From the Blackberry of

Deacon Thorndike Andrewes

-----------FoneCo SMS-------------------

kjs>wuz^. BC der?
dta>Ys - hes drivN
kjs> u drinkN agn?
dta>NO!
kjs>d00d. tel d truf.
dta>wel mayB jst a kupl \_/s. bt dats nt Y bcS drivN.
kjs>Y den?
dta>sez heS on a mssn.
kjs>holE crp! nt 4 +++Cntr agn!
dta>nt sure. he sEz "pck d verge w'r outa hre. nuf S nuf."
kjs>thot he wz bZ prayN.
dta>wuz. sEz "dn prayN. tym 2 do."
kjs>do wht?
dta>dnt knw.
kjs> hes nt gunA tri 2 kik a lil (_(_) agn S he?
dta>wel uNo hw he gts sumtyms.
kjs>i no i no.
dta>w8. bc wnts me 2 gUgl map somit.
kjs>whr?
dta>Atwater CA
kjs> o dEr lrd, hlp!
dta> gt2go NOW. c u.

Lovely Petty Chicanery

BC observes with a certain disquietude that Deacon Thorndike Andrewes is unsettled to the point that he allocated for himself an extra finger of An Eaglais Bhreac this evening during the mutual ministry review he and BC conduct daily after Vespers. The good deacon has been remonstrating with BC rather strenuously regarding the "Best Religion Blog" contest of the apparently prestigious though hitherto-unknown-to-BC Bloggers Choice Awards for which this humble forum has been nominated. As noted earlier, BC initially resisted the deacon’s promotional plans for this dubious distinction and relented only when BC was assured that prominence in the polling of a blog not given to hyperbolic ejaculations on all things Episcopalian would be novel and perhaps even a soothing emollient anointing the troubled brow of the blogging Ecclesia Anglicana.

But, alas, letting all things be done decently and in order yields, in the whipsawing fray of our blessed communion, an astounding diminution of interest and attention. After an initial surge for T1:10 and, by metaphorical extension, the covenant process and, indeed, the Anglican Communion itself, the voting has faltered, leaving a certain strident website noted for vehement discourse climbing to the top of the poll, eclipsed only by a blog of the Ecclesia Romana, a rank unlikely to be surpassed given the fecundity of that church’s communicants, though BC applauds Father Matthew Kennedy and his assistant pastor for their valiant efforts to close even this gap.

“They’re beggin’ for votes on their site and even sendin’ out emails to all their registered users,” fumes the always well-intentioned, though at times volatile, deacon, whose irascibility often waxes – and diction wanes – as his glass empties, “And they’re tellin’ people how to cheat and vote lots of times. They’re proud they’re cheatin’ so good!"

That this web-based bastion of self-avowed Anglican rectitude would openly encourage petty fraud provokes in Deacon Andrewes an interlude of intemperate language reminiscent of sailors long at sea or Altar Guild ladies encountering wine stains on fair linen, but BC finds himself touched by the endearing venality of it all.

Unlike the embarrassed flurries of concealment when a gust of contemporary American politics blows through the Anglican-good-and-true websites and billows up white robes of righteousness to reveal bright-red Republican underpants, there is something refreshingly direct about the unbridled pursuit of the meaningless using whatever means necessary by those unkindly (and often imprecisely) pegged as prigs by their factional foes. Just as one begins to wonder if the Anglican blogosphere – left, right, and in the cracks – can do nothing but pound its keyboard in furious certitude, pausing only long enough to stand on its porch in its bathrobe and yell at the neighborhood kids to get off its damn lawn, an utterly charming little interlude of humanity breaks out. Thanks be to God!

BC finds similar comfort in the pith of a certain academic who does not mince words about his view of the Episcopal Church and its property by averring “…if you have dwelt in a whorehouse for many years after knowing the nature of the establishment, and now if you tarry but a while longer you can collapse the building and perhaps get away with some of its spoils, why not do it?” BC takes the liberty of appending, deux ex machina, “in Christian love” as the commentator no doubt intended, but can find no other fault in this admirable expression of intent and purpose.

No, Deacon Andrewes – put that bottle down now, please – BC will not engage in pious cant about the hypocrisy of Christians – even blogging Christians – engaging in a bit of petty chicanery or overblown rhetoric. BC knows only too well that he and his dear brothers and sisters firmly rooted in Christ are keenly aware of the Tempter's obvious blandishments and, instead, show ourselves in these trifling ways children of the Fall in sure and certain need of a Savior.

