By Steve Richards
Piles of Bricks (Revisited) features a lot of priests. But in their non-clerical roles - as earthquake survivors. So, we thought we would introduce you to a few:
All these folks were brought into our orbit by Amit Nepali who also edits our films so we are assured that what we present is both appropriate and something Nepalis can be proud of.
We have never personally witnessed divisions between the religions in Hindu dominated Nepal, but at a political level it exists in profound ways. Ways that we in the west really can’t quite appreciate. Imagine being a Christian, especially one on the more evangelical end of the spectrum, and not being able to covert a newcomer to the faith. That’s what freedom of religion in Nepal means: you can practice whatever religion you want but the constitution explicitly states that you cannot convert folks from other religions. Various rationales exist for this, but they are largely political with economic undertones. It is also historical in that, until very recently, Nepal’s leaders were proud of its unique status as a Hindu Kingdom. Interestingly, the aristocracy is gone, the Maoists are in, and Hindus still rule within this new democracy.
Mostly though Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, and others don’t seem to mind each other in the urban centers at least, and in our film all are represented. So, even though there is little religion per se in Piles of Bricks (Revisited) it turns out that many of those in the film are priests and pastors. This is because of how the film came to be and how it was that we were in Nepal to begin with. So, let’s digress a bit...
In 2013 I found myself - with 13 year old daughter Bobbie - in New Haven, CT, USA where Yale and Berkeley Divinity School, the Episcopal Seminary at Yale were allowing me to study economics and theology - and in 2015 Bobbie and I went to Nepal to see what we could do to help with the post-quake situation there. Call it a calling.
Given my connection to the Anglican church (Episcopalians are part of the worldwide Anglican Communion) I contacted the Anglican Diocese in Singapore to see if I could connect with the Anglicans in Kathmandu. Reverend Lewis Lew, the Dean of Nepal out of Singapore was the first person we met in Kathmandu outside our new landlord Dilasha Singh. He bought us a pizza dinner in Thamel and proceeded to introduce us to another priest, Reverend Shyam Nepali, and his son Amit.
This life altering “meet” has impacted all our efforts and the films we have produced about Nepal, which are soon to be three-part. The original plan was for three mini-documentaries about 10 minutes each. But we found that there was easily enough material for an hour length Piles of Bricks. We then found that the finished film was better as two in that one was entirely secular, the other a film about the Christian community we were documenting. We decided to split the film into two parts with the Christian piece released as The Flourishing Kathmandu Church in 2017. The secular piece is finally being released April 25th as Piles of Bricks (Revisited).
Back to our priests. In our next blog we’ll introduce Hindu Priest Susan Kapali as he shows us the rebuilding efforts in Patan Durbar Square and the work being led by the Kathmandu Valley Preservation Trust (KVPT) at his Bhimsen Temple.
Please support our efforts with a minimum $5 donation to our Kickstarter campaign which includes a ticket for your entire household on April 25th. Virus or no virus we will stream the film on the 5-year anniversary of the quakes.
We can use all the support we can get. Thanks!
Click here for the next instalment in this four part series: Piles of Bricks' Priests - The Hindu