Tag: baltimore

Can Someone Explain to Baltimore’s Incoming Archbishop the Meaning of Religious Liberty?

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Baltimore's archbishop-designate, William Lori

To get ready for his new high-profile role as the Roman Catholic archbishop of Baltimore, William Lori went on Meet the Press to decry society’s moral decay. Particularly, Lori had beef with the “erosion of religious liberty,” in the form of religious institutions being forced to provide coverage for contraception in their employee healthcare plans.

“Religious liberty?” Is everyone picking up this new definition from Rick Santorum? Will America’s religious groups only be free when everyone else is forced to abide by their religious convictions? Is that the new bizarro meaning of liberty? I know, I know. The sticking point is that these institutions would be footing the bill for something that doesn’t square with their beliefs. But surely of all the things your money is used for without your approval (war, unmanned drone assassinations, etc.), the pill has got to be the least of your worries.

Lori said that America’s various faiths “contribute to a moral consensus that underlies our laws.” An interesting statement, when there is no “consensus” on contraception within Christianity, let alone among the several religions. Presbyterians, Unitarians, and Anglicans, among others, are in fact for it. And anyway, you want to talk about consensus? 98 percent of sexually experienced Catholic women have used contraception — how’s that for consensus?

At the end of March, the Senate passed a bill that would allow employers to refuse to cover anything they find morally objectionable. So, if you’re working for a Catholic institution that ends up denying you contraception coverage, you can be happy you don’t work for Jehovah’s Witnesses; they probably wouldn’t cover blood transfusions.

I Believe, Hon: An Ode to Exit 9A

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On February 1, it will be three years since I moved to Baltimore. Driving north on 83 from downtown the other night, I got a little verklempt when I saw the exit sign for Cold Spring Lane. I was almost home.

It’s a joke among New Jersey natives to identify themselves by their exit on the Garden State Parkway or the Jersey Turnpike — I, for example, hail from 105 — but the idea of home as the place where you get off the highway is one any suburban American kid can understand. In fact, I first experienced serious homesickness as the absence of a particular rectangular green sign with white sans-serif type and an illuminated arrow.

This was back in my early 20s, after my college boyfriend and I moved to Berlin with the plan of becoming expatriate filmmakers. Once there, we squatted with some other hippies in an abandoned warehouse where we built a fire on the floor to heat water for coffee and worked our way slowly through the application materials for the Deutsche Film und Fernsehen Akademie. We were gone less than four months when I lost heart; my old boyfriend went to that academy and lives there still.

I didn’t have what it takes to be an expat. There were too many people and things I missed unbearably: my parents, sister, and best friend; my depressed, possibly gay black dog; books and newspapers in English; every kind of food that wasn’t sausage. These were predictable. But there was also a strange, embarrassing category of things I missed that I’d never even known I liked. For example, even if they had had McDonald’s in Europe back then, it would not have assuaged the craving I had for U.S. grease. And though you may think a highway is a highway is a highway, my ache for an American interstate was only sharpened by travels on the fast, faceless autobahn.

I missed my exit.

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Sometime in the 1970s while driving from Florida to New Jersey, I got dumped off I-95 in Baltimore. Perhaps I was trying to avoid a toll; perhaps that’s just how the highway was then. I spent the next several hours lost in a post-industrial wasteland fringed with bad neighborhoods, trying desperately to get back on the highway. This experience was the basis of my impression of Baltimore for almost 30 years.

The next time I came to town, it was 1998. I was living in Austin then, and out on tour for my cheery book about being a widowed single mother. I met a philosophy professor in the Bibelot bookstore in Bel Air that night and a year later left Austin with my two boys to marry him. I would have moved to Bangalore or Brazil; my heart was already on the moon.

But my professor lived neither exotically nor extra-terrestrially — he rented a farmhouse halfway between Harrisburg, PA, where he was employed, and Towson, MD, where his ex-wife lived with their kids. This midpoint fell in a town called Glen Rock, PA, and though I resided there for 10 years, it never became home. Any tears I shed when I pass Exit 4 off I-83 in Pennsylvania are tears of rue for the bad things that happened there and tears of joy for my escape.

