28 February 2006

A busy weekend

Some examples:
  • Russians and many others marked the 50th anniversary of Khrushchev's secret speech to the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1956. In addition to the Sean's Russian Blog's postings I mentioned last week, Sean provides a great summary of weekend coverage of this anniversary here, along with a fascinating critical look at some survey information on current attitudes.

    I didn't look at all the links, but the column in Izvestia was particularly poignant. The title of the piece was taken from a comment Khrushchev made in March 1956 to a meeting of the Polish ruling party: "Without Stalin, ... perhaps there would not even have been a war." The article includes discussions about the speech in CPSU leadership sessions, related minutes and protocols, samples of the feedback received from local Party cells, including letters denouncing Khrushchev's betrayal of Stalin, and other ripples from Khrushchev's speech.

    Daniel Schorr reminisced about the secret speech on National Public Radio: "It was fifty years ago this weekend, but I remember it like yesterday." I believe him.

  • Portia at church, from www.jamaica-gleaner.comJamaica's People's National Party, the party of outgoing prime minister P.J. Patterson, elected Portia Simpson Miller, as the first woman president of the party, and consequently as the first woman to serve as prime minister of Jamaica, when Patterson steps down. She opened her eloquent victory speech by saying, "Tonight I give the glory to God Almighty" and quoting Isaiah 40:31: "But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." As she went into the leadership race, she was not the leading contender; some commentators said that controversies over police brutality (a problem even when a Quaker was head of Jamaica's police forces) gave her an edge over the national security minister.

  • The Winter Olympics in Turin came to an end. Norway ended up in sixth place by the New York Times total medal count, and in 13th place by Aftenposten's gold-weighted count. Well, I guess it's time for me to go back to being a world citizen. (But not before this chauvinistic whisper: Norway still beats the world handily in medals per capita.)

  • Over the weekend, Quakers continued to post interesting things in their weblogs! The problem is that the same subjects are coming around again and again, as they should—nothing final is ever said, and new voices must be heard—but now I find I have less energy to repeat the things I said in previous rounds, as valid as I thought they might be. Example of a very helpful exchange: Zach on "outer sacraments"—and read the comments as well. My mind is no more made up than it was when I wrote this entry on "worship seeking understanding"—I love the "motions" of worship but am dubious about investing those motions with ritualistic or mystical legitimacy.

  • Iraq is in agony. The U.S. administration's moral bankruptcy continues to be exposed as more voices weigh in on torture. We have no news about the Christian Peacemaker Teams hostages. Sudan's crisis spills into Chad ... and vice versa. Why am I not on my knees instead of keyboarding?

  • By comparison with most of the world, I had a restful weekend. A Mennonite friend and I spent part of Saturday at Edúcate Ya in training as English-as-a-second-language teachers; we rolled out our proposed after-church classes at Ministerios Restauración on Sunday.

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