I ate at a Central American restaurant. Disappointing experience:
1. no Roast Jaguar
2. no End of the World Mayan Calendar Special.
Then I had both services on a Sunday in North Carolina in two churches, both Hispanic, both with outstanding music—the morning service was traditional Spanish, with all the instrumentalists being male—three of them sang and there were also three female singers. It was very fervent, devout. The evening service had a very different, but very beautiful sound--contemplative, meditative.
On the way from North Carolina to Indiana, I stopped to visit dear friends in East Tennessee. There, while visiting an archive office, I found out that my family was one of those divided by the Civil War/War Between the States: my great-great grandfather James fought for the Confederates, and two of his brothers fought for the Union. One of these brothers died in that war. And there was a cousin who also fought in the Civil War--in his case for the Union. This war caused the most American casualties of any war to date.
Our family name had variant spellings, caused sometimes by clerks' misspellings, and sometimes by people who didn't really care which way they spelled their names—they were in good company, since Shakespeare spelled his last name several different ways in extant signatures, none of them the same way we spell his name today. Variations of the SAME man's name were Jesse and Jessee, and Scism, Scissum, and Sissum. Other variations have also been Scissom and Sissom. The Southern Scisms come from Scot-Irish background, the clan Chisholm. In Denmark, I found out that the original form of that name is Christianholm, which is part of an island near Copenhagen, and is now called Christianhavn (a haven is a harbor).
Still on the way to Indiana, I stopped to visit homes of Mary Todd Lincoln and Henry Clay in Lexington, KY. The Mary Todd Lincoln home tour I was crazy enough to like, and the Henry Clay home tour I was not pompous enough to like.
Mary Todd Lincoln was famously declared insane by her son. She was later declared sane again. Her ability to speak French and her interest in politics made her perhaps interfere in her husband's work, to no one's great satisfaction. I asked if Sally Fields portrayed Mary Todd Lincoln accurately in the film, and they said, 'Mostly, yes', and that Sally Fields had come to Mary Todd Lincoln's house to research in preparation for the role.
Henry Clay was a wealthy lawyer, farmer and politician. The young Lincoln looked up to him but far surpassed him in eloquence. Henry Clay was pompous enough to have himself portrayed in sculpture in a toga, or bare-chested with a young man's smooth body and his wrinkly head on top, which is simply funny. And he is painted in the pose made famous by Napoleon—fingers inserted between coat buttons. He ran five times for president, three times got his party's nomination, and all times lost. Still, he was one of the few towering national figures between Washington and Lincoln--he served as Speaker of the House and as Secretary of State.
In Indiana, I saw a dress rehearsal for a drama, and then one of the performance nights. Here are some Biblically-themed dramas which I recommend. If I pastor, I'll put them on a list, along with others that people in the church are interested in, as choices to do sooner or later:
- Jonah-Man Jazz. This has six songs, could be done by youth in the church, accompanied by adults, and could be supplemented by older folks in a quartet number called 'Jonah', as sung by the Statesmen.
- Cool in the Furnace. This could, as above, be done by youth, accompanied by adults, and could be supplemented by older folks in a quartet number called 'Fourth Man'.
- J.B. This is a remake of the story of Job, written in blank verse by Archibald MacLeish, won the Pulitzer Prize. Also won some Tonys when it was performed. Deeply thoughtful.
- Your Arms Are Too Short to Box With God. Black gospel musical based on gospel of Matthew.
- Godspell. Jesus Movement soft rock musical with many quotations from the Scripture and a song that spread widely, 'Day by Day'. This is not the HYMN 'Day by Day' (which includes 'and in each passing moment...', but is based on an ancient prayer: 'Let me love you more dearly, follow you more nearly', etc.
- I've written a skit, 'Rehoboam'.
- I've written two Christmas dramas and am working on a third.
- I'd of course be open to dramas written by people in the church.
- Many classical composers wrote Passions. When these do not include the resurrection, that means they were intended to be performed on Good Friday, followed by a separate program on Easter Sunday.