Pray for me, a sinner, and, indeed, pray for us all that we may love mercy, do justice, and walk humbly with a God who works in and through us in ways we can scarcely imagine to a sovereign purpose clear only at that day when we shall see face-to-face the One who has redeemed us from this fear and darkness. To Him be the glory now and forever!

Update on May 18th: As their blog ratcheted within a few votes of the the number one position in this prestigious email harvesting scheme , the hosts of the vastly-more-visited-than-T1:10 website mentioned above called for all things to be done decently and in order and for voting to continue within the general framework of "one (hu)man, one vote." BC rejoices with his dear brothers and sisters in Christ that penitent sinners, among whom BC is daily numbered, will always find divine mercy, rather than the judgment so richly due us.

On eBay: A Favor for a Friend

Brother Causticus notes with some concern that Deacon Thorndike Andrewes has been acting oddly of late, quickly hiding parcels in his office - did one appear to contain emblazoned women's undergarments? - or hushing conversations with the president of the Ladies Charity Guild in the corridor when BC approaches, and now seems nowhere to be found, despite the nearness of Vespers. But no matter, as other considerations press. BC has been implored by one of his more august correspondents to offer once again an opportunity for his dear T1:10 readers to take up an eBay bidding ministry in pursuit of the greater Anglican good. BC commends for your consideration the following item:

An Evening (or Two) At Home for the Archbishop of Abuja


An update on Saturday, May 5:

Reports from the The Cecil D. Hylton Memorial Chapel and ChristianTM Event Center in Virginia indicate that ++Abuja is "in the house" (as one of BC's younger correspondents phrased it) and the installation of the Reverend Doctor Martyn Minns is in progress, thereby negating the necessity for this eBay listing at this time. The auction has been ended and "Item lost or broken" selected from the relevant eBay menu as the reason for its untimely demise.

A further note on typography:

BC, called upon to lead Terce whilst posting this update, quickly cut-and-pasted some errant text describing the Virginian venue and went to prayers. Returning, BC noticed a TM ostensibly misplaced in haste, but, upon further reflection, decided the Holy Spirit was indeed doing a new thing in North American Anglicanism, and will let it stand where it fell.

From Deacon Andrewes:

Shhh...Please Don't Tell BC

While our beloved verger is a man of many virtues, Brother Causticus is, at times, so self-effacing that he is in danger of having no face at all. As his campaign manager - not that BC would countenance any campaigning, much less managing - for the Bloggers Choice plebiscite, it has occurred to me that Titusoneten readers need an outward and visible means of expressing the inward and invisible grace they experience on these pages. Should any votes be garnered by such an expression, so much the better. Toward that end, the Ladies Charity Guild of St. Euphemesius-By-The-Freeway (Still) Episcopal Church is offering an assortment of BC-related items in their "Notions Nook" boutique. You may find something to delight you there:

The Ladies Charity Guild of St. Euphemesius-By-The-Freeway
(Still) Episcopal Church Notions Nook


It is quite possible that knowledge of this endeavor - as good as it might be for the Anglican Communion at large - would distract BC to the point where his verge might tremble unsteadily at a key moment in the procession, which would not do. Some inclined to the uncharitable might feel BC is perhaps overscrupulous in his pursuit of a most humble estate, but I urge T1:10 readers to simply recognize it for the incipient saintliness it most surely is and avoid troubling him with any talk of this little entrepreneurial enterprise.

T1:10 and the Steely-Eyed Via Media Honored

Brother Causticus thanks the former warden - and is there in our dear Church any title so happily-worn and hard-won as "former warden"? - at Episcopalooza for nominating this modest essay on things Anglican for "Best Religion Blog" in the Bloggers Choice Awards.

This site was inexplicably nominated for Best Religion Blog, leading Brother Causticus to re-double his fervent pleas to the Almighty that he be spared the sin of a haughty spirit that goeth before destruction.

An eschewal of even the hint of overweening pride would normally forestall BC from mentioning this worldly honor, but Deacon Andrewes has observed that certain blogs claiming amongst their readership vast legions of self-styled orthodox adherents - to say nothing of the much-touted tacit support of millions of African Anglicans - have garnered no votes whatsoever while T1:10 is, at the time of this posting, surging forward toward the dozen vote mark, speaking volumes, BC surmises with all humility, of the appeal of a gimlet-gazed via media committed to gently - when possible - noting that we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. (Rom 3:23, but BC's well-above-the-Episcopal-norm-of-Biblical-literacy readers knew that.)


