Sunday, July 11, 2010

So two Dunkers walk into an Episcopal church...

From Winchester, VA, USA
...and the elder brother says to his student, "Now you see the things our people left behind." Here's something to help set the atmosphere...

I rolled into Winchester, Virginia, yesterday morning just before 8 a.m. It was a relatively cool, calm morning. A much-needed thunderstorm had just rolled through the night before, bringing rain to a very parched Shenandoah Valley. I sat in the car for about 10 minutes, enjoying the quiet street. Right after shooting the first clip seen in the video above I saw my Episcopalian friend, Melanie, approaching in my rearview mirror. After warm hellos she let us into the parish hall at Christ Episcopal church and I set my things in a lavishly furnished parlor. Melanie showed me around the church's parish hall and then into the beautiful sanctuary, 360'ily displayed in the last scene above.

My professor wasn't scheduled to show up for another hour and a half. I had planned on sitting in the parlor and studying but Melanie graciously invited me to her home for breakfast and to meet her wonderful family. Melanie and I went through our first year of seminary together, in both a number of classes and in a small group that met weekly all year. That small group became like a family, and in some ways shared more deeply than I have with my own family. I like to call my friend "Sister Melanie," which has all sorts of internal church tradition irony to savor. Breakfast and conversation was wonderful and we headed back to the church at about 9:30.

Lord Fairfax's bones are buried in the courtyard of Christ Episcopal Church. As Melanie and I stood before the tomb, a woman from the parish approached and proceeded to tell us an hilarious story about the disinterment of Lord Fairfax's bones from the church basement to the aforementioned tomb, which faces the sidewalk and street. The details of this story involve Episcopal/Presbyterian history in order to be "got," and the details of the story would be so badly butchered by my attempt to re-tell it here, that I won't even bother. Suffice it to say: Melanie and I were both quite amused by this woman's story. Melanie left me at the steps of the church in order to wait for my professor to show up. While doing that I shot the second scene in the film above.

My prof showed up at 10 a.m. sharp, just in from Elizabethtown College in PA. Before settling into the parlor for our class session I took him to the sanctuary, at which point he uttered the words that began this post. Two low church Dunkers standing in a high church sanctuary. This was a marvelous way to being our discussions for the two-hour discussion, part of a directed study course on which he's working with me. Back in the parlor (with a painting of Lord Fairfax gazing upon us from above the mantle) our discussion went from post-Christendom critiques of Hauerwas and Yoder before turning to more specifically Brethren theology and history, especially the ordinances (what high church folk would call sacraments) of baptism and the Lord's Supper. My studies so far have focused on two early Brethren leaders, Alexander Mack (18th century, German) and Peter Nead (19th century, American), so we talked mostly about their writings.

Just after noon, we closed our conversation with prayer and packed up our books. As we exited the parlor, I hoped aloud that all our low church Dunker talk didn't peel the paint on the walls. My prof laughed and said he wouldn't feel too bad if it did. Lord Fairfax didn't seem to mind. Embraces exchanged and tentative plans for our next meeting made, we split up, with me heading back up the Valley ("up" is south here in the Valley, which still twists my flatlander/Midwestern mind) on I-81 to Harrisonburg.

Meta-commentary re the pre video
Lately my wife and I have been watching the HBO cop series, The Wire, getting a single DVD at a time through Netflix. We're both hooked. So much so for me that in my spare time I looked up the Wikipedia article and did some reading up on it. I was interested to discover that in the show, music is only played if it's coming from something on-screen/in-scene like a car's radio as it drives by. I thought "cool." So when I was quickly editing the three clips for the video above, I noticed Doves' "Kingdom of Rust" playing on my car stereo in the first one. I almost killed the audio in editing but thought "Wait a minute!" So instead of a silent video, you get my attempt at integrating music the way The Wire does it!

I've also been doing interpretive work for a British band setting the soundtrack for scenes from an English-derived church tradition. The name of the song "Kingdom of Rust," and the line "My God/It takes an ocean of trust..." during the clip in the sanctuary just as the camera adjusts the lighting, focusing on the pipe organ. So that's fun for me. Who knows what it's like for anyone else.

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