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The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire: Part 1Hallo again to all.

When Edward Gibbon presented a Royal Personage with the second volume of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (the royal already having been given an inscribed first volume), the Duke of Gloucester growled: 'Another damned, thick, square book! Always scribble, scribble, scribble, eh, Mr Gibbon?'

Now we've been scribbling every Sunday night for seven years now, but we doubt our letters equal one-quarter of the first volume of the Decline and Fall. Even so, we're giving you a rest from our scribblings this week, perhaps next week, too. (We confess: the North American summer is nearly over, and we'd like a bit of a holiday.)

Most of the world seems to be furiously penning at the moment: there is a cornucopia of letters to editors, leaders, op-eds, opinion pieces, position papers, all using vast quantities of digital foolscap to opine about the Decline and Fall of the Anglican Communion, Whatever It Is.

Rather than write, you might like to read what some bishops have already written. It is the bishops in the American Episcopal Church who were, of course, key actors in the matters that are occupying a good deal of the attention of the Anglican world, so their pastoral letters are of wider interest than they might be, under 'normal circumstances'. AO reader Jason Green has collected here links to all the US bishops' pastoral letters that are online.

Try reading statements from both 'liberal' and 'conservative' dioceses and see how each bishop reasons. Do you find you can be at all swayed by a letter taking a view opposing the one you hold? It might be amusing (it is the silly season, after all) to see who uses the most passive verbs, the most instances of the nominative plural, or the most intriguing adverb. Find any dangling participles? Dangling thoughts?

New This Week, the News Centre, and our Letters page aren't taking a holiday; we'll update them as usual. But if we keep typing, this will look like a front-page-letter-as-usual. Scribble, scribble, scr ... Stop!

See you week after next.

Brian Reidís signature
Cynthia McFarland
Brian Reid

Last updated: 24 August 2003

A thin blue line
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