Sunday, February 8, 2009


Minneapolis, Minnesota

The Minnesota Orchestra presented the world premiere of its commission, "Oboe Concerto," by composer Christopher Rouse this week. A thoroughly pleasant work, it was given a fine reading by Basil Reeve and his colleagues under the baton of Osmo Vänskä. Along with other works, the program also included Tchaikovsky's "Pathétique." I have not heard this symphony live since Eiji Oue led the Orchestra. As conducted by Vänskä, the work had more energy and nuance than one hears on many recordings.

• • •

Why do some Republicans insist on speaking about real Virginians, real Americans, and now real people?

Michael Kranish reported in the Boston Globe last week about criticism of the economic stimulus bill moving through Congress. The House version – passed without a single Republican vote – contains $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts. The funds are not in the current draft of the yet-to-be-passed Senate version.
Kranish cited Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, the third-ranking Republican in the House, "who has urged Obama to 'get the pork barrel spending out,'" and Rep. Jack Kingston, a Georgia Republican, who wants to transfer the proposed NEA funding to highway construction. "We have real people out of work right now and putting $50 million in the NEA and pretending that's going to save jobs as opposed to putting $50 million in a road project is disingenuous," Kingston said [emphasis added].

Michael Steele, the newly-elected GOP chairman, shares that line of thought. Speaking on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos this morning, Steele said "What this administration is talking about is making work. It is creating work.... It's not a job."

It makes one wonder what is real.

• • •

The Minneapolis Convention Center stands four blocks from my house and serves as the portal to the downtown skyway system – enclosed bridges that span streets to connect buildings on the second level. Over the years I have observed and overheard the buzz of many convenings, including those of varied religious organizations. For three days last week, nearly 1,400 pastors swarmed the hallways and skyways leading to the Hilton Hotel for the "Desiring God" conference. According to their literature and website, this is a Baptist-related group that follows the ministry of John Piper, a senior pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis. Piper's congregation has played a positive role in its community, including as an advocate for affordable housing. Nonetheless, it was a bit startling to understand how divergent are some of its perspectives from one's own. To-wit, this answer to a question about the Desiring God conference:

Can Pastor's Wives Attend? We intentionally seek to foster a male fraternity because it is rare and uniquely refreshing for pastors to fellowship with men who carry similar burdens and to counsel one another with the kind of frankness that is awkward to do in mixed company. However, we do not prohibit wives from attending, knowing that there are circumstances where it is the best choice for marriage or ministry

This is startling because I have become used to churches where women serve as full partners in ministry and whatever burdens come with it.

No comments: