“Lawyers and the Problem of ‘Zeal,'” By Bruce Frohnen

“First we will kill all the lawyers.” Thus spoke ” Dick the Butcher ” from Shakespeare’s Henry VI, part 2, Act 4, Scene 2, in suggesting ways his band of pretenders to the throne would make society better. While I don’t always agree with my colleague Bruce Frohman I do in this instance and with lament. But “serial killers” ouch!!

Nomocracy In Politics

It would be easy to blame American lawyers for their own bad reputation—enjoying “public approval” somewhere in the range of used car dealers, members of Congress, and serial killers. Easy, and not entirely inaccurate. That said, Americans themselves are partly to blame for the sorry state of the legal profession. How so? The classic statement of the problem is that we all think that lawyers should not be such “sharks,” willing to do anything and everything for their clients, but whenever we are involved in a dispute, we want to hire the most vicious lawyer we can find to serve our own interests.

At the heart of the problem is the idea of “zealous” representation. Pretty much every state’s rules regarding lawyer conduct are rooted explicitly in the notion that they must represent their clients “zealously.” But, as many commentators have pointed out over the years, “zealous” is not generally…

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The Great Apostle of Charity-Saint Vincent DePaul


It is interesting to note that the Saint whom we venerate today insisted on spelling his name Depaul and not de Paul.  That was because in France the use of de before a family name usually denotes one of a noble lineage. Saint Vincent eschewed such references as he was totally and utterly dedicated to charity particularly as it concerned the poor.  As the Wikipedia put it “He was renowned for his compassion, humility, and generosity and is known as the “Great Apostle of Charity”.  His collect very well summarizes the form and shape of his life and ministry:

Loving God, we offer thanks for thy servant Vincent de Paul, who gave himself to training clergy to work among the poor and provided many institutions to aid the sick, orphans, and prisoners.  May we, like him, encounter Christ in the needy, the outcast and the friendless , that we may come at length into thy kingdom where thou reignest, one God, holy and undivided Trinity, for ever and ever.

The thought of encountering Christ in the needy is something worth pondering. So many of us like to think we are the ministers providing aid and comfort and bringing Christ to the needy.  We sometimes feel we are “doing them a favor” by allowing them into shelters, and even our churches. But so many times over the course of my life there have been occasions when the needy and destitute have ministered unto me and through their ministry I have experienced the Christ in a very powerful way. They were actually doing me a favor even though they did not provide me with clothing or food but rather with a an opportunity to glimpse what the Christ is truly like.

Interesting also is something Saint Vincent said about his own temperament.  “He said that except for the grace of God he would have been “hard and repulsive, rough and cross”  I can certainly identify with that. He was, however, quoting Holy Women, Holy Men “tender and affectionate and very sensitive to the needs of others.  In the most distracting occupations his soul was always intimately united with God.  Though honored by the great ones of the world he remained rooted in humility.”

Let us all seek to emulate the “The Apostle of Charity”.





The Inspiration of Saint Matthew -Caravaggio (1602) -Oil on Canvas

Today we commemorate the life and ministry of Saint Matthew the Apostle.  And, tonight we are celebrating the addition of two new officiants to the ranks of those already charged with leading the Daily Office in Seibels Chapel.  “The Lord taketh away and the Lord giveth back!”

I hold a special place in my heart for Saint Matthew.  His role as a tax collector and publican put him beyond the reaches of polite Jewish society and made him an “outcast” but along comes Jesus and bade him to “come follow me”.  And, he did and his logia (his sayings of Jesus) became the basis for a book of the “New Testament”. This was an exposition of an order not based on rank or position but one based on the redeeming power of God’s love.

My trainees tonight do not come from the socially unacceptable by a long shot but they may meet some of those who do as they assume their new duties as officiants.  We have many visitors from the street who look to us as a sort of sanctuary from the material world of Uncle Screwtape. They come to us from a world which has ground them into the dust and tried to rob them of their dignity and self-respect.  Can there be any greater sin?  And can there be any greater redemption than to offer them a glimpse of what Christ is all about.  We are fortunate indeed to have this as our task.

