Daily Archives: January 3, 2009
In the Wallace collection in London hangs one of Nicolas Poussin’s great paintings, A Dance to the Music of Time. As the winged and grey-bearded Father Time plays a lyre the allegorical figures of the Seasons of life, Poverty, Labour, Wealth and Pleasure, dance an eternal round to his music. It was a painting that provided an inspiration and title for Anthony Powell’s sequence of 12 novels. Nick Jenkins, the central character of the novels, reflects on Poussin’s painting: “The image of Time brought thoughts of mortality of human beings, facing outward like the Seasons, moving hand in hand in intricate measure, stepping slowly, methodically sometimes a trifle awkwardly, in evolutions that take recognisable shape: or breaking into seemingly meaningless gyrations, while partners disappear only to reappear again, once more giving pattern to the spectacle: unable to control the melody, unable, perhaps, to control the steps of the dance.”
Now, as we move from 2008 to 2009, there is a consciousness of the passing of time, of past, present and future, and perhaps a listening for what the music of time might be.
As Ahmad al-Shugairi took the stage, dressed in a flowing white gown and headdress, he clutched a microphone and told his audience that he had no religious training or titles: “I am not a sheik.”
But over the next two hours, he worked the crowd as masterfully as any preacher, drawing rounds of uproarious laughter and, as he recalled the Prophet Muhammad’s death, silent tears. He spoke against sectarianism. He made pleas for women to be treated as equals. He talked about his own life ”” his seven wild years in California, his divorce, his children ”” and gently satirized Arab mores.
When he finished, the packed concert hall erupted in a wild standing ovation. Members of his entourage soon bundled him through the thick crowd of admirers to a back door, where they rushed through the darkness to a waiting car.
“Elvis has left the building,” Mr. Shugairi joked, in English, as he relaxed into his seat.
Jennifer Barlett sees the cracks everyday. As a supervisor for MedAssist, a third-party recovery company that contracts with Trident Health System, her job is to try to fill the gaps.
She scours Medicaid, Medicare, charities and long-term payment plans to help uninsured people find ways to pay their medical bills.
In one family Barlett is counseling, the wife lost her job, and also the health insurance that covered her and her husband. The couple tried to go it alone, becoming self-employed, but when he fell gravely ill, they had to close the business.
“No health insurance. No money,” Barlett said. They’re waiting to hear from Medicaid and Social Security.
Despite a multi-million pound Teenage Pregnancy Strategy the number of girls under 16 falling pregnant has remained almost static over the last four years.
In the worst areas one in every 66 underage girls becomes pregnant while still at school – giving England and Wales one of the highest teenage birth rates in Western Europe.
The figures were released by the Department for Children, Schools and Families. Of the 21 who become pregnant each day, nine will go on to have the baby while the other 12 have an abortion.
Houses of worship are only beginning to come to terms with the economic angst pulsing across the Lower Hudson Valley and through the nation. Religious leaders are encountering frightened congregants who are worried about losing their jobs and their savings or seeing their standard of living slide like a runaway sleigh.
“We do have an increasing number of unemployed people in church, and those with jobs are very stressed, fearful that they’ll lose their jobs,” said the Rev. Susan Harriss, pastor of Christ’s (Episcopal) Church in Rye, a well-to-do parish where the recession is on everyone’s minds. “We’re trying to help people be calm and use their faith to cope. Being connected with a religious community at times like this is very helpful, and I hope that even people who have doubts about institutional religion will step inside a church or a synagogue.”
Harriss said that church leaders are staying in regular touch with people under stress. At the same time, the church – like other houses of worship – is trying to maintain its commitment to helping the hungry, the homeless and others with greater needs.
“An unexpected side effect of a time like this is that it can draw people together,” she said.
The Rev. Rick Lawson hates the sight of discarded Christmas trees in the gutter as he drives home from church on Christmas Day. He winces at the day-after rush to the stores.
“Nothing is more shocking to me,” says Lawson, dean of St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral in Salt Lake City. “So many people see it as the end of the festivities, but in the church it is just the beginning of a celebratory season.”
For many branches of Christianity, that season culminates on Jan. 6, which is known variously as Epiphany, or Twelfth Night. Taken from the Greek for “manifestation,” Epiphany began in the Eastern Orthodox Church in the third century to honor Jesus’ baptism. In that tradition, the Epiphany service includes a blessing of water as a symbol of renewal and regeneration. Individual members can take some of the blessed water to their homes to drink and to use for healing.
Say cheese, Father Malia.
On the day the Episcopal church opened an investigation into his nightclub crawls, new pictures surfaced of a Pennsylvania priest getting his party on.
The candid camera caught the Rev. Gregory Malia living it up with lithe lovelies at one of his favorite haunts, Pink Elephant.
He’s seen drinking Perrier Jouet pink champagne that costs $550 a bottle and doing shots with the gals, all wearing identical minidresses.
I will take comments on this submitted by email only to at KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.
Go here and click on the video at the top to watch (about 3 3/4 minutes). It starts in Auckland and ends in New York. I liked the fireworks in Sydney and the music in Berlin the best–see what you think.
It is the Bernard Madoff Debacle which brings this to mind at present, but the broader topic is worth pondering also–KSH.
Affinity fraud refers to investment scams that prey upon members of identifiable groups, such as religious or ethnic communities, the elderly, or professional groups. The fraudsters who promote affinity scams frequently are – or pretend to be – members of the group. They often enlist respected community or religious leaders from within the group to spread the word about the scheme, by convincing those people that a fraudulent investment is legitimate and worthwhile. Many times, those leaders become unwitting victims of the fraudster’s ruse.
These scams exploit the trust and friendship that exist in groups of people who have something in common. Because of the tight-knit structure of many groups, it can be difficult for regulators or law enforcement officials to detect an affinity scam. Victims often fail to notify authorities or pursue their legal remedies, and instead try to work things out within the group. This is particularly true where the fraudsters have used respected community or religious leaders to convince others to join the investment.
Another update: Ronald Cass’ WSJ article mentioned in the NPR interview is here.
Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday threw his support behind a huge pro-family rally in Madrid in what was the latest in a recent series of widely reported comments he has made on traditional marriage and human sexuality. “Dear families, do not allow love, openness to life and the incomparable bonds that unite your families to become distorted,” he said in Spanish during the midday Angelus from his window overlooking St Peter’s Square at the Vatican. The message was broadcast live to Madrid where hundreds of thousands of Catholics joined Cardinal Antonio MarÃa Rouco Varela at an outdoor Mass. The purpose was to support traditional marriage in the face of the Socialist Government’s liberal reforms, including legalised same-sex marriage, quicker divorces and easier abortions.
“The Pope is by your side,” Benedict XVI told the Catholic Spaniards on the Feast of the Holy Family. Cardinal Rouco avoided criticising the Spanish Government at the Mass, following reports that Pope Benedict had asked the Spanish bishops to be less confrontational.
The Pope also urged Catholics at his Angelus to pray for the Fourth World Meeting of Families, which is to take place 14-18 January in Mexico City.