[Springboard] Another Random Act of Music

James Wiegel jfwiegel at yahoo.com
Mon Jan 4 18:24:51 CST 2010

So, having read the emails from the Mathews Symposium -- comments from the 2 Marshalls . . .

We were in San Juan del Sur, a harbor town on the Pacific close to the south end of Nicaragua.  Many people who came for the Gold Rush in California came through there to ship on to San Francisco.

We walked through the playground in the center of the town, let the grandkids play a bit.  At the end of the playground, the Catholic church on the square was open and lit -- it was 2 days after Christmas.  We walked over, the door was open, a priest, up front was conducting the Mass.  Somewhere around lifting up the Host, he broke into song, to the tune of Sounds of Silence.  It was in Spanish, I could not catch the words, but I had to wonder . . .

[Pete Seeger] talks about how important it is to him to get an audience singing along. "I guess it’s kind of a religion with me. Participation: that’s what’s going to save the human race." -- Pete Seeger in The Power of Song

Jim Wiegel
401 North Beverly Way, Tolleson, Arizona 85353-2401
+1 623-936-8671 +1 623-363-3277
jfwiegel at yahoo.com www.partnersinparticipation.com 

From: W. J. <synergi at yahoo.com>
To: "jlepps at pc.jaring.my" <jlepps at pc.jaring.my>
Cc: oe at wedgeblade.net
Sent: Mon, January 4, 2010 2:29:13 PM
Subject: Re: [Oe List ...] [earthrise] A Random Act of Music

John, I loved your witness. It spoke deeply to me about my own cultural reductionisms, my rigid, irritable, age-related need to 'have it my way' without welcoming the intrusion of the Other, and, most of all, of the transformational power of an experience of Awe that transcends our cultural and generational differences. 
And yes, I still think Japanese tourist groups tend to be a loud crowd, all in all. But we welcome their presence (and their dollars) here in San Francisco. 
Don't know how to address the inevitable fact that most of the world will wander through our cultural heritage without ever having heard of Cardinal Wolsey et. al, and thus may miss most of the potential depth & richness of their touristy experience, substituting their preoccupation with high-tech gadgetry for gaining a deeper sense of history.
Great to see y'all in DC. Be well in your grumpiness, & have a Happy New Year.

From: "jlepps at pc.jaring.my" <jlepps at pc.jaring.my>
To: earthrise at yahoogroups.com
Sent: Tue, January 5, 2010 8:25:30 AM
Subject: [earthrise] A Random Act of Music

The Cathedral was magnificent. Designed and built by Henry VIII as a 
symbol of his rule over the newly-established Church of England, it 
is a massive Gothic structure that has endured countless episodes of 
human frailty. And its wonder has survived intact. Today its grandeur 
was being trampled by a group of young Japanese tourists who were 
loudly photographing everything in sight and mobbing the walkways 
while I was trying to locate the spot at which John Wesley preached 
or where Cardinal Wolsey was tried or where St. Freidswide was buried.

This was the cathedral at Christ Church College at Oxford University 
in England.. We were in Oxford for a conference of facilitators and 
had taken a little time off to see some of the incredible sights of 
the city. While we were walking around admiring the arches and 
stained glass and tributes to notable worthies, there were the 
Japanese youth in their colored, fashionable outfits energetically 
chattering and snapping away with hi-tech cameras and cell phones. 
Their enthusiastic presence seemed to defile the grandeur of the surroundings.

I grumpily made my way away from them trying to hear the organist who 
was practicing softly from his perch in the balcony. This place 
demands vigorous output from the pipes, and he was giving mere 
whispers that increased my longing for something more suitable. What 
he may have intended to be soothing was having the opposite effect on me.

Suddenly a full-throated choir launched into a four-part chorale in 
Latin that resonated through the cathedral and echoed off the spires 
filling the space with wonder. All of a sudden this was no longer a 
quaint tourist destination; it was a place of awe. Appropriate music 
made this space once more into a cathedral.

The singers were the Japanese tourists who had lined up in the aisle 
and under the direction of an experienced conductor were rendering 
their considerable appreciation to the setting. If you're a choir, in 
this place, how can you NOT sing? The timid organist looked over the 
balcony to see what was going on. When the piece was done, they 
dispersed and left.

But what they left behind was as tangible as the stone memorials in 
the cathedral.

Mystery intrudes sometimes when we least expect it.

I'm John Epps, currently living half-time in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 
and half-time in Denver, USA. Ann and I joined EI/ICA/OE in 1972 and 
have worked in Chicago, Kuala Lumpur and Denver.

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