A Pertinent PowerPoint

Brother Causticus, in an earnest desire to propagate Christian knowledge, offers this modest educational resource elucidating the heretofore obscure canonical nicety of obtaining consent for the election of a bishop, a process which has caused much apparent befuddlement in our Church of late.


Six Weird Things About Brother Causticus

Brother Causticus emerges reluctantly from the golden silence of his Lenten blog fast only at the behest of Saint Pat, who has importuned him to reveal "six weird things" about himself. Laying aside the preposterous proposition that anything about BC is other than that which is decent and in order, BC will, in joyous resurrection spirit, yield to a certain jocular impulse and offer his dear readers the following pensees as a means to further fellowship, mindful always that an unseemly slip into overweening self-regard is a perilous possibility in any such undertaking. Kyrie eleison.

Weird Thing 1
Brother Causticus, well-versed in Tallis and Palestrina and possessed of the belief that choral Evensong might well be Anglican Christianity’s most enduring gift to the world, nonetheless has been known to kick out the jams on the bass guitar with a monster R&B-inflected groove that has on occasion led his dear sisters in Christ to shake, shake, shake their collective wild thangs – in a most spiritually edifying manner, of course. Bishop Chane, BC awaits your call.

Weird Thing 2
Brother Causticus once owned and drove a Fiat 600.

Weird Thing 3
Brother Causticus discussed politics in many an undergraduate bull session with a current US presidential candidate who, even then, avers BC, demonstrated a marked propensity to seek common ground rather than partisan division.

Weird Thing 4
Brother Causticus can often be found in cheap Mexican joints, pursuing perfect carnitas and cold Negra Modelo.

Weird Thing 5
Brother Causticus does not watch television, not merely because it mostly offers pointless, numbing drivel, which, indeed, it does, but because his local cable company provides poor service at exorbitant prices. Despite shunning the lifeblood of American culture, BC is not entirely isolated and cannot help but wonder what is up with the whole Sanjaya thing, anyway?

Weird Thing 6
Brother Causticus has an innie.

For the next round of “Six Weird Things,” Brother Causticus tags Archbishop Peter Akinola, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts-Schori, Canon Kendall Harmon -- BC can dream, can’t he? -- recent CANA convert Fr. Donald Armstrong, noted pro-thespian spokesman Tony Shalhoub, and Regent University Law School alumna Monica Goodling.


eBay Shall Not Splinter the Communion!

Brother Causticus notes with some asperity that what many regarded as the last, best hope for the Anglican Communion fell prey to neither the homosexualist apostates nor the parallel province property purloiners and their respective machinations, but rather a minion of the "Trust & Safety" apparatus of online auctioneer eBay who cited chapter and verse to pronounce an abomination BC's modest attempt to effect a rapprochement between the Archbishop of Canterbury and the American House of Bishops. BC thanks the magnanimous bidders who pledged to underwrite this essential conversation and avers that there is still much more that can - and will - be done. Offline even, if necessary. Courage!

(Note from Deacon Andrewes: Click the image to see BC's eBay listing and then thank St. Pat for having the foresight to save it.)

From Deacon Andrewes:

Fate of the Communion Now on eBay

I have been asked to call attention to the following listing on eBay, which is not, as one might infer from this post title, a remaindered work from the oeuvre of Dr. Ephraim Radner:

Travel for the Archbishop of Canterbury to the USA

See American bishops in their native habitat!

The bishops of the American Episcopal Church have asked Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, to make an unprecedented and long-delayed visit to them in North America to discuss the Current Unpleasantness pre-occupying the Anglican Communion. The Americans assure ++Cantuar that their Christian hospitality will match that of the various fissiparous bishops he has broken bread with on multiple continents. So that the plate and pledge of parishes is not unnecessarily depleted, elements within TEC inclined toward reconciliation or at least a good face-to-face row are offering a business class ticket to any USA destination of the archbishop's choosing, along with lodging in a Courtyard by Marriott (tm) or better accommodation within strolling distance of the agreed-upon meeting place. A team of Th.D translators will be on hand to couch ++Cantuar's musings in terms accessible to the colonials. Tea and biscuits to be provided by the ECW.

