Posts Tagged 'evangelism lessons'

On Bright Friday: Christ is risen! Indeed He is risen!

This is the time of year, the last week before dead week, when I typically find myself scratching my head, thinking, “Where the heck did the school year go?”

Heck — where did April go?

Tomorrow will be the first Saturday here at home when I haven’t had to set an alarm since February. Note to self: next year, when you’re asked if you’re up to 8am Saturday Liturgies all throughout Great Lent, say “no”.

Anyway… getting home after the trip to Seattle, I was ragged to say the least, but I was nonetheless returned to your regularly-scheduled Byzantine Holy Week, already in progress. To say it was bizarre I’m not sure really covers it; being in the midst of a death in the family (and recovering from bronchitis before we left), and having missed, more or less, Palm Sunday, plus all of the Bridegroom Matins services, as well as having broken the fast while traveling, during Western Easter no less, to just drop in with Unction on Wednesday and return to fasting for all of five days just felt weird. Also, since my experience of Orthodox Christianity has been very much in the context of my marriage, having my wife gone made it even weirder. By the time people were yelling “CHRIST IS RISEN!” late Saturday night, I just had to admit — “Sorry, not feeling it this year.”

Which makes it a good thing that the Resurrection of Christ does not particularly depend on my feelings, I suppose.

Agape Vespers Sunday morning found me missing a perfect fifth at the top of my voice and in possession of an extra major third at the bottom. Such was the case for much of my choir. Folks, I will write a separate blog post about this later, but let me beseech, implore, plead with, beg you — for the health, sanity, and vocal longevity of your choir and cantors, when you decide upon a mission space or build a church, however temporary you plan for it to be, acoustics and an intentional, non-negotiable place for your choir and cantors are not a “nice to have”. They are a “need to have”. Low drop ceilings with acoustic tiles and carpets cannot be considered a reasonable option, because then your choir and cantors, who likely won’t be trained singers in the first place and who won’t have any way of adjusting for how an acoustically dead space messes with your hearing or your singing — to say nothing of your priest, particularly during Holy Week — will have really no option in the long haul but to yell through services against the room or just not be heard — and frankly, you probably won’t be heard terribly well anyway. As well, to haphazardly jam the choir into a corner they were never meant to occupy, where they are walled in by, well, a wall, the congregation, the solea, and the plane of a deacon’s door, particularly on Pascha when you’ve got extra choristers as well as people’s baskets encroaching on what is already too little space — well, it just doesn’t work very well, from any standpoint. Do not tell yourself, “Well, the space is temporary, so we’ll just make do while we have to,” either — temporary is a guest with a habit of staying late.

But I’ll come back to that another time.

After Agape Vespers, I was prepared to go home, make my Paschal nachos, bottle beer, catch up on some homework, and then go pick up my wife at the Indianapolis airport at 10:30pm.

Did you hear that? That was God elbowing me in the ribs, saying, “Gotcha good, didn’t I?”

At 3:30pm, I got a phone call from Megan at the Seattle airport. The short version is that, thanks to weather, the Chicago-to-Indy leg of her flight had been cancelled, and because it was a FAA-imposed delay which caused the cancellation, there really wasn’t much United Airlines was willing to do beyond to say, “Have a nice night at O’Hare and we’ll get you on standby the next day… at some point.”

“All you have is carry-on luggage, right?” I asked.

“Yes.”

“OK. I’ll see you in Chicago.”

I quickly called friends to let them know that nachos would have to wait, and I left at 4:30pm (EST) to try to intercept the 8pm (CST) flight.

Thanks to an eight-mile backup on northbound highway I-65 (the left lane was closed for construction, although no actual construction was occurring that I could see), I finally got there about 9:30pm (CST), or 10:30EST — the time I was supposed to pick her up in Indianapolis in the first place.

We got home around 3:30am (EST), making it an impromptu eleven hour round trip. Thankfully, Megan was up to driving most of the way home so I could sleep, since I had to go to work the next morning.

It was a great start to the week.

I am, however, finally caught up with all of the Greek homework that I missed while I was sick and subsequently out of town, as well as ready, more or less, for the conference paper-style presentation of my research project for the history seminar I’ve been in this semester. It will be a work in progress, and I’ve already said I’ll need an incomplete for the full paper given all the surrounding circumstances, but I at least have something to show people, and I think it’s reasonably interesting. I think. In short, it has to do with how Coptic and Byzantine liturgical texts show us how each Church builds its communal identity relating to, and institutional memory of, the Council of Chalcedon with the rhetoric employed in the relevant hymnody, synaxarion readings, and even in fixed portions of the Liturgy such as the Commemoration of the Saints in the Coptic rite, and so on.

