Today marks the ninth anniversary of the beginning of this website; I would like to take this occasion to thank our editor Jeffrey Tucker, our founder Shawn Tribe, and all of our writers and guest contributors for all they have done for NLM, and especially to thank all of our readers. We hope and pray that our work will continue to inspire thoughtful reflection on how best to celebrate the Sacred Liturgy. I would also like to ask all our readers to offer a special prayer on this day for those of our fellow Christians who are subject to persecution in any part of the world, and also to pray for the eternal repose of Dr. Stratford Caldecott, who passed away recently. Over the years, NLM has reported on his work on numerous occasions, beginning with our very first post.
Four years ago, Shawn asked all of the writers to list some of their interests outside the field of liturgy and liturgical studies, and I thought it would be fun to update that post by asking the same questions of some of our new writers who have come on board over the last year. Here are the replies from Dr. Peter Kwasniewski, (whose specialty is listed as “the Roman Rite” on the sidebar, but should probably be updated to “everything”), our Byzantine guy, Prof. Kyle Washut, and our intern, Ben Yanke.
What are some of your favorite films?
Ben: I am truly a lover of the Eastern tradition of icons. I have many throughout my room, and I find them both beautiful as daily surroundings, and aids to prayer. There's something unique and otherworldly about the beauty of a well written icon.
Peter: I don’t watch many films (listening to music is my cup of tea), but I do very much enjoy the old BBC Sherlock Holmes episodes with Jeremy Brett, any nature film with David Attenborough, Alec Guinness films, Jean-Pierre Ponnelle opera productions, and Into Great Silence.
Kyle: I love Ford’s The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, and also Ford’s Stagecoach. Honorable mentions would go to The Scarlet and the Black, His Girl Friday, and Becket. On the more recent side, I think Christopher Nolan’s Batman Trilogy is fantastic.
Ben: I don’t end up watching a lot of films, but I am a big fan of two of BBC’s shows, Sherlock and Doctor Who. I assume this is the result of Charles Cole’s top secret British-patriotism-mind-control-machine, which is clearly responsible for getting me hooked on all these British shows.
What are some of your favorite books or literary genre (outside the liturgical sphere)?
Peter: Every book by P. G. Wodehouse, many of which we have read aloud as a family. Mystery novels. Works by George MacDonald, E. Nesbit, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien. The dialogues of Plato, the treatises of Aristotle, and the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas, which are my bread and butter as a teacher.
Kyle: Anything by Graham Greene, and the poetry of Hopkins and Frost. I try to read at least one or two plays by Shakespeare each year. As far as novels in translation go: The Betrothed by Alesandro Manzoni, and Sigrid Undset’s Kristin Lavransdatter are marvelous. In the more philosophical/theological side of things my greats list includes: Alexis De Tocqueville, Plato, St. Maximus the Confessor and the works of John Paul II. I go back to all four authors again and again.
(Ben sat this one out.)
Favorite musical genres or musicians outside liturgical music?
Peter: Johann Sebastian Bach and Arvo Pärt vie for first place. I have a fascination with the works of the “lesser” English composers Gerald Finzi, E. J. Moeran, and Edmund Rubbra. Handel’s operas and oratorios. The symphony -- one of the greatest inventions of the Western mind -- some favorites here include Brahms, Glazunov, Rimsky-Korsakov, Bruckner, Mahler, Elgar, Sibelius, Vaughan Williams. Minimalism, when it’s not too minimalist, e.g., Steve Reich’s Variations for Winds, Strings, and Keyboards. Every recording by Jordi Savall and Hesperion XX / XXI. I could go on but that’s enough!
Kyle: I’m an ecclectic Philistine when it comes to music. I love Mozart’s Don Giovanni, and depending on my mood I really enjoy Rachmaninoff. I like some of the work that Arvo Pärt and John Tavener have done, but not all of it. But I also listen to a fair bit of Classic Country, and I have a soft spot for artists like Train and other such bands from my younger days.
Ben: I am a big fan of big band music (swing and jazz), not just for listening but to swing dance to as well! And this may come as a surprise to many, but non-liturgically, I enjoy listening to modern Christian music sometimes as well. And yes, sometimes when I get in the car, I’ll turn on the Tallis Scholars too.
Favourite past-times or hobbies outside the area of the liturgy?
Peter: Composing music, some of it purely instrumental. Cooking elaborate meals when time permits. Model rocketry and high-powered rocketry -- my son and I recently built a 7-ft. tall rocket that flies on I-series engines, with a thrust of 320 to 640 newton-seconds.
Kyle: I play baseball in the adult rec league in town. When I find the time, I also enjoy cooking, canoeing, fantasy football, watching House of Cards, Breaking Bad, Longmire, Arrested Development and other such things, exploring with kids, biking with my dog, and dancing with my wife.
Ben: I like to do a little bit of everything! I am currently working toward a degree in computer science at the local university, so I enjoy working on programming, as well as some web design as a small side business, and other technology-related hobbies too. On a somewhat related note, I also enjoy audio engineering, and I have actually built a talk studio for my parish podcast that we are starting very soon.
And finally, I enjoy going on runs, and helping out with the local homeschool cross country team, and as mentioned above, dancing with friends. And on top of it all, I love spending time with my 8 younger siblings, whether that is reading to them before bed or a little bit of roughhousing!
Who are your favorite artists or what are your favorite art styles?
Peter: For odd moods, Blake and Turner. For prayer, Giotto, Fra Angelico, Byzantine icons in the Greek manner (not the Russian). For aesthetic revelry: Dürer, Vermeer, Rembrandt, Pieter Brueghel the Elder, particular pieces by the Pre-Raphaelites. Thanks in part to the good taste and fine library of my wife, who is a painter, I’ve grown especially fond of a number of American artists -- Whistler, Sargent, Twachtman, Inness, Benson, Church, Bierstadt, Moran, Homer, and all three Wyeths. Of living painters, Julian Merrow Smith and Aidan Hart.
Kyle: I like Western Art with its rugged depiction of landscapes and animals. In a completely different vein, I think Cezanne makes great watercolors, and while I don’t really like Michelangelo's painting, I am in awe of his sculpture. In general I appreciate sculpture within the European classical tradition.