All are invited to bid on this communion-saving encounter.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

eBayers ask questions:

[W]ill accommodations be provided for the Nigerian assistants that will accompany the archbishop? Also, is this an "all inclusive package" like certain Mexican resorts or will the archbishop be required to cover additional expenses (such as his bar tab, greens fees, gratuities, transportation to and from the airport, & etc.)? Finally, are optional sight-seeing activities available for the archbishop?

Brother Causticus (I hope it gets better soon) may I ask is this a one-way ticket, or will the AB be expected to return to C, as it may have a bearing on my bidding? Also, is it possible to combine other items to ship with this one? Thanking you in anticipation...


BC assures eBayers that, while details of arrangements are still lacking precision, all things will be done decently and in order. The current president of the Episcopal Church Women (ECW) of BC's home parish St. Euphemesius-By-The-Freeway has specifically requested that BC note a range of entertainments are being devised even now, but there will not, she emphasizes, be a reprise of the "Birettas and Boilermakers" themed soiree of the last ABC visit.

Brother Causticus (love it!): This morning, when I entered "archbishop of Canterbury" in the ebay search field, I got two items -- one on a picture of ++Fisher, and the other to this travel item. Now, this item is no longer being listed, although I see that it's still active. Has ebay smelled a rat? Curious minds want to know...

BC assures [you] that eBay -- like the rest of the world -- would scarcely notice any shenanigans by Anglicans and expects this listing to continue to completion.

I thought Stephen Bates warned us: he only flies 1st Class.

BC has noted the Stephen Bates article, but, in this time of crisis, we all must sacrifice: gays and lesbians must forgo their appointed place in the life and worship of the Church and the ABC must travel business class.

I think your little satire is entirely reprehensible. Whether you are liberal or conservative on the current issues of TEC, you ought to learn some respect, and perhaps some humility as well. If you were carrying his load, would you want to be diminished, as you have diminished him?

Perhaps one might consider whom the target of satire might actually be -- could it perhaps also be the American bishops who, rather smugly in BC's estimation, offered to pay all expenses for the ABC's travel? Perhaps it could. BC does try to walk a fine line between a light touch and mean-spiritedness. If BC has failed in your estimation, simply know that he prays fervently and frequently for all in God's church and especially those burdened with leadership in these difficult times

In that vein, BC thanks the eBayers who have evinced a concern about an individual with a spine condition traveling a great distance, but finds such remarks cut a little closer to the bone, so to speak, than is entirely necessary and will keep these communications private.

Must agree with previous question and ask again: "What is gained by the satire offered?" And yes, I did immediately see it as such. No matter which side it was directed towards, charity demands civility in this issue. Or do you not care to hold our Church together?

It is quite possible that a chuckle or two will aid in holding our Church together as much or more as serious conversations. Perhaps there is a place for both and more?

A Most Blessed and Holy Lent

Brother Causticus has been on retreat with the monks of The Order of the Holy Cross and his spiritual director, the Reverend Doctor Isaac Bickerstaff, late of the Church of Ireland. Nourished by the Daily Office and Benedictine hospitality, he is fully recovered from his ordeal in the desert. Thanks be to God!

Heeding the gentle admonition of the Reverend Bickerstaff, BC will fast from blogs (including his own) for this most blessed and holy season of Lent, whilst being mindful of the exemplary via media of his dear friend Deacon Thorndike Andrewes who, renouncing single malt for the duration, evinced his firm resolve "unless, of course, a finger or two is really needed." And so it is thus with BC, who urges his readers to join him and the Church in faith to watch and pray.

Resurrection is near.

Under the Ecclesiatical Bus

Brother Causticus notes with gratitude the prayers of his readers for his safe return and, although his party of hopeful moderates clearly did not arrive at the Primates Meeting in time to have any visible effect, he does aver, not without a small bit of parochial pride, that his own office - to provide the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church with ample escort through a prickly thicket of purple shirts - proved wholly unnecessary, as she came armed with dignity and grace exceeding any protection BC could have mustered in even a double-verged stance. If Our Kate is possessed of a flawed Christology, as her critics suppose, that can be clarified or corrected, unlike, BC observes pointedly, a seemingly congenital predilection for grandiloquent posturing that afflicts so many in pointy headgear.

