Today marked exactly ten years since I started work on the religion beat. But I didnít quite make it to the decade mark Ė last Monday, the Globe named me the paperís new city editor, and I started that job immediately.
I leave the religion beat with considerable misgivings, because this has been, without question, the best assignment of my career. Of course, itís been ugly and difficult and adversarial at multiple moments. Covering religion, sadly, has often meant writing about abuse and violence and division. But the beat has also been remarkably gratifying. Some of those tough stories Ė and I am thinking primarily about our coverage of clergy sexual abuse Ė have made the world a better place. And the beat has been so much more Ė an opportunity for me to talk with so many people across this region and beyond about their most fundamental and cherished beliefs. Iíve had the privilege of meeting the Dalai Lama and traveling to Africa and attending more papal Masses than I can count, but, even more memorably, I also had the opportunity to spend months following a start-up evangelical church in a former chop shop in Dorchester. I am so grateful to so many people Ė the editors at the Globe (especially Marty Baron) who enthusiastically supported ambitious religion coverage even while under pressure to cut spending; the religion writers around the country who became not just colleagues but friends; the readers who chastised me and praised me and followed my work; and, especially, the many people of faith who shared their stories with me so that I might share them with the Globeís readers.
In my new job, Iíll help oversee our news coverage of Boston and the region. I am excited about the opportunity to play a broader role in strengthening the Globe at a challenging time, and I am energized by trying my hand at something that, for me, is new and different. I am not done thinking about religion Ė I will oversee our next religion writer, who will be named shortly. And I am not done writing Ė I expect to find other outlets and other moments for putting my own pen to paper. I know that while some of you may be relieved that the Globe will at last have another byline on religion stories, others of you will be disappointed that I am stepping away from the beat. I hope you will respect that, at this time, this move feels right, to me and to the Globe.
One of my regrets as I move on is that I will have to stop contributing to this blog, which I created and which I treasured. My successor will have to decide whether to blog at this URL or elsewhere. Until then, to all of you who have contributed to this blogís success, by commenting or sending e-mails or just by reading the posts, thank you. And if you ever have an idea or concern for the Globe, you can always reach me here.
And the Globe's gifted multimedia producer, Scott LaPierre, made this lovely video of Lori at work:
P.S. I know many of you have been wondering where I've been, and what's happened to this blog. Since late September, I've devoted much of my time to helping out on the Globe's metro desk as an interim associate political editor. I'm now talking with the paper about whether I will continue editing in a more-or-less permanent capacity (given the uncertainty of this business, I hesitate to say how long anything will last), in which case the Globe will name another religion writer, or whether I will return to the religion beat full-time. I expect to know one way or another sometime early in the new year. Until then, best wishes for a very Merry Christmas, happy holidays, and a new year that, for all of us, will be better than the last.
(Photo above, by Essdras Suarez of the Globe staff, shows a painting Lori Dupre created in 25 minutes during a sermon at Grace Chapel on Sunday, Dec. 13.)
The big news of the week on the Boston religious scene was the announcement that the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, after consulting with public health officials about ways to slow the spread of swine flu, is recommending that parishes suspend the practice of sharing consecrated wine with laypeople during Communion and that laypeople stop shaking hands or embracing one another as a sign of peace at Mass. Several Protestant denominations had already recommended an end to the use of a common cup for Communion during this pandemic; the local Greek Orthodox Diocese, by contrast, is defending the practice, even during flu season.
The Archdiocese of Boston's announcement on Tuesday was followed the same day by the same recommendations in the Worcester Diocese. The next day, the bishop of Fall River, George W. Coleman, went slightly further than Boston Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley, by declaring (rather than simply recommending) a suspension of sharing consecrated wine with laypeople at Communion, and by suggesting that parishes also suspend the entire sign of peace ritual (in Boston, O'Malley is recommending retaining the ritual, but urging people to bow toward one another or lock eyes for a moment, rather than having physical contact). On Thursday, the bishop of Providence, Thomas Tobin, joined in, "strongly recommending" that parishes discontinue the sharing of consecrated wine with laypeople, and that they either suspend the sign of peace ritual or urge worshipers to avoid touching one another while exchanging greetings. The Springfield diocese is the lone local holdout -- its guidelines, issued in September, continue to say that "reception of Holy Communion under both kinds is generally encouraged but is not a necessity."
All of the dioceses have strongly recommended that priests and other Eucharistic ministers pay more attention to their own hygiene before distributing Communion during flu season.
