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A Dialog Set within a Tower of Faith Above a City of Power: Merian Validus

99 Pages Posted: 21 Dec 2008  

Edward H. Sisson


Date Written: December 20, 2008


The Washington National Cathedral, set on the highest hill in the capital city of the world's greatest economic and military power, is an iconic location for an examination of the intersection of immaterial faith, material power, and human conscious experience. It is a location made even more symbolic due to the fact that surrounding the Cathedral on three sides are three private schools -- an elementary school (Beauvoir) to the east, a boys' school (St. Albans) to the south, and a girls' school (National Cathedral School) to the north. The students at these private schools include children of persons who wield the secular power headquartered in the City below the Cathedral Tower. Every day these students study and compete upon a hill giving them panoramic views over the great monuments and symbols of American power: the Capitol Dome, the Washington Monument, the entire City. And the Cathedral that marks their spot upon this globe is visible from all over the region, high above the City.

These students are intelligent and informed, and thus for purposes of a dramatic-oriented form of exploration of interesting issues, provide a persuasive characterization for participants in a dialog of two iconic children, older teenagers, a boy and a girl, students at these schools and worshippers in the Cathedral, to develop an examination of themes of faith, power, and the experience of sentience in the material world, walking within and around the Washington National Cathedral, two of its affiliated schools, and the gardens and forests surrounding. The approach recalls the form of the dialogs of Plato, in which persons of elite educational and cultural status encounter each other within a specific building or location, and proceed to discuss such matters as are provoked to mind by the encounter of those minds in that place.

The major character of the piece, Merian Validus, is, among other things, a bell-ringer of the Cathedral, a denizen of its highest tower -- as are in reality a group of the girls of NCS. She is an Esmeralda performing the role of Quasimodo. After reading this, think of that the next time you land at Reagan National Airport and catch your cab, looking right at the Cathedral as you speed north into the City.

Keywords: consciousness, culture, religion, secular power, education, faith, material, immaterial

JEL Classification: I20, L31, Z00

Suggested Citation

Sisson, Edward H., A Dialog Set within a Tower of Faith Above a City of Power: Merian Validus (December 20, 2008). Available at SSRN: or

Edward H. Sisson (Contact Author)

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