Which, of course, leads BC to consider the recent Communique from the Primates and its accompanying Schedule. While we await a ruling from the Communion Sub-Committee tasked with defining - in accordance with Scripture, Tradition, and Reason - whether that latter document shall be referred to as a "sked-yool" or a "shed-jool", BC, with an uplifted eyebrow, observes with some astonishment that the Episcopal Church is asked to submit itself to extraprovinical supervision by Primates to be named later and utterly repudiate the inclusion in its life and ministry of those committed to mutually uplifting same-sex unions.

BC has been accused of nuanced prolixity that admits to no easy labelling of his thoughts on all things Anglican and, indeed, has taken some quiet delight in perplexing those who would seek to do so, but time has come to speak plainly on these points, to wit:

  • The American church is blessed with more than ample bishops to dither through its own affairs in a wholly ineffectual manner and has no need of foreign bishops behaving badly on its shores, as the native supply of purpled hubris suffices.

  • While BC desires Christian harmony the wide world round, he is not willing to barter the lives of those he loves who have been examples of grace, charity, and a commitment to follow Christ at whatever cost and throw them under the ecclesiastical bus of power and control for the sake of a "unity" founded upon a common commitment to exclusion.
Making these public pronouncements, BC realizes, will no doubt result in his standing invitation to the Anglican Communion Vergers Conference being rescinded. This is not the sacrifice it seems, dear readers, as, for the most part, the sessions consisted of vergers from other parts of the Communion drinking BC's Scotch and, thereby emboldened, pointedly criticizing the American manner of holding the verge, then complaining loudly when the liquor was gone. All in all, Carnival in Rio next year seems more salubrious.

BC has seen much - far too much - in the past few days to continue countenancing an effete muddle to a middle of split differences and grammatical niceties. The Gospels remind us of the One who sojourned in the wilderness and emerged full of the Holy Ghost and power. If wander for a season we must, then let us begin, trusting our God to lead us through to the place He intends for us, that place bearing witness to the Christ who offered Himself unreservedly for the reconciliation of the whole world.

Thanks Be To God!

The joyous news of the safe return of the missing messengers to the Primates Meeting in Tanzania has no doubt reached you by now. As we understand it, all in the party are accounted for and safely en route to Nairobi, Kenya, where they will receive any needed medical attention and begin their journeys home. Algerian officials are expressing amazement that the party from the downed jet encountered, against seemingly impossible odds, a caravan of nomadic traders who carried them via camel to civilization. Initial reports indicate that the party set out from the downed plane together and for three days wandered in the desert with no nourishment save a Eucharist celebrated daily at dawn, before meeting up with the caravan headed for a distant oasis. While we have not heard from our beloved verger Brother Causticus yet, we are assured that the entire party emerged from the ordeal safe and sound. No doubt he will contact us as soon as he is able.

As always, we will pass on information as soon as we receive it.

In the meantime, I remain,

Your obedient servant,

Deacon Thorndike Andrewes

From Deacon Andrewes:
Downed Plane Found in Sahara

We have received word that Algerian army units have located the downed aircraft on which our verger Brother Causticus was traveling to the Primates Meeting in Tanzania. Although the Gulfstream G500 showed evidence of a "hard landing" it was intact and apparently sustained only moderate damage to its landing gear. No survivors or bodies have been found in the area. Algerian soldiers will continue to search, but a spokesman cautioned that even if passengers and crew survived the crash, "it would be a miracle for anyone to still be alive" who left the plane and attempted to walk to civilization.

Documents found in the plane indicate that passengers were a self-described group of "faithful moderates" who were attempting to mediate in an unofficial capacity between the increasingly polarized factions at the Primates Meeting. A handwritten note on the plane read "First, kill all the bloggers", but there is no evidence of foul play at this time.

Although chances of survival appear increasingly unlikely, we continue in prayer at St. Euphemesius-By-The-Freeway that all will be found and returned safely.

From Deacon Andrewes:

Beloved Verger's Plane Missing; Presumed Crashed

It is with heavy heart that I confirm the information that Dr. Burton-Coggles mentioned during yesterday's services. A privately-chartered airplane bearing a party of unofficial delegates to the recently-commenced Primates Meeting in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania has been reported missing and presumed crashed. The verger of St. Euphemesis-By-The-Freeway, Brother Anselm Causticus, was said to be on the plane that disappeared over the Grand Erg Occidental (Western Sand Sea) of the Sahara Desert in Algeria. While we, of course, hold out hope that there may be survivors, Algerian government officials describe the area as remote and inaccessible, with no human habitation for hundreds of square miles. Sandstorms have complicated efforts to locate the plane from the air, but Algerian army units will mount a recovery effort when a crash site location can be determined.