And they may meet Jesus in the least of these untouchables in a way they have never imagined him before.  That is as he presented himself to Saint Matthew healer and restorer of souls whose blatant disregard of the law as practiced by the Jewish hierarchy of the day was not its destruction but rather its eternal fulfillment.  And in this sacred work the redeemers may well become those redeemed.

On this occasion the words of the Breastplate are called to mind:

“I bind unto myself today

The power of God to hold and lead,

His eye to watch, his might to stay,

His ear to harken to my need.

The wisdom of my God to teach,

His hand to guide, His shield to ward,

Th word of God to give me speech,

His heavenly host to be my guard.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,

Christ behind me, Christ before me,

Christ beside me, Christ to win me,

Christ to comfort and restore me.

Christ beneath me, Christ above me,

Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,

Christ in hearts of all that love me,

Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.


Siebels Chapel – Trinity Cathedral, Columbia, South Carolina

It’s Not Nice to Fool Around with the Tax Code

Last Friday our family sat around the dinner table sharing pizza and conversation. The discussion drifted around to politics and one of our members talked about certain activities with regard to a certain private foundation and certain transactions which allowed the primary foundation officer to personally benefit from its activities. My reaction was that such activities could easily bring about the revocation of the foundation’s exempt status.  I was assured that the fix was in and the parties in question could not be touched.  Seems that may not be quite the case.

The value of this article from the BNA tax summary is that it points out the importance of realizing that foundations, corporations and trusts are separate legal  entities whose separateness must be respected at all times. Private foundations and trusts particularly ones  in which the primary income beneficiary serves as trustee are setups for abuse.  Trustees and Officers of foundations easily fall into the trap of believing that the assets of the foundation or the trust can be used as they see fit without regard for the purposes for which the organizations have been established.  This article concerns one of the political candidates but it could just as easily apply to the other.  Caveat emptor. 

Trump Foundation Skirting IRS Self-Dealing Ban: Tax Lawyers

Posted September 20, 2016, 3:55 P.M. ET

By Colleen Murphy

Recently uncovered expenditures from Donald Trump’s private foundation likely constitute self-dealing, and could put the foundation’s tax exemption at risk, several lawyers with experience in nonprofit tax told Bloomberg BNA.

The Washington Post reported for the first time today several expenditures—including two where Trump allegedly used money from the Donald J. Trump Foundation, exempt under tax code Section 501(c)(3), to settle lawsuits involving his for-profit businesses—that add to growing public scrutiny of the foundation. Trump also used a combined $15,000 from the foundation to buy advertisements for his hotel chain and purchase a portrait of himself, the Post reported.

“There seems to be a pattern of personal use of the foundation’s assets,” said Marcus Owens, a partner at Loeb & Loeb LLP and a former director of the IRS Exempt Organizations Division. “He has a range, it appears, of transactions that are quite suspicious from the standpoint of federal tax law and in fact are rather conclusive in a number of cases.”

Trump’s spokeswoman didn’t return requests for comment. Federal law bars the IRS from commenting on cases involving individual taxpayers, a spokesman at the agency said.

A disqualified person, like Trump, can face an excise tax of 10 percent on the amount involved in the act of self-dealing, according to tax code Section 4941. If the self-dealing isn’t corrected within the taxable period, the IRS can ratchet the tax up to 200 percent.


Revive thy Church, Lord God -9 September- The Feast of John Henry Hobart



Revive thy Church, Lord God of hosts, whensoever it doth fall into complacency and sloth, by raising up devoted leaders, like thy servant John Henry Hobart whom we remember this day; and grant that their faith and vigor of mind awaken thy people to thy message and their mission; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

One article about Bishop Hobart describes him thusly: “As bishop, Hobart worked to build up his diocese, attempting to visit every parish annually. He was able, impetuous, frank, perfectly fearless in controversy, a speaker and preacher of much eloquence.”

As we commemorate the ability of Bishop Hobart to “revive” the Church in New York from sloth and complacency I can’t help but think about an incident which occurred recently in my own parish. That incident showed me how we are sometimes challenged by well-meaning individuals who fail to realize the long term consequences of negative impressions caused by remarks which reverberate in unintended ways. To me creating a negative atmosphere even if not by design leads us down the path  of sloth and complacency.

