Jul. 10th, 2005

Study )

I had a perfectly enjoyable child-free Saturday, since my kids are with my in-laws in Pennsylvania and we are not getting them back until we all meet at the Orioles game on Sunday. We went to the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center, which is across the way from the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception so we went there too. The Cultural Center has Marc Chagall's 1957 Bible Series on display, 105 etchings by Chagall (whom the receptionist described to us as a "Jewish gentleman," presuming we were Catholic) based on events and scenes in the Torah and prophetic books of the Bible; a set of pages from the 15th century Borso d'Este illluminated Bible; and a permanent exhibit on the Jewish temples that stood on the site of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem (interestingly, American Catholic rhetoric is just as biased if not more so than Jewish rhetoric on the region: for instance, the exhibit claims that "hovels" were torn down where they were blocking views of the Western Wall, rather than that Muslim homes were destroyed, though the press is fond of blaming Israeli Jews for those sorts of statements). There was also a display of holy cards from the sublime to delightfully cheesy baseball-card type images of saints.

The first time I was ever in the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, I was taking summer theater classes for high school students at adjacent Catholic University's drama department. It was by far the biggest church that I had ever entered and I was absolutely awed. Now I am struck by how much smaller and more modern it seems compared to St. Paul's, Durham Cathedral and York Minster in England, but it is still a magnificent building. There were many candles lit for the victims in London and people crying in the shrines to the various aspects of the Lady. I am incapable of walking into a Catholic church without a deep sense of ambivalence, even a contemporary American one (it was dedicated in 1959) -- the bookstore has a big display of the virulently anti-Semitic book that was Mel Gibson's primary source for The Passion of the Christ, and it felt very strange to be inside a church the same week a leading cardinal declared that belief in evolution as accepted by science today may be incompatible with Catholic faith. This is one of those weeks where I want to take all organized religion and give it to the monkeys -- between allegations of Fundamentalist coercion in the Air Force and signs of religious incompatibility all over the globe causing brutality, it seems worse than useless to me.

Fortunately I had a lovely, relaxing evening of dinner involving crabmeat at Legal Seafood followed by hippie pagan folk music by Jennifer Cutting's Ocean Orchestra, who were playing with Grace Griffith and Lisa Moscatiello at the Lubber Run Amphitheatre in Arlington, Virginia. They call themselves "Celtic music for ancient moderns" and their material includes many of the songs Cutting and Moscatiello sang together when they were in The New St. George as well as a number of absolutely gorgeous "new" (since they're mostly hundreds of years old) songs and arrangements. In addition to "The Mermaid", "Our Captain Cried All Hands" and various other sea-themed folk songs, they did a version of The Shocking Blue's "Venus" which believe me you have never heard until you've heard it with bagpipes, button accordion, pennywhistle and bouzouki. Traditionalists may not approve of their new CD Ocean as it contains arrangements incorporating electric keyboard and bass, a full drum kit and synthesizer sounds, but it's absolutely gorgeous music and quite inspiring to me. Why do hymns feel so different to me performed by a folk group than in a church?

Stupid fannish thought for the day -- okay, actually stupidest thought for the day among many: Someone should do a Snape songvid to Madonna's "Live To Tell." On which subject I would like to announce that I am writing The Sappiest Snape/Lupin Story Ever. I feel that I am entitled, as it is possible after Saturday that I will never write another Snape/Lupin story nor ever want to. If I am wrong about that, I will issue a formal apology in the form of serious snark. *g* In other entertainment news, Michelle Forbes as Commander Cain justifies to myself my ongoing disinterest in watching the new BSG, because while I love Forbes, Lloyd Bridges OWNS that role and I loathe the idea of it "reimagined"! And may I just say that the previews for that new show Prison Break make it look great; I hope it's as good as its trailer.

Faith and Art )

And yeah, I am totally behind on work and particularly correspondence and comments...[livejournal.com profile] robinwest, I swear I have not forgotten you! Next week my children are in camp and I promise to be better. Hope everyone is having a relaxing weekend!


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