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Youngest Gel:  Daddy, can you help me with this book report?

Self:  How so?

YG:  Well, this question asks who were the early influences in Teddy Roosevelt’s life.

Self:  Okay, well what does the book say?

YG: I don’t know.  I haven’t got to that part yet.

Self: Well, then read the book!

YG: But I’ve got to finish this report first!

Self: How on earth can you finish a book report if you haven’t actually read the book?

YG: I don’t know, I just have to.  Mr. McC said so.

Self:  Exactly what kind of fool do you take me for?  You’ve had that book for a month.  If he gave you the book report last week, it’s because he expected you were already reading the book itself, right?  Like we’ve been telling you to do all this time?  You’ve just been putting it off and now you’re stuck.

YG: [muttering]

Self:  So… the book.

YG: But I have to do the report!

Self: You can’t do the report until you…read….the….book!!

YG:  Waaaah…...

I dunno, I thought I was being perfectly logical and reasonable.  And yet, somehow I’m the bad guy.

My fellow port swillers, ol’ Robbo finds himself in a bit of a quandary regarding how far one may push the, so to speak, envelope ecumenical.

Long time friends of the decanter will know all about Robbo’s spiritual journey, but for relative newcomers, here’s the gist: Although I was a cradle Episcopalian, married another Episcopalian and raised my family within that church, about five years ago, for reasons with which I will not bore you now,  I realized that I just couldn’t ignore the trumpet call from Rome.  This coming Easter will mark the fourth anniversary from the ceremony in which I “officially” swam the Tiber. (I will say that I have absolutely no regrets.)

Despite this, and because Mrs. R has shown no interest whatever to date in plunging in after me, I have maintained my ties with Robbo’s Former Episcopal Church (the oft-cited “RFEC” of port-swilling posts).  I still attend services there, joining in enthusiastically in the singing (I maintain that nobody beats the Anglicans for hymnody), going through all the motions of dignity and respect -such as they are – left in the Rite 2 service, and (although nobody knows it) praying on the sly for everyone there.  And, of course, I encourage the gels with word and gesture to be active in all the various yoot programs – choir, acolyting, yoot groups and the like.  (And did I mention that Mrs. R is up for election to the vestry this week? The idea, considering that I resigned from the vestry myself when I decided to heed Rome’s call, fills me with infinite amusement.)

On the other hand, I must often grit my teeth during the sermon, during “communion” I content myself with staring vacantly at the ceiling, and I incorporate as many Popish rituals as I can (for example, during the Nicene Creed I always bow at the line about God becoming incarnate through the Virgin Mary).

In other words, the long and the short of it is that despite what I might call my “official” belief that the Episcopal Church itself is heretical, I find that I have no choice in encouraging familial engagement with said church because, at least as of now, it’s the best deal I’m going to get in my constant effort to bring them closer to God.

I may say that I am neither complaisant nor especially comfortable with this arrangement, but….here we are.

Which leads me to the present question of just how far I can push this biznay.

You see, I got chatting with the RFEC musick director this past Sunday.  He had dutifully sent in a letter of recommendation for the middle gel in connection with her (successful) application to join the National Cathedral Choir, but I had always sensed that he was torn about it: Yay, she had a shot at the Big Time, but boo, if she should get it, he’d lose her for his own efforts.  He’d never said anything along these lines, but I knew he was thinking it.

Anyhoo, as we chatted, he mentioned first that the RFEC choir was going to be working up some Bach and Handel for Holy Week, and second that he’d really like me to join in the effort, especially as he was short male voices and could use the extra lungs.

Well, my friends, this presents a dilemma.  On the one hand, I’d love to sign up.  Bach! Handel! Easter musick! What’s not to love?

On the other, well, I take my conversion seriously.  (Why would I have done it otherwise?) I’m not sure whether the choir director knows this or not.  And although I’m all for ecumenical cooperation in general and, I hope, have navigated the frontier between orthodoxy and familial loyalty reasonably well heretofore (although the biznay continues to trouble me),  I am stumped by the question:  Would singing in the RFEC choir during Holy Week constitute some kind of violation of the uneasy internal truce I’ve struck? 

My thinking at this point is that I’d love to do it provided that it doesn’t interfere with my own schedule of Holy Week worship, but I’m not yet convinced that is the correct solution.



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March 2012