Although Brother Causticus was unable to share full details of the entourage's mission with me before his departure, he noted that the delegates hoped to effect a reconciliation between the disputing parties among the gathered primates so that Anglicans worldwide could move forward together in common mission. He was selected for the team due to his vast knowledge of and personal contacts within the Anglican Communion, owing to his untiring international efforts to re-establish the ancient office of verger within the Church.

Dr. Burton-Coggles and I will keep the St. Euphemesius family informed of any further information we receive as it becomes available. In the meantime, an Evensong prayer vigil will be held in the chapel tonight as we continue to pray for the safe return of our dear brother and all who were on the flight with him.

Your servant in Christ,

The Rev Deacon Thorndike Andrewes

Traveling Mercies

London, England

Brother Causticus apologizes to his loyal readers for his silence of late. He has not, as you might surmise, been waiting patiently for Canon Kendall Harmon to respond to his "tag" in the diversion of Seven Things. Sadly, BC has long since abandoned hope on that score. Though BC has declared a plague on both houses in The Current Unpleasantness afflicting the Anglican Communion, he must note he is viewing with a certain reappraising favor the party of the homosexualist apostates, due to the prompt response of the Reverend Susan Russell, who got into the spirit of the thing with a gracious alacrity. While BC appreciates very much the virtues of theological rectitude, he prefers to see it coupled with a sense of play and was sorely disappointed that the good canon, with whom BC shares a common affection for certain Pauline passages, was unable to slip away from his Institute on Religion and Democracy taskmasters for a brief while to offer up his no doubt droll insights.

No, BC has been otherwise occupied with ecclesiastical skulduggery in the form of certain late-night calls from a Manhattan area code, a visit from man identifying himself only as "The Good Physician" who inoculated BC against various tropical ailments, and a remarkable rendezvous with a fearsome-miened fellow named Wing Ho behind an Armenian grocery store, where BC was presented with currency, airline tickets to London, and two custom-crafted verges he was charged with guarding unto death and beyond. A Lincoln Town Car with Nevada plates then whisked him off directly to the boarding ramp of a Virgin Airways transatlantic flight.

BC is now typing these lines from Heathrow, where he is awaiting further instructions. BC takes some small pride in knowing even the obscure nooks and crannies of the Ecclesia Anglicana, but he assures his dear readers he had no inkling the Church of England possesses an hidden VIP lounge in a major international airport that has a very fine offering of single-malt Scotch indeed.

Brother Causticus will report further as he is able in the days to come.

The "Seven Things" Meme

Brother Causticus has been tagged by the estimable St. Pat in what appears to be an amusing diversion called “Seven Things.” Assured by his spiritual director, the Reverend Isaac Bickerstaff (late of the Church of Ireland) that response would not constitute an unseemly descent into frivolity, BC offers these modest rejoinders for your consideration:

1. Name a book that you want to share so much that you keep giving away copies

The Ecclesiastical History of the English People by the Venerable Bede, which reminds BC that the Ecclesia Anglicana has always been a fractious body. Particularly redolent of the Current Unpleasantness is the poignant account of a plague that swept through his monastery, leaving only the abbot and young Bede to sing the Divine Offices. Despite BC’s best efforts to give this most instructive volume away, he is met only with demurrals and a swift turn of the discussion to the latest theological musings of Anne Lamott.

2. Name a piece of music that changed the way you listen to music

Beethoven’s String Quartet in A minor (Opus 132). After challenging to the point of baffling exposition in the first movement, the second movement features an atypical (for this Beethoven period) minuet with trio over a sustained tonic that evokes in BC’s mind hunting horns sounding over soft green fields as shafts of sunlight pierce a cloudy sky. It is a sweetness in the general sturm und drang of the late quartets that comforts BC and inexplicably renews his nearly spent hope for our Church.

3. Name a film you can watch again and again without fatigue

This is Spinal Tap. It becomes even more amusing if one imagines bassist Derek Smalls (Harry Shearer) as the Archbishop of Canterbury. The assignment of the other roles to prominent Anglican ecclesiastics is left as an exercise for the reader. BC particularly commends the observation by the otherwise inept Ian Faith (Tony Hendra) that “in the topsy-turvy world of heavy rock having a good solid piece of wood in your hand is often useful.”