All this talk of hygiene and ritual caused quite a bit of chatter among the churchgoers in my world, and there were two questions that kept recurring: why don't Catholics use individual disposable plastic cups, like many Protestants, and what about the theory that it's not possible to get sick from Communion because Jesus is present? I posed these questions to the Rev. Jonathan Gaspar, co-director of the Office of Worship and Spiritual Life for the Archdiocese of Boston. Here are his answers:
Q: Why don't Catholics use individual disposable cups for Communion, like some Protestants do, and is that a possible change in the future?
A: The reason Catholics will not use individual disposable cups for Communion is because of the doctrine of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharistic species, which is quite different from the beliefs of many Protestant groups who have Communion services. We believe that during the Mass the bread and the wine become the Body and Blood of Christ, and so the vessels we use to contain the Eucharistic species are considered sacred vessels which are held in special honor. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal clearly sets the guidelines for the sacred vessels: ?Sacred vessels are to be made from precious metal. If they are made from metal that rusts or from a metal less precious than gold, then ordinarily they should be gilded on the inside." For the dioceses in the United States, sacred vessels may also be made of other precious materials, such as ebony or other hard woods, ?provided that such materials are suited to sacred use and do not easily break or deteriorate." However, chalices made of ebony or other hard woods are to have bowls of nonabsorbent material.
- We wouldn?t distribute Holy Communion in disposable cups because a disposable cup could never be considered a sacred vessel. We don?t dispose of sacred vessels.
- We wouldn?t distribute the Precious Blood in individual cups because of the theological concept of ?one bread, one cup.? The Holy Eucharist is a sacrament of unity, and we are all meant to partake of the one bread and the one cup, as St. Paul exhorts us in his letter to the Corinthians: ?The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.? (1Corinthians 10, 16-17)
A: Though this belief has never been officially or doctrinally stated by the Church, there are many Catholics who believe germs cannot be transmitted through a common cup. The Eucharist has often been described as a remedy, the medicine of immortality, because when we receive Holy Communion we are receiving Christ, the Paschal Lamb who died and now lives to take away our sins. This great mystery contains the whole spiritual wealth of the Church, and we revere the Eucharist as the Most Blessed Sacrament.
The decision to temporarily discontinue the practice of distributing the Precious Blood from the chalice was a result of recent conversations with medical authorities and specialists in infectious disease, who believe that sharing a ?common cup? can possibly spread communicable illness. We have taken this sensible step out of caution and concern for the health of our Catholic people. Our decision to temporarily discontinue this venerable practice does not diminish our reverence for the power of this great Sacrament.
Catholics believe that Christ, whole and entire, is received even under only one species. This is a belief defined in the sixteenth century by the Council of Trent. When Catholics receive the Eucharist in the form of the consecrated host, we are receiving the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ.
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, in an effort to help stop the spread of swine flu, is recommending that parishes stop offering laypeople consecrated wine at Communion and also discourage laypeople from hugging, shaking hands, or otherwise having physical contact during the "sign of peace" at Mass.
The steps, which are supposed to take effect Saturday, are among the broadest recommendations to date by a large Massachusetts institution to change public practices in an effort to stem swine flu, which is now spreading widely throughout New England and the nation. An estimated 294,000 people attend Catholic Mass in the Archdiocese of Boston each weekend.
In addition to recommending a suspension of Communion from the cup, and the change to the sign of peace, the archdiocese is also urging parishes to more regularly and carefully disinfect holy water fonts in churches. Communion from the cup is thought to pose a potential health risk because multiple worshipers drink from the same chalice; the exchange of peace can pose a risk as worshipers touch one another's hands, and the fonts are a concern because worshipers dip their hands in the water.
The disease, caused by the H1N1 virus, can be spread through hand-to-hand contact or contact with objects that have recently been exposed to the germ.
"Given the extraordinary precautions being taken across the nation to prevent the spread of the H1N1 influenza, the Archdiocese has instituted a series of steps to be followed for the time being during the celebration of the Mass," the Rev. Jonathan Gaspar, co-director of the archdiocesan Office of Worship and Spiritual Life, said in a statement. "We thank our priests, deacons, religious and parishioners for their understanding and support of these directives, which aim to protect the health of our people."
The archdiocese said it had made the decisions in consultation with public health officials, and said the recommendations would be lifted whenever the risk of flu infection subsides.
Here is the text of the archdiocesan recommendations, which were sent to parishes over the weekend:
- The Holy Water fonts are to be drained, cleaned with a disinfecting soap, and re-filled with holy water on a regular basis. Please note that old holy water should be disposed of in the sacrarium.
- The distribution of the Precious Blood for the faithful is suspended, with the exception of those who must receive from the cup due to medical reasons. The faith of the Church teaches that Christ, whole and entire, is received even under only one species.
- The exchange of the Sign of Peace is to be offered without any physical contact. If the priest celebrant chooses to extend the invitation for the sign of peace, the faithful, instead of a handshake, may bow to the persons nearby.
- While the faithful retain the option of receiving Holy Communion on the tongue or in the hand, all ministers of Holy Communion are advised to distribute the consecrated hosts with care, being cautious not to touch the tongue or the hand of the communicant.
- Parishioners should be reminded that if they are ill or suspect they are ill with a contagious illness, they are not bound by the Sunday Mass obligation. They should remain at home and return to church when they are well.
(Photo at top, by John Tlumacki/Globe staff, shows Northeastern University student Rebecca Thibault dipping her fingers in holy water before the start of the midday Mass today at the St. Francis Chapel at the Prudential Center in Boston. The Rev. Craig MacMahon of the chapel staff said that the chapel will now change the holy water daily.)
Sorry for disappearing. In mid-September, the Globe asked if I would help out on the metro desk for a few months, editing stories about local politics, and I agreed; I'm now starting my sixth week as interim associate political editor (OK, I made that title up, but that's more or less what I'm doing), helping to oversee our coverage of the race for mayor of Boston, and after the Nov. 3 municipal election I expect to assist with the editing of our coverage of a special election for the Senate seat that became vacant upon the death of Ted Kennedy. The current plan is for me to return to the religion beat sometime after the Dec. 8 Senate primary. I'm not writing stories during this period (although there may be an exception or two to that). At first, I continued blogging while editing, but it proved too much to juggle over the last few weeks; I'm hoping to resume blogging shortly if at all possible (I expect to post something Tuesday morning, so, as the saying goes, watch this space). I very much appreciate the notes and calls from folks who have wondered, or worried, about what I'm up to, and I apologize for not clarifying earlier. I've also heard from those of you who are unhappy with the way blogs are treated on the redesigned Boston.com home page, and I've tried to pass along those concerns. Also, you should know that we've introduced a new method for commenting on the blog that should make it easier for you to jump in, because your comments will appear instantly; the tradeoff is that they will no longer be moderated by me, and it will be up to you to flag problematic comments for possible deletion. This is the way comments are handled on Globe stories and many other Boston.com blogs, and I hope it will be a positive development here as well.
(Photo, by David L. Ryan of the Globe staff, shows a Boston voting machine.)
Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary tomorrow begins a conference on "What is the Evangelical Mission in the Public Square," featuring a variety of evangelical luminaries. The conference is honoring a longtime professor at the school, David F. Wells, who is retiring. I conducted a brief Q&A with Wells which was published in yesterday's Boston Globe magazine:
Is it different being an evangelical in Massachusetts than somewhere in the Bible Belt?
It undoubtedly is. Here you make a choice whether you want to be an evangelical believer. You have to be serious about it. In the South, it might be more following convention and habit or a family pattern.
Youíre not impressed by the high percentage of Americans who say theyíre born again.
The more important thing is the loss of Christian substance. In the long run, people who act inconsistently with what they proclaim are far more damaging to the Christian faith than the attacks that atheists launch.
What do you mean?
Many of those who claim to be born again donít live very differently than those who donít make that claim. Biblical faith really should be producing moral authenticity and integrity -- you should see it in honesty, courage in articulating enduring moral principles, and the sacrificial giving to good causes.
Youíre on the board of an organization that builds Christian orphanages in Africa. Why that cause?
Iím an African. I was born in Zimbabwe. Iíve had an extraordinarily blessed life, and I thought at least I could give back a little to the land of my birth.
Thereís been a lot of talk about whether younger evangelicals are more open to the Democratic Party than their elders.
I believe that older alliances between the Republican Party and various segments of the evangelical world are a lot weaker now. And I do think that what you have, especially amongst younger people, is a yearning for what is real and authentic and a deep distaste for what is hypocritical, and they find an awful lot of conventional political life to be phony and fabricated and manipulative.
What evangelical trends will you be watching in the future?
