Monday, August 31, 2009

Farewell to Professor Hatchett

I only learned today of the death earlier this month of Marion Hatchett. Professor Hatchett was a formidable figure at the school of theology at the University of the South at Sewanee, Tennessee. He knew more about Christian liturgy than just about anyone else would ever want to know.

He not only participated in the revision of the Book of Common Prayer of 1979 but also wrote the learned and lucid Commentary on the American Prayer Book (the Big Hatchett) and A Manual of Ceremonial for the New Prayer Book (the Little Hatchett), both of which hold honored places on my shelves.

He understood — and said — that public worship in the Episcopal Church could maintain a continuity with its historical origins without becoming a museum liturgy, and he wrote with authority, grace, and humanity.

Whenever I endure some service of mechanical liturgy, mediocre music, and tedious homiletics, as is the fate of many churchgoers, I recall that Professor Hatchett showed us that it does not have to be that bad. He thought that we could achieve a higher standard, and now that he has gone to glory, we would do well to remember his example.

I am not making this up, you know

Item: Wikipedia, which discovered last week that there might be some value in editing articles before publication, is now going to indicate which articles you can believe with a color-coded background. (Hint: orange, bad; white, good.)

Item: The debate over health care reform is taking on a refreshing candor. Yesterday, David Sheets out in St. Louis put up a link on Facebook to’s article “Twenty-six lies about H.R. 3200."* Among the Facebookers responding was one Dan Devine, who said, in part:

There are many good ideas to reform the current structure, which has worked well enough for me. I've worked hard to get the coverage I have and don’t want risk losing it. The current package seems to be a way to provide free health care for the baby boomers as they age; sorry, I’m not interested in helping them.

If you, dear reader, are like me, a person in your fifties, particularly if you are also someone whose presence is no longer required in the workplace, I plan to take Mr. Devine’s hint and see whether I can contract with the Oriental Trading Company or Archie McPhee or some similar company to manufacture buttons for us reading:


You know it’s the right thing to do.

Item: If you join me in the categories mentioned in the previous item, there’s a word for it, to which we are alerted by the ever-alert Fritinancy: mancession. A mancession is a recession in which unemployment hits men disproportionately more than women.

Item: I will be back in the classroom at Loyola tomorrow morning at 9:25, where seventeen vulnerable undergraduates are signed up to be introduced to the occult secrets of copy editing. Keep them in your thoughts.

*,, and similar operations are not among those sites for people who already know what they think before they hear any specifics. They hark back to the outdated principles in print journalism — you remember newspapers — of attempting to publish verifiable, factual material.