Saturday, January 30, 2010

TL LETTER TO THE EDITOR: River Common project: What Were They Thinking?

by Michelle T. Boice of Harveys Lake

I copied this from Ms. Boice's letter to the editor in the January 29th Times Leader:

Due to years of rampant corruption and gross mismanagement, Luzerne County is nearly a half billion dollars in debt.

The payment on this debt this year alone will cost county taxpayers nearly $25 million. This, folks, is the reason our elected officials ignored our pleas to stop the seriously flawed reassessment and force the company that charged us $9 million to go back to the drawing board and get it right.

Serious cuts need to be made and our elected officials need to become more accountable. They need to do the job they were elected by us to do and pay attention. With that said, I cannot help but wonder what could have been done to save Moon Lake Park had we not spent $30 million to build the River Common, a place where you cannot camp, cannot swim, cannot eat any fish you might catch, etc.

In fact, you cannot spend a few hours there with your family because there are no toilet facilities.

Just over the bridge is beautiful Kirby Park with all the amenities, and then some, that they are attempting to offer at the River Common.

Therefore, I see this $30 million expenditure as our own little “Bridge to Nowhere.” The architects, engineers and out-of-state contractors made money on this concrete, stone and flower project, which might look pretty, but it looked pretty before we spent $30 million. Now the people have been saddled with the annual maintenance fees for the park that will exceed the annual cost of keeping Moon Lake Park open. Yes, a park used more and more by county residents, strapped by an economy that doesn’t allow them the luxury of taking a family vacation to the shore, let alone Disney. No common sense seems to have been applied here.

What were they thinking?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Christian Unity Week Recap

January 18-25, 2010, marked a week of prayer for Christian unity. King's College set off the first week of the spring semester in recognition of Christian unity. For many, the week was a great way to start off the semester.

For the first event of the week, accomplished iconographer Raymond Mastroberte explained what goes into the making of icons. Icons are sacred paintings of Jesus Christ, Mary, the saints and other holy persons and are important in Orthodox and Byzantine Catholic tradition. They are usually painted on wooden slabs and with luminous colors. The images are without shadow in order to portray the fullness of the pictured person's devotion to God. Icons must be painted according to a specific style, and many resemble ancient Byzantine Christian art from over 700 years ago.

Mr. Mastroberte explained how icons convey messages. All serve to convey the pictured person's holiness. Moreover symbols are often used, such as the three stars which often appear on Mary's tunic which symbolize her virginity before, during, and after her Son's life. Mastroberte displayed his favorite icon, a picture of Christ holding up the twin towers which he was inspired to paint right after 9/11. Each icon, he went on to explain, is a translation of a theological concept into color. Finally, Mastroberte discussed relations between Orthodox and Catholics, positing that perhaps each could learn from the other.

Wednesday, the Madrigal Singers of Wyoming Seminary performed at the chapel for evensong--an evening prayer service. They sang Taizé hymns with resolute candor. Said King's sophomore Matthew Hacker: "It was a great opportunity in the first week to build our spiritual awareness and strength for the rest of this semester." He continued that it was a beautiful event to experience God's love, and he lamented that more King's students couldn't make it.

Later that night, a Taizé prayer service was held on the 12th floor of Holy Cross Hall. Calming, repetitive music made for a reflective atmosphere. The music was followed by a scripture reading and a period of silence. King's junior Ben Foreman reports: "the Taizé prayer provided a great opportunity to take a break from all the work and activities associated with being back at school, and to just sit, relax, and reflect." He added that "the music and meditative atmosphere were great for prayer. Spending some time with God is always needed."

Taizé, many believe, embodies the spirit of ecumenism. Taizé prayers come from the Taizé ecumenical monastery located in France. Since 1949, Protestants, Catholics, and other Christians have belonged to the community at Taizé. Taizé services are ostensibly tailored so that all Christians are able to participate. The Madrigal singers sang Taizé hymns at the Evensong event, which was attended by Catholics and Protestants.

Thursday, several students and faculty members met for a luncheon in the Walsh room on the third floor of the Student Center. In attendance were chaplains from various Christian denominations, including King's own Fr. Aguilar. Sitting round the long table that was enshrouded by a crisp white table cloth, the chaplains fielded questions and conversed with students. The group discussed topics such as lax church attendance among some youth, the growth of Christianity in other parts of the world, individual choice regarding Christian faith, the church and the modern world, and even the abomination of desolation.

One train of thought that was consistent throughout the conversation was the comparison of church as the body of Christ vs. the church as an institution. One chaplain pointed out that many people today are not looking for highly institutionalized bodies of faith but rather for Christian communities that participate in outreaches to those in need. From the conversation, one garnered that ecumenism is a grassroots movement, usually occurring when people from different Christian backgrounds band together to worship God, to give aid to the poor, etc. In such situations, Christians must look for what brings them together, what makes them fellow travelers in Christendom. Christian unity, therefore, is achieved more in action than in doctrine. However, Christian institutions like churches still have their place. As one of the diners said, churches are composed of individual followers of Christ and should not be thought of as organismic things separate from the faithful. Regarding how Christian institutions differ, another diner lauded the richness of the various Christian traditions. Other table guests noted that mutual respect between different churches is characteristic of ecumenical gatherings.


