations for the upcoming Feast of the Nativity.

As BC has noted previously, however, our parish's St. Euphemesius Day procession is one of the most joyous occasions of the Christian year – hurried as the general rush out the door to its commencement might be - and something of a homecoming for those parishioners of St. Euphemesius-By-The-Freeway who find Divine Services conflict with a proper celebration of Christmas, but make their faithful way to the rites of the patronal feast and exhibit great offense when the curate welcomes as them as newcomers to the church of which they consider themselves pillars by virtue of their annual deposit of a crisp twenty in the collection plate on Easter.

In the midst of this distracted disregard, however, Brother Causticus and the Reverend Deacon Thorndike Andrewes have been at work for some time with the festal preparations, assisted by the choir master and a rather good bottle of eighteen-year-old Cill Mhearnáig generally unobtainable on these shores of the Atlantic but procured by the resourceful deacon through a counterpart in orders of the Scottish Episcopal Church. Whilst BC and Deacon Andrewes occupied themselves with the liturgy and the odd wee dram, the choir master rehearsed his minions in the processional music.

The hymnody of St. Euphemesius Day is admittedly somewhat circumscribed, although it is said that “When Manners All Are Gracious” very nearly was included in Hymns Ancient and Modern but stricken from the final compilation as a gesture of reconciliation to low churchmen on the committee whose bid for “Fonts of Blood Doth Gush” was thwarted. In practical recognition of the significant gap between the respective lengths of the procession and the catalog of thematic songs, St. Euphemesius Day music includes a number of Advent hymns and a smattering of Gregorian chant. Prominent among these is the suitably venerable “Veni, Emmanuel” rendered regrettably, in BC’s view, in a language understanded of the people as “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” and waggishly referred to as “seven Os in a row” by certain off-color elements of the choir. BC hums it in Latin sotto voce throughout the procession.

Devotional preparations well in hand, Brother Causticus’ chief duty on the feast day is, as holder of the ancient and honorable office of verger, to gather all into some semblance of order behind crucifer, thurifer, torch bearers, clergy, and choir as the procession prepares to wend its way through the streets of our town.

This involves, for the most part, assisting children unaccustomed, in accordance with contemporary parenting practices, to having their activities limited in any direct manner, to assume a proper posture and remain sufficiently silent so that prayers may be offered by officiants and heard by more than the Almighty alone.

A visitor to St. Euphemesius-By-The-Freeway once remarked to BC, upon viewing the assembled congregants, that the parish was to be commended for its outreach to single mothers. BC hastened to assure the observer that our church was not afflicted by a statistically severe outbreak of divorce or bastardry and most female parishioners with children in tow were indeed joined in Holy Matrimony, but to husbands who were rarely in attendance at Divine Services owing to The Game, the exact nature of which varied according to the liturgical season, but Sabbath after Sabbath necessitated private devotions at home.

Brother Causticus therefore often finds himself acting as a something of a paterfamilias for the ecclesiastically orphaned and maintains a watchful eye for situations where a masculine presence wielding a stout rod might be of service. As is the custom, this feast day offered many opportunities to muster a corrective mien and guide recalcitrant youth to amendment of living.

Near the Sunday School doorway, such a call to vigorous ministry was arising. A mother was explaining in the simplest of terms to her son that the toys he fiercely clutched in his arms were not his to remove from the premises, to which he responded succinctly, “Mine, mine, mine!”

“But,” his mother remonstrated patiently, “These aren’t yours. They belong to the church. You need to leave them here.”

“No, mine, mine, they’re mine!”

BC began his approach.

“No,” his mother explained, “These toys are for all the children, not just you. If you take them, other children won’t be able to play with them. Put them down and leave them here.”

“Mine. Mine. Mine. No. No. No!”

BC had the verge at the ready.

“No, they are not yours,” said the mother firmly, removing the toys from his arms, “You will leave them here, John-David.”

And with that she marched him off empty-handed and out of sight, leaving Brother Causticus to turn his attention to the final preparations for the solemnities.

