Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Big Party in Washington

Today I spent two hours watching and listening to the Investiture of the new Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori. It was a beautiful and moving service. Jonathan H. said on his blog that such services are incompatible with the gospel, and while I know what he means, I think he rather misses the point, especially in our US context. This was a celebration of a truly new thing. In order to be effective, it had to look like all other investitures -- otherwise it would appear that Katharine was somehow less than her predecessors and les than the other primates. The particularities were mostly related to Katharine's life and carreer, and not to her gender.

As I mentioned elsewhere, at the end of the service there were three reminders of St. Mary's and of Manhattanville and Morningside.-- first came a hymn harmonized by Skinner Chavez-Melo. Skinner was never at St., Mary's, but he conducted choruses both at Morningside Gardens and at Union Theological Seminary. Then came a hymn by Jeffery Rowthorn. Jeffery was at St. Mary's during each of his stints at UTS. I remember Rex said to me about Jefferey, "That man is going to be a bishop someday," and he was right. Then I read the credits and discovered that Victor Challenor and Paul Woodrum designed the vestments. Victor was Neale's partner for a few years after Neale came out. Liz and I have run into Victor on the West Side two or three times in the last year -- although he and Paul live in Brooklyn.

Coming two weeks after The West Harlem Christ, this service hit the spot for me.

It was an interesting 18 hours. Lat evening Liz and I went to see a video about Columbia University's assault on Manhattanville. Part of it was filmed in St. Mary's, with Earl coming off very impressively. Then we dashed up the hill to catch the last part of an orchestra concert at MSM. It was the first time either of us had heard Beethoven's Fifth Symphony live. The performance was wonderful. Then before bed, I listened to a Slovenian production of Wonderful Town on the BBC. It was the last chance to catch the replay, and I wanted to hear it for the strange accents. And then today the investiture.

Maybe I'll get serious on this blog someday.