We’ll see how it plays in Peoria. I don’t think I can assume any liturgical knowledge whatsoever, so a good chunk of my time is having to be taken explaining various segments of the different services. Hopefully eyes won’t glaze over too much.

So, besides not having gotten enough sleep in two months and coming up on the end of my part-time status as a student, I can say that I appear to have a chant teacher while I’m in Greece, I have my renewed passport, and we have Megan booked to come out to Greece for the last 9 days or so that I am there.

I had received some suggestions about chant teachers, but held off acting on any of them until a particular individual got back to me. This person finally did, saying, “Well, here’s how you get in touch with Lycourgos Angelopoulos as well as Ioannis Arvanitis.” The catch with Πρωτοψάλτης Λυκούργος, alas, is that he speaks Greek and is “able to communicate in French”; I’m not sure I want to depend on languages which are works in progress for this kind of instruction, so I sent an introductory e-mail to Arvanitis in Greek (proofread by my friend Anna Pougas, so that I wasn’t inadvertently telling him “έχω τρία αρχίδια” or anything like that) and in English. He wrote back in English, saying yes, I’ll be here, here’s my number, call me when you get to Athens. We’ll see what can actually be done in seven weeks, but I’m looking forward to actually getting to learn even the most basic of basics from somebody who actually knows what they’re talking about and who has had the real thing in his ear and his blood for his whole life.

Anyway — life is slowly returning to manageable levels. At least until it’s time to leave my job and go to Greece for the summer.

Christ is risen! Indeed He is risen!

YouTube is my Pensieve

It’s amazing the pieces of one’s childhood one can reconstruct using YouTube. Surely, I’m the 9,081,726,354th (and if somebody wants to tell me what’s interesting about that number, you’ll get a classic Marvel No-Prize from me) person to post this out of nostalgia:

But then, surely, there are the things of which you only have vague memories, haven’t seen it in years, have never heard anybody else ever mention it, it’s never come out on DVD, you question whether or not it even existed or if you just imagined it, etc.

We got cable when I was probably about five (c. 1981-1982), and I remember this short film that I saw on HBO numerous times. The main image that I remember is this mass of magnetic tape chasing somebody around an office building, and eventually consuming him. Over the years I’ve inquired here and there on the internet to see if anybody knew anything about it; nothing. One or two people thought they remembered seeing part of the film, but had no further information. Well, I finally found it last night. I give you 1975’s “Recorded Live”:

Oh, the mustache. Man.

Two interesting names in the end credits: George Winston and Ben Burtt, Jr. The former is the pianist; the latter would go on to become George Lucas’ main sound effects guy (and creator of the lightsaber noise).

Something else I saw on cable a lot as a little kid was an animated movie called “The Mouse and His Child.” I remember parts of it really messing with my head, particularly a sequence where there’s a can of dogfood with a highly recursive label, and the titular characters are trying to figure out where it ends. It has evidently never been released on DVD, I’ve never met anybody else who remembers it, but here’s the whole thing (and it’s well-worth the watch if you’ve got 77 minutes to spare):

“Will that be cash, or –”

“TREACLE BRITTLE!” (smash to head)

Finally (for now), in the late 1980s, the church my mother and I attended for awhile used to show this movie every so often to the junior high kids. The protagonist is a schlub of a guy who leads a very humdrum life (no doubt today he would be played by either Philip Seymour Hoffman or Paul Giamatti) in a very ugly, grey and industrial city. One day a gospel group simply appears in front of him, singing music that makes him happy in a way he’s clearly never experienced before. They disappear, leaving a box behind. He lifts the lid of the box, and their music comes out. He then walks around with the box up to his ear, listening to it wherever he goes, but he doesn’t want anybody else to hear it. One night, the band appears to him again when he’s in bed, and they tell him, “You’re supposed to share it!” To his terror, they start a song, waking up his family. They rush in, wondering what’s going on, and then find themselves infected by the music as well. When he realizes that it’s a good thing for him to let others hear the music of the box, he starts going everywhere with the lid open, and there’s a closing montage of him doing so. The last shot is of him standing on the roof of a tall building, holding the box open for the whole city to hear.

Same deal — I never knew what it was called, never heard of it again after we stopped going to that church, never met anybody who knew anything about it. The images from it have nonetheless stuck with me over the years. I finally found it, and turns out it is called, prosaically enough, “Music Box.” Here is the beginning:

There’s that ‘stache again. Were there special steroids one could feed facial hair follicles in those days?

The whole thing may be found here. It’s just a tick under half an hour.

I will say that whenever the topic of evangelism comes up, the images that come to mind are from this movie. Not the, um, special white tuxedos with fluttering wings, but rather that keeping what we have to ourselves out of fear is missing the point, and that we can shout it from the rooftops in such a way that will be more than just us making pests of ourselves. Let’s not keep our lights under bushels, in other words.

Anyway — watch and enjoy.


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