Although St. Euphemesius-By-The-Freeway has, through a series of incremental liturgical maneuvers, found itself a something of a 1979 Rite II parish – excepting certain emendations to allow several occasions for those so inclined to bewail their manifold sins and a general recognition that Eucharistic Prayer C is best rendered by Mr. William Shatner – the traditional St. Euphemesius Day collect is drawn from the 1932 Much Lesser Feasts and Fasts:

Almighty God, who hast shewn unto us the way of mannered restraint: Grant that we, encouraged by the most seemly example of thy servant Euphemesius, may persevere in decorously doing that which must needs be done while eschewing a surfeit of murmuring and ostentation, until at last we may with him attain to thy blessed equanimity; through Jesus Christ, the most subtle perfecter of our good taste, who liveth and reigneth unobtrusively with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

With that hearty Amen, the choir bursts into song and, as BC processes in front with the verge, the assembled People of God move into the streets solemnly forward to the Premium Outlet Mall.

A word of explanation is no doubt in order and will be forthcoming, but first BC must attend to his office. There is troubled talk of a bishop skulking about where even now the procession is forming. It is likely a large lump of liturgical lumber will be needed anon.

Here endeth the lesson of Part II.

Anathema! Anathema! Oops...Never Mind

Brother Causticus contemplates with some perplexity a declaration from the bishops of the Anglican Church of Tanzania pronouncing their communion with the Episcopal Church severely impaired, but further elucidating that they are still in communion with those who are in, are considering leaving, or have left TEC who adhere to Biblical Christianity and the authority of Scripture.

While BC in his smaller moments relishes the idea of selecting the Christians with whom he is or is not in communion according to his own exacting criteria, he must aver that he would often find himself not a member of the Una Sancta, but, alas, simply a solitary unus and thus offer too tempting a target for those who read with waggish intent.

Furthermore, in addition to those with whom communio in sacris is merely impaired, the good bishops declare that communion is irrevocally broken with:"(i) Bishops who consecrate homosexuals to the episcopate and those Bishops who ordain such persons to the priesthood and the deaconate or license them to minister in their dioceses; (ii) Bishops who permit the blessing of same sex unions in their dioceses; (iii) Gay priests and deacons; (iv) Priests who bless same sex unions."

Brother Causticus first must turn to a nicety of diction before considering the burden of the African argument. BC deplores the burgeoning usage of “deaconate” as a descriptor of the order of deacons. The Greek antecedent is διάκονος and “diaconate” represents a more direct derivation from the original rather than extrapolating from the English, as does “deaconate.” By way of further authority, the Google toolbar plaintively inquires “Did you mean diaconate?” when entering the search term “deaconate.” Thus, BC and Google speak with one voice on this issue, which should certainly be sufficient for anyone.

BC observes from further scrutiny of the Google results for “deaconate” apparently the Ecclesia Romana has many exponents who use the improperly derived term, leading him to pointedly question the claims made for that church’s Magisterium. If one is unable to get the grammar right, how can one make a credible assertion of doctrinal infallibility? But, as St. Paul reminds us, there are many members of the Body of Christ, each serving its appointed function, and BC supposes therefore that some parts are meant to render the language less euphoniously.

Returning to the statement of the Tanzanian bishops, BC is told that the locus from whence it flowered is fraught with implication. Issued dateline Dar es Salaam, the site of the upcoming annual Primates’ Meeting which many are touting as an ecclesiastical “rumble in the jungle” where the Global South will resoundingly toss errant Episcopalians out on their collective ear, the timing of the statement from this choice of location is seen by some as an ominous portent of the decidedly chilly reception awaiting TEC's Presiding Bishop upon her arrival at the conclave, should she be spared a preceding cut direct of no invitation at all. Or perhaps Dar es Salaam was selected for its wide availability of excellent Indian take-out, which, if one were ministering for most of the year out in the drought-stricken and undernourished Diocese of Shinyanga, for example, would be a compelling reason indeed.

But setting aside for the moment such speculations – made largely by Americans who claim to hew to the plain sense of Scripture, but seem to read foreign episcopal proclamations very, shall we say, liberally in search of yet another plank for the “hate Kate” platform – Brother Causticus views with approbation the good bishops’ principled stand and calls for the anathema to ring out against all who trespass against this cogently articulated enunciation of Biblical Christianity.

According to the form of these things, BC supposes he should now make some sort of fervid declaration about Bishop Spong, but will show unto you a more excellent way.

Rifling through his stacks of old Church Times, BC finds a description of an interview the then Bishop of Monmouth gave clearly stating that he knowingly ordained a practicing homosexual – when, oh when will these homosexuals become proficient at it? – as a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek, in clear contravention of the canons of the Church of England and, depending upon whom one asks, Scripture and Nature itself, thereby befouling with abomination an institution that had previously known only chaste connubial bliss. +Monmouth remains to this day publicly unrepentant and the priest continues unchecked wreaking his putative ministry upon unwitting parishioners and, one imagines, the poor and needy of his district who would no doubt fling away the bowls of soup he proffers were they to know the challenge his manner of living presents to the wider Communion.