4. Name a performer for whom you suspend all disbelief

BC does not normally suspend all disbelief save during the recitation of the Creeds. But he very nearly did in the 1980s for Bono of U2 until the release of Rattle and Hum (film and album). While on this topic, BC reminds fortysomething clergy that twentysomething young people might not find a “U2charist” as cutting edge as said clergy believe it to be.

5. Name a work of art you’d like to live with

One of Richard Diebenkorn’s Ocean Park paintings, perhaps number 54. BC finds the quality of light in this series captures most nearly the feel of standing on a California coastal cliff the moment after the October sun has dropped below the Pacific horizon.

6. Name a work of fiction which has penetrated your real life

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce, something of a manifesto when BC read it first, now a rather wry commentary on the grandiosity of youth. Sadly, BC’s real life seems more informed by two works of non-fiction these days, Hannah Arendt’s The Origins of Totalitarianism and Eric Hoffer’s The True Believer. Lord, have mercy.

7. Name a punch line that always makes you laugh

“Rectum? It killed ‘um!”

BC suggests the full import of this witticism is apparent only when delivered by a bishop with three fingers of Lagavulin in him.

Speaking of bishops, Brother Causticus has searched for the blogs of the Archbishop of Abuja and the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, but alas, in vain, and so he elects to “tag” the Reverend Susan Russell and Canon Kendall Harmon for the next round of “Seven Things.”

Texas Hold 'Em

Brother Causticus does not generally track the machinations of the various instruments of the worldwide Anglican Communion due to the volatility of his spleen condition, but he is told something called a Panel of Reference has endorsed the Bishop of Fort Worth’s practice of sending women seeking Holy Orders down the freeway to his brother bishop in Dallas so as to avoid laying hands – in an episcopal manner, BC hastens to add – upon those possessed of a putative call, but lacking the requisite Y chromosome. The thusly benighted are then to contemplate in those somewhat more congenial environs any lingering aspirations to ordained ministry in the western Metroplex and, should they find the flaming evangel still alight, make the return trip down the interstate where they will be welcomed in manner consonant with the local understanding of Scripture, Tradition, and Reason. This car-clogged thirty miles is said to be one of the loneliest stretches of road in North America.

In predictable fashion, reaction to the report ranged from hailing it as a magisterial verity to dismissing it as another bit of eccentric transatlantic dithering, depending upon the particular bent the reader – or, as is typical in the blogosphere, readers of readers of those who read – was previously inclined. This postocracy of one hundred or so souls fired their pro forma salvos, then returned to bickering about whether their opponents are apostates or merely heretics.

In such a burst of by-the-numbers outrage, the “hate Kate” consortium – for whom anything other than text messaging Bishop Duncan “just kidding! keys 2 815 under mat lol” would be an inadequate response - excoriated the manner of the Presiding Bishop’s accession to the invitation of the panel to comment favorably upon this arrangement and assure the Christians of Fort Worth they will not have foisted upon them a bishop engaged in practices consistent with the canonically expressed will of the other 98% of Episcopalians.

While no doubt sublimating thoughts akin to those of a rabbi drafted to deliver an rousing keynote to a pork packers convention, the Presiding Bishop averred that, yes, the “Dallas Plan” was a plan that had been put in place and, yes, it was indeed a plan that had been executed exactly as planned, and, what can one say, but…there it is: a plan. And it will continue to be one, as planned.

Anglican authority thus exercised, tea followed.

Though admittedly the Presiding Bishop’s statement did not ring with the same conviction as her conflation of the Millennium Development Goals and the Great Commission, BC urges his readers inclined find fault to agree, in a spirit of Christian charity, it was certainly at least on par with the Presiding Bishop’s public endorsements of Jesus Christ and move on to more pressing topics such as the seating chart for next month’s Primates Meeting in Tanzania.

Brother Causticus will, in the meantime, occupy himself around his home parish of St. Euphemesius-By-The-Freeway with his usual tasks: stacking hymnals, sweeping floors, dusting the credence table. And replacing light bulbs. The church seems to have grown very dark of late.

The Procession of the Holy Spirt (Part Three)

The past several weeks have been bleak indeed for BC’s home parish of St. Euphemesius-By-The-Freeway, the Episcopal Church, and the Anglican Communion. In keeping with his avowal to speak unless things are perfectly unspeakable, BC has kept silent in the face of desultory goings-on here, there, and, it would seem, everywhere, but is at last compelled to offer what small commentary he can muster without aggravating his spleen condition unduly.

