Sunday, April 14, 2013

What Rome is for

Busy weekend. Friday was the Big Day at the Vatican's stem cell research conference, and there is still a lot of work to do about it. It's always fun and exciting to go to these things, and really reminds me of why I'm here. You get to meet incredibly interesting people, have conversations you never imagined you would find yourself having. In this case it was me asking questions about the moral implications of nuclear transfer cloning and induced pluripotent stem cells with the Nobel Prize winning scientist who helped to pioneer the procedures.

Of course, this is not to say, for a second, that I endorse this kind of research, but the opportunity to talk directly with some of the people doing the work was for me extremely exciting, professionally. To observe at first hand what kind of people these are, what kind of arguments they make and what sort of justifications they have to answer the moral objections was fascinating. I was impresssed with how willing they were to talk, and how plain-spoken they were about their ideas.

Most of the time, when we're writing on this stuff, we are stuck conjecturing and guessing about how they think and what they want to accomplish. For the first time since I started this work more than ten years ago, I had a chance to ask the leaders in the field my difficult questions, and it was hugely enlightening.

So, that was cool.

Then, on Saturday, it was FIRST DAY OF CLASSES!! Yaaaay! Bozetti class first, which is mostly about learning to mix colours and match what you see on the model to teach you how to move on to portrait work. It's incredibly difficult, but I'm starting to push through the difficulties and get the general gist. Tomorrow morning I'm starting another cast drawing class. (And thank you again to all the kind people who donated funds to make it possible. What would I do without my readers, I just don't know.)

After, I went to lunch in the Ghetto with an old friend from Toronto and we had a little stroll from the nice Jewish restaurant where we had tacchino in marsala and mushrooms, down to the Theatre of Marcellus and the Porticus Octaviae, then back to the sacristy of the parish where I had my first lesson in reading Gregorian notation.

A friend of mine gave me a copy of the new Baronius Press edition of the Little Office of the BVM, the one with the music in the back that, if you know how, allows you to sing the office as it was intended. I have had a bit of experience singing the little squares in choir with various nuns I've visited, and in parish choirs, so following isn't difficult, but actually doing it by myself is just outside my range of skills. So my friend, who is sacristan at Smma. Trinita, sat down with me for about an hour and we worked out the tones and I went home happily singing a new Gregorian hymn.

Sunday was high Mass, (that through some miracle started on time!) and lunch with a selection of the gang.

The weather was perfect. April is Rome's best month, when the weather is warm, but the breeze is cool, and the evenings are mild and fragrant with wisteria. In a couple of weeks, the temperature will start to become oppressive, and I'll start thinking of ways to escape, but for now, it's like a dream. A nice dream.

I feel like I've suddenly come back to life after months of hibernation.



Teresa B. said...

How many moderators were there?
I read that Peggy Noonan and someone from FOX news were moderating.
That is pretty cool to have interviews with this crowd of scientists and researchers.

I think that choirs,as well as congregations, need more exposure and lessons on reading square notes but also on pronouncing Latin and instruction on the TLM.
That is great that you got a one on one lesson.

We had an ice storm on Friday and today it is 16 degrees - t-shirt weather! I am tired of snow and grey skies.

Niamh said...

up with the boffs :)