Growing up in the Greek Orthodox Church, I learned to confess my sins by kneeling directly in front of the priest. I had no reason to believe that other churches handled this sacrament differently. When I first saw Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal, I was mesmerized by the scenes of Death and the Knight talking to each other, in part because they were sitting in some sort of booth with a small door between them. What a great cinematic concept, I thought. When I later visited a Catholic church for the first time and saw the rows of confessionals, my response was, “They stole the idea from Bergman!”
David Bowie called them his favorite iPod download. U2 used their song “Wake Up” as the walk-on anthem for their last tour. Coldplay and David Byrne are unabashed fans. Not bad for a band that just debuted its second album.
It takes 10 or 15 minutes to catch up to the shorthand narrative style of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the fifth film based on the J. K. Rowling novels (released at about the same time as the seventh and final book in the series).
Somewhere in the sacred opera, in a sea of men, the little voice, fearless in the face of the foreign marketplace of sound booming in the maw of the basilica, came forth, the little voice, like the water bird above the river.
The lost child’s chant, meant to take away a mother’s grief, came at us from behind.
His form, white, diaphanous, backlit, wafted from the narthex down the nave, one flaming wing trembling, his treble sure, sure, soaring, pinning my lapsed heart to some small certainty:
All shall be well. The ears of the deaf shall be open, as well as the gates to the house of doubt.
Orchard Gardens, a K-8 pilot school started in Roxbury, Massachusetts, in 2003 did not live up to expectations. It was racked by violence, and its 2010 test scores placed it among the bottom five public schools in the state. Andrew Bott, the school’s sixth principal in seven years, fired all the security guards and devoted the money to teaching the arts. It was a risky move that’s paid off. Tests scores have improved, even though they’re still below average, and student behavior has improved. “I’ve been more open, and I’ve expressed myself more than I would have before the arts came,” said one student who has been accepted into a public high school specializing in visual and performing arts (NBC News, May 1).
He was up in the choir loft, tuning his pipes of the old century’s wind-pump organ; I heard taps and bangs on metal, strange half-throated off- notes, near-notes, puffs, sighs and cough-blasts;
and then he was playing—Bach, Buxtehude, Peters— it was a young Jehovah’s making, a bright hands-full soaring over oceans of soul-light, filling the chill of the chapel with a lush of breathing. Now, in my everyday listening,
for the poem,the music, I am Mary before the ash-soft fall of the messenger, I am John after the disappearance beyond the clouds; I listen to the silence beyond the thuck and thudding of a day’s importance, to hear the hum that figures
a countryside of darkness, the sounds of April whispering over into May, the thunder of apple blossoms dropping from the tree; I listen for the tune that my days make in the works of love, in the notes’ approximations to a symphony.