Friday, January 25, 2013

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Episcopalians and an Activist Gospel

You might know that the Episcopal Church is proud of its belief of in an activist Gospel (Good News) of Jesus Christ.  If you didn't and were paying attention to the news this week, you sure know now!

The first gay-affirming benediction at an inauguration was delivered by The Rev. Dr. Luis Leon, pastor of St. John's Episcopal Church, Lafayette Square.  This church was also the site of the prayer service that started the day, over which Leon presided. Leon replaced an Atlanta preacher who withdrew after his history of anti-gay preaching was brought to light and a White House petition to rescind the invite was gaining steam.

The benediction was a fitting close to a day in which The President promoted marriage and gay rights, bringing together Seneca Falls, Selma and Stonewall as "guiding stars" marking our progress toward "self-evident" rights.

Meanwhile at the highest point in the District of Columbia the Dean of the National Cathedral, seat of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, The Very Rev. Gary Hall had just advance the radical gospel as well.  In his role as Dean of the Cathedral, Hall announced that same-sex weddings, legal in DC, will be permitted at the church.

“The gun lobby is no match for the cross lobby," said Hall in the sermon following the tragic shoots at Newtown according to the Washington Post.  The sermon received a rare standing ovation in this, the most staid setting in what was once only seen as a stodgy denomination.

I am so proud of the role our church, MY church, has played in resurrecting a Gospel, so often bent to defend inhibit forward movement.  It is time we really ask, "What would Jesus do?" not as a way to build barrier, but to break them down.  That is what Jesus did.  He challenged everything.  He stood our understanding and assumption of what God was and is on its head.

Way to go Luis.  Way to go Gary. Way to go Episcopal Church.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Uganda and Evangelic Christians

Please take 8 minutes out of your life to view this..

I really would like your comments.

Could Newtown Be a Government Conspiracy?

Last night Wayne LaPierre spoke to members of the organization he leads, the National Rifle Association, at a function in Las Vegas.  When preachers are talking to the faithful you get a real taste of their passion.  Passion was evident.  Passionate statements about the government ready to register your guns and take away your second amendment rights.  LaPierre said:
"There's only two reasons for a national registry [for guns].  To tax 'em or take 'em."
This week I switched my auto insurance provider.  Providing a VIN and drivers license number resulted in the agent being able to give me a quote based on my driving record and vehicle specific information. I could see this as government intrusion into my personal life. I prefer to see it as the regulation of a convenience that I use to commute and travel, but that could also be used in the commission of a crime, to flee law enforcement or recklessly to endanger the safety of others. If I had certain disabilities that might impair my ability to use a vehicle then I would, for the safety of others, have my license withheld or revoked.  Had I proved my inability to operate a motor vehicle responsibly the same thing would occur.  This is a responsibility of citizenship.

Registration of guns and background checks for gun ownership is no different.  The fact that "arms" are mentioned in the US Constitution is often used to move this to a different level.  Of course the "regulated militia" part is often ignored, but that not withstanding, one wonders, given the love affair we have with cars today, if the framers would not have mentioned automobiles in the the Constitution as well.

There is a huge chasm between what the majority of NRA member believe and what the organization defends.  Filling that gap with an group that represents these people is needed.  I do not hunt, do not own a gun and feel no need to have a gun in my house.  I do completely support those who own guns to hunt, use as sport such as skeet, collect historic firearms and protect themselves (regardless of the the statistics which reveal that to be more dangerous than helpful).  I would join this new organization in support of those who responsibly own registered and regulated firearms just as I belong to the AAA to support those who responsibly own registered and regulated motor vehicles.

But these are wild times and the radical right encourages completely fact free positions.  From The National Memo:
Conceived in a dream of reason, what the Internet too often reveals is mass credulousness and fathomless irrationality. According to Salon’s Alex Seitz-Wald, a video depicting the Newtown, CT elementary school massacre as a government-sponsored hoax has drawn 8.5 million views on YouTube. 
No doubt many viewers were drawn by idle curiosity or sheer incredulity. What would “evidence” for so transparently preposterous an allegation consist of? Nevertheless, there appear to be thousands of True Believers. 
Try googling “Emilie Parker alive,” to sample the crazy. 
Adepts claim that a photograph of a young girl sitting in President Obama’s lap reveals that six-year-old Emilie Parker was not murdered along with 19 classmates at Sandy Hook elementary as reported. Supposedly, the photo reveals a telltale blunder. 
In reality, the child in the photograph is Emilie’s little sister, Madeline. 

