Straight-talk at the intersection of faith and culture from St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church and Pro-Cathedral in Brooklyn, New York.
Episode 13: "All the World Is Still a Stage"
Canon John welcomes Anne Hamburger, the award-winning founder, artistic director, and creative producer of En Garde Arts in New York City to Frankly. Through En Garde Arts, Annie put herself on the map and made her mark with pioneering site-specific theater throughout the city in the 1980s and 90s. Canon John talks with Annie about her trajectory from performer to producer and her determination to turn improbable spaces into performance venues in which to engage the imaginations of audiences throughout her career. Annie admits to occasionally being surprised by the results of her collaborations with emerging artists and that her early successes led to an invitation to launch the Creative Entertainment department for Disney in Los Angeles. Life takes Annie back to New York City, where from her home in Brooklyn she hatches En Garde Arts 2.0 with a mission to develop theater that has social change at its core. Canon John’s conversation with Annie begins and ends with the breakthroughs, surprises and successes of site-specific theater-making through the pandemic, and ultimately to an exciting collaboration with St. Ann & the Holy Trinity that is in the works.
Episode 12: "Preserving the Future"
Canon John speaks with the Right Rev. Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis. Bp. Jennifer is the first Black woman elected bishop of a diocese and, to her knowledge, the first bishop with a degree in historic preservation. Bp. Jennifer first reflects on her experience on September 11, 2001 at Trinity Church on Wall Street, where she was attending an event that day and where Canon John then worked, which leads to a broader discussion of managing mission in a context of trauma. The focus of the conversation becomes the faithful stewardship of aging church buildings and the question of what preservation ultimately means to distinct communities. Bp. Jennifer’s ultimate challenge for churches is to shift the paradigm from transactional to transformational relationships with space users and to engage in mission-driven leadership informed by the priorities of racial justice, social equity, and upholding human dignity that have emerged with renewed emphasis in the crucible of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Episode 11: "Why Bricks and Mortar Matter"
Canon John relaunches Frankly in 2021 discussing the role and meaning of historic houses of worship with Ann Friedman, director of the Sacred Sites program of the New York Landmarks Conservancy. Friedman helps assess the prospects for preserving aging churches, synagogues, mosques and other holy places with congregations and local stakeholders in communities across the state of New York. In the course of the conversation with Canon John, Friedman shares how her personal and family investment in several faith institutions continues to inform her work. She makes the convincing case that the value of these treasured buildings is not only as centers for prayer and cultural life, but in the stories they tell and the hope they provide generations of neighbors and visitors. And she and Canon John consider the new significance of “restoration” for sacred sites through and beyond life in the pandemic era.
Episode 10: "Music By and For the People"
Canon John welcomes Eli Smith, musician and co-founder of the Brooklyn Folk Festival, which St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church has hosted since 2014. They discuss the longstanding partnership between the church and festival, and the points of intersection in the respective missions of the two institutions. Canon John learns about the diversity of music genres that qualify as folk, defined as any "grassroots musical expression of community" by Smith. Though disappointed to have to move the Brooklyn Folk Festival online this year, Smith expresses an unshakeable faith in the music to connect audiences gathered virtually. And he holds out hope to return to St. Ann's next year.
Episode 9: "Healing Racism's Wounds"
Canon John addresses the impact on systemic racism on communities of color, the Church and the nation with veteran civil rights activist, sociologist, and founding Executive Director of the Absalom Jones Center for Racial Healing in Atlanta, Dr. Catherine Meeks. Dr. Meeks enthusiastically embraced her current role after retiring from 40 years of teaching, and the recent killings of young Black women and men at the hands of law enforcement and subsequent wave of protests have given new fervor to her lifelong pursuit of racial justice. Showing no sign of stopping soon, she shares with Canon John her present passion to facilitate honest conversation around what she calls "re-imagining policing," in order to affect real change and advance the process of healing racism's enduring wounds.
Episode 8: "A Long, Long Way"
Canon John's first out-of-town guest of Frankly is Austin-based Greg Garrett, a film historian and professor of English at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, and the author of A Long, Long Way: Hollywood’s Unfinished Journey from Racism to Reconciliation. The just-published book grew out of four years of public screenings and conversations about film and race held across the country, including at the Washington National Cathedral. Garrett, who is seminary trained and the Theologian-in-Residence at the American Cathedral in Paris (Episcopal), is a leading voice on faith and culture. At a crucible moment for race relations in the U.S., Professor Garrett makes the compelling case that the slow, but incremental progress in the fight for racial equality over the last century has been mirrored in and influenced by films about and by people of color, as he mines spiritual lessons from each.