Sunday, February 26, 2006

Sunday Reading

  • Ben Brantley looks at the upcoming spring season on and off Broadway; shows with a bit more edge — and skin — to them.

    Alec Baldwin, left, Chris Carmack and Jan Maxwell in “Entertaining Mr. Sloane.”

    Sweet are the uses of perversity in the theater. Throw a kink, a curve, a warping twist into a time-honored dramatic formula and tried-and-true suddenly looks eye-poppingly new and unsettling. The spring season in New York is, happily and atypically, plump with demonstrations of such genre bending, with entrancingly wicked shows that extract the profane from the sacred and the rot from the pillars of society. If a majority of them turn out to be of British origin, that’s because British artists have long used the perverse perspective as an essential corrective to their national class-conscious stolidity.

  • Want to buy a home in Miami? Be prepared for a shock.

    To live in a mid-priced house, a family in the Miami area earning the midpoint income must now spend 44 percent of its dollars on mortgage payments. That’s double what it cost as recently as 1998 — and close to Los Angeles at 46 percent and New York City at 49 percent.

    Even with the market slowing, South Florida still won’t return to the affordable days of the late 1990s, economists say. Incomes are limited by a service and tourism economy that doesn’t create enough high-paying jobs. Yet housing prices remain high because of money flowing in from foreign and investment buyers.

    That adds up to an affordability crunch through 2015, Moody’s forecasts. But change has come so fast that attitudes have yet to adjust. And so the quest for a home is turning into a hard lesson in compromise.

    “For people who can’t afford to buy, rental properties might be the answer,” says Celia Chen, director of housing economy for “There’s probably going to be a glut of condos to rent soon. A lot of what’s been built has been bought by investors who are going to have to rent them out.”

  • The Episcopal bishop of Washington, DC speaks out against intolerance in his own church.

    It’s no secret that the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion are engaged in a bitter internal struggle over the role of gay and lesbian people within the church. But despite this struggle, the leaders of our global communion of 77 million members have consistently reiterated their pastoral concern for gays and lesbians. Meeting last February, the primates who lead our 38 member provinces issued a unanimous statement that said in part: “The victimization or diminishment of human beings whose affections happen to be ordered towards people of the same sex is anathema to us.”

    We now have reason to doubt those words.

    Archbishop Peter J. Akinola, primate of the Church of Nigeria and leader of the conservative wing of the communion, recently threw his prestige and resources behind a new law that criminalizes same-sex marriage in his country and denies gay citizens the freedoms to assemble and petition their government. The law also infringes upon press and religious freedom by authorizing Nigeria’s government to prosecute newspapers that publicize same-sex associations and religious organizations that permit same-sex unions.

    Were Archbishop Akinola a solitary figure and Nigeria an isolated church, his support for institutionalized bigotry would be significant only within his own country. But the archbishop is perhaps the most powerful member of a global alliance of conservative bishops and theologians, generously supported by foundations and individual donors in the United States, who seek to dominate the Anglican Communion and expel those who oppose them, particularly the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada. Failing that, the archbishop and his allies have talked of forming their own purified communion — possibly with Archbishop Akinola at its head.


    Surprisingly, few voices — Anglican or otherwise — have been raised in opposition to the archbishop. When I compare this silence with the cacophony that followed the Episcopal Church’s decision to consecrate the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson, a gay man who lives openly with his partner, as the bishop of New Hampshire, I am compelled to ask whether the global Christian community has lost not only its backbone but its moral bearings. Have we become so cowed by the periodic eruptions about the decadent West that Archbishop Akinola and his allies issue that we are no longer willing to name an injustice when we see one?

    I also feel compelled to ask the archbishop’s many high-profile supporters in this country why they have not publicly dissociated themselves from his attack on the human rights of a vulnerable population. Is it because they support this sort of legislation, or because the rights of gay men and women are not worth the risk of tangling with an important alliance?

    As a matter of logic, it must be one or the other, and it is urgent that members of our church, and citizens of our country, know your mind.

  • So long to Don Knotts and Darren McGavin.