Thursday night, students gathered in the candlelit Moreau Auditorium to witness an impassioned performance by a local Christian band called Velveteen. This was perhaps the best attended event of the week. Afterward, students participated in an open mic session which included a guitar duet, a poetry recital, and a country song. Most unique about the night was that students and band members alike spoke freely about God in a social setting. Furthermore, the setting was casual and intimate. The coffee house is a nice low-key alternative to a bar or a night club. More events such as this should be encouraged where students can live their own culture.

Although some the events this week were less than fully attended, all events gave the students who did attend the chance to join together before God and were therefore well worth the effort.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The David Thomas Fake Fall Controversy

It's 1st & 10 for the Saints at the Vikings' 41 yard line with 11:52 on the clock in overtime. Brees hikes the ball; the Vikings' linemen fly toward him forcing him to back pedal. At the last second Brees heaves the ball up in the air. Viking's linebacker Ben Leber is running with Saints tight end David Thomas. Thomas falls down and the pass sails 10 yards ahead of Thomas and Leber. A ref flings a devastating yellow flag up the air. Announcer Troy Aikman wonders why the pass wasn't ruled an uncatchable ball. The replay shows that Leber never really touched David Thomas; and it even reveals that Thomas appears to have faked falling over so he could get a penalty. Nevertheless, the refs spot the ball at the Vikings' 29 yard line. Brees completes a questionable 1st down pass to receiver Robert Meachum; Saints kicker Hartley kicks the game-winner.

But what about the fake pass interference penalty on Leber that advanced the ball for the Aints?

It's true that the Vikings did much to squander their many opportunities with fumbles, interceptions, penalties, etc. The 12 men in the huddle penalty when the Vikings were in field goal range should have been avoided. Brett's last interception was a killer; making him look just as he did in the championship game vs. the Giants 2 years ago. But nevertheless, the Vikings fan leaves the game with a sense of emptiness after the fake penalty on Leber.

It's no secret that New Orleans' line got away with a lot of holding; particularly Right Tackle John Stinchcomb. Much of the holding happened split seconds before Brees threw the ball, and thus went unpenalized.

Also, I don't doubt that New Orleans got away with more cheap stuff than did Minnesota. However, I didn't see the alleged questionable roughing the passer penalty on the Saints lineman who hit Favre,* but, the Saints' Bobby McCray should have been penalized for a low blow on Favre in the third quarter but was not. Granted, it's questionable as to whether the hit on Favre was as game-changing as Thomas's fake, but the hit did somewhat limit Favre's running ability for the rest of the game.

I also did not see Sidney Rice's alleged offensive pass interference due to our crummy local station's power outage. But it's no secret that the Aints DBs held and pushed while feigning armbars on Vikings' receivers.

The Thomas penalty really bugs me. It'd be different if the Aints had won fair and square, but they obviously haven't. They deserve to have 2nd & 10 at their own 41, not an NFC championship.

Addendum: For some consolation, Thomas could be nominated for an Emmy (for acting).

For the Vikings/Brett Favre fan, it was a prolific season; with an unhappy ending: one that leaves me in denial after seeing the Vikings come so close.

Oh well, life goes on. It's just a game.

*Our crummy FOX 56 station went out during the game.

PS I admit that the Saints' O-line played better than the Vikings'.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Vikings to Play Cowboys in Divisional Round

The Vikings were undoubtedly pleased after the Cowboys beat the Eagles in week 17 thereby securing for them a first round bye. Now the Cowboys are set to take on the Vikings.

The Cowboys, now, are red-hot. They've got a dynamic running game (like Carolina), good pass-catching tight ends (like GB), and fast receivers (like Chi): all of which have given the Vikings problems recently.

Before the Vikings thrashed the Giants in week 17, the Vikes appeared to be in a slump. However, they have had time to rest Antoine Winfield and Pat Williams: two of their best defenders. Plus, they will play at home, where they are undefeated this season. The Vikings are a team that needs to get into a rhythm in order to perform best. They should have no trouble doing that in their home stadium, where they will have the crowd behind them.

In order to build up momentum the Vikings must:

1) Make Tony Romo wet the bed.
2) Not let Miles Austin or Kevin Ogletree get off the line easily.
3) Protect Brett.
4) Block for Adrian.
5) Prevent Jason Witten from getting 1000 yards receiving.

It would also help if the Vikings could get ahead early so they can influence the Cowboys to put eight men in the box.

The Vikings should match up well against the Cowboys' screen game and their running game. Regardless, it ought to be a close one.