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18th century shirtsHallo again to all.

'All this buttoning and unbuttoning', began and ended a suicide note in the eighteenth century. Whether a more complex story lay behind these last words, we can't know, for the writer is unknown. But perhaps it is buttons—or some pathetic equivalent—that can bring people to the edge of despair and eventually hasten them over.

This week, bombarded by the news of an apparently relentless progression towards war in Iraq, it was hard for us not to be weighed down by a heavy sadness, a sort of ashy mood that dusted everything with a sense of vague hopelessness. This is, as you will suspect, not our normal mood at Anglicans Online. But there it was. A flirtation with despair, which is always an invitation to sloth: Why bother? What difference does it make? Atchoo, atchoo, we all fall down... But 'falling down' isn't the problem (rather the human condition, that). It's the unwillingness to get up again and continue on down the road of life, languishing in despair, stuck in a treacly slough of despond.

Sloth: a wood carvingBeing in a funk, we took the opportunity to brood on this desire to pull the covers over our heads and stay in bed. Surely not getting up is the child of sloth, 'the devil at noonday' as it was called. Ah, accidie. Did anyone else wonder as a child whether sloth was misfiled in the list of the seven deadly sins? Compared to anger or covetousness, it always seemed comparatively tame, rather like putting off doing one's chores, purposefully forgetting to hoover the back hallway. But smack amongst the seven deadlies sloth is, and doctors of the church had no doubt of its insidious evil. For accidie brings with it first a sort of listless restlessness, often followed by a mood of 'nothing matters', which can proceed to nihilism and despair.

After a few days of psychic sulk, we decided 'Enough!' Surely our birthright as Christians is never to despair. No matter how bleak, no matter how black, even at the grave we make our song... To get up after falling down, to button up again, may be as simple a matter as going out into the garden to pull weeds, emailing our MP or member of Congress to voice our opinion, putting aside tins for the parish food pantry, or agreeing to chair that committee on the PCC. Maybe sniffing a newborn baby's head or burying one's nose in a lavender bud will help us get up again. As a recent novelist put it, 'Do the thing that's less passive. Do the active thing. There's more of the human in that'*.

So we got busy on one of the things closest to our heart: this little web site called AO. A number of you claimed that you missed the quick overview of the week's news that we used to include in this front-page letter a long time ago. Now you can read Brian's quick-take by running your mouse over the 'News flash' icon in the left-side menu. A small new window will open, with the highlights. Go to the News Centre for the links and details, as always.

We were delighted at the response to our new Anglicans Online Shop, launched last week. The favourite item? Our long-sleeved T-shirt that reads 'This isn't a T-shirt. It's a vestment'. Mugs followed close behind. Deep thanks from our heart to all of you who bought a Supporting Friend mug. It means very much to us.

Many of you wrote to us and said: 'I don't really want a mug or a T-shirt. Can't I just donate to Anglicans Online?' We've now made possible secure online donations right here on the site, in any amount. Alas, that amount must be entered in US dollars (converted to your own currency on your credit card statement). We regret the fact that much ecommerce is US-centric. We're working on finding solutions to that for AO-related ecommerce. Thanks to you all for your support, as we're about to complete our eighth year of being online.

Meanwhile, we push back the devil at noonday (or midnight!), keep hope alive, and

So what if we groan.
That's our noise. Laughter is our stuttering
in a language we can't speak yet. Behind

the world made of wishes grows dark. Ahead,
if not now then never, shines what is.

Galway Kinnell, from The Seekonk Woods

See you next week.

Brian Reid's signature
Cynthia McFarland
Brian Reid

Last updated: 13 October 2002

*Nuala O'Faolain, My Dream of You

©2002 The Society of Archbishop Justus, Ltd