Some will say, "But The National Memo is a left wing blog."  Fair enough.  But it's positions are supported by facts.  I know that "facts" can be selectively chosen, but facts and conspiracy theories are not the same thing.

Sure, publications use a grabber headline to pull in the reader.  I used that in the title of this blog post  but I know that my readers are capable of distinguishing fact from opinion.  This is not to say that others are not capable of this, but too many are too lazy to look beyond their reliable sources.  I encourage my readers to look at opposing points of view.

There is a great deal of difference between stupid and ignorant.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Lectionary Reflction: 2nd Sunday after Epiphany

This is a project long thought of but never acted upon.  Each Sunday after hearing the lectionary readings and a sermon, I have often thought that it would be of benefit to me, and perhaps of interest to others, if I shared my own reflections.

At the end I will include some of the readings for reference.

2nd Sunday after Epiphany - RCL Year C

The reading from Isaiah concerns itself with the God's protection of the holy land and uses the metaphor of marriage in very broad strokes.  The psalm speaks of God's Love and implores that it not be withdrawn.  Paul's letter to the people of Corinth is one of the well known passages about the gifts of the Spirit and how they are given to each in different ways.  The Gospel is the story of Jesus' first miracle recorded by John.  Water is turned into wine at the wedding feast at Cana.

Jesus at the Wedding Feast in Cana

In her sermon this Sunday, Dahn* talked of how the wedding was a community event in that time.  What happened at a wedding was well remembered by all (I would have added 'they didn't have cable').  Jesus was reluctant, but at the gentle urging of his mother transforms water into wine, and does it with humility.

I can't remember a visit to Kyle's home in small town Georgia when one wedding or another was not talked about.  It is a long planned and long discussed event which is accompanied by a plethora of social gatherings.  Even though the community nature of weddings is retained in some parts of the country and the world it is a more family specific event for most of us.  Nevertheless it is a ceremony which celebrates the love of a couple and the extension of family bonds.  Clearly there are many references to marriages, both metaphorical and literal, in the Bible for good reason. It speaks to the central messages of love and the importance of relationship, community and communion.

It is hardly surprising then that marriage equality is such a pivotal issue in attaining full inclusion for lesbian and gay people.

Dahn also noted that John opens with "On the third day..."  John has no nativity narrative, but begins with "In the beginning was the word ... and the Word become flesh..."  The "first day" for John was the baptism of Jesus, the next day the gathering of the apostles and the third day the miracle at Cana.

This struck me as a reminder that taking the Bible as the "Words of God," rather than the "Word of God" can be challenging.  By this I mean that a literal interpretation rather than a divinely inspired approach is riddled with contradictions and pitfalls in the modern world. Could Jesus have gathered his 12 apostles in one literal day? It is possible, but not probable.  Perhaps this helps us to be more generous when reading the creation narrative as being 6 twenty-four hour days.

The New Testament is a lens through which we can view the old testament with a focus on the loving nature of God.  Likewise Science and two millennia provide us withe new perspectives on old stories. The "truth" of them is far less important than the "message."   

*The Rev. Dahn Gandell, Rector, St. John's Episcopal Church, Honeoye Falls, NY 
Readings (Holy Bible NRSV, taken from The Lectionary Page)

Isaiah 62:1-5

For Zion's sake I will not keep silent,
and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest,
until her vindication shines out like the dawn,
and her salvation like a burning torch.
You shall no more be termed Forsaken,
and your land shall no more be termed Desolate;
but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her,
and your land Married;
for the LORD delights in you,
and your land shall be married.
For as a young man marries a young woman,
so shall your builder marry you,
and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
so shall your God rejoice over you. 

Psalm 36:5-10 Page 632, BCP

Dixit injustus

Your love, O LORD, reaches to the heavens, *
and your faithfulness to the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the strong mountains,
your justice like the great deep; *
you save both man and beast, O LORD.
How priceless is your love, O God! *
your people take refuge under the shadow of your wings.
They feast upon the abundance of your house; *
you give them drink from the river of your delights.
For with you is the well of life, *
and in your light we see light.
Continue your loving-kindness to those who know you, *
and your favor to those who are true of heart.

1 Corinthians 12:1-11

Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans, you were enticed and led astray to idols that could not speak. Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says "Let Jesus be cursed!" and no one can say "Jesus is Lord" except by the Holy Spirit.

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.