Iím encouraged by the younger generation. They know how empty our postmodern culture has become, and theyíre not looking for Christian faith thatís an echo of that. They are quite tough-minded, and I find a lot thatís hopeful about this generation.
(Photo, by Webb Chappelle for the Boston Globe, shows David Wells at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary on Sept. 24, 2009.)
Newt Gingrich came to town yesterday. In the morning, he spoke to a breakfast gathering in Boston hosted by Catholic Citizenship; in the evening, he was at Harvard to speak at the Kennedy School. Gingrich, of course, is an interesting figure for a lot of reasons; I wanted to talk with him about his recent conversion to Catholicism, and the film he is now making about Pope John Paul II's 1979 visit to Poland. The interview was pretty limited -- I had seven minutes with him at the venerable Union Club on Beacon Hill -- but here's what he had to say in that period of time:
Q: Can you first tell me why you wanted to become a Catholic?
A: I don't know that I wanted to become a Catholic so much as I became a Catholic. I don't know that it was volitional in that sense. Having gone to the basilica (The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, in Washington) with my wife, who sings in the choir there, for about a decade, I think it gradually grew on me. And when Pope Benedict came to the basilica for vespers with the bishops, and my wife and the choir were singing, and I was allowed to come as a spouse -- I had been talking with Monsignor Rossi, who is the rector of the basilica, for about five years, just about faith, and secularism, the challenges we have in the modern world with our civilization, and that afternoon seeing Pope Benedict XVI fairly close up, and both really believing in his central theme of 'Christ Our Hope,' and seeing the joy in his eyes, fundamentally different than the news media portrait of a severe German intellectual, something in me just was triggered. And I said to Monsignor Rossi that night that I wanted to convert. And we spent the following six or eight months studying with Monsignor Rossi, and it was more a process of becoming more and more comfortable that this was -- this is -- the place that I belong, and the taking of the Eucharist is the experience that enriches my life.
Q: How did you think about Catholicism, growing up among Protestants?
A: I grew up all over the world. I was born in Pennsylvania, and was raised originally as a Lutheran, and then was, my dad was in the Army, so I was whatever the Protestant chaplain was. I was at one point a Presbyterian acolyte. And I think, as a professional historian, you can't study modern European history without some sense of the church, and the sense of the depth and the history of the church. I think, probably from the time I was a child, when my dad was stationed in FranceÖthis sense of the -- I may use the word wrong -- but the sense of the magisterium of the church, the sense of the power and majesty of the church, the fact that you're dealing with 2,000 years of history. My dad had studied Augustine in college, and had a copy of Augustine's 'City of God' when I was a child, and you just had this sense of, that you are encountering a continuum of effort to understand God and to explain God to humans, that is pretty overwhelming.
Q: Tell me about how you decided to make a film about a pope as one of your first public acts as a Catholic?
A: Well, we had made a movie, called 'Rediscovering God in America,' which really contextualized American history, in terms of the Washington monuments. Then, we made a film about Reagan, called 'Rendezvous with Destiny,' and in filming the Reagan movie, we had gone to Gdansk, and interviewed Lech Walesa, and we had gone to Prague, and interviewed Vaclav Havel, and both said in their interviews that the decisive moment in the breaking of the Soviet Union was June of 1979, and the pope's 9-day visit. As we thought about that, and began to put it in context, I'd been reading Weigel, starting with 'The Cube and the Cathedral,' and then 'The Final Revolution' and then his biography of the pope, and if you read 'The Final Revolution,' Weigel really argues that the central role of religious belief and the central role of religious organization was at the center of what was happening in Eastern Europe. And then when you interview Lech Walesa, he says, 'You can't understand what happened with Solidarity if you don't understand what the church was doing, if you don't understand what the pope was doing.' And even Vaclav Havel, who is a playwright, was saying Ė he's not Polish, but he's saying, 'As a neighboring Czech, let me tell you what it meant to us to have a Slavic pope and to have somebody who understood tyranny' and so forth. So I dug into all of that. And then you get to this extraordinary story of the pope, who is born about a year and a half after Poland becomes a country again for the first time since 1793; as a teenager, sees Poland destroyed again by Germany and the Soviet Union; participates in the Rhapsodic Theater at a time when it means a death penalty, in order to sustain Polish culture; enters the seminary for the priesthood at a time when there's a death penalty; becomes a priest under the emerging Communist dictatorship; serves all of his priesthood under the Communists; knew many Jews, understood Auschwitz, has a childhood friend who is Jewish; and this is the man who, in 1978, becomes pope. I mean it is an extraordinary moment in history. And he is an athletic energetic actor who is a charismatic leader. And he has the key underlying insight that you defeat Communism at a cultural level, that you pit the cross against the Soviet emblem, and that the cross ultimately will defeat atheism.
