Feb 08, 2003
Will Amina Lawal Kurami be stoned to death for having a baby out of wedlock? Amina was sentenced to that punishment in northern Nigeria on August 20, 2002, in accordance with Islamic Shari‘a law, which prescribes death by stoning for the sin of adultery. Her eight-month-old baby is the visible sign of her crime. The child’s father has been exonerated because he denies having had sex with Amina.
You don’t have to knock before entering Shkiba’s flat in the southern section of Kabul. Just walk up three flights of poorly aligned stairs in a vacated school building, and avoid the rubble and large holes caused by rocket explosions. Shkiba lives in what was once a classroom; the space is large, but the windows are without glass. Visitors are told not to stand too close to a crater hole covered with flimsy metal sheeting.Afghanistan’s 1990s civil war took a severe toll on this building, as did subsequent neglect.
Across from Jericho, on the Jordan side of the Jordan River, is the site where Jesus may have been baptized. It is 300 meters east of the river. During the decades of conflict between Jordan and Israel this area was a military zone, strewn with mines and closed to unauthorized personnel, but since the 1994 Peace Treaty the mines have been cleared and the site is being developed by the Jordanian Ministry of Tourism. Access roads, parking lots, a tourist center and a path to the river have been built.
In Steven Spielberg's Catch Me If You Can, Leonardo DiCaprio plays Frank Abagnale, the real-life con man whose exploits--posing as an airline pilot, an ER doctor, a lawyer and a college professor--had a nutty, playful, romantic quality. His highly enjoyable, hard-boiled memoir (written with Stan Redding), the source for Jeff Nathanson's screenplay, suggests that Abagnale was as much motivated by the theatrical and erotic satisfactions of his deceit as by financial gain.
From its opening sequence, The Emperor's Club, set in an eastern prep school for boys in the early 1970s, is behind the cinematic eight ball, and it knows it. That eight ball is the tremendously successful 1989 film Dead Poets Society, starring Robin Williams as the gadfly teacher who awakens in his students a thirst for learning and for a poetic experience of the world. The Emperor's Club encourages such comparisons, believing (wrongly, it turns out) that it can subvert and exceed the expectations.
In my congregation the choir saves its biggest anthem for the collection of the weekly offering, and I sometimes suspect that the anthem is there not to draw attention to the offering but to distract us from it. The offering plates are passed apologetically, as people try not to see what others have put in.
It brings back goodness for me,” my friend said when, after the midnight service, I sought her out to wish her a blessed Christmas. She was sharing her joy in singing with the choir on Christmas Eve.
I had urged her to sing a few years earlier, when she was struggling with tremendous grief about things that her child had done. I thought that singing carols, hymns and songs such as “O Holy Night” and the “Hallelujah Chorus” would be life-affirming for her.