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Clips and Comments, Vol #3 - Issue #52

Tonight I played Bottom in A (Not-Very) Midsummer Night’s Dream. It was a backyard “performance” of t
The Path Before Us
Clips and Comments, Vol #3 - Issue #52
By Matthew Lee Anderson • Issue #52 • View online
Tonight I played Bottom in A (Not-Very) Midsummer Night’s Dream. It was a backyard “performance” of the play put on by various and sundry friends. The quotes there are necessary, as the whole thing was really a lark. The idea of putting on amateur performances of Shakespeare in the summer is one I’ve wanted to do since moving to Waco some five years ago, and started up the ‘Port and Shakespeare’ reading group that I currently run. The vision is largely that of a mentor whom I admire a great deal—John Mark Reynolds. He instilled a love of amateurism in us at Torrey Honors when I was a student there. Tonight merely carried on his tradition.
And the whole thing was great fun. We read it from scripts, but had rehearsed just enough to get some basic blocking in and make sure some of the jokes came through. We had a few basic props, and one or two people came in full make-up—but nothing was elaborate, and everything was meant to be easy. It’s been a long time since I acted, and I have little doubt I was Not Good At All. But Bottom is a forgiving part for bad talent; the jokes are there on the surface, and a good deal of eagerness and enthusiasm within the role makes him go down easy. 
I commend the practice to you. Get 15 friends together, assign parts, set aside three nights to rehearse and perform it on the fourth. Invite your friends and set their expectations low, and proceed in making a fool of yourself by performing an extraordinary play extraordinarily badly. The thing with Shakespeare is that he’s so good he can carry even the worst performers. For a willing audience with no expectations, there is almost always something to be gained even when there is not a word apt, not a player fitted, in the performing of the play. 

Mendelssohn A Midsummer night's dream op.61 - d'Avalos
Mendelssohn A Midsummer night's dream op.61 - d'Avalos
Could this 'Bible for millennials' lead young people back to church?
“There is a danger to universalizing one’s personal experience, assuming it applies to others, even an entire body of believers. But I actually believe it worked the other way. For some decades now, as evidenced in my writing, I’ve believed that American Christianity has been less and less interested in God as such, and more and more at doing good things for God. We’ve learned how to be effective for him, to the point that we don’t really need him any longer. It was that continuing concern that finally took hold of me, making me realize that this was not their crisis but a crisis we all share.” – Mark Galli
I’m really looking forward to this new series from Mark, as I have long thought he is one of the more wise voices within evangelicalism. And I think this is an important insight.
The Incompatibility of Critical Theory and Christianity
Louis Hector Berlioz: Requiem (Lyon 2012)
Louis Hector Berlioz: Requiem (Lyon 2012)
I’ve been listening to Berlioz’s Requiem on airplanes lately. There’s something hilarious and–to me–delightful about the juxtaposition of his grandious themes and the banality of the airplane and airport experience.
H-E-B Runs True Texas BBQ, the Best Barbecue Chain in Texas
North Texas must stop building disposable suburbs
On Heartbeat Bills
I’ve been swamped (uh, acting) so I haven’t been able to follow much of the discussion about Alabama’s bill. I only have inchoate thoughts on the strategy at this point, but: it seems like a terribly risky gambit for pro-lifers. People seem to think that these bills, if the Supreme Court were to take them, could go at the jugular of abortion rights. And that’s all well and good. But doing so within these political conditions, beneath this President, seems like it risks engendering a very serious cultural and political blowback. And if Ruth Bader Ginsberg keeps going, and Trump wins the next election–their fate would be solely in the hands of John Roberts, which has not been a very happy place for conservative interests to be.
Sed contra: Nothing ventured, nothing gained. If pro-lifers don’t eventually go for the jugular, when will we? And if it’s a contest among the states between heartbeat bills and neonatal infanticide bills…well, I like the odds that pro-lifers will come out ahead in the cultural dispute.
But this is one moment when I’m glad I’m merely a foot soldier in the pro-life cause, and not a general. I have the luxury of thinking that the jury is out on whether this is all a good idea. But then: I have that luxury because I did not vote for Trump. If this gambit goes well for pro-lifers, then my resistance to Trump looks much worse. If it backfires, then it seems like my position would be strengthened–but that would be bad for America, so let’s all hope I’ve been wrong all along on these matters.
Working the Refs
What are students doing when they try to get speakers disinvited from their campus? Or when Twitter users try to get other Twitter users banned from the platform? Or when people try to get executives or members of some board of directors fired from their jobs? In each case, it’s an appeal to the refs. These people are not trying to persuade through reasoned argument or to attract public opinion to their side through the charm of their personality. They’re demanding that the designated arbitrators arbitrate in their favor. (Sometimes, as in the case of the college admissions, scandal, they just bribe the refs.)
And it’s easy to see why people would think this way: If I assume the point of view underlying this habit, it means that nothing that goes wrong is ever my fault. If anything that I want to go my way doesn’t go my way, it’s because the referees didn’t make the right call. It’s never because I made any dumb mistakes, or indeed had any shortcomings of any kind. Things didn’t go my way because, whether through incompetence or bias, the refs suck. I would’ve won if it hadn’t been for the stupid refs. – Alan Jacobs
The Penultimate Word
“I think love for one’s country means chiefly love for people who have a good deal in common with oneself (language, clothes, institutions) and is in that way like love of one’s family or school: or like love (in a strange place) for anyone who once lived in one’s home town. The familiar is in itself a ground for affection. And it is good: because any natural help towards our spiritual duty of loving is good and God seems to build our higher loves round our merely natural impulses–sex, maternity, kinship, old acquaintance, etc. And in a less degree there are similar grounds for loving other nations–historical links & debts for literature etc (hence we all reverence the ancient Greeks).” – C.S. Lewis
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