Q: Do you see this as a personal film in any way, or is this purely an academic, documentary exercise?
A: No, I think this which will be -- if we can do it right, and this is a big challenge -- this is a film which I hope will be personal, immediate, people won't walk out and say, 'Gee, that was interesting 30 years ago,' they'll walk out and say, 'What does this mean for my life in my country today.' We hope to translate the film into Mandarin, and we've been asked to translate it now into Vietnamese because there are 5 million Vietnamese Catholics; we hope to translate it into Polish, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, because we see this as a universal film that has an impact for people everywhere on the planet.
Q: So do you still have political aspirations, or is filmmaking now your mission?
A: I think I have a public citizen aspiration. Whether it goes beyond that, we'll find out over the next few years.
(Photos, by David L. Ryan of the Globe staff, show Newt Gingrich at the Union Club in Boston on Oct. 8, 2009.)
Globe photographer Joanne Rathe has produced this video taking a look at the traditions associated with the Jewish holiday of Sukkot as seen through the eyes of a family in Boston. The holiday began at sundown last Friday, and ends at sundown this Friday.
Sunday night I went home and took a spin through Job.
Earlier in the evening, I had attended a screening of the remarkable new Coen brothers film, "A Serious Man,'' hosted at Brandeis by the National Center for Jewish Film. The film is being compared to Job because it centers on a seemingly decent man for whom everything suddenly goes wrong, without explanation, and his efforts to seek help from God are as unsuccessful as they are persistent. The film opens in Boston Friday; I thought it was stunning -- mesmerizing, witty, bleak, honest -- but I see that the critics have been all over the map.
The film is attracting a lot of attention, in the Jewish world and the film community, for its portrayal of Judaism, or at least of Jewishness. The film, for a major release, is almost shockingly insider-y, beginning with a short story filmed entirely in Yiddish (don't worry -- it's subtitled), and the body of the film is permeated with Jewish concepts, language, and culture. The depiction of Jewish family and religious life -- in this case, in Minneapolis in the late 1960s -- is often chilling in its nihilism (or is it just emptiness?) -- but many of the scenes clearly struck a chord of recognition among the audience at Brandeis, which laughed often and knowingly at characters such as the mind-numbingly boring, and unaware, Hebrew school teacher, and the string of rabbis whose pastoral counsel often featured a mix of anecdotes that went nowhere and a series of unanswered/unanswerable questions.
The studio production notes include a few observations about the role of Judaism in the film, quoting Ethan Coen saying, "Occasionally people would ask, 'Youíre not making fun of the Jews, are you?' We are not, but some will take anything that isnít flattering as an indication that we think the whole community or ethnicity is flawed." And Joel Coen is quoted saying, "People can get a little uptight when youíre being specific with a subject matter. From our point of view, 'A Serious Man' is a very affectionate look at the community and is a movie that will show aspects of Judaism which are not usually seen."
Looking for a bit of context, I called my friend Cathleen Falsani, who, happily, has just written a book called, "The Dude Abides: The Gospel According to the Coen Brothers.'' Here's an edited transcript of our conversation:
Q: What are the Coen brothers trying to say about Judaism?
A: I don't know if they're trying to say anything about Judaism, in particular. Having looked at all 14 of their films, I see the same themes in a lot of their other films -- this one just happens to be set in an academic, Jewish, milieu. I would hesitate to take it as a commentary on Judaism. I don't think it is a reflection of their faith. And I see a lot of tenderness, frankly, in the way that they are treating a lot of their characters. The rabbis are very faulty people, like we all are, but it's not snarky.
Q: What role does faith play generally in the Coen brothers' films?
A: What I see, almost to a film, is this question of 'Why do bad things happen?' The theodicy question is almost ever present. In 'The Big Lebowski' you have this one wholly innocent man who dies in the parking lot of a bowling alley. In 'No Country for Old Men,' certainly that was a question dealt with there. But they raise more theological, metaphysical, existential questions in their films than they ever answer, which I think is brave. What does it mean to be good? If there is a God, why is there evil? They cover everything from karma and grace to sin and responsibility and community. In 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?,' they are looking at, who is my neighbor, who is my brother? There is divine intervention in some films. And, in the darkest films, we don't learn anything and a lot of people wind up dead.
