Hallo again to all.
Every old-world church and cathedral that we've explored is resonant with memorials to the dead. Old stones and brass plates in the floors, bones and relics in the crypt, plaques and signs and paintings on the walls, names in the stained glass. And then, usually, outside in the churchyard, are monuments to more dead. We always stop to look at memorials to the dead. We like to pull weeds from, and put flowers on, the tomb of our favourite dead bishop. Church buildings serve as a constant reminder that we are part of the communion of saints, the Body of Christ. This is not just the faith of our fathers, but of their mothers and their mothers' fathers' aunts, back farther in time than we can comprehend. The dead in churches and cathedrals are the people who mattered to the living who buried them there: priests, parents, kings, soldiers, friends, children. Even Oliver Cromwell.
This week our friend Manton L. 'Matt' Tracy died. Matt was the rector of St Christopher in Dallas, Texas. Beyond that, he was one of the first larger-than-life personalities of the online Anglican world. Here on this glowing screen, you are what you write, and Matt wrote, by our count, about 10,000 emails from 1994 or so, professing his faith, arguing with those who saw things differently than he did, and promoting Texas barbecue. As we wept for him this week, we reflected on the nature of the community in which we met him, and whether God is with people who gather there, and we brooded over what would make a good memorial to him here.
Anglicans Online is adamant that we are not a 'cyber-church'. We are an online publication, intended for Anglicans and other Christians. Because we do not use ink and paper and printing presses, our production costs are low, but we are much more like a magazine or newspaper or newsletter than we are like a parish or a deanery. For the nonce, there is nothing else quite like us, so we are, well, Anglicans Online.
Memorials in churchyards work because people see them when they go to church. A headstone is there all the time, and sometimes when you walk by it, you stop and weep a little. You have to work a little harder to see the memorial plates in cathedral floors, but they wait for you, year in and year out, a stone marker more permanent than the bones beneath it, if less permanent than the faith that put it there.
Part of our mourning this week is reflecting on the nature of a suitable memorial for someone like Matt Tracy. Putting it here is not permanent: in half an hour this space on your screen will be filled with advertisements for airline tickets or football teams, and the hard drive that holds it will be scrap in a decade. There is no 'there' there, no place to put a stone or a statue. The words that defined Matt for us are all that we have left of him, and we're going to find a way to mark his life the way we experienced it: in writing.
May the souls of all the departed rest in peace and may light perpetual shine upon them.
See you next week.
Last updated: 3 February 2002