On Saturday night I went to Stockbridge for an a capella concert at the Congregational Church, one of the most beautiful buildings in the area, at the prodding of my new friend David McCarthy, who was MC of the event. It was an evening when many of the things I care most about came together, in one of those providential circles that life seems to be springing on me these days.
It was a community event, the kind that are essential to sustaining social capital, and which I seldom participate in during these busy days of building a new business. I think I may have been to more evening events in London this year than at home in Great Barrington. Chagrined to admit this, I have resolved to do more to put my principles into practice!
It was a library event, a fundraiser for the Stockbridge Library, and of course libraries are the key and cornerstone for us, especially as we put together our book about America’s beloved community libraries.
And it took place in a church (though the concert itself wasn’t religious in any way). At Berkshire Publishing, we are very much occupied with religion these days–talking about American Christian fundamentalism, discussing the variety of religious experience and belief–and I’ve gone back to work on an article, too, about apocalyptic theology and politics. This will require a great deal of conversation with believers, and my first interviews and early research have already shown me how complicated American Christianity is: it’s not all fiery fundamentalism, and fundamentalism itself takes many forms. So I caught my breath on Saturday night when I looked up and saw right in front of me a marble plaque saying that the famous American preacher and theologian Jonathan Edwards had been the minister at the Stockbridge Congregational Church in the 18th century, then a “humble parish in the wilderness.”