April 22, 2015

Analyzing the TREC Report, Part 2

This is the second installment in a series of essays on the final report of the Task Force for Reimagining The Episcopal Church. An index to all my posts analyzing the TREC report can be found here.
This second essay on the TREC report was intended to focus on aspects of the General Convention. It will, instead, focus on the mechanics of the actual report. I should explain.

As I was rereading the report, which I had on my computer and tablet, as well as on paper, I found it was difficult to navigate from one location in the report to another. Perhaps, I thought, it would be useful to add bookmarks to the PDF file, which would provide an effective table of contents.When I went to do that, both for myself and for others who might find that useful, I discovered that bookmarks were already in the file, but file properties were set to show only pages, rather than pages and bookmarks, when the file is opened: one mark for the task force and one mark against the task force.

For some reason, I opened the report on the Blue Book home page. To my surprise, I discovered a report that was 62-, not 73-pages long. The report I had been working from (and from which I derived page numbers for my previous post) was the report originally released on December 15, 2014, and the report to which the ENS story of the release was linked. (Resolution C095 called for a final report to the General Convention to be produced by November 2014. The actual release date and a certain lack of polish in the report suggest that the task force was struggling to make its deadline.)

The image below shows the Description tabs of the Document Properties pages of the originally released PDF and of the file now on the Blue Book page. Note that the Modified dates are, respectively, December 15, 2014, and January 6, 2015, and the number of pages are 73 and 62. (Click on the image for a larger view.) To confuse matters further, a page on the TREC Web site has a link to the original release and to another file from two days later that is also 73 pages long. (I have no idea how these two December versions differ, but I suspect that they do so very little.


There is good news and bad news regarding the report that is now officially part of the Blue Book. The text is unchanged (but see below), though everything has been reformatted. The font and the margins are smaller, certain lists are formatted differently, and type styles (roman, boldface, italic) differ in places. All of this makes the “new” version less readable, but only marginally so. Given that the Blue Book is electronic this year, it was hardly necessary to reduce the page count by making the print smaller.

Everything appears in the same order in both versions, but the “new” file includes an introductory page containing the task force membership and a summary of work. The TREC membership is still listed in Appendix 1, though the dioceses of the members have been deleted. A new page containing (minimal) budget information has been added before the list of appendices. Finally, the Blue Book version of the final report has lost its title (“Engaging God’s Mission in the 21st Century: Final Report of the Task Force for Reimagining The Episcopal Church”) The page header now reads “Report to the 78th General Convention” and the page footer reads “Task Force for Reimagining The Episcopal Church.”

Why any of these changes were seen as necessary, I do not know.

The most unfortunate deficiency of the Blue Book PDF is the lack of bookmarks. For the benefit of deputies who may want to jump around in the report in a hurry, I have produced a new version of the report with bookmarks. The text is unchanged. You can find it here. I have resisted adding bookmarks within sections to avoid bookmark clutter. I have the new version will be viewed as helpful.

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