For Easter Sunday, my favorite songs are:
1. 'Low in the Grave', alternatively titled as 'Up From the Grave He Arose'
2. 'Christ the Lord is Risen Today'--best version is by Steve Green
3. 'Victor'--best version is by Jamie Owens Collins (I think her name is). Steve Green and Keith Green each did versions of this.
4. "He's Alive', best sung by composer Don Francisco.
5. 'He Is Alive', best sung by Madrigals and Guys of Faith Academy.
In Sunrise School, we had sunrise services on Easter Sunday because the women went at first light to the tomb and found out that Jesus had risen. So commemorating it by singing 'Up From the Grave He Arose' while the sun rose was appropriate and, as you say, dramatic.
If you are ever in central Indiana, I recommend visiting:
1. James Whitcomb Riley's boyhood home, Greenfield.
2. James Whitcomb Riley's adult home, museum, etc, Indianapolis
3. Benjamin Harrison presidential home, Indianapolis. Benjamin Harrison was not the greatest president--indeed, he is considered in the lower echelon of US presidents (along with Van Buren, WH Harrison, Tyler, Taylor, Fillmore, Pierce, Buchanan, Grant, Garfield, McKinley, Harding...), but I like visiting historic homes. I did not visit these three this time because I've seen them before.
My favorite three poems by James Whitcomb Riley (the first two I encountered in childhood and the last while in college): 'Raggedy Man', 'Little Orphans Annie, and 'Passing of the Backhouse'. Yes, there are other good ones, too--'Frost is on the Punkin and the Rodder's in the Shock' is one.
While in Indiana, I visited an elderly man who, when he was five or six years old, went to church in Salem, Oregon, with John Scism, my great-grandfather. We had a great time in the Culver's restaurant, talked with the entertaining 2nd Assistant Manager, and I had a great time learning restaurant options from guests at the next table. In that family, a brother was wearing a t-shirt about having a sister, and since his sister is older than he is, I told him a joke about Linus and Lucy from the Peanuts comic strip: Linus is watching TV, when Lucy comes in: 'All right, switch channels.' 'Are you kidding? What makes you think you can come and and just take over?' 'You see this hand, these fingers? Individually, they're nothing, but when they unite' (she curls her hand into a fist), 'they become a fighting force terrible to behold.' 'Which channel do you want?' Now while they watch HER channel, he looks down at his own hand and says, 'Why can't you guys get together like that?'
My dear friend then took me to the Lew Wallace Study and Museum. Lew Wallace was a Civil War general who fought under Grant at Forts Henry and Donelson, also at Shiloh. Wallace later researched into whether the Bible is true or not, found that it is, and in the garden where his study now is, wrote Ben-Hur. The book became the top-selling novel of the 19th century and, with the proceeds, he later built the study that now stands there.
One of Wallace's books so impressed President Garfield with Wallace' knowledge of the Middle East that Garfield appointed Wallace as ambassador to Turkey.
In his senior years, Wallace designed, built and retired to his study and also earned several patents for inventions. Among his ingenious creations is the study itself--a most unique building combining features of several different architectural styles--a square tower, a domed roof, a frieze running around under the top of the walls, etc. And inside, it looks larger than the outside, which is of course impossible, but the impression is because of the open plan.
When this Renaissance man finally passed away, his family preserved the study as it had been. As a result, the museum didn't have to re-acquire any of his possessions.
The guide of this museum, Stephanie Cain, is quite simply one of the best guides I've ever met in my life--and I've traveled to enough places and seen enough historic sights for that to mean something. She's great because she could answer almost every question I asked, and because of her charming Irish personality (so I met two engaging Irish people in the same day—that's one reason it was so much fun), and because she's redheaded, and because she stayed open late for us, and because she presents her facts and her material with great skill and congeniality (hey, she's Irish!).
My dear friend’s last name is Davenport. Once in a Peanuts comic strip, Lucy comes to Charlie Brown while the kids are playing with toy guns and says, 'Charlie Brown, Shermy won't lie down when I shoot him.' CB says, 'Where did you shoot him?' Lucy says, 'I shot him right behind the davenport, and if that isn't fatal, I don't know what is!' Tell all the Davenports they’re famous!