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My first experience was the presentation of Cry Witch. In that presentation, we were presented with a trial based on the facts of history. I was surprised that members of the audience were invited to ask questions of the witnesses and the suspected witch. Presenters answered those questions based on their study of historical documents in the Grace Sherwood case. At the end, before learning of her actual fate, the audience cast votes to determine her sentence.
My quote had something to do with my brother being killed by the Shawnee Indians. When someone else brought up the Shawnee as a reason we should not begin a revolution, I knew my line in favor of revolution would fit...and I delivered it with all the passion of the greatest Shakespearean actor at the Globe.
The presentation moved quickly, but it was very revealing: the textbooks reduce all of this history stuff to a page with a picture, but it wasn't that easy to make a decision. The vote in this location in real life had to be unanimous in order to pass, so even though our group overwhelmingly voted to support a call for a Declaration of Independence, it failed to pass.
Because of my presentation the night before, I was recruited for a special role in another presentation the next morning. I was given a colonial shirt to wear and a special place to sit inside the capitol. My extended role was that of Patrick Henry. My lines were short, but had great potential for drama:
Caesar had his Brutus, Charles I his Cromwell, and George III... [Henry was interrupted by cries from the opposition]… may profit by their example. If this be treason, make the most of it!
It wasn't until later that the heaviness of that moment struck me: I had just delivered Patrick Henry's speech in the location where Patrick Henry delivered his speech. I realize the building was rebuilt on the original foundation, but the location is the same.
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Later, I picked up a couple of souvenirs to remind me of that moment: a coaster with another of my lines.
Give me liberty or give me death!
Henry actually gave that persuasive line after the capitol was moved to Richmond, but it was iconic enough to be included in this presentation.
All in all, the performance was awesome. This was a show that is not presented any more due to the size of the cast necessary, but it was really interesting to follow the three "acts" of the show as it progressed from room to room in the capitol building.
This performance followed the same format at the witch trial, but this time we were hearing evidence in an attempt to convict Israel Hands, Blackbeard's first mate. Once again, the floor was opened to anyone in the audience to ask questions of the witnesses, and after a while, we all voted. Our group voted for the pirate's guilt, but like the witch, the real story of Israel Hands ended with an interesting twist.
Like Voices of the Revolution, a statement was read that we would vote for or against. Then, in the same manner as that presentation from earlier in the week, the floor was opened for anyone to be recognized. We would speak to the Speaker. Out of our group of 19 teacher-participants, about 10 were given their turns to speak. These elementary teachers represented a variety of the king's colonial subjects as they presented their prepared paragraphs or poetry.
I waited for the right time to raise my hand, but that time had not yet arrived. It looked as if no one else was going to say anything. The Speaker was getting ready to gavel and call for the vote. But I was prepared. Just before she called it over and done, I raised my hand. I was going to be heard!
Thank you Madam Speaker. My name is Edward Pigg. I am listening to arguments on each side, today, attempting to make a decision about this resolution. I am a simple, Christian farmer with an even simpler speech. I thank you for honoring my presence in this hallowed hall. Please bear with me as I attempt eloquence.
We picture a whole, long line of Christians, queued up to enter the pearly gates of Heaven. We’re all there with our feet approaching a golden sidewalk. Every Christian in line for the attraction that has caught all of our eyes for a long time.
Let’s make this clear, we’re all in line. Brothers and sisters, we’re all getting ready for eternity. We’re all calling on the Savior. Great chants are beginning: “Lord, Lord”. We’re all so worship-filled, anticipating the glory of being in the presence of the Light of lights. We look forward to seeing some of that Light leaking through from the throne of God.
And Jesus starts plucking some of us out of the line, standing some of us to the side for another purpose, and we realize the hymns we sing are hopeful, but not representative of eternity’s reality.
Who is He talking to? The people in the line to the pearly gate? No. Non-Christians who have already sat in torments awaiting the final day? No. In Matthew 7:23, Jesus speaks to Christians, believers, people who are praising Him. He’s talking to the ones He has pulled out of the line.
How disappointing to think we had it all tied in a tight parcel, only to realize that we have been practicing iniquity. Jesus has pulled us out of the line. We are no longer invited to take a fiery chariot ride through the skies with His holy angels.
How did He put it in verse 21? “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.”
And what, praytell, is Our Father’s will? Later in the tax collector’s account of the Gospel, the leaders ask our Savior His opinion on paying taxes. Do you know of His answer? He sayeth unto them, “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's.”
It seems to me, gentle people, that the Christ has spoken on the issue at hand, here and in other passages of our holy writ. The true Patriot shall be submissive to his government. I am sorry to notice that our brothers are not submitting, but instead, are redoubling their efforts of insurrection - even in the name of Jesus Christ.
I am frightened to notice that many in the church are sitting with their new friends and calling for open violence against our majestic king and parliament. Am I to maintain my steady attendance in the church alongside the advocates of rebellion? Or do I also rebel in opposition to Caesar? Do I not have a Scripture-bound obligation to submit to the king? How? How, I ask, can I kneel in communion with the family of God when the family of God is pulling me apart? Gentle persons, to be honest, I am torn. I am…torn.
Thank you, Madam Speaker.
He told me afterward that no one would dare follow my speech. It was not my intention to stop the proceedings altogether, but it was quite the compliment. The rest of the morning, people asked me when I had prepared my speech, and some wondered if I had gotten it from somewhere on the internet.
Our group still voted to severe ties with Britain, and the Revolution would soon begin.
The times that I spent at the capitol are all in memory. It was fun and meaningful to the experience and brought things closer to my understanding than it had been before.