Friday, December 31, 2010

New York City on the Cheap

From the New York Times, December 30, 2010: A New York City Weekend for $100

Of course the above article only scratches the surface. For cheap food, you can't beat Chinatown. And don't forget Brooklyn's Chinatown on Eighth Avenue in Brooklyn, which is even cheaper than Manhattan Chinatown.

Whether you know anything about art or not, I recommend walking around Soho or Tribeca on a Sunday afternoon. Many individual artists and galleries display their work on the sidewalks.  I have seen art on the sidewalk or in gallery windows that was amazing, and I don't use the word amazing lightly. And anyone interested in architecture will find an abundance of notable buildings to look at in Manhattan.

Just to relax, I recommend walking the river front promenade in the Battery Park City Area.  Visit the children's playground.  Look at the sculptures of the frogs and turtles and poetry inscriptions. Drop in on the Irish Hunger Memorial and the Holocaust Museum. Walk over to Ground Zero. Take a stroll to Park51. One thing that I have always wanted to do but never have, is to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge.

If you like to take photographs, there is no end of things to take pictures of. Definitely take in a ferry ride of some sort, preferably one that goes near the Statue of Liberty.  It is rather dramatic when seen close up from a boat.  But also, New York Harbor is beautiful when seen from a boat. It also yields one of the best views of the skyline.  If the weather is good, a walk in Central Park can be stimulating too.

Visit locations in NY that have been used as scenes/locations in movies or cited in works of literature.  Then of course, there is a laundry list of famous, old, or trendy saloons to wet your whistle afterwards.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Spirit of Christmas Present

When Jesus Comes, Everything Changes, An Advent Experience in Cairo

- about the zabaleen in Muqattam (Mokattam)-- the garbage pickers in Cairo's garbage city.


Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Spirit of Christmas Present

Of the nations of the world, Cambodia ranks among the poorest of the poor, most certainly among the poorest in spirit (Mt 5.3).  On December 26 on the Roman Catholic calender, we commemorate St. Stephen (Acts 6.1 - 7.60).  St. Stephen fed and clothed the widows and orphans of the first Christian community while witnessing to the Truth. For this he was stoned to death, becoming the first martyr of the church.  Below are two articles about contemporary Cambodia. As Christians and others in Cambodia feed, clothe, house, educate, heal, and free the captives, we also pray that the people who are responsible for their oppression will be redeemed.

An Excellent Account of Contemporary Cambodian history:  

The Beleaguered Cambodians, by Margo Picken, former head of the UN Office for Human Rights.  12/15/2010.

An Interview with Theary Seng, on the State of Contemporary Cambodian Society, 9/17/2010:

A Discussion with Theary Seng. Founder, Cambodian Center for Justice and Reconciliation and CIVICUS: Center for Cambodian Civic Education.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Annunciation of the Birth of Jesus

"In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin's name was Mary.  And coming to her, he said, 'Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.'
"But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus.
"'He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.'
"But Mary said to the angel, 'How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?'
"And the angel said to her in reply, 'The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.
"''And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.'
"Mary said, 'Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.' Then the angel departed from her."  - Luke 1.26.38

Points to meditate on:

Mary was not yet married. Joseph was bethrothed to a girl who was pregnant with a child that was not his.  Under Jewish law, Mary was liable to be stoned to death.  Mary was most likely around 13 or 14 years old.

What message does this story have for society, about unwed, teenage mothers?