On the morning of Friday, 9 September, the Feast of Saint Mary Constance and Her Companions, at around 7:30 a.m., I was making my way down the long hall from the parking lot to the Cathedral proper which we fondly refer to as the “Chisholm Trail”.  I can certainly understand the moniker because the hall is so long that it does indeed seem like a trek across the western frontier.  I was making this journey in order to officiate at the Morning Office in the chapel adjacent the sanctuary.  As I neared the end of the Trail I was greeted by a very agitated and seemingly angry sexton who affixed himself between me and the entrance into the sacristy.   He glared at me intensely and stated affirmatively that he did not want to unlock the doors of the Cathedral because “there was a homeless woman sitting on the steps outside and if we unlock the doors she is sure to come in.”  For a second I was stunned.  Here we had a man of African descent in South Carolina not wanting to let a needy person come into a Cathedral for “sanctuary” and willing to lock everyone else out to prevent her from doing so.  Inspired by the work of a former canon, who fearlessly advocated for leaving our doors open so that any might come in and pray and seek comfort,  my response was swift and firm.  “Unlock the doors and if she comes in we will handle it”.  He paused a second but he could tell from the intensity of my gaze I wasn’t backing down. Haltingly he asked one more time: “Are you sure? She is bound to come in.”  “Yes”, I said, “I am sure; if she comes in we will handle it.”

Well the doors were unlocked and the woman, who from her appearance seemed absolutely crushed by the weight of her circumstances, did not come in. And, I am embarrassed to admit that I did not go out and invite her to come in personally.  But at least the option of coming in was open to her as she was very aware of the sexton as he made a big show of unlocking each of the doors sort of like a last protest.

In reflecting on this incident the dots began to connect themselves and the sexton’s reaction is perfectly understandable.  His seeming “prejudice” did not originate with him. He was simply reflecting the ill-timed and poorly articulated fears of some of our well meaning parishioners that the “homeless” were posing a threat to the parish.  They were posing a threat because sometimes the Daily Office officiants failed to show up and the “homeless were coming in, sleeping on the pews, messing things up, and even praying and lighting candles without proper supervision.  The expressed “concerns” had morphed in the mind of this sexton into a view of the “homeless” (whoever that might be) as a dangerous lot who were to be barred at all costs. There is no better example of outright bigotry than this.  Condemnation by appearance and association regardless of merit is bigotry anyway you cut it.

Viewing these events through the lens of commemorating Bishop Hobart two things bother me.  First, anytime a person is demeaned because they are “homeless” we are in effect literally pushing them into the enemy’s camp.  If we will not open the door and let them in Uncle Screwtape sure will and I think he counsels young Wormwood on how to plant the seeds of bigotry in the guise of a genuine concern for preserving church properties and proper decorum. Second, not only do we literally throw away the souls of those whom we bar but we threaten the souls of those already within such as our sexton who feels he is only doing his duty to God and his church, not to mention the one who pays him his living, to enforce the notion that these “condemned ones” must be shunned at all costs.  And, such a poison will not remain contained and before you know it we all belong to Screwtape lock stock and barrel.

One of our priests pronounces the blessing after each Eucharist he celebrates and inserts the words “and go and love those whom you are called to love” One day after mass I asked him what he meant by that and he carefully explained that those whom you are called to love are people you really don’t like very much or would really feel uncomfortable around, like the “homeless”.  He went on to explain that there is nothing more dehumanizing that lumping someone into a category such as “homeless”, “gay”, “black”, “Latino” and not seeing them as an individual who is just as deserving of God’s love as anyone.

Lesser, Feasts and Fasts says this of Bishop Hobart:

Within his first four years as bishop, Hobart doubled the number of his clergy and quadrupled the number of missionaries.  Before his death, he had planted a church in almost every major town of New York State and had opened a missionary work among the Oneida Indians.

Most likely Bishop Hobart did not accomplish these feats by locking folks, no matter what their economic circumstances, out of churches.