This defiant, erring Bishop of Monmouth clearly has no place at the Tanzanian table. It is very meet, right, and a bounden episcopal duty to shun the brazen foray of this notorious and open sinner to the Sacrament as the communion between him and the Anglican Church of Tanzania is utterly null and void, as stated heretofore in paragraph (i).

That the bishops of Tanzania have boldly declared themselves out of communion with the Bishop of Monmouth - or as he is now known, the Archbishop of Canterbury – and have thereby ejected themselves from the Anglican Communion – whose muddled ecclesiology admits to no certainties other than communion with ++Cantuar defines membership – is no doubt an auspicious step forward for Biblical Christianity, but perhaps a bit of an impediment to the full success of the upcoming Primates' Meeting, where it appears the ostensible convener will have no place at all.

It’s probably not too late, though, for the Anglican Church of Tanzania to get its deposit back from the caterers.

"Do You Have to Be So Mean?"
BC Reads Your ePistles

Brother Causticus is gratified to learn that his trifling pensees have attracted a readership among the more discerning denizens of the Anglican blogosphere and, while unable to answer all the private correspondence winging his way from outposts of the Communion, responds to some of the more provocative missives here with apologies for airing them in the open.

What's all the St. Euphemesius-By-The-Freeway stuff about? Why not just stick to the point?
"The point" is not commentary on current affairs at all. Notice the many links to fine forums where up-to-the-minute news and opinion can be found. BC cannot hope to -- and indeed has never had to the inclination to -- match their peerless pursuit of the of the latest quakes and quivers in the Ecclesia Anglicana. But BC believes the story is the Church and the Church is, above all, a story. Patience, gentle reader, as the story unfolds.

Have you even been saved?
BC assures you he has been saved, is being saved, and will be saved through the grace of Christ Jesus. He regards conversion as not a moment in time, but a manner of living.

Why do you hide behind a pseudonym? Why not tell us who you really are?
Because I "really" am Brother Causticus. You are, too, but I'm the one who lets him out to play. I'm also other things, but they're only distractions around here.

Why do you seem so down on bishops?
BC believes that God often brings us to correction by turning that which with we most identify into an instrument of reproof, thus Episcopalians are afflicted by bishops, Presbyterians suffer under the Presbytery, and Congregationalists must endure each other.

Do you have to be so mean? Can't you make your point in a more loving manner?

The Procession of the Holy Spirit (Part One)

Brother Causticus views with a certain disquietude a recent transmission from ++Gregory Venables of the Province of the Southern Cone – invoking the blood of martyrs and buttressed by a prominently displayed lodestar logo of the Anglican Communion - offering an ecclesial home to breakaway dioceses of the Episcopal Church on behalf of the primates of the Global South or, in his own case, the south of South America, which is no doubt doubly orthodox indeed.

BC was mildly surprised to learn that the Bishop of the Southern Cone apparently hath jurisdiction in this realm of North America. Only mildly, because the addition of a purple shirt to one’s wardrobe has, in BC’s sad recollection, foundered many a fine pastor on the shoals of ecclesiastical overreach. Though delicacy forbade the direct appeal, the subtext all but screamed, “Here am I, ready, willing, and practically in your backyard. And did you notice the logo?”

Such a realignment scheme, BC avers, would make a certain sense, seeing that, save for the intervening regions of Brazil, Central America, and Mexico, the two areas in question are very nearly geographically contiguous. It goes unchallenged that having one’s archbishop in the same half of the planet allows for more efficacious spiritual and temporal direction, much to the detriment, BC might add, of the equally open-armed Bishop of Nigeria’s cause.

The accession of the seven American dioceses currently seeking the oversight of a more doctrinally compliant chief pastor would precisely double the number of dioceses – and roughly quintuple the Anglican souls - now in the good primate’s cure. With the addition of a select few dissident Canadian parishes, the Communion could be blessed with a right-thinking province 150,000 strong encompassing the whole of the Western hemisphere – with gaps too minor to mention - thus streamlining arrangements for primatial convocations and other functions of the Instruments of Unity.

But such speculations quickly outrun Brother Causticus’ ken, since his own modest preferment within the Church Catholic admits to no such grand enticements, thanks be to God. He is privileged to humbly serve his home parish of St. Euphemesius-By-The-Freeway in the ancient and honorable, but fallen unfortunately into much disuse, office of verger or, as it is known to the improperly catechized, “the guy in front with the stick.”

