The Very Rev. Allen by James Hitchcock

The Very Rev. Allen

James Hitchcock on the Passing of Bishop Pike's Celebrated Convert

In mid-September 2013, two voices from the past were briefly heard again in St. Louis. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported, in terms that could only be called gushing, the death of J. C. Michael Allen, who from 1976 to 1998 was dean of Christ Church Cathedral of the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri. The gush was not, of course, over his death, but over St. Louis's good fortune in having once had him as a spiritual leader.

The reporter consistently referred to the former dean as "the Very Rev. Allen," which was itself odd in a day when so many clergy liked to be known simply as Bob or Mike. But the use of the rather stilted title confirmed the desired impression that the dean had indeed been a man of stature.

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James Hitchcock is Professor emeritus of History at St. Louis University in St. Louis. He and his late wife Helen have four daughters. His most recent book is the two-volume work, The Supreme Court and Religion in American Life (Princeton University Press, 2004). He is a senior editor of Touchstone.

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