June 11, 2012

My greatest crimes against high culture are plain to all: Diet Coke, Disneyland, Packer football, and Styx. Hidden deeply away is a confession so terrible that I can only now admit it: I love musical theater and I adore the “Sound of Music.” I know I should think of Salzburg, on the rare chances I get to visit, as the birthplace of Mozart and home of a great musical festival. I am sensitive to how residents of Salzburg feel about… Read more

June 10, 2012

Sitting in Saint Stephens cathedral in Vienna waiting for mass lifts me out of my time and joins me to Christians of all times. I am not a Roman Catholic, but like all Christians I am a catholic, part of the one holy Church. The Hapsburg dynasty came and went and this church remains. The Cold War was fought and still this church remains. When the loud voices of today are stilled by death, these rocks will still cry out…. Read more

June 9, 2012

The Abduction from the Seraglio is Mozart’s message to America in the person of Constanze. I know nothing of this opera save that Constanze, a powerful woman, stands in the middle of it. Abducted by Turks of the sort that only exist in the Viennese opera, she stays true to her beloved, a man she cannot be sure is alive. It spoils nothing to say he rescues her from slavery in the harem, because she is free from the first… Read more

June 8, 2012

Prague is love. New York City is famously for lovers, but Prague is for love. Lovers might fail love, but love never fails and so Prague is greater than New York City. How can this be? I love New York, but Prague is beyond judgment. To sit on a hill overlooking the city with your love and watch the sun on the city is good. The Communists built a hideous television tower and a giant statue of Stalin, perfect proofs… Read more

June 7, 2012

Magic Flute is mad beauty, but so beautiful that beauty is almost enough. The story is a mash up of Free Masonry, Enlightenment religion, and every bad holdover of Medieval Catholicism with no virtues. If it makes sense, it is simply by pure eroticism leading to love. There is a magic flute, but the hero keeps forgetting he has it. As a weapon, it is like the Hapsburg army: shiny, beautiful, and rarely useful. The Prince pursues his love. The… Read more

June 5, 2012

And so it goes. If a person or idea dies in Slaughterhouse Five, the Ecclesiastes of novels, Kurt Vonnegut includes this phrase. And it is perfect for the experience of Dresden. I read the novel as I walked the town and lived in both the glorious past, the horrible past, the redeemed present, and the mysterious future. Dresden is a city where time does not flow left to right in an orderly manner, but like Vonnegut’s book jumps about with… Read more

June 3, 2012

Go to Turkey and visit Pergamum, on the cities mentioned by Saint John in Revelation, and you will be told all the good stuff is Berlin I had heard it, but now I know it. If you want to see ancient Pergamum, go to Berlin. The reconstruction of the altar there, of Zeus or Athena, is spectacular. Throw in the Ishtar Gate and a spectacular Roman reconstruction and only the British can compete. Berlin has more of Pergamum than on… Read more

June 2, 2012

Bugs Bunny by way of Chuck Jones will be my first thought if you tell me we are going to the Opera: especially anything with Figaro in the title. Now that I am done laughing at the memory (no wait, Figaro!), I also have to admit that opera in my childhood had Grand Old in front of it. It was not so grand and not so old, but I still love it. The other kind of opera seemed like a… Read more

June 1, 2012

“I love you,” he said. “Oh no,” she said, “I don’t feel that way about you at all.” Seventeen year of listening to college students and my own experience teaches me to dread the conversation that forever defines a relationship as “not going to happen.” Whether it is a lover, a friend, a parent, or child, our broken world will often take our love and throw it back at us. We are rejected. Sometimes that must happen, not because love… Read more

May 31, 2012

I will now write about not speaking too much. As a talkative person, I have had to admit that my style is not just an alternative to quietness, but a deterrent to maturity. The Bible after all urges that “he who keeps his mouth and his tongue, keeps himself out of trouble.” Saint James devotes an entire chapter to the problem of the tongue. God wants me to control my mouth and gain quietness of spirit. If I am talking,… Read more

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