But as a trained and practicing lawyer I know that there is always another side to every issue and this one is no exception. The folks in my parish who are concerned about letting the homeless come in to the Cathedral unsupervised are coming from a place of a genuine concern to preserve the apostolic heritage our cathedral represents.  And, there is nothing wrong with taking steps to make sure that church properties remain un-defiled and safe from hazards such as fire from lit candles left unattended.  So as the chief “suffering servant” of the Daily Office I am trying to find ways to assure the safety of sacred things and at the same time not having the very souls in need of salvation barred from being able to seek refuge and sustenance within the presence of those sacred things.

Revive thy Church, Lord God of hosts, whensoever it doth fall into complacency and sloth, by raising up devoted leaders, like thy servant John Henry Hobart whom we remember this day; and grant that their faith and vigor of mind awaken thy people to thy message and their mission; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.



The Ever-Present and Almighty God

As we in the United States and the world observe the tragedy of 9/11 the message of this devotion bears meaning for all of us.  Even in Job’s darkest days God was with him as he is with each of us no matter how dark things may seem. Sharing the Daily Devotion from the Living Chruch Foundation edited by the Reverend Emily R. Hylden and written by Mary Via.

Daily Devotional is a ministry of the Living Church Foundation.
Image licensed via Creative Commons.
Takashi Toyooka/Flickr
An Almighty God
Daily Devotional • September 11
By Mary Via
We likely have, like Job, found ourselves at one point or another sitting on a heap of ashes asking, “Why me, O Lord? What could I have possibly done to deserve this?”

These strike me as fair questions, but in today’s Old Testament reading God rebukes Job as though he were an impertinent child: “From whose womb did the ice come forth, and who has given birth to the hoar-frost of heaven?” (Job 38:29). Spoiler alert: Not Job.

When our personal problems loom large, it can be helpful to remember that God is so much bigger than even the biggest obstacle we might face and greater than anything we can imagine. When news headlines fill us with dread and fear, we can find solace in remembering that there was never a time when God was not; nor will there ever be. Might we gain some needed perspective in the midst of our difficulties if we can rest in the knowledge that we worship an almighty and transcendent God who can bind the chains of the Pleiades and loose the cords of Orion (Job 38:31)?

Job 38:1, 18-41

Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind: 18Have you comprehended the expanse of the earth? Declare, if you know all this. 19“Where is the way to the dwelling of light, and where is the place of darkness, 20that you may take it to its territory and that you may discern the paths to its home? 21Surely you know, for you were born then, and the number of your days is great! 22“Have you entered the storehouses of the snow, or have you seen the storehouses of the hail,23which I have reserved for the time of trouble, for the day of battle and war? 24What is the way to the place where the light is distributed, or where the east wind is scattered upon the earth?

25“Who has cut a channel for the torrents of rain, and a way for the thunderbolt, 26to bring rain on a land where no one lives, on the desert, which is empty of human life,27to satisfy the waste and desolate land, and to make the ground put forth grass?28“Has the rain a father, or who has begotten the drops of dew? 29From whose womb did the ice come forth, and who has given birth to the hoarfrost of heaven? 30The waters become hard like stone, and the face of the deep is frozen. 31“Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades, or loose the cords of Orion? 32Can you lead forth the Mazzaroth in their season, or can you guide the Bear with its children? 33Do you know the ordinances of the heavens? Can you establish their rule on the earth? 34“Can you lift up your voice to the clouds, so that a flood of waters may cover you? 35Can you send forth lightnings, so that they may go and say to you, ‘Here we are’? 36Who has put wisdom in the inward parts, or given understanding to the mind? 37Who has the wisdom to number the clouds? Or who can tilt the waterskins of the heavens, 38when the dust runs into a mass and the clods cling together? 39“Can you hunt the prey for the lion, or satisfy the appetite of the young lions, 40when they crouch in their dens, or lie in wait in their covert? 41Who provides for the raven its prey, when its young ones cry to God, and wander about for lack of food?


Anglican Thoughts

Anglicans don’t seem to be much good about choosing saints. (I’m using the word Anglican because it reaches wider than “Episcopalian” and serves better as an adjective!) The problem is that we are not sure what a saint is and we are a bit uncomfortable about the whole notion of some group or other sitting around a table coming up with a list of suitable deceased people who can meet the approval of a Provincial Synod, and perhaps be included in a heavy tome sold by church bookshops to further litter sacristies or clergy bookshelves. Perhaps we know that originally, in those blessed days -even days were saintly then – there were neither provincial synods nor committees, standing or otherwise.