Q: Do they deal with Jewish themes in other films?
A: There are Jewish characters in other films, but I donít know that I would say there are explicitly Jewish themes, and I don't know that they're dealing with a Jewish theme in 'A Serious Man,' even though it's set in a Jewish community. The themes are more universal. There's definitely some Biblical themes in some of their films, but I don't think they're trying to say anything in particular about the validity, or not, of Judaism. They're more explorers of the spiritual landscape.
Q: What do you know about their own faith lives?
A: Only what they've said, which is very little. They were raised Jewish, but left that behind after their bar mitzvahs. Their sister is quite religious and moved to Israel. Joel Coen is married to Frances McDormand, whose father and sister are Disciples of Christ ministers. But the Coens don't really reveal much about themselves, or try to interpret their work or explain their work in interviews.
Q: The depiction of the Jewish community in the film seems pretty tough, especially the portrayal of the rabbis.
A: Larry (the main character) is asking a question that there is no good answer to. Whatever religious tradition you're in, when you're suffering and asking why, there is no adequate answer. The answers the rabbis give are as ineffectual, and as good, as anybody is going to give you. I'm a Christian, and I have yet to hear anybody give anyone else a good answer from a Christian perspective. There is no good answer -- whether you're Buddhist or Muslim or Hindu, the answers don't satisfy the yearning that question comes from. So yes, it's a rough depiction, but it's reflective of what they live. I don't see it as meanspirited. It's fairly tender. And frankly the clergy come off better than the overtly religious characters in their other films, like the Bible salesman in 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' In 'A Serious Man,' the clergy are more nuanced, more human.
Q: How does their depiction differ from that of Woody Allen?
A: I think Woody Allen is far more caustic. Maybe the Coens believe religion or faith is utterly foolish, but it doesn't come across that way. In Woody Allen's films, it is the height of stupidity to believe in something other than what's in the here and now. And he's much more obsessed with death than the Coens. And I don't think any religious character comes across particularly well, except for maybe in 'Crimes and Misdemeanors,' where the rabbi came across well, but then he made him blind.
Q: What do you think of the parallels to Job?
A: There are always the obvious themes in the Coen films, but it's usually what's happening beyond the obvious that's powerful. Sure, he (Larry Gopnick, the main character) is Job, and he's a shlemiel. He doesn't curse God, but he questions why this is happening, and is therefore a lot more like most of us than Job is. But it's a fair parallel to make, and the way the film ends is far more Jobian than the rest.
Q: Do you think the film will be accessible to non-Jewish audiences?
A: I think it's extremely accessible because of the universal themes. This is a really spiritually important film, because of that question of what's the meaning of suffering. That's not Jewish -- that's everything, that's universal. It would be really shortsighted to call it a Jewish film and leave it at that -- it certainly is that, but it's more than that.
(Photo, by Wilson Webb/Focus Features, shows Aaron Wolff (center) as Danny Gopnik in Joel & Ethan Coen's "A Serious Man.")
All this rain got you down? Here's an invitation -- tomorrow (Sunday, Oct. 4), I'll be leading a pre-matinee discussion about "The Savannah Disputation" at the Boston Center for the Arts with the play's director, Paul Daigneault, and one of its actors, Timothy Crowe, a onetime seminarian who plays a priest in the production. (Crowe talked with me about his journey from seminarian to actor-playing-a-priest in this interview; we'll talk more about it Sunday.)
The play, which is being produced by the SpeakEasy Stage Company, is a comedy about two Catholic sisters in Georgia whose lives are shaken when a perky young evangelical missionary comes knocking on their door. The production stars two of Boston's best-known actresses, Nancy Carroll and Paula Plum.
The pre-show discussion, which begins at 1:30 p.m., is open to Globe subscribers -- you just go to www.bgextras.com to sign up.
(Photo, by Eric Levenson/SpeakEasy Stage, shows Carolyn Charpie and Timothy Crowe in a scene from "The Savannah Disputation.")
Harvey Cox, the Hollis professor of divinity at Harvard University, marks his retirement by asserting a little-used right of his professorship -- to graze a cow in Harvard Yard. Photo, by Barry Chin of the Globe staff, taken on Sept. 10, 2009 in Cambridge, Mass.
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