John 2:1-11

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, "They have no wine." And Jesus said to her, "Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come." His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you." Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, "Fill the jars with water." And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, "Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward." So they took it. When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom and said to him, "Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now." Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Rhode Island's New Bishop Gets Nod From AFER

The American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) was formed to spearhead chanllenging Prop 8.  Their regular updates on marriage equality can be viewed (and subscribed to) on YouTube.

This weeks update gives a nod to Bishop Knisely,  newly elected to the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island for supporting marriage equality in the state.  Rhode Island is the last hold-out on full access to marriage by all couples in New England. It is also the most Roman Catholic state in the union.


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Seriously? Have to read!

From the New Yorker:

Republicans Accuse Obama of Using Position as President to Lead Country 

Spearheading the offensive was Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas), who charged the President with the “wanton exploitation of powers that are legally granted to him under the U.S. Constitution.”

Calling him the “Law Professor-in-Chief,” Rep. Stockman accused Mr. Obama of “manipulating a little-known section of the Constitution,” Article II, which outlines the power of the President.

“President Obama looks down the list of all of the powers that are legally his and he’s like a kid in a candy store,” Rep. Stockman said. “It’s nauseating.”

Read more:

Monday, January 14, 2013


Enjoy, then scroll down...

No.  It's not moving. One of the great illusions from Mighty Optical Illusions website.  Fun to visit!

Golden Globe: Results/Reactions

Here's what I think:

Best Picture - Drama
    Would be happy with: Argo, Zero Dark Thirty or Lincoln
    I predict: Lincoln
    Who Won: ARGO

Very surprised and very pleased.  It was a riveting movie, more intimate that the others I liked.
After Ben Afleck won director I became attuned to the probability of this happening. Afleck is presents himself as humble and is liked by the Hollywood.  Clearly a talented director.

Best Picture - Musical/Comedy

    Would be happy with: Les Miséables or Silver Linings Playbook
    I predict: Silver Linings Playbook
    Who Won: Les Misérables

I was betting on David bringing down Goliath here.  Les Mis is an incredibly will crafted of the best musical of the era of grand imported shows.  It is a masterpiece of drama, supported by emotionally stirring music.  Musical v. Opera distinctions ate blurred. Tom Hoopers masterfully rendering dripping with brilliant performances deserves this.

Best Actor - Drama
    Would be happy with: Daniel Day Lewis or John Hawkes
    I predict: Daniel Day Lewis
    Who Won: Daniel Day Lewis

An apples and oranges choice as many of these were.  Lewis's rendering of our most well remembered president was flawless.  Hawkes delivered a brilliant performance.

Best Actor - Musical/Comedy

    Would be happy with: Hugh Jackman or Bradley Cooper
    I predict: Hugh Jackman
    Who Won: Hugh Jackman

A huge fan of Jackman, I would have said he was a shoe-in.  Then I was emotionally engaged from start to finish of Silver Linings in no small part due to Cooper and Lawrence.

Best Actress - Drama
    Would be happy with: Jessica Chastain
    I predict: Jessica Chastain
    Who Won: Jessica Chastain

Shoe-in number one.

Best Actress - Musical/Comedy

    Would be happy with: Jennifer Lawrence
    I predict: Jennifer Lawrence
    Who Won: Jessica Chastain

Shoe-in number two.

Best Director

    Would be happy with: Ben Afleck, Kathryn Bigelow or Stephen Spielberg
    I predict: Ben Afleck
    Who Won: Ben Afleck

Tightest race for me.  I changed my mind at the last minute before the show. Again, community loves him, he's a nice guy and the film was wonderful.

Best Supporting Actor
    Would be happy with: Leonardo DiCaprio or Tommy Lee Jones
    I predict: Tommy Lee Jones
    Who Won: Christoph Waltz

First shocker in the list for me. There were a parcel of candidates for supporting actors in Django.  Samuel L Jackson deserved it.  Christoph Waltz was fine, but the just not stellar.

Best Supporting Actress
    Would be happy with: Anne Hathaway or Sally Fields
    I predict: Anne Hathaway
    Who Won: Anne Hathaway

What a choice!  Hathaway was stunning and her acceptance speech giving Sally Fields kudos for her contribution as a role model for women.  Sally Fields was brilliant in Linclon.

Best Screenplay

    Would be happy with: Argo or Silver Lining Playbook
    I predict: Silver Lining Playbook
    Who Won: Django Unchained

Why did I predict this?  This is the only real disappointment of the night for me.  I am glad I saw the movie and it did have redeeming qualities (unlike the Master).  The movie was too long.  How do you get an award for screenplay when it say "Blood Bath - 20  minutes"?  Tarantino is a talented, arrogant jerk.

