I recently visited the OQ Farm near Woodstock in rural Vermont. It is a retreat center which is connected to The Sword and Spoon Foundation, an ecumenical group interested in promoting a Christian culture of faith and beauty. The occasion was a gathering of Christian artists, musicians, and filmmakers, who gave talks about their work and shared ideas about the transformation of the culture.
I was curious to see this place that is quietly become a hub for artistic renewal. If you look at the program of events over the summer, for example, there are two workshops by internationally known Russian iconographers, Anton and Ekaterina Daineko, who are coming from Russia to teach here. Also, the highly respected Catholic playwright and screenplay writer Buzz McClaughlin is offering a a workshop on story development. I first met Buzz about 10 years ago, and read his book on the structure of story narrative; I have kept in touch with him ever since, because his ideas regarding engagement with the culture, in the context of film, are in harmony with my own. The organizer of these events for the OQ Farm is Keri Wiederspahn, who is herself an accomplished icon painter and teacher in the Russian tradition.
One evening while I was at this event, as the sun was going down, I took a walk around the property and a particular detail caught my eye, a red English telephone box sitting between the farmhouse and the barn. This was a nice coincidence, since the K2 telephone box was described in a book I had just read, Roger Scruton’s excellent How to Be A Conservative (a review of which will appear on this blog shortly).
I asked about this and was told that it had been at the farm for some years, placed there by previous owners, but the current management had decided to keep it.
Why would someone have gone to the trouble of importing a heavy chunk of painted steel at a cost of what must have run to thousands of dollars in the first place?
I suggest that the story of the K2 telephone box can explain why, in many ways a humble piece of street furniture could become an icon of what we are seeking in cultural renewal, and how, unlikely as it may seem, the liturgy is connected to this.
This begins with the Victorian Neo-Gothic movement in (Read More)