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Hallo again to all.

Rogues' galleryOnce upon a time, we spent the better part of a day at a dead bishop trading card convention. The recording angels present were fairly attentive in their efforts at note-taking, so we are glad to be able to provide a transcript of this rare event.

Do you have a Potter?

Alonzo or Henry Codman?

Oh, I have both, I think the same ones as you. Horatio Potter.

Sarony or Rockwood?

Either .... Have you seen this Paddock?

[tea, sorting]

I have some duplicates if you'd like to exchange.

Let's see ... I have two Albany Doanes, two Dunedin Jenners, and a stack of Colensoes.

Would you take a Twells of Orange River and a Bompas for a Jenner and one Colenso?

Hmmmm. What about that Crowther?

Done. I still remember the day when I found a boxful of Crowthers at a jumble sale. I was looking for him for years, and that was before eBay.

[sherry glasses filled, sorting, mutual admiration of photographic equivalents of hapax legomena]

Do you think I'm perverse for keeping Gray and Colenso next to one another?*


There was something out-of-time about this event, which happened spontaneously (believe it) at the gathering of a small group that happened to include two people who each have substantial, lovingly-tended collections of Victorian clerical cartes de visite. To judge by the stains across their sepia, we were not the first to converse through our CDV collections over tea—or, by the honest looks of things, sherry.

Rogues' galleryOur two companions at this unplanned convention were astonished at the sight and its accompanying dialogue. It made the walls of time paper-thin; the inverted commas in references to years in conversation all stood for 18 rather than 19 or 20. 'He was dead by '72, I thought.' Each thought he knew the only person who had, who could have, such an avocation and collection. Just an hour later, the exchange was over, but it felt as though a full day could have passed.

We felt the sort of shock of recognition and alignment of common reference that must happen often among philatelists or World Cup fans or baseball card collectors, but which happens not often at all in our experience among amateurs of Anglican culture. This is surely what is meant by the Parson of Littlemore's cor ad cor loquitur—heart speaking to heart in common interest, on common ground, with common knowledge, and in common cups. We hope it's not a stretch to say that this is the stuff from which Common Prayer springs, and of which we would love to see an increase in every time 'when two or three are gathered together' who call themselves Anglicans.

This mutual recognition was so rich and so delightful precisely because it is so rare, but we think it would still be every bit as beneficial and exquisite even if it were a quality of our everyday church-life. Can you imagine it as a major component of our ordinary Anglican experience? Perhaps you already know it well, and would like to tell us about it. It could be that it is not as uncommon as we think, and that we were just surprised by joy over the strong fixed outward gazes of our elder brethren in the faith and the chance to speak with someone who had also met their eyes.

As for Gray and Colenso—remember how much they hated one another, or at least the effects of one another's principles, in terrestrial life? They're both resting soundly together right now in an archival box from which you can just hear the faint strains of the Te Deum and Come labour on when the room is quiet enough.

See you next week.

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Last updated: 25 July 2010

* Gray led the canonical effort to depose Colenso over questions of biblical inspiration and corollary matters in 1863. The associated controversy was a major precipitating factor for the first Lambeth Conference in 1867.

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