Once the Church stumbled into the saint business, it seemed pretty clear that New Testament heroes were saints, even if they weren’t without sins or faults. If you were reading…

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The Good Shepard – A Comforting Message

Sharing the Daily Devotion from Emily Hylden and the folks at the Living Church Foundation.  This is a wonderful message from Lindsey Melden as we celebrate this labor day.  The art depicted is the Cermanski “Good Shepherd”.

Daily Devotional is a ministry of the Living Church Foundation.
Image licensed via Creative Commons.
Jim Forest/Flickr
Good Shepherd
Daily Devotional • September 5
By Lindsey Melden

When asked if he was the Christ, Jesus told the crowds to take an account of his good works. He told them that his actions spoke louder than words and that if they were his sheep they would recognize the voice of the Good Shepherd.

Shepherds are caretakers. They sleep under the stars and watch over their sheep with protection and vigilance. I am comforted by this image. God, the Good Shepherd, watches over me, leads me to still waters and lush pastures; no one can snatch me from God’s hand.

May you find peace and security today in the knowledge that you are known and cared for by the Good Shepherd.

John 10:19-30

Again the Jews were divided because of these words. 20Many of them were saying, “He has a demon and is out of his mind. Why listen to him?” 21Others were saying, “These are not the words of one who has a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”

22At that time the festival of the Dedication took place in Jerusalem. It was winter, 23and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon. 24So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” 25Jesus answered, “I have told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name testify to me; 26but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. 27My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. 28I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. 29What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand. 30The Father and I are one.”

A Treasure of Antiquity Found


The section of the above book titled “The Memoir of the Author” contains this statement:

It has been often said, that the history of the great majority of Parish Priests is best told in the words of the poet: —

“Along the calm, sequestered vale of life,

  They kept the noiseless tenor of their way”

Thus begins the Reverend Doctor Matthew Hole’s Practical Discourses on the Liturgy of the Chruch of England in three volumes which was published by William Pickering of London in 1837.   And why, pray tell, is this book significant to me and how might have I come by it in the year 2016? Well, this past Thursday I met my friend, a seminary graduate and ordained minister, for coffee at our usual haunt and he handed me this book as if he were handing over a piece of buried treasure from a forgotten age.  His motivations were multifaceted as first The Reverend Doctor Hole had gone to great pains to take the English Book of Common Prayer and annotate it with scriptural references with explanations.  This fits my friend’s ecclesiastical bent as a self styled “evangelical” so all must start and end with scripture. The Prayer Book for him is but a recycling of the  Bible and this book adds another straw to the pile of his already impressive evidence that this is so.

Second it has been his  habit to present a new book to me each time we meet and, I think, he would be very disappointed if he could not present something new and unique each time.  On this occasion he was not to be disappointed.  As he moved the volume across the table in my direction I mentally pictured yet another detailed analysis of the theology of Jonathan Edwards or perhaps a new rendition of the Puritan Prayer Book but alas and alack this book fit neatly into my own obessional devotion to the Daily Office as it expanded and elucidated each and every sentence and prayer and provided a neat pedigree as to its origin. It was with joy and reverence that I received it.  My friend is a treasure.

In addition, my friend informed me that Amazon was offering a new edition of this book both in paper and electronic form.  That made the decision to acquire a copy for reference a finality as our American Prayer Book,  even in its 1979 form,  can be amplified with this information to those just beginning to grasp its magnificence. In that vein I must say that I  inherited from a very dear priest friend the care and delight of administering and maintaining the provision of the Daily Office on a “daily basis” in my parish.  And, I think this book will serve very well as a resource in that duty.  I am scheduled to train new officiants next week and I am encouraged to share with them some of the knowledge imparted by the Reverend Doctor Hole as to why the Prayer Book is the way it is.  In a “calm sequestered vale of life”  we can keep the “noiseless tenor of our way” by impressing upon those coming to a fuller understanding of our faith by imparting a fuller understanding of where we come from.