The stick in question being, of course, a verge, a stout piece of lumber with antecedents in the Middle Ages when it was carried before a procession and wielded to ward off rabid animals, violent ruffians, and episcopi vagantes bent on extracanonical skullduggery. With two of the three threats largely nullified, the verger nowadays engages in a mostly ceremonial ministry, but serves as a potent reminder of a very muscular Christianity indeed.

Though occasionally called upon by the rector during Divine Services to urge garrulous congregants back into their pews when the Peace begins to teeter in a more social than liturgical direction, Brother Causticus’ primary exercise of his office occurs on the feast day of the parish patron, when the congregation processes in choir through the byways of our town to the saint’s shrine.

This charming custom was endowed early in the last century by Miss Felicity Jowett, the grandniece of a noted Tractarian, and served not only a devotional end, but as a preludium to a generous fete on the grounds of the spacious family property where the tastefully appointed shrine was situated. Saint Euphemesius Day follows hard upon the third Sunday in Advent, so in deference to the penitential nature of the season, only sherry and port were offered as accompaniment to the groaning board, spirits being eschewed unless absolutely needed, in which case they were surreptitiously swigged behind the stables.

But time and urban renewal alters all things, as the poet observed. In the 1970s, the central “Holy Row” where most of our town’s churches were located was targeted – along with the bulk of the small downtown itself - by highway officials seeking a more direct route to the capital city. Businesses, homes, and houses of worship were extended relocation offers that were accepted with alacrity by nearly all except eccentric cranks and the vestry of St. Euphemesius, who were advised by lawyers – of which the parish had a disproportionate number - to persist in negotiating more advantageous terms.

This sage strategy coupled with native Episcopalian aversion to taking expeditious action of any sort delayed the project for a season, but, in the end, the route was redrawn, and as Methodists, Presbyterians, Baptists, and even Pentecostals ended that year breaking ground on more commodious facilities up the road, St. Euphemesius maintained possession of its moldering Gothic Revival pile while the soon-to-be eponymous freeway commenced construction yards away.

Here endeth the lesson of Part I.

The Service of the Word

Brother Causticus notes with one eyebrow arched – yes, he can do that and so can you with a modicum of disciplined effort – a communication from the Diocese of Southwest Florida announcing its annual convention’s adjustment of its apportionment to The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America “in order in to bring the amount in line with the Biblical concept of the tithe.”

The press release helpfully adds the parenthetical expression “10 percent” to assist the Episcopalian possessed of the average denominational Biblical literacy in understanding what exactly is meant by the term. The statement tactfully refrains from mentioning that not only Holy Writ, but General Convention itself defines the tithe also as the minimum standard of giving by individual Christians, thereby forestalling a panicked rush toward the fire exits.

Brother Causticus observes that this bold commitment to scriptural truth has already yielded righteous fruit as it reduces the current diocesan allotment to the national church by roughly half, thus freeing over $200,000 for the Diocese of Southwest Florida's far-flung mission outreach to – praise God from whom all blessings flow! – the Diocese of Southwest Florida. This is entirely resonant with the general tenor of other recent outbreaks of orthodoxy within the Church.

It should be stated that the diocesan ordinary remarked he was “somewhat disappointed” with the decision of his convention. Brother Causticus’ Baptist readers – both of you – should note that this is roughly equivalent to a minister of your own denomination hollering “Repent or you’re going burn in hell for eternity, sinners!”

BC’s own home parish of St. Euphemesius-By-The-Freeway has been beset in recent weeks with similar eisegetical antics. An Alpha course swept through the area leaving our unchurched neighbors largely untouched, but knocking out two of the three legs from the via media stool upon which a number of our congregants had heretofore steadily perched.

Senior warden Augustus Seabury “Buzz” Lancaster was particularly caught up with zeal for Bible study. “You know,” he confided to BC, “It’s amazing how much of it comes from the Prayer Book.” An evangelical friend steered him away from the New Revised Standard Version -- which promulgates the apparent heresy that the text might have been addressing those of both genders when it employs the masculine normative -- toward a New International Version without those problematic deuterocanonical books.

