Behold, I am sending forth many fishers, says the Lord, and they shall catch them. (Jeremiah 16:16)
And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make youfishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19)
At noon the Church of the Epiphany, on this the long anticipated Date with Destiny on which we’re told the Fate of Almost All depends, is strangely free of angst. The good-sized crowd is here to see a choir perform Cantata Eighty Eight and hear Johann the angel Bach relate a snatch of puzzling Bible history: God is at first an angry fisherman who hunts in righteous wrath our sinful kind but then Christ stoops and speaks, wrath is undone by love, reality is redefined, Ohio pales, the stained glass glows blood red, the hapless fish are named, called, calmed and fed.
When he wrote Oliver Twist in 1837, Charles Dickens had a cause: he was protesting the harsh and unjust treatment of children in England. His depiction of the situation was searing—more so than the best-known movie adaptations.
Place a stone in the palm of your hand; it lies there, inert, nothing but itself. It revels in its stoniness, its solidity. It gathers light, rises from the plains, a mountain in miniature, notches and ridges carved by weather, strata and stria, the pressure of time, the rough places, planed. A climber might try for the pinnacle, looking for toeholds in cracks and crevasses. The way up is never easy. The air thins. From the peak, the horizon falls away. Borders are meaningless. The stone rests in your hand. It sings its one long song. Something about eternity. Something about the sea.
Great plays tend to make mediocre movies. The elements that make a play successful don’t always provide the plot and visuals that are the keys to memorable cinema. Complicating matters further is the fact that theater is, by design, dialogue-heavy. The screenwriter who plans to cram long monologues or extended dialogues into the script is doomed.
No one understood my nightly need to be reassured I’d wake up again the next day. Eyes closed, I saw no sheep but the tufts of pampas grass looming silver like a solitary path. The scroll hung above me, a verse in five and seven, its flowing hand thin and illegible—I still knew it was about our life not lasting very long. How is it that adults were okay with such a prospect? In July, bamboo blades rustled against paper cranes and prayer strips; I wondered how I’d made the cut, when I wasn’t a boy my father wanted, wasn’t a koi princess my mother said would magically turn her tail into a pair of legs. I looked for the fabled rabbits on the moon, a family of them taking turns to pound rice into pearly cakes along their dark, elliptical orbit.
A copy of the Bay Psalm Book, the first book published in America, will be auctioned off by Sotheby’s and is expected to bring between $15 and $30 million, making it the most expensive book ever sold. One of two copies owned by Old South Church in Boston, it is one of only 11 remaining copies published. The proceeds will be used to help replenish Old South’s endowment once $7 million of it is used for deferred maintenance. The church historian resigned over the congregation’s decision to sell one of its treasures, but the rest of the congregation overwhelmingly supported the decision (New York Times, November 15).