The Awesomeness of Olivia de Havilland

by Michael Potemra

She was already a full-grown adult, in 1939, when she played Melanie Wilkes in Gone with the Wind. But I have just learned from this article that she is still going strong, and serves as a lector at the American Anglican Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in Paris. The author is the Rt Revd Pierre Whalon, the bishop of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe (and recently a candidate for the episcopacy here in New York):

Reading the Scriptures in church has to be an authentic proclamation of the reader’s faith. Preparation is essential — there are far too many last-minute readings in our churches. In order to get across the words so that they become for the listener the Word, not only must the reader be trained in the rhetoric of reading aloud but must also be willing to risk wrestling with God over the meaning. Not all biblical texts are comforting, as Miss de Havilland pointed out. People of faith always have doubts — only those who have no faith have no doubts. It is when we have well prepared the text, rehearsed the inflections to give various key words to as bring forth the meaning, and prayed for the Spirit’s help, that we can be authentic proclaimers of the Good News that lies in the Word written.

De Havilland herself gets the “last word” in the article, connecting her former career with her current proclamation of Bible readings: “I once asked Jimmy Cagney, ‘just what is acting?’ He said at first, ‘I dunno . . .’ But then he said, ‘All I know is that you have to mean what you say.’”

Ad multos annos.

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