When his next round as lector came up, Buzz read from this rendering, rather than the NRSV on the service bulletin’s lectionary insert, thereby befuddling many parishioners with the variance between what was coming from the lectern and that which was on the paper before them. A further portion were doubly astonished that the passage Buzz was declaiming apparently came from a sizeable book, rather than the aforementioned single sheet. Observing it was somewhat like the Gospel volume the deacon carried in procession, they heartily sang out “Praise to you, Lord Christ” when Buzz finished the epistle.

Despite several mild reproaches from our rector, Buzz persisted in this practice until All Saints Sunday, when he frantically fumbled through Ecclesiastes for several awkward moments looking for a forty-fourth chapter before an alert acolyte sidled up and handed him the lectionary insert containing the appointed reading from the forty-fourth chapter of Ecclesiasticus.

Though chastened, Buzz continued his commitment to rightly dividing the word of truth, though not in circumstances where personal embarrassment might ensue. It became common knowledge that the chances of a favorable outcome for any item brought before the vestry increased greatly when the senior warden could be convinced of its scriptural warrant, though he was stonily overruled by the distaff members when he suggested that they be silent in the meetings and ask their husbands to explain to them the nature of the proceedings later.

Armed with this foreknowledge, Ms. Laeticia York of St. Euphemesius’ Peace and Social Justice Committee approached the vestry bearing her latest modest proposal with a certain sly confidence. Laeticia who, it should be noted, constituted the entirety of the Peace and Social Justice Committee, was fresh from the twin triumphs of convincing the Altar Guild to use sacramental wine made from organic grapes picked by union farm workers and the ECW to fill the post-service coffee hour pots with beans grown by a Guatemalan women’s cooperative, and had now turned her attention to the upcoming local elections.

Buzz, who had extended discussion of a faulty water heater in the Sunday School wing to a remarkable length in hopes that the lone visitor to the vestry meeting might grow discouraged and leave, at last heaved a sigh and called for new business. He saw with some surprise Laeticia had with her a Bible and wondered what in the world Laeticia was doing with it, since she had heretofore evinced only an interest in equity for the poor, peace between nations, stewardship of the earth, and other non-scriptural themes.

Laeticia began by noting that the Bible mentions donkeys 130 times and read several passages describing the general high regard the inhabitants of ancient Israel had for this estimable beast of burden. She expounded on the implications of “Speak, ye that ride upon white donkeys, ye that sit in judgment” from the tenth verse of the fifth chapter of Judges and distinguished this rather rarer manifestation from what was called “in the original Hebrew” the hamor or common reddish-brown donkey. She wove a compelling argument through the Prophets (major and minor) and nimbly lept to the Gospel narrative of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, noting that the King of Kings, the Lord of Glory Himself rode to the Passion by which all the world would come to redemption on, yes, a donkey and therefore the vestry of St. Euphemesius should pass a resolution endorsing the candidacy of a local worthy contending for Congress under the auspices of the Democratic Party.

The assembled vestry sat stunned, bludgeoned into stupefied silence by the erudition of the exegesis, though nagged with the suspicion that it was faulty in ways they could not fully articulate without revealing the paucity of their own Biblical insight. Buzz desperately tried to recall a passage mentioning elephants and could not. As in a dream, one member proposed the resolution and another seconded it.

It seemed there was nothing to do but call the question, when, from the end of the table, Mr. Walter Joiner -- a high school biology teacher whose primary perceived value to the church community was that of a “man of science who was also a man of faith” and thereby useful as a counterpoint in discussions with rude agnostics -- mildly remarked that the species populating the Holy Land under discussion was technically not a donkey, but a member of the ass family.

The ancient and venerable Mr. Ludlow Harms, whose date of election no one could recall and whose term apparently had not yet expired, snapped his chin up from its repose on his chest and chortled phlegmily, “That’s what they called ‘em in the King James Version,” and began a recollection that involved a long-departed childhood friend, a pew copy of the Bible, and an unfortunate breach of decorum during Morning Prayer, but which he did not complete due to his lapse midstream back into slumber.

Seeing his opening, Buzz proposed that the resolution be amended to state that the vestry of St. Euphemesius-By-The-Freeway encouraged all faithful Christians to do their civic duty in the upcoming plebiscite and be it further resolved that the Democratic candidate for Congress was an ass.

Brother Causticus was not present that evening, having long since perfected the execution of a deft sidestep at the approach of a representative from the vestry nominating committee, but he heard reports of infelicitous statements rendered with intemperate language during the ensuing discussion.

