Monday, February 20, 2006

President's Day Off

It may not have exactly been Ferris Bueller's Day Off, but I took advantage of the federal holiday to pay a visit to the National Cathedral. First I discovered that the church was not Roman Catholic, but is in fact, Episcopal. However, the church doesn't apparently actually belong to the Episcopals or anyone else. It seems to have a kind of independent status. According to the signs, the church also doesn't have an official membership, although it does provide regular services, including a daily mass, which I happened upon at the end. It turns out the service was officiated by a woman. Most UnRoman Catholic of it, if I hadn't known it already. The woman priest (priestess?) seemed quite gracious to the handful of parishioners who had stopped by to attend the noon-time mass.

The building itself was of course, for someone of my bland vanilla Protestant upbringing, quite impressive. Towering ceilings, colorful stained glass windows. I wandered for a while downstairs in the crypt, among the various smaller chapels, before realizing the main church was up above. Before I went up there, I learned that several people are buried in the church, including Helen Keller (her ashes, actually).

I also spent several minutes browsing the souvenir shop, in particular, the many books for sale. The store was well stocked with a wide range of religious books, many of them of the unorthodox variety. From the interned socialist and famous blind author and activist, to the female priest/ess and the modernist books available, I got the sense the church was lib, welcoming to gays, feminists, and federal bureaucrats working on their PhD's. This is a church I'd probably be happy to attend it it weren't so far from my home base in Columbia, MD.

From the cathedral proper, I went up the road to Bethesda's Landmark theatre and a 1:50 pm showing of Capote. I enjoyed the movie, which was set almost entirely in and around Capote's observation and writing of In Cold Blood. I hadn't realized Capote was friends with Harper Lee, the author of To Kill a Mockingbird. Just one of the tidbits I learned. Capote and Lee were both southerners, but living in NYC by the time they became famous (Helen Keller, mentioned earlier, was also from the south). The movie and the acting were good, although it was a little long and drawn out, for those of you fond of speedier films.

To wrap up the day I browsed the Barnes and Noble across the street, dutifully purchasing a book of Capote's short stories, although not In Cold Blood, which was on sale, but which I've read before.

So was my day for my benefit only, or did I have some larger good in mind, the saving of a friend who desperately needs to break out from under his family's oppressive rigidity by running his father's expensive car out the back windows of his equally expensive hill-top home? And how come these teens in John Hughes' movies lived so richly anyway?

Bueller? Bueller?


The Rogue Progressive said...

The national cathedral has a bust of the dark lord of the Sith up near the gargoyles. They wanted a contemporary symbol of evil and it was the late 1970s... There were brochures explainging it the last time I was there.

Bulworth said...

There were some gargoyles in the bookstore, which seemed odd and out of place to me. Wasn't sure of the connection.

I take it the gargoyles are a Lord of the Rings thing?