You have no doubt heard the reports of our St. Euphemesius Day observance, gleefully dubbed “The Saint’s Day Melee” by the local punditry. As BC noted previously, just as the annual procession was to commence, alarming rumours of a lurking bishop ran wild amongst the assembled saints.

BC was called upon to investigate and, as he drew near, encountered a knot of Christians loudly demanding to know whether a rather florid-faced middle-aged gentleman was “Windsor-compliant” while an equally vociferous contingent speculated angrily that he was an emissary from the Church of Nigeria seeking to lay forcible claim to our crumbling Gothic Revival pile of a sanctuary. Our rector, the Reverend Dr Hammond Burton-Coggles, hurriedly commenced a disquisition on the historic episcopate and its multitudinous local adaptations in methods of administration, attempting to lull the fractious faithful into somnolence.

Though an astute reckoning by a shepherd knowing well his flock, dear Dr. Burton-Coggles failed to factor in the widespread reversion to primatal behavior – and, no, BC is not referring to Lambethian shenanigans, though he wholly appreciates any possible confusion – evinced by Episcopalians in the presence of a purple shirt. Later, the good rector remarked to BC that a homily on tithing would have no doubt dispersed the congregants, but thought that rather strong medicine indeed.

Though BC wielding a stout verge caused a slight falter in the hubbub, it was a heroic thurifer who prevented further precipitation of feces flinging – BC speaks here metaphorically, but just barely – amongst the faithful. Arcing his orb robustly, he cleared a swath in front of the beleaguered bishop, scattering one faction who simply wished to avoid a solid drubbing, another who found the deed smacked of popery and retreated to find a scriptural proof text to buttress their queasiness, and a third group – led by Ms. Laeticia York of the Peace and Social Justice Committee – who huddled to craft a resolution condemning an appalling lack of inclusivity for the scent-sensitive. A bruised crucifier painfully picked up the pieces of the processional cross shattered in the melee.

Though the immediate uproar was quelled, bickering and backbiting continued to ripple through the assembly and soon the saints fell to fighting for reasons most could not fully enunciate when queried, only observing pointedly that their co-disputants were clearly not possessed of the faith once delivered to the Ecclesia Anglicana and its offspring. The arrival of the local gendarmerie and a television camera crew ended any hope of the procession proceeding, although a small, but significant coterie queued to provide the proffered microphone their learned analysis of the situation in thoughtful, nuanced manner that was edited for public presentation down to a four-word blip unrelated to any actual comments uttered.

“What the hell is an Episcopalian?” BC heard one mediamonger muttering, to which a bored cop standing by replied, “They’re like Catholics, only with fewer kids and more masters degrees.”

Hell, indeed, avers BC.

It was somewhat anti-climatic to discover that the proximate target of all this disquietude was not a bishop at all, but merely an innocent bystander wearing a white turtleneck with a purple crewneck pullover who claimed no church affiliation whatsoever.

This pricked the ears of several loitering evangelicals who sought to lead him to knowledge of his utter depravity and bring him to a moment of decision, but to no avail. He seemed relieved when the secular authorities swooped in to disengage him from the erstwhile soulwinners, who muttered darkly about godless government persecution of the faithful. Missing the details, but catching the general tenor of dissatisfaction with police activity, Ms. Laeticia York lay down in front of the squad car singing “We Shall Overcome” and demanding to be arrested. The bored cop closed his notebook, slid behind the wheel, backed up the cruiser, and drove off smoothly, leaving Laeticia lying in place, unnoticed by anyone as the crowd slunk away.

It remains to be seen whether the procession will continue in the coming year. The Reverend Dr. Burton-Coggles believes much study and discussion is warranted. BC is told senior warden Augustus Seabury “Buzz” Lancaster has convened a committee to plan for an alternate procession to replace the current one, which in his estimation, has grown scandalously lax. Most members of St. Euphemesius-By-The-Freeway just hope things might go on as before, but know in their heart of hearts it is unlikely to do so.

All this makes for a perplexing new year, but BC simply sighs and fervently prays that the Light hinted at in Advent and glimmering forth at the Feast of the Nativity has waxed radiant in your lives this Christmastide and, as Epiphany draws near, that the luminous gift of the Incarnate Word fully shine in and through each one of us to a world dark and yearning for redemption.

Pray for me, a sinner. And stay in peace to love and serve the Lord.