The ru-burbs, as I thought of the place, with its rural farms and suburban developments, its single Wal-Mart, many fast food outlets and conservative Christian mentality were never right for me. For about the first three months, I enjoyed the bucolic Andrew Wyeth beauty surrounding our big house on the hill. The remainder of the time, I was varying degrees of lonely, miserable and bored. In a decade, I made four friends there. When one of them died at 44 of kidney cancer, I knew she would not be replaced.

A year into the Glen Rock exile, the professor and I both got teaching jobs at MICA. We would drive down 83, get off at Mount Royal, park, lecture, and leave. Once or twice we ventured further: the Charles, the Visionary, the Helmand. But we had five kids at home and urban fun was rarely on the agenda. Baltimore remained a blank. In 2008, when our marriage fell apart and I had the chance get the hell out of the ru-burbs, it didn’t even occur to me that Baltimore was where I should go.

Instead, I developed a deep irrational conviction that I had to live someplace with a view of the ocean. The closest thing I could find in driving distance of my job — now at the University of Baltimore — was Havre de Grace. I had seen its lighthouse in the distance as I crossed the bridge into Delaware; I imagined a quaint Breton village in France. Without heaping unwarranted insults on Havre de Grace, a couple of visits proved this incorrect.

I began gingerly to consider Baltimore, and decided to talk to my one friend in town, Laura Lippman, who had come to Austin to write an article about me for The Sun book section years earlier, before she became a literary goddess. Having lived here all her life, having immortalized virtually every crack in the sidewalk in her oeuvre, Laura was convincing. You will love it, she said, and gave me the card of her real estate agent, Ken Maher. You will love him, she said.

We loved each other, and he sold me the house around the block from his in the little corner of Roland Park called Evergreen.

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Within weeks of moving, I was completely won over by my new home, which was everything the ru-burbs weren’t — diverse, quirky, progressive, friendly. There were Obama signs and anti-war signs and Save the Bay bumper stickers. There were Jews, and though I was no big Jew, it had been weird living in a place where there were about three of us, a place where the Yearbook Club selected a cover picturing a cross coming out of a waterfall and only at the last second did anyone realize this might be a problem. A place where kids drove around flying Confederate flags from their jeeps in the high school parking lot. I preferred to take my chances with the hometown of “The Wire.”

In Baltimore, I could walk to my post office, two coffee shops, a grocery store, a drugstore, the public library, the public elementary school, a swimming pool, and restaurants ranging from Petit Louis to Dunkin’ Donuts. In Glen Rock my driveway was so long, I could barely walk to my mailbox. In Baltimore, there were writers galore, and many reading series, and little of the velvet-rope system that blocked access to the in crowd in, say, New York. Charm City Yoga. The Avenue. The walking path around the Inner Harbor. Broken glass and dryer lint and two-story-high pink poodles, the beloved materials of visionary art.

One year after we moved here, the Snowpocalypse of 2010 shut down the city for a week. What with the aforementioned driveway, a big snow in Glen Rock had meant total and sometimes indefinite isolation. I had gotten to the point where I panicked at the sight of a single flake. Here, the people of Evergreen went from house to house having potlucks all week, drinking up each other’s liquor cabinets like the French who rode out World War II in their wine cellars.

Some things weren’t so magical. It took me about 10 tickets to get my mind around urban parking rules, and longer than that to accept that there really was no decent way to drive out of the city to the south. My search for a boyfriend was a complete failure. But most things that people typically don’t like about the city — the public schools, the crime, the rather vast stretches of ugliness — so far haven’t affected me, knock wood. Perhaps it’s because I moved here from Glen Rock, but Baltimore still looks to me like the City of Lights.

Not long before I moved to Baltimore, when I was still mired in doom, death and divorce, I had a dream that there was some kind of freaky, fourth-dimension portal in my living room. You turned a corner, there was a whoosh of sunlight and you were in a different place — the place you had been looking for all along. I had been in Baltimore several days a week for almost 10 years without ever seeing it. Now my exit would become my entrance, and my life would change.

 

Marion Winik writes “Bohemian Rhapsody,” a column about life, love, and the pursuit of self-awareness. Check out her heartbreakingly honest and funny essays twice a month on Baltimore Fishbowl.