Over the next several weeks, BC noticed a realignment in the customary seating of parishioners at Divine Services, one cluster forming on the left side of the nave around Ms. York and another across the aisle around Mr. Lancaster, who sat most decidedly on the right, each claque commencing just audible murmurings of affirmation during the Service of the Word at the passages of which they particularly approved. Both parties kept silent only at the Gospel, manifesting no reaction observable by most of their fellow Christians or anyone at all in the wide world beyond our sanctuary doors.

Which Side Are You On?

Brother Causticus recalls with a certain asperity an occurrence some years back he finds illustrative of the current unpleasantness within the Episcopal Church. It was an occasion of faculty labor unrest at an institution of higher learning. BC disremembers the proximate cause of discontent, but a noontime rally was called where learned speaker after learned speaker thunderously decried the depredations of the trustees, administrators, and other forces of darkness. BC joined a dubious knot of fellow undergraduates standing on the fringes of the conclave hoping our presence might be interpreted as support by those who would be shortly issuing our grades for the rapidly waning academic term.

The capstone to this fol de rol was the ascension to the platform of an associate sociology professor toting a banjo. Dripping as he still was with the dew of innocence, Brother Causticus did not fully perceive this as the incipient threat it surely was. Adjusting the microphone with a desultory clunk, the Appalachian-aping pedagogue launched into a spirited (by which BC means loud and rather off-key) rendition of the old union ballad "Which Side Are You On?"

As the erstwhile molder of minds intoned line after line, to the great approbation of his peers, recounting the desperate struggle of Harlan County hard rock miners offering up actual blood in their fight against a monstrously unjust lot, a tremulous little titter began to develop within our clump of young scholars. BC could feel the eyes of his roommate, a noted campus wit, boring into the back of his neck and knew that, should BC turn to meet his gaze, the jig, as they say, would be up.

Manifesting as adequate a poker face as he could, BC solemnly withdrew with his roommate to the confines of their dormitory where, behind closed doors, they practically wet themselves with amusement. While BC is not unsympathetic to the very real frustration of attempting to coax out even modest facility with the language from the disinterested denizens of bonehead English, the conflation of the lot of the public university professor with that of a laborer doing dirty, dangerous work a mile underground for starvation wages and headed almost certainly to an early, dingy death was, in a word, preposterous and more than a bit presumptuous.

With this most instructive incident in mind, let us turn our focus on the various factions struggling for control within the Episcopal Church and their collective id as expressed through the Anglican blogosphere. Largely well-educated, largely well-fed -- yes, BC has seen many of you in person and in photographs -- and largely comfortable in life, each warrior of words imagines himself the embodiment of the Church Militant engaged in mortal combat with the Father of Lies -- whether he be found in the fundagelical machinations of schismatic hatemongers funded from the deep and shadowy pockets of neoconservative billionaires or in the limp heresy of ineffectual do-gooders in sensible shoes passing resolutions in support of homosexuals and other terrorists at the annual assembly of the National Council of Churches.

As the battle is thusly joined, Brother Causticus is often asked, "Which side are you on?" To which he can only reply that he is firmly on the side of the adults.

The noted public intellectual P.J. O'Rourke once observed, "Polarization is the crack cocaine of politics. One hit and you want another." The various parties in the current Episcopal contretemps and their extrusions into the Anglican blogosphere occupy a veritable crack house of polarization. A well-appointed and tastefully furnished crack house in the right sort of neighborhood, of course, but a den of junkies nonetheless.

When BC speaks of "the adults," he is referring to those who never picked up this particular pipe or, barring that, have put it down and logged a decent interval of industrious sobriety. The adults of BC's acquaintance are faithfully serving their Lord in small, mundane ways: patiently listening to that dotty old dear at the church supper go on about her cats, taking the blind neighbor to Divine Services, helping a Sunday School child build a popsicle stick Jerusalem, rising early to tidy the church before an unexpected funeral, praying with an anxious mother in the hospital emergency room, or trying to see the best in those with whom they might disagree.

When the thundering warriors of words are done with whatever they are doing with our Church, the adults will remain -- as they always do schism after schism -- quietly seeking and serving Christ in their neighbor and walking humbly with their God.

Brother Causticus will in these pages wield the mighty Rod of Reproof where it is warranted. Fear the Rod of Reproof, Anglican crackheads of the blogosphere! At times, BC will unfortunately appear to be cut from the same cloth as those bearing the brunt of his chastisement. But Brother Causticus gives you his most solemn word that he will never forget the adults and, despite his own splenetic inclinations, do his best to be one himself.