As a read through the First Things archive can attest, the intersection of religion, culture, and public life is usually complex enough to require analysis, not mere observation as a spectator. New York City, the “prolepsis of the New Jerusalem,” has been a venue for quite a bit of that intersection, but rarely in such plain form as was recently executed in another great city by the Opera Company of Philadelphia.
As their press release goes, they performed a “Random Act of Culture” at Macy’s in City Center Philadelphia, home of the famous (and still the world’s largest) Wanamaker pipe organ. In the flash mob style of New York’s Improv Everywhere, 650 choristers burst into an almost seasonal run-through of the “Hallelujah” chorus of Handel’s Messiah. Thankfully, it seems the secularist police were off duty at the time of the singing.