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Stuck in the Middle Ages? Women in the Catholic Church

How did women, whom Jesus treated as equals, become second class Christians? Why have they retained this inferior status until today, especially in the Roman Catholic church? When will it change? A book I recently read, Women in Christianity by the Swiss born theologian and Roman Catholic priest Hans Küng, an emeritus professor at the University of Tübingen in Germany, gives some answers — and leaves one big question open. In earliest Christianity gender differences didn't affect life in the church, which back then was nothing but a community of free and equal people. But with the institutionalization of the church hierarchical structures replaced egalitarian relationships. Add to that a devaluation of education especially for women in late antiquity, and we have a perfect storm that reduced women to their biology. Going forth, men dominated in all areas of public life and usually in the home, too. In the Middle Ages, the sexuality-averse teachings of Augustine and Thomas Aqu
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Visions of Editors: How Good Stories Go to Waste

Recently I stumbled upon Visions of Mary, a war story by Joseph Richardson. The book begins in a present day emergency room in Tennessee: A physician, a good guy who takes his work seriously, fights to establish the identity of a man who was found wandering about in a snow storm. The M.D.'s questions bring up memories of World War II in the disoriented patient. Thanks to the lost man's recollections we eventually learn that he is Colonel John Stone, an American war hero. The colonel tells the physician how he enlisted and became a pilot, how he married his sweetheart, Mary, and how he almost died when the Japanese shot down his plane, the "China Doll," in the last months of the war. After the attack, Stone and his men found themselves on a raft in the middle of a shark infested nowhere called the Pacific. Without food, water and radio connection their death seemed imminent. The men's fight for survival is where the book turns exciting: plunged into this crisis,

Elephants and Peek-a-Boo! Hollywood Features Itself

Lights, camera, action! The Hollywood sign, seen from Hollywood Blvd Los Angeles does a lousy job of preserving its heritage, and the district of Hollywood, L.A.'s prime tourist destination, is a perfect example of this failure. Hollywood's dominant feature is a mall at the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue that was opened in 2001. The shopping and entertainment center dwarfs the Roosevelt Hotel, the El Capitan Theater, Grauman's Chinese Theater — now actually TCL Chinese Theater, after the company that bought it a few months back — and whatever else may be left of the classical Hollywood. In a pile-it-on mixture of styles and forms, the complex boasts postmodern glass fronts, roof tops reminiscent of bunkers from World War II and elephant statues perched upon voluptuous columns. The site has Las Vegas feel to it. But while such eclecticism might amuse me anywhere in Nevada, I find it eerie everywhere else. I don't want L.A. to look like Vegas. Tha

No Traces: The Low Profile of Peter Zwetkoff

Years ago, when I was working as a reporter in Austria, I asked the composer Peter Zwetkoff whether he would let me profile him for the newspaper. The man was appalled. He shook his head and gave me a look so intense it scared me. "Bloss keine Spuren," he said, talking as quietly as he always did but with a determination that put an instant halt to further inquiries. Bloss keine Spuren. No traces. Peter Zwetkoff was born in Bulgaria in 1925. He grew up in a village just outside of Innsbruck, Austria. As a teenager, Zwetkoff joined the resistance against Hitler. Gestapo men arrested him repeatedly and tortured him. As of the mid nineteen-fifties Zwetkoff lived in Germany where he worked as a freelance composer for a radio station. Peter Zwetkoff died on May 17, in Baden-Baden, Germany. Searching the web for documentation on Zwetkoff yesterday, I came up almost empty-handed. I found a page on Wikipedia and entries in various music and film databases. But there isn't muc

Lyman, Whitford, Reality Check: A Career in the West Wing?

On a chilly Sunday night in February two young girls in jeans and light blouses were standing in front of the artists' entrance of one of two local art theaters in Pasadena, California. The pathway beyond the barrier, an iron gate, was barely lit. It stayed empty for a long time while the girls, shifting weight from one foot to the other, chatted and giggled. After a while a figure emerged from the shadows. The girls fell silent but it was the wrong actor. When the right man, Bradley Whitford, finally appeared he was wearing a bicycle helmet pushed way up on his forehead. Whitford is best known for playing Josh Lyman in the TV series  The West Wing   but on that night he had performed in the Pasadena Playhouse's production of Yasmina Reza’s   Art.  The girls stopped the actor, told him about their social studies class and how the teacher would have them watch The West Wing.  Whitford smiled, asked, "Which school is it?" and autographed the two print-outs the girls

Books, Stuff, Data: Why I Will Not Get Facebook on Paper

My kindle, my salvation: books in our home The New York Times Magazine recently ran an article by Carina Chocano on us and the electronic age: The Dilemma of Being a Cyborg . Reading it, I learned about a Facebook app offered by the German postal service DHL . The app allows users to convert their Facebook activity into "a handsome book containing all your fondest social-media memories, converted into, and preserved as, commemorative infographics". I can understand why DHL would come up with the application: Facebook books will have to be shipped, which means business for the mailing service. What I don't get is why we would want to use the app. Maybe I am just not a big enough fan of Facebook but to me the one big advantage of digitization is space related. Whatever I have stored virtually takes up as much room as my kindle and my PC plus the back-up system it is connected to. The belongings of me as a cyborg fit into a small carry-on travel bag. Compare t

Solid Rock, Human Transience (The Huntington 2)

Organic blend: Chinese garden at the Huntington The Chinese garden at The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens in San Marino (L.A. county) is a magical place. It blends the man-made and the natural, architecture with trees, straight lines and curves, all in an organic way. Last week, as I was wandering the cobbled paths of the garden I decided to take a closer look at some of the rocks. I got to my knees, admired the shades of white and grey, the undertones of purple, green, and red; I let my hand glide over the limestone's spurs, cracks, and sharp edges, felt the coolness of the rock against my skin, its enduring solidity against my human transience - and decided to look up some facts. Spurs and cracks: 50 Chinese stone workers flew in to carve the stone Transplants in L.A.: 850 tons of rock The limestone rocks in the Huntington's Chinese garden are transplants. They were imported from Lake Tai in the Yangtze Delta in China. Acc