Thinking Out Loud

September 12, 2010

Ground Zero’s ‘Other’ Worship Space

With September 11th behind us for another year — and the tenth anniversary only 364 days away — we switch our attention to a CNN story about The Other Worship Space at Ground Zero; a story we’ve never heard before this:

CNN’s Mary Snow and Alexia Mena bring us this report on the only place of worship destroyed on 9/11 and their hopes to rise at ground zero.

(CNN) –  The unassuming three-story St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church stood dwarfed in the shadow of the South Tower of the World Trade Center. Built in 1916 in the style of the old village parishes in Greece, its location in what became the glass and steel jungle of New York’s financial district was
curious, to say the least.

The church had a congregation of about 70 families. They vowed to rebuild it after the South Tower, engulfed in smoke, collapsed and crushed it on September 11, 2001. But no real progress has been made.

The church negotiated with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which oversees construction at the site, and in 2008, both sides tentatively agreed that the church would rebuild nearby using tens of millions of dollars in public money. The plan also allowed the Port Authority to move ahead with a Vehicle Security Center, which is part of the World Trade Center redevelopment.

But the Port Authority said the church made extra demands that threatened to delay the construction of the entire site. It says it made its final offer in 2009 of up to $60 million and told St. Nicholas that the World Trade Center could not be delayed by the issue. It says the church rejected the offer and walked away.

Leaders at St. Nicholas have a different version of events…

Continue reading here.

Had you heard about this church before?


December 20, 2009

Talking Vegetables Walk Santa Tightrope

Although my kids have outgrown Veggie Tales, I picked up a copy of the latest Christmas release to see how everybody’s favorite talking cucumber and tomato would handle the tension that exists between the story of the real Saint Nicholas and the more popular Western (mostly North American) myth of Santa Claus.

I guess I was mostly concerned at looking this hypothetically from the point of view of a parent of children for whom the Santa Claus thing is — rightly or wrongly — quite ingrained.    Do the Veggie people just tell the truth and leave the kids crying?

I can’t answer that for every household, so I don’t profess to know what pieces some parents have had to pick up afterward, but in my opinion, the answer to the crying question is:   No.   If the kids are catching it all, then they are let down gently.   The VT writers handle this remarkably well.

What did surprise me was the unmistakable Christian message in the 46-minute DVD.   As stated, my kids are getting well outside the Veggie demographic, so I haven’t tracked the series lately, but my understanding was that with the wider appeal — and distribution — VT has been having, the message might be somewhat watered down.

Not so.    This is still unmistakably Christian product.   I also watched the interview Matthew West and Amy Grant did about the making of the song that appears on the closing credits.    This song — and the whole movie — reinforces the idea for kids that it’s not about what you’re getting but about what you’re giving.

That in itself is enough to shift the focus away from the jolly fat man in the red hat.

Here’s a bonus link from this blog to Jelly Telly; Phil Vischer’s latest venture, a great gift for your younger kids for only $4.99 per month.

By the way, if you want to get a good book for Christmas for a businessman (or woman) you can’t do better than VT founder Phil Visher’s Me, Myself and Bob. Excerpt from back cover: “This is a story of dreaming big and working hard, of spectacular success and breathtaking failure, of shouted questions, and, at long last, whispered answers. …From famed creator to bankrupt dreamer, Vischer shares his story of trial and ultimate triumph as God inspired him with one big idea after another.”

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