Read the fashion report at Kyle+Blog.  I loved Julianne Moore and Zooey Deschanel.  Unfortunately Jessica Chastain made a poor choice.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Golden Globe Predictions

Here's what I think:

Best Picture - Drama
    Would be happy with: Argo, Zero Dark Thirty or Lincoln
    I predict: Lincoln

Best Picture - Musical/Comedy

    Would be happy with: Les Miséables or Silver Linings Playbook
    I predict: Silver Linings Playbook

Best Actor - Drama
    Would be happy with: Daniel Day Lewis or John Hawks
    I predict: Daniel Day Lewis

Best Actor - Musical/Comedy

    Would be happy with: Hugh Jackman or Bradley Cooper
    I predict: Hugh Jackman

Best Actress - Drama
    Would be happy with: Jessica Chastain
    I predict: Jessica Chastain

Best Actress - Musical/Comedy

    Would be happy with: Jennifer Lawrence
    I predict: Jennifer Lawrence

Best Director

    Would be happy with: Ben Afleck, Kathryn Bigelow or Stephen Spielberg
    I predict: Ben Afleck

Best Supporting Actor
    Would be happy with: Leonardo DiCaprio or Tommy Lee Jones
    I predict: Tommy Lee Jones

Best Supporting Actress
    Would be happy with: Anne Hathaway or Sally Fields
    I predict: Anne Hathaway

Best Screenplay

    Would be happy with: Argo or Silver Lining Playbook
    I predict: Silver Lining Playbook

Django Unchained

Tonight, The Globes are handed out, so I squeezed in Django Unchained this afternoon. Not a big Tarantino fan, I have a least moved out of the "hate him" category. Inglorious Basterds help and this movie slid me further toward the middle.  I also made me think the Globes put it in the wrong category. Though certainly making a dramatic statement, I think that Tarantino is closer to Mel Brooks with gratuitous violence than it is to any drama.  If you think the exploding blood bags are meant to be taken seriously then you miss the point.  It's South Park in live action on the big screen.

The difficult hurdle for me in Tarantino and South Park is the target 17 to 24 audience that misses the irony.

Putting that aside it's a great story, masterfully directed and filmed and has a couple of wonderful performances. Without reading the credits I would have said, "Samuel L. Jackson was in the movie? Really?" His Uncle Tom Character was quite an amazing shift.  I also agree with my friend, Rich, that DeCaprio should have been given the supporting actor nod from the Academy as well. (I find nothing heart-throbby about the guy, but since Gilbert Grape I have become a huge fan.) Robert Waltz was fine, but no award worthy performance for me.

Other than being overly long and the gratuitous violence, it's worth seeing.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Best Picture? SLP

After seeing the nominations for the Gold Globes I was one of those who said "Silver Playing" what?  Well, It's Silver Ling Playbook and I thought I missed it.  But it is playing again this week.  Kyle, Don and I went this afternoon. With little information and few expectations it promised to be a romantic comedy.  And it was.  But the best I can ever remember seeing.  One of the best films I have seen for that matter.

Here's the plot from IMDB:
After a stint in a mental institution, former teacher Pat Solitano moves back in with his parents and tries to reconcile with his ex-wife. Things get more challenging when Pat meets Tiffany, a mysterious girl with problems of her own 
When it comes to film I am not a critic.  Like wine, I know nothing more than ... I know what I like.

And this I liked.  This I loved.

Bradley Cooper, never hard on the eyes and Jennifer Lawrence, that Hunger Games girl, are Pat and Tiffany.  Both brilliant and both nominated for Golden Globe Best Actor/Actress in a Musical or Comedy.  If they both won I would not be disappointed.  The awarding type people like quirky or grandiose  or pointless (AKA "The Master"), so just to be nominated just goes to show how outstanding the performance are.  And really there is nothing pointless or really quirky and certainly not grandiose in this film.  It is intimate, sweet and well written and acted from beginning to end.

Lawernce, at 21 holds her own with Robert De Niro. Jacki Weaver is the oh-so-ordinary mother, rarely so masterfully presented on film.  If excellent acting for you is when completely forget they are acting, then this film is for you.

This movie kept me engaged emotionally for every minute of two hours.  I was either smiling, laughing out loud, worried or teary, mostly smiling for every minute of this Cinderella story that was not at all a fairy tale.

