Saturday, August 25, 2007

Friday Five, One Day Late (Again)

Sally over at RevGalBlogPals posted the following; I’m a day late, but then, I’m not yet an official RevGalBlogPal.

I have spent the week at Summer School studying the Gospel and Western culture, we have looked at art, literature, music, film and popular culture in their myriad expressions. With that in mind I bring you the cultural Friday 5.

Name a

1. Book
The Last Temptation of Christ by Nikos Kazantzakis. For several years after confirmation, I was not at all sure about God, and when I became a little surer about God, I was still not sure about Jesus Christ. Then I read this book and found a Christ I could believe in. The Incarnation is very important to me; although I do believe Jesus is fully human and fully divine, I would give up the latter before the former if forced to do so.

2. Piece of music
Hymns in general are the music that helps and challenges me spiritually. One that runs through my head a lot for some time now is "Great Is Your Faithfulness." “Morning by morning new mercies I see; All I have needed your hand has provided.” I have so much to be thankful for and this helps to remind me.

3. Work of art
I’m going to “cheat” on this one as Songbird did, and use a theatrical performance. In 1991, Theatre de la Jeune Lune in Minneapolis produced The Nightingale, inspired by the Hans Christian Andersen story and featuring noted Twin Cities gospel singer Robert Robinson as the Nightingale. As a Christmas present, I asked that our whole family attend. It was a transcendent evening of theatre, not least because we five enjoyed it together; Robinson’s voice, the costumes and sets, everything worked together; and the story has a lot to say about what’s real and what’s not, an important spiritual lesson. (If you follow no other link in this post, do the Robert Robinson one and watch the video.)

4. Film
The first one that comes to mind is one of the first films I saw on my own in a movie theater. (I saw a lot with my brother when I was younger, but around age 12 or 13 I was going to the movies by myself in Milford, CT). It’s not, apparently, available on VHS or DVD, but if you ever see it listed in a TV schedule be sure to watch it. It’s called Hand in Hand, the story of a little Catholic boy and a little Jewish girl who become friends. I don’t know quite why this film has stuck in my mind so long, but it seems to have the same effect on others. Its message of religious tolerance and, by extension, acceptance of our many differences, would be as important now as it was then.

5. Unusual engagement with popular culture
I don’t know how unusual this is, but…a few years ago there was a choral music series at the University of Minnesota that we got tickets for, and the first in the series was The Blind Boys of Alabama. Now, although I like all kinds of music, my general practice in worship is pretty sedate. At, say, a Pentecostal service, I would normally feel about as out of place and self-conscious as I did at pep rallies in high school. But toward the end of the concert, the Blind Boys were wailing and strutting and jumping up and down (and some of the ones jumping were probably in their 70s) and that audience of Scandinavians and Germans and Anglo-Saxons, Lutherans and Episcopalians and Unitarians, were all on our feet, not just standing but bouncing up and down, and folks, we had church. A peak experience.

That have helped/ challenged you on your spiritual journey.

Bonus: Is engagement essential to your Christian faith, how and why?
I’d say yes, just because I like making connections (there will be more about this when I get to “c” in my alphabet) and because, if faith means something, it needs to be present not just in worship on Sunday but in every part of our lives.


Onkel Hankie Pants said...

I don't see why using a theatrical performance as an example of a work of art is cheating. Some might argue, in fact . . . But that's the master's thesis I never wrote.

Cathy said...

I happened upon your blog because you made a comment over at songbird's place. I quite like your blog. Think I'll be checking it out occasionally.