Sunday, November 22, 2009

Some standard piano music accompanies Thanksgiving celebration at FBCDC

The First Baptist Church of the City of Washington DC held a “dinner concert” during its Thanksgiving celebration today at 12 Noon.

The highlights of the event consisted of two short pieces by Carter-award winner David Hughes: The Intermezzo #2 in A, Op 118 #2 by Brahms, and the Nocturne in E-flat, Op. 9 #2 by Chopin. This is the most popular of the Chopin nocturnes (I like the G minor one). I had an Istomin Columbia mono recording of the Nocturnes in high school that got worn out with heavy tracking tone arms and sapphire needles of the 1950s (before then, there were wood needles!). Mr. Hughes also played John Rutter’s “For the Beauty of the Earth” sung by Lee Ellen Carter. Nancy Griswold played a piano transcription of the fanfare from Aaron Copland’s “Appalachian Spring”, the original orchestral version of which used to introduce the evening Symphony Hall on WGMS in the late 1950s.

The service was billed as “Christ the King Sunday” and the new senior pastor, Dr. Jeffrey Haggray, gave a sermon “Accusation, Inquiry, or Confession” spoke about religious bullying: one religious group insisting on prevailing over another, and abusing the law or political process to do so. The sermon was constructed in general terms over the First Amendment Freedom of Religion (and from a state religion). He spoke of religious leaders who gave up “searching for truth” for political manipulations. However, it seemed as though the sermon had been well motivated by the recent “Manhattan Declaration” in which conservative Christians plan to defy legal authority, and particularly DC politics: another pastor from Maryland trying to bully the DC City Council into a referendum over same-sex marriage, and the Catholic Archdiocese’s use of the poor as chattel in fighting gay marriage in DC.

Of course, any sermon or media presentation can be interpreted in terms of recent political debates, as with the ABC show “V” which is seen as capitalizing on the health care debate in Congress.

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