See this movie. Quickly.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

My People Lost That One, Right?

Kyle and I took the eastern route between Rochester and Atlanta this year.  Threatening snow storms sent us through Harrisburg and and Roanoke. On the way down as we passed Gettysburg, I bemoaned the fact that I had not been there since I was child.  I remember cool monuments and begging my parents to buy me faked confederate money.  The real meaning of the place was of little importance.  

When we decided to split the trip on our return I suggested a days drive to Gettysburg, a night and morning there and to drive back to Rochester in the afternoon.  Kyle jokingly said "My People Lost That One, Right?" Since it is seen as the "high water mark of the Confederacy" I suppose that is one perspective.  All should be able to agree it was a horrible loss for the United States.  It is estimated that there were between 48,000 and 51,000 causalities (8,000 plus wounded and captured/missing) as a result of that three day battle.  By comparison the Iraq war which started in 2003 and was considered "over" in 2009 resulted in 4,488 deaths and 33,184 wounded.

Although a horrible loss, the Union was ultimately saved and slavery ended.  This battle was the turning point.  For the dedication of the National Military Cemetery Abraham Lincoln was asked to prepare a a few appropriate remarks.  This, of course, became one of the most significant speeches in American history.

We arrived in Gettysburg late Thursday night and headed out to the Visitors center about 9 AM.  Kyle stayed in the car with Koda while I visited the film and cyclorama and, yes, bought some fake Confederate money.  

Phoney CSA Tender
With the help of an iPad app, we then followed the auto tour route that is clearly marked.

Kyle and Koda on Little Round Top

Koda surveys the view from Little Round Top
We both left deeply moved and with a renewed interest is civil war history.  Ken Burns will be watch all week, we plan to watch the movie "Gettysburg" on Wednesday night and I will be listening to the source novel "Killer Angels" from Audible.

The experience was most rewarding when a discovered story lead to another. Major General Daniel Sickles story is one such.  Sickles was hit by solid shot which almost tore of his leg.  As he was removed from the battlefield he smoked a cigar to maintain his cool. Later the leg was amputated.  Sickles donated the the leg to the Bethesda Military hospital and was known to visit it regularly.  The leg bone can still be seen today.  Sickles was a congressman from NY and later awarded the Medal of Honor.

Major Gen. Daniel Sickles
Sickles's leg bone with the type of solid shot that did the
damage... at Bethesda Medical Museum
Digging deeper into Sickles's story you'll discover that he ignored his superior's decision not to engage.  His insubordinate decision to take up position in the Peach Orchard is generally thought to have lead to a bloody engagement in the Wheatfield.  He also the first to use the insanity defense to avoid prosecution for murder.   And not just any murder. From Wikipedia:
Sickles's career was replete with personal scandals. He was censured by the New York State Assembly for escorting a known prostitute,Fanny White, into its chambers. He also reportedly took her to England, leaving his pregnant wife at home, and presented White toQueen Victoria, using as her alias the surname of a New York political opponent.[3] In 1859, inLafayette Square, across the street from theWhite House, Sickles shot and killed the district attorney of the District of Columbia[5] Philip Barton Key II, son of Francis Scott Key, who Sickles had discovered was having an affair with his young wife.
Off to watch some more Ken Burns and start "Killer Angels."

Les Miserablés: The Movie is Not The Broadway Show

Comparing Les Miserablés The Movie  to Les Miserablés The Stage Musical is bound to result in a disappointing experience with the film.  On stage the experience is a perfect blend of story, music and stagecraft. The movie is somewhat imperfect blend of story, music and film making, but a wonderful experience nonetheless.

The film brings context and detail that the stage production cannot.  Hugo's epic tale is much more completely realized.  The minor character connections are more clear.  Fauchelevent, for example is the character rescued from beneath the runaway cart by Valjean.  He later provides sanctuary for Valjean and Cosette in the gardener in a convent.

The film is a much more intimate experience when it is called for and more sweeping when that is needed.  The live recording of vocals pays off.  Anne Hathaway's "I Dreamed a Dream" has received all the praise it is due, but Eddie Redmayne's Marius is as impressive.

But is is a musical and the criticisms of vocal strength are valid.  However it is not opera and it is not on stage.  I enjoy live from the Met in HD and saw Company with Neil Patrick Harris on the big screen.  Many more broadway shows deserve the same treatment.  But a filmed stage play and a film are entirely different.  The days of South Pacific and My Fair Lady are gone.  No one wants Ethel Merman on screen. Realism is what audiences want and this film delivers it spectacularly.

