Monday, June 30, 2008

Love2learn Gathering

It's funny how hopping from one thing to another (California trip, Chesterton conference and Love2learn Gathering) have made me kind of quiet on the blog. There's just too much too blog about right now.

But really, the dash from one thing to the next left me in the middle of processing the last thing and thus there's many things from the California trip that I haven't had the chance to blog about yet - like a lovely visit to Melissa Wiley and friends in San Diego and a sad, but yet beautiful funeral of a sweet little boy that I attended while visiting my in-laws in Santa Paula.

I only put together a few of my thoughts on the Chesterton conference (including a post on Geir Hasnes' talk that I didn't manage to quite finished and subsequently unpublished) before our wave of Love2learn visitors began arriving. It was really a quite incredible week/weekend and it was amazing to see God's hand in the planning. (My father-in-law commented afterwards that he was amazed at how well we were doing with all that we had going on, but I had to explain that I had a particular "method" that made everything work out well. For a month or so before our trip to California, I worked on an article on hope and trust! It was good for me and something I need to be reminded of over and over again - particularly as I tend to get hit with a wave of depression and doubt AFTER good and beautiful things like our gathering.) We had a family from Oregon and two families from South Dakota join my local reviewers from Love2learn for a weekend of socializing, an incredible fireworks show, an amazing barn dance, an awful lot of mosquitoes and a bit of real work too.

Kathy Bridge, Elizabeth Yank, Mary Daly and I are talking through what is important in good reading; making distinctions (for the purposes of reviewing and organizing things on Love2learn) between literature and fiction and things like that...

It wasn't all work! Ana Braga-Henebry and Suchi Myjak enjoy a game of Scrabble.

And speaking of Literature, Suchi brought this wonderful quote from Dorothy Sayers' Creed or Chaos to illuminate our discussion:

The only Christian work is good work done well. Let the Church see to it that the workers are Christian people and do their work well, as to God: then all the work will be Christian work, whether it is Church embroidery, or sewage-farming. As Jacques Maritain says: 'If you want to produce Christian work, be a Christian, and try to make a work of beauty into which you have put your heart; do not adopt a Christian pose.'

He is right. And let the Church remember that the beauty of the work will be judged by its own, and not by ecclesiastical standards. Let me give you an illustration of what I mean.

When my play The Zeal of Thy House was produced in London, a dear old pious lady was much struck by the beauty of the four great archangels who stood throughout the play in their heavy, gold robes, eleven feet high from wing-tip to sandal-tip. She asked with great innocence 'whether I selected the actors who played the angels for the excellence of their moral character?'

I replied that the angels were selected, to begin with, not by me but by the producer, who had the technical qualifications for selecting suitable actors - for that was part of his vocation. And that he selected, in the first place, young men who were six feet tall, so that they would match properly together. Secondly, angels had to be of good physique, so as to be able to stand stiff on the stage for two and a half hours, carrying the weight of their wings and costumes, without wobbling, or fidgeting, or fainting. Thirdly, they must be able speak verse well, in an agreeable voice and audibly. Fourthly, they must be reasonably good actors.

When all these technical conditions were fulfilled, we might come to the moral qualities, of which the first would be the ability to arrive on the stage punctually and in a sober condition, since the curtain must go up on time, and a drunken angel would indecorous. After that, and only after that, one might take character into consideration, but that - provided his behaviour was not so scandalous as to cause dissension among the company - the right kind of actor with no morals would give a far more reverent and seemly performance than a saintly actor with the wrong technical qualifications.

The worst religious films I ever saw were produced by a company which chose its staff exclusively for their piety. Bad photography, bad acting, and bad dialogue produced a result so grotesquely irreverent that the pictures could not have been shown in churches without bringing Christianity into contempt.

God is not served by technical incompetence; and incompetence and untruth always result when the secular vocation is treated as a thing alien to religion.

I love it!

P.S. For me, physical activity can be very helpful part of shaking off the shackles of doubt. For example, today I learned how to ride a tandem bicycle with a certain blind relative, who hasn't been on a bicycle in about 25 years. Woohoo!!!

1 comment:

Karen E. said...

Perfect quote! I love it, too.