Catholic Life in Pop Culture Angelico Project’s Weekend with Leah & Alexi Sargeant
By Rebecca Sontag
There are a lot of roads into the Church,” said Leah Libresco Sargeant, discussing her and her husband, Alexi, upcoming visit to Cincinnati.
For some, the road is straight ahead and obvious from birth onward. Others traverse a hyper-intellectual path to God – like Leah did. There are at least as many paths as there are people. But whatever the path one is on, some of the landmarks stay the same: Goodness, beauty and truth are always there to mark The Way.
The Angelico Project, an exciting new lay initiative sponsored by the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, knows this. With a stated purpose of evangelizing the culture with beauty, transforming and unifying hearts by entertaining and educating the person, and supporting the cultivation of Catholic artists with the Angelico Arts Guild, this new organization has hit the ground running. With an eye toward continued growth, the 2019-20 schedule is filled with film screenings, a performance by a Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra percussionist, a juried art competition and much more.
Yet, if upon hearing the words “guild” and “orchestra” one were to assume that the Angelico is looking only to connect with long-time symphony goers, one would be very mistaken.
Alexi Sargeant and his wife, Leah, both graduates of Yale University, will bring their delightful and complementary voices and interests to St. Francis Xavier Church for the “Catholic Life in Pop Culture” weekend this Nov. 15 and 16 for a series of presentations.
At 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 15, the two will talk about “Heroism and Authority in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.” Though we may not have the Hulk’s strength or Captain America’s shield, we have free will and intellect. We have talents and skills, and all of these things are incredibly powerful. As Spider Man said, “With great power comes great responsibility.”
The villains (as analogous to both our own flawed selves and others, too) get due consideration, as well. Alexi makes the point that, “The kind of faith we have doesn’t give us license to give up on anybody or write anybody off because, just as in life, no one is completely good or completely bad.
Immediately following is Alexi’s presentation of “Gaming While Catholic,” where his role-playing game The Autumn Triduum will be discussed in concert with more general questions of immersive role-playing games in the Catholic world.
The Autumn Triduum game Alexi created, now in its final stages of development, is a format for collaborative storytelling. The foundational story of the game is a three-day battle starting on All Hallow’s Eve and Ending on All Souls’ Day as a group of nuns fight against darkness with sisterhood and faith.
Are you the game master or a nun? What kind of nun are you? A novice? A Mother Superior? What are your skills and weaknesses? How do you interact with your fellow nuns? Does your faith survive? After players decide their characters, they follow prompts that allow them to develop and tell good stories in this imagined scenario where they explore themes like overcoming darkness and the salvivic nature of relationships. On Saturday afternoon, Alexi and Leah will present an actual play demo of the game where audience members can observe them narrating and playing the game.
The final presentation for the weekend will be Leah Saturday evening’s discussion of her latest book, Building the Benedict Option: a Guide to Gather Two or Three in His Name. After a weekend of story-telling, making new connections and sharing ideas, Leah’s book on Christian community building leads us to consider that, “We underestimate how much our lives are and should be entwined with each other and how important it is to pray with other Christians. We want to go further into that and make the ties that bind us thicker.”
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