Russell Crowe's Javert is wonderfully acted and his singing which would never make it on stage is fine in the film.  As fond as I am of Hugh Jackman, his singing voice is too nasal for the classical Broadway show.  In this production he is Javert and mature beautifully without the pure white hair that is needed to convey his  aging to the balcony of the huge Broadway theater where Les Mis debuted in New York.

Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter are brilliant as the Thenardiers but their performances would never carry on stage.

See the film.  See the musical on stage. Both are amazing.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Cyclorama in Gettysburg

The inconvenient Civil War did cause Atlanta trauma,
And I relive it everyday down at the cyclorama.
Kyle often quotes the beginning of this poem and used it for the title of his blog post of August 2011.

Begun in the late of 18th century, the cyclorama became very popular by the late 19th century.  A massive painting was installed in a round or hexagonal building. The viewers entered to platform in the center and were immersed in an exotic location or historic event.  One can see why the birth of motion pictures saw the decline of this type of art, but at one time almost every major city had one.  There were hundreds painted.

Most have been neglected or destroyed. Atlanta's is on display in Grant Park and depicts the Civil War's Battle for Atlanta.  This morning I visited my second of some 40 that are still displayed.  This is Paul Phillopteaux's depiction of the battle on the 3rd and final day of fighting in Gettysburg, July 3, 1863.  Commonly called Pickett's Charge the battle snatched victory from the hands of Robert E. Lee and is usually seen as the turning point toward victory for the Union.

Four stories tall and longer than a football field in circumference, the works is enhanced by a diorama at the base of the painting which brings forward beneath the viewing platform.  Dramatic narration enhanced with sound and lighting explain the events of this epic battle.

The 2008 125 million dollar visitors center provides a 22 minute multimedia experience summarizing the Battle of Gettysburg, its importance in the war, U.S. History and the evolution of human rights.  Following the film you the cyclorama is entered by escalator.

Here on the 3rd day of the sesquicentennial year of the battle, I was treated to a private viewing.  Kyle stayed in the car with Koda.  It's his turn next time.  And there will be a next time.  With a little preparation and review, this wonderful introduction and a great iPad app we set off on the Auto Tour.

The weather was magnificently clear and the whole day a memorable and moving experience.

More on the battlefield later.

UPDATE:  Thanks to my friend Jim Schnellinger for information on the Buffalo Cyclorama.

The structure was saved from the wrecking ball and re-purposed several times, but its history starts with the Buffalo Cyclorama Company.

Overseas, in Europe, architectural achievements like The Eiffel Tower were on their way to completion, and new technology and advancements were being made. The end of the nineteenth century was coming to a close and the fast-paced industrial age that was the twentieth century was drawing nearer. 
This meant new forms of entertainment were coming into existence, for although radio, movies and television had not yet been invented and traveling was limited, people were still looking for interesting ways to pass the time. One such idea was referred to as a "cyclorama" and it basically sought to bring places and events that the average person would never get to experience otherwise right into their hometown. 
An artist would research and visit places around the world, then come home and paint a giant, panoramic view of what he had found. The painting was then hung for the public to view and experience. In 1888, when Buffalo was a bustling town on the brink of becoming a major city, The Buffalo Cyclorama company, which was the first institution to act on this idea of experiencing a world away from one's own, commissioned a French painter to make a 400 foot long and 50 foot wide canvas of Niagara Falls, Buffalo's own natural wonder. The painting was exhibited in Paris, France, and London, England, to help promote the grandeur of Niagara Falls. It was such a success that the Buffalo Cyclorama Company decided to bring an exhibit like it onto American soil.
Buffalo's Cyclorama building first displayed "The Crucifixion of Christ," a German painting and then one of the 4 paintings of "The Battle of Gettysburg" by Phillopteaux.

This was probably the 1st version of the paining.  Originally produced for display in Chicago, it toured 8 cities before returning to Chicago in 1933.  Currently not on display it is in the possession of an anonymous group in Raleigh, NC, purchased in 2007 for an unknown amount.  The second version was originally produced for display in  Boston.  This is the version currently displayed in Gettysburg.  The 3rd version is known to have been destroyed and the fate of the 4th is unknown.  If you have a very large attic, you might want to check it out.  Atlanta's cyclorama painting weighs 5 tons.