A few years ago I took an incredible trip with my sister Evelyn. We attended the C. S. Lewis Lecture’s at Oxford University and did some magnificent sightseeing under the guidance of my good nephew Tim. In London, we visited St Paul’s Cathedral and then walked across the bridge over the Thames River to the Globe Theater.
I was, of course stunned and overwhelmed by the grandeur and beauty of St Paul’s. However the longer I was inside St Paul”s, the more uncomfortable I became. The building is full of the tombs of England’s greatest historical citizens with no memorial at all to the laborers who died building the huge, stone building without any assistance of power tools. The stone is hand hewn and the foundations were hand dug by underpaid laborers. The building was paid for by Imperial wealth gained largely at the expense of the colonized peoples. Where is the memorial to the people of India and the other colonial people who in actuality paid for it all.
I felt like I was in a pagan temple dedicated the success of the British military and the British colonial wealth I suspected that the sermon’s preached from the great pulpit were designed to glorify and justify the success of the empire not the glory of God.
I could not keep my mind from wandering to a powerful scene in the movie “Mary Poppins” It was the scene filmed on the steps of St Paul’s in which an elderly woman staved off starvation by selling food for the pigeons so the wealthier folks could entertain themselves and their children. All during the scene, the theater’s sound system was stirring me with the emotional music of “Feed The Birds, Tuppence a bag, Tuppence a Bag”
That movie scene expressed my sense of the injustice represented by St Paul’s Cathedral. The contrast between the impoverished elderly woman and the fantastically extravagant cathedral was professionally subtle but so powerful to me.
To me the whole movie sounded that theme. The good guys were a chimney sweep, a nanny, small children, the women demanding the right to vote, and an aged banker who finally got to be a true child at the very end of his life through a fit of wild, childlike laughter. The bad guys were the wealthy, controlling, bankers that were part of the system who thought women could not be trusted with the vote.
After our visit to the Cathedral, Tim walked us over the famous bridge over the Thames River so we could see The Globe Theater rebuilt to duplicate the original Old Globe. The walk to the Globe cleared my head so I could better appreciate the Globe Theater.
The Globe was built to entertain the entire community. There were the poor people holding the cheapest tickets standing directly in front of the stage. There were no seats for them but they probably had the best viewing spot in the theater. The rest of the people sat in seats that gradually increased in price as the patrons toward the most preferred seats.
My nephew Tim went on the internet compared the modern prices to the prices in Shakespeare’s day. Of course, the modern prices were far higher. Interestingly, the ratio between the cheapest tickets and the most expensive was about the same when the tickets sold in Shakespeare’s day and the tickets sold when I was in London were compared.
In my mind, the Cathedral sermons were proud trumpeting of the glories of oppression and Manifest Destiny. At the Old Globe, the audience was treated to the inspired, universal truths of Shakespeare’s plays. The Cathedral is a lasting expression of the hubris of religiosity and the Old Globe was and is a lasting expression of the edifying spirituality given to us by inspired writers like Shakespeare.
I could have added Bill W to my list of inspired writers. Then there is Cervantes, Alexander Lohan. I would add Jesus except He was a face to face communicator. Others recorded his words for us.