A Long Time Ago

Beltane                                                                              Full Last Frost Moon

Down to United Seminary for Leslie’s last leadership and development class.  The time with Leslie there was good; we developed a good rapport, even a friendship over the 9 months of conversations and I’ve come to care about what happens with her ministerial development.

The Seminary itself has all kinds of odd resonances.  Here are three.  uts-library

I parked in a parking spot near a side entrance, a parking spot I had used many times in the years in which I was a student at UTS.  When I got out of the car, I looked up at the library, my favorite part of the Seminary.  I could see the corner where my desk had been.  It was my desk because whenever I needed to study and remain at the Sem, I went to the same corner desk on the third floor, as far back in the stacks as the shelving went.  From my desk I could see New Brighton and Highway 694 to the north, as well as the student housing where I’d lived my junior year (first year) in 1971.

When I went into the room where the many interns and their mentors gathered, a lot of memories flooded back.  This was the old chapel, a lot of sermons, worship services, morning prayer services happened there.  In my junior year I organized an arts festival, a week long celebration of various mediums focused most on film.  This was 1971, long before even vcrs, and I discovered a foundation in Wisconsin, founded by, of all people, Albert Camus’s widow, that had both the films and film rights to many early Ingemar Bergman movies.  I arranged for four of them to be shown at UTS, including one I had not seen before, the Ritual*.

Attending the night I showed the Ritual was Dean Louis Gunneman and his wife.  At the time the Dean was 70 and his wife a distinguished lady of similar age.  The Dean had been instrumental in the creation of both the United Church of Christ denomination and United Theological Seminary.

During the scene of simulated cunnilingus the Dean rose in his elegant way and with his wife on his arm, left the chapel.

S’ing Long Lin, a Taiwanese native of Mandarin descent, was a tall lean Chinese man of perhaps 30.  I vividly recall the look on his face when I translated 20 degrees below zero–which it was that morning–into centigrade.  Quite a moment.

Rotten Tomatoes

*The Ritual is an alternate English-language title for Ingmar Bergman’s The Rite (Riten). Made for Swedish television in 1969, this short film was Bergman’s revenge against those who opposed his management of the Royal Dramatic Theatre. The storyline involves three actors whose recent production has been judged obscene by the powers-that-be. Bergman deliberately obscures the “controversial” quality of the production itself, forcing the viewers to assess their own opinions over what is obscene and what isn’t. Intending to shock and provoke his audience, Bergman was appalled that many viewers laughed at The Rite, misinterpreting it as a satirical comedy.