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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Paper mache religion


11/23
Bread & Puppet band

Keith comes in again. With his stories. Yarns. He tells them well. But he’s got to make a move. Towards supportive housing. Or towards home. If you really love your daughter, you have to give her a chance to see you. I don’t want to hear it anymore.
Talking  with Katherine of B&P about tomorrow. One last time to be together. They can say thanks, and so can we. Mark our time together.
Tonight is the next to last performance. The crowd is building really fast. Nancy and her family here.  Jamie has arrived. And Don. By now they’ve announced a sell out so I give up my seat for Don.  I will watch the show standing in the back. Danielle is here tonight as well and has brought a cake for the cast party.
As always, Peter has introduced more changes. Maybe the show is never finished. I’ve enjoyed watching these changes, small details, or major, every night. I spoke with Katherine about her character, played on her stilts, a sphinx like beast. Or like Yeats,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born? (Second Coming, 1921)
Regaining humanity. Knocking down the false gods, or the gods of empire.
And now the cast party. After tomorrow night’s last performance, they’ll begin to knock down just as soon as the show is over. So the celebration will be tonight. Wondering what it will be. Seeing all these young people, I’m thinking recorded electronica? Maybe hip-hop? RL and I head up to the gym to find out. Danielle with us.
So…much to my surprise, what do I find? What Danielle calls a gypsy band.  Or whatever you’d call trumpet and sousaphone and accordions and drums and….playing gypsy and Balkan and klezmer and Weimar cabaret and…an in house B&P band….and people dancing ball room and swing. And well, when in doubt, twirl...
Peter toasts
And then Peter stops for his congratulatory toasts. And his thank yous. Still that sparkle in his eye. As he and RL and I gather, an impromptu chorus forms and begins singing sacred harp and baroque euro and other a capella 4 part harmony. And I say to RL, sometimes, I LOVE this (amplifying adverb) job. How could you not?
As I look around I’m thinking about connections between the B&P community and what we call church. B&P is already a self-contained spiritual community. There is a shared vision. Values. Commitments. Mutual accountability. Ritual. Tradition. Liturgy. And bread.
For all his militant anti-Christianity:
The bloodthirsty Greek gods or any wild gods of antiquity seem Christian compared with Christianity( Paper mache religion, Bread & Puppet, 2009)
Peter has done an excellent job creating a radical first century community. Complete with music. And bread.
RL and Peter
There is also this. Over 50 years, Peter has moved through avant garde, to that late century perjorative stuck in the sixties,irrelevant (bye bye Village Voice) to heroic. Just by refusing to change, to adapt, to be tamed. By staying where he is, the world swings round. Believe me, I’m watching. And listening.
And how do we as church relate? We stand in solidarity. We celebrate together. We laugh. We sing. And we eat bread.
And finally, papermache religion is a generic, all-purpose re-ligio,whiuch means a tying back to the origin, origin of what? Naturally of sky&paper orof puppetry & daylight, bravo bravissimo,hallelujah, amen, hooray forever& ever, hocus pocus                                                                                                     ta-ta-ta-tah! (Paper mache religion, Bread&Puppet, 2009)

Bob, Peter, Danielle
That says it all.

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