Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Back from Cornwall.

Yesterday afternoon, the Ciszek Hall community returned to the Bronx after a communal weekend away in Cornwall, New York. While faith sharing and common prayer were at the heart of the weekend, shared recreation was also an integral part of the experience. Heavy rains on both Saturday and Sunday were not enough to prevent us from undertaking a number of group outings over the weekend. One such outing was a visit to the old St. Andrew-on-Hudson, the former New York Province novitiate just north of Poughkeepsie. Situated on a bluff overlooking the Hudson River, the building that was once home to a couple hundred Jesuit novices and juniors now houses the Culinary Institute of America, "the world's premier culinary college." Though surrounded by new construction, the old novitiate building at the heart of the CIA campus can still be recognized as a formerly Jesuit edifice. Some signs of the building's original purpose are subtle and easily to miss - like the "A.M.D.G." tilework on the floor in the entryway - but others are impossible to ignore, such as the former chapel (now an elegant dining room) with its stained glass windows depicting scenes from the life of St. Ignatius.

Another reminder of bygone days at Poughkeepsie is an old Jesuit cemetery, located close to the onetime novitiate building. Fenced off from the surrounding campus and secured by a padlocked gate, the cemetery is normally opened only by special arrangement. Before leaving for Poughkeepsie I borrowed the key to the gate from the cemetery's Jesuit caretaker, giving me and my companions a chance to visit our deceased brethren. The best-known occupant of the Jesuit cemetery at Poughkeepsie is Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, buried there following his death in New York in 1955. As a longtime admirer of Teilhard, I'm happy that I had the chance to see his final resting place. One of my fellow scholastics took some photos of the visit, and if I can get copies of them I may post one or two on this blog.

Rainy days often lend themselves to film-going, so it shouldn't be surprising that I went to the movies on both Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday I saw Snakes on a Plane, dubbed "the most perfectly high concept film in Hollywood history" by my friend Steve Silver. Every bit as goofy and ridiculous as I expected it to be, Snakes on a Plane was also eminently forgettable; seeing the movie permits me to say that my expectations were met, but I would've been no worse off had I not seen it. The same cannot be said for Little Miss Sunshine, which I saw on Sunday. Before Sunday, I hadn't planned on seeing Little Miss Sunshine, mainly because the standard one-line summary of the film's plot - dysfunctional family accompanies small girl to child beauty pageant - failed to capture my imagination. However, positive word of mouth and favorable online reviews persuaded me to give Little Miss Sunshine a try - and I'm glad I did. A more intelligently-written and better-acted film than I had expected, Little Miss Sunshine taught me that one should never judge a movie by its title or by capsule reviews. See Snakes on a Plane if you must, but if you value good film over senseless amusement see Little Miss Sunshine instead. If you value good film and senseless amusement, see both.

Fordham's fall semester officially begins tomorrow, though my first class won't meet until Friday. Over the next couple days I'll be attempting to navigate the enrollment process, purchasing textbooks and taking care of innumerable small administrative details. Posting may be light for the remainder of the week, but when I come up for air I'll post a note here to let you all know how I'm doing. Until then, all the best. AMDG.


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