Before closing I would like to share some of the Reverend Doctor Hole’s  thought found in Discourse XXIV titled “On the Alternate Way of Praying”.  This discourse examines the underlying ratio decidendi for the a manner of prayer incorporating congregational responses examining  in particular the Precis of the Daily Office:

O Lord, open thou my lips,

and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.

As we all, most likely,  know this derives from Psalm 51, verse  15 which is as Hole has described it — David’s famous penitential psalm seeking from God remission of his sin with regard to his murder and adultery as regards Bathsheba the daughter of Eliam and her husband Uriah, the Hittite.  I expect everyone reading this piece knows the story from 2nd Samuel.  If not,  here is a precis:   One day in the spring when kings go out to battle king David observed from his tower in the palace a beautiful woman bathing and desired her greatly. He found out she was married to one of his soldiers, Uriah, the Hittite and he conveniently arranged for Uriah to be “gotten out of the way” by making sure he was sent to the front of a raging battle thus hopefully assuring his death.  “Surely nough” that’s exactly what happened and Bathsheba became King David’s wife bearing him a child. In the psalm King David seeks forgiveness and  reconciliation with God by lamenting his sin. His turning point comes when he is enabled to open thou his lips and orally state his praise to God.

Hole uses this as a way of explaining why this portion of the prayer book requires a congregational response.  Opening one’s lips enables one to truly praise God and brings one into his presence in a way that “silence” simply cannot.  He explains that these words are found in the “most ancient liturgies of the Church; nothing being more proper and penitent both for minister and people, when they are about to offer up their solemn prayers unto God, than to call upon him to “open their mouths”.. (thereby enabling).. “both to sound forth his praise.” Noting that this “alternate way of praying” where the minister and the people are taking their turns had been the subject of criticism he brings to bear the words of Saint Jerome who tells us “Populus cum sacerdote loquitur in precibus” “the people spake with the priest”, and Eusebius who states that the Christians in his time sang their hymns “secum invicem” –that is , by turns, and in parts.

Having this background in hand I am gladdened and encouraged  anew to advocate for the practices of saying the Daily Office on a “daily” basis using this “alternate way of praying”.  I shall make this book a part of my library and I urge it for your consideration as well.




Quote of the Day–More Hebrew Please Aloud not Silent

Torah 2

I have always realized that a sermon or homily is best heard through its deliverance by the preacher than merely read privately.  Much is conveyed through the preacher’s tone of voice, facial expression, gestures and mannerisms which is simply lost in a private reading of a written text.   Delving into another Five Books of Moses, this time a translation by Everett Fox I found this statement:

Recent research (this book was published in 1995) reveals that virtually all, literature in Greek and Roman times – the period the Hebrew Bible was put more or less into the form in which it has come down to us (but not the period of its composition) – was read aloud. This holds for the process of copying and writing, and also, surprisingly, for solitary reading.  As late as the last decade of the fourth century Saint Augustine expressed his surprise at finding a sage who read silently.

So the Bible, if not an oral document, is certainly an aural one; it would have been read aloud as a matter of course.  …the implications of this for understanding the text are considerable.  The rhetoric of the text is such that many passages and sections are understandable in depth only when they are analyzed as they are heard. Using echoes, allusions, and powerful inner structures of sound, the text is often able to convey ideas in a manner that vocabulary alone cannot do.

A few minutes ago I addressed an email to a group of daily office officiants at our parish and after repeating the quote form Fox I said: “While we cannot savor the subtle nuances of the original Greek and Hebrew directly we can systematically read our English version aloud on a daily basis and experience the message in a greater dimension than reading it privately.  … We therefore carry a great responsibility to provide a more expansive presentation of God’s word through our oral reading at the offices than is practical to present on a given Sunday.”

Those who lead the daily office should understand how close to the Synagogue they come. The gist here is that there is more to studying the Bible than merely reading it silently or talking about it privately.   As with liturgy we must employ all our senses and feel the word as well as hear it much as a musician “feels” the music he or she is playing.  We could therefore characterize liturgy as the guide by which we play the music of the scriptures.