Sunday, June 28, 2009

Vuvuzela for God

RantWoman is one of those Friends who prepares for Meeting for Worship by steeping herself in her local NPR station's Sunday offerings. RantWoman is aware that there are different schools of thought about whether this practice is an appropriate discipline; RantWoman generally thinks of it as applying her faith full-bore to the problems of the world, though RantWoman does from time to time permit herself to ask whether she is in danger of drowning in the worldly backwash.

Sunday NPR fare tends to be a rather stern load of woes, strife, warfare, and people finding all manner of ways to be considerably less than godly. This is punctuated by bits of provocative commentary and culture moments from several artistic genres. And then there is Vuvuzela!

What is vuvuzela? Vuvuzela is a kind of stadium horn loved and passionately clung to by soccer fans throughout South Africa and scorned and derided by television networks worldwide. Apparently a crowd of committed fans hooting away with vuvuzela creates this wall of buzzing that just does not play well with broadcast sound standards. RantWoman's low-budget radio may or may not have done vuvuzela justice. Television networks worldwide have implored FIFA, soccer's international governing body to ban vuvuzela and FIFA, sensitive to possible charges of recolonization or colonialism or some such has so far stood fast.

RantWoman this week had the sort of Sunday where a whole bunch of things that needed to line up lined up with only minor equivocation. The biggest thing that needed to line up was some mindless tasks that perfectly filled a block of time between RantWoman's other errand and a delightful organ / choir concert at St James cathedral, the opening event for a regional American Guild of Organists meeting.

RantMom had seen the article in the paper and mentioned it in one of her daily phone check-ins. RantWoman even looked up enough bus connections to get RantMom there despite coming from a different direction than RantWoman. True to RantMom form, fretful about missing the last run of the transfer route, RantMom had arrived at the cathedral a whole hour early. RantMom phoned up RantWoman on that miracle called cellphones and was reassured that RantWoman still planned to appear closer to the agreed time.

RantMom had faint hopes of seeing a bunch of church organists she knows from previous parts; RantWoman suspects they might have missed opening night due to travel time. RantWoman eventually found RantMom a couple conference-related phone numbers but thinks RantMom probably did not follow up further. RantWoman also sent RantMom the whole list of conference organ recitals at a tour of area churches and pipe organs. The itinerary, not surprisingly includes no Quaker churches or meetinghouses. In any case, RantMom is unlikely to persuade one of her church lady buddies to go play event stalker. Probably no one would even notice and Mom might even connect up with friends.

But RantWoman is getting ahead of herself slightly. The real point of this post, the reason for all this verbiage is that the opening chords of the concert, the artistic ministrations of a talented performer wielding the might of two pipe organs sounded for a few brief seconds just like vuvuzela from the morning radio. The impression quickly dissolved into the miracle of making a whole cathedral into a musical instrument, no amplification, no electronic wail, just the marvel of acoustics and design and composition. Vuvuzela indeed.

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