On Giants' Shoulders

Sunday, April 23, 2006

We're Back

Well, what can I say? The conference was every bit as good as I hoped, even better in fact. We had a glorious drive out to Rochester. The sun was shining the whole way. Anna and I had our usual rambling discussions, catching up and talking about all sorts of things Catholic, literary, political, etc. When we'd checked in at the motel we headed out to look for the conference site so that we didn't get lost in the morning. It took us over an hour to find it (3 sets of directions, but none of them were very good, including the one from the conference organizer - and the guy we stopped to ask directions from was really no better). We finally located the college and, after asking directions on campus, the chapel where the conference would be held. We headed back to Henrietta and our motel and unfortunately got off at the wrong exit (East Henrietta Road, instead of West Henrietta Road) and then spent another 45 minutes struggling to find a way back to where we were supposed to be. Finally, we made it back to the hotel. We braved crossing a five lane road on foot to get dinner. Traffic was light, fortunately.

In the morning it took us 12 minutes to get from the motel to the conference. We were there with loads of time to spare and got good seats right up front. Actually they were in the process of putting the chairs up when we got there (the organizer had said we should be there early - I guess his definition of early was different from mine). Getting there early actually wasn't necessary because there turned out to be quite a few empty seats, although there was a respectable turnout.

The program began with a scene from Hamlet by the Brown Bag Players. This was followed by a discussion of Hamlet as a Catholic play by a deacon who is a canon lawyer. This was interspersed with another scene from Hamlet. After a break we were treated to a scene from the Merchant of Venice followed by Joseph Pearce's presentation which dealt mainly with the biographical/historical evidence for Shakespeare's Catholicism.

After lunch we had a scene from Lear followed by a historian who spoke on the historical situation in Elizabeth's time (the top down nature of the English Reformation). A scene from Henry IV Part 2 followed, the Dale Alquist who spoke of Chesterton's various discussions of Shakespeare. Another scene from the Merchant of Venice was in there somewhere (but without looking at the program I forget just where it was put in). Then the presentation part of the conference ended with a soliliquy from the Tempest. I think I may be forgetting one of the other soliliquy's, but the program is out in the car and it's raining. They ended the conference with questions and answers, lots of good questions and lots of good answers.

I managed to get books signed by both Dale Alquist and Joseph Pearce. Pearce also took my e-mail address and said he would be in touch because he has some Spanish copies of his books. He wanted me to e-mail him my niece's address so he could send them to her. This was because I mentioned that she was studying Spanish and that I had just sent her a copy of one of his books. Hopefully, he won't forget, Laura. Both of them were fun to talk with. I didn't realize that I've actually been Catholic a whole year longer than Dale Alquist.

The trip back was not so much fun. Anna and I had great discussions again, but it rained the entire way. It wasn't too bad on the NY Thruway, but when we got off and had to travel on U.S. Routes to get to I-87 it was pouring, it was dark, the road was twisty turny and a lot of the time I felt like I was just inching along. There was about 35 miles of this, so it really was a annoying. The rain let up a bit just before we got to Saratoga Springs, but then picked up again when we got on the Northway. It rained pretty hard right through most of Route 4 in Vermont. Of course by that time we were where we at least knew the lay of the land.

Anna's mom met us in the southern part of Rutland and I made it home by about 10:50. We had done the whole trip in just under 36 hours. It was actually amusing at the end. I had tried to call home from Rutland to let them know I was almost here, but no one answered (I figured they were in the barn). Then as I was driving up Plains Road (which you can see from our house) my cell phone rang. It was David wondering how far along we were. I said, "I'm just turning onto Pinewoods Road." I was actually less than a minute from our driveway. The drive back actually took only about 35 minutes longer than the drive out, and some of that could be accounted for by our actually stopping to eat dinner. So I guess that drive in the rain didn't slow us down all that much, it just seemed tedious at the time.

All in all it was well worth the effort. I found a holy card of St. Margaret Clitheroe (something I've never seen anywhere before!), bought a back issue of STAR that I was missing, got a copy of Chesterton's Lepanto with notes and commentary, and a copy of Dale Alquist's book Common Sense 101, Lessons from G.K. Chesterton. I could have bought more holy cards (a bunch of lovely hand painted ones were available) or more books, but I restrained myself. Of course it was helpful that I already owned (or in one case had on order) the majority of the books on the table.

St. John Fisher College looks like a place with a lot of good things going on. The Rochester Chesterton Society is quite obviously a really great bunch of people. Everyone was friendly and helpful, lunch was supplied for a small donation. They really put together a great event. So if you live in the Rochester area and like Chesterton you really should check those folks out. It's obviously too far for us to travel to meetings, but if they put on another event like this I wouldn't hesitate to drive that far again.

So there's my review of the trip. I may give you some excerpts from the extensive notes I took, but not until the rain stops because the notebook is also in the car.

Oh, the one downside, I woke up with a sore throat and the beginnings of a cold this morning. Boo, Hiss as we say around here. So now I'm going to go climb into a hot bath and prepare to get ready for Mass. I hope it's not raining where you are.


At 6:59 AM, Blogger Karen E. said...

Sounds like a wonderful trip, except for the drive home and the homecoming illness! I'm envious ... (of the trip, not the sore throat....) :-)


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