Loyola U. MD Receives $5.2 Million – Largest Gift in Its History

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Loyola University announced yesterday that it received the largest gift in its history from Ed Hanway, Class of 1974, and his wife Ellen.  The $5.2 million gift from Hanway, who is the head of the university’s board of trustees, will support a number of key initiatives, including its global studies program, York Road Initiative, and living-learning communities for first-year students, as well as create a new, endowed, full-tuition scholarship. 

The Hanways’ gift stems from the longstanding, positive impact the University has had on their family, and on the belief in its potential for future success. “Loyola is at an interesting point in its history, with a solid strategy in place that really cuts to the core of what the university is about—programs and education, not buildings,” said Ed Hanway, a Media, Pa., resident who retired as chief executive officer of CIGNA in 2009.

The University’s global studies program, an interdisciplinary major combining economics, political science, history, and sociology, is the largest beneficiary of the Hanways’ gift. Their support will allow for the creation of an endowed faculty chair and endowed speakers’ series, as well as provide additional resources for faculty scholarship.

The gift also provides additional funding for Loyola’s planned living-learning program, set to launch in the fall of 2013. While many colleges and universities—including Loyola—offer living-learning experiences in which students take one or more courses with immediate neighbors in their residence halls, Loyola’s will be unusual in extending the experience to all first-year students, and in the depth and breadth of extra- and co-curricular programs it includes.

Additional resources would also be made available for Loyola’s York Road Initiative, a University-wide effort to improve the quality of life for those living, working, and learning in the neighborhoods just east of Loyola’s Evergreen campus in North Baltimore, as well as for the creation of an endowed, full-tuition scholarship.

Lacrosse Lovers: Baltimore’s Obsession

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It’s six p.m. on Memorial Day and the city air is hot and still. After nearly two hours of watching back-and-forth goals and sweat-drenched celebrations at the NCAA Lacrosse Championship, the masses of red and orange clad fans filter out of M&T Stadium and back onto the streets of Baltimore. Two boys, no older than ten, wear Terps jerseys and grip lacrosse sticks roughly as long as they are tall. They chatter excitedly to each other, recounting each “sweet” goal and seriously deliberating which “sick” moves they should employ against their next opponent. They are sunburned, their hair plastered with sweat to their foreheads and necks, and their chosen team has just lost to its long-standing rival.  All of this is secondary to the spirit and the drama of the game. This is the relationship Baltimore has with lacrosse.

There aren’t many things for which Baltimore can claim exclusive credit — Hairspray, Poe (who really just died here), The Wire, Natty Boh…the list is short and eclectic, and perhaps that is why Baltimore remains so fiercely loyal to lacrosse. The city and surrounding area are home to powerhouses at both the high school and college level, like Gilman, Loyola, Boys’ Latin, St. Paul’s, McDonogh, Bryn Mawr, The University of Maryland, and, of course, Johns Hopkins. The Blue Jays legendary history has made them standout in the pantheon of lacrosse greats. In both the 1928 and 1932 Olympics, lacrosse was a demonstration event, and in both years Hopkins beat out every other team in the playoffs to become the American representative in the games. The men’s team has appeared in every NCAA tournament since the creation of the playoffs in 1971 and has won the championship nine times.

But great teams do more than just create devoted fans, they also create educated fans. It seems frequent success makes fans less rabid, allowing them to appreciate the sport rather than just the victories. At the national championship on Monday afternoon, I sat among enthusiastic Maryland fans eager to see the title go to their home team, who despite thirty-four tournament appearances have not won the championship since 1975. But when Virginia midfielder Colin Briggs scored his fifth goal of the game with just under two minutes remaining in the final quarter, the Terps fan behind me clapped slowly and said to his companions, “Great play. He’s a great player.” And as the last few seconds ticked off the clock and UVA stormed the field in a sea of orange and white, Terps and Cavaliers fans alike rose in appreciation.

Baltimore loves lacrosse because it belongs to us, and we’re good at it. It’s a devotion and an understanding that extends beyond the sport itself to an attitude, a look, and for some people essentially a way of life. It’s that part of it that is difficult to explain – my older sister doesn’t play lacrosse and cannot understand how my younger sister and I can pick other lacrosse players out of a group of people with such frightening accuracy, and we can’t really either. During my first year of collegiate play in Massachusetts, I realized that it’s not just a lacrosse culture that I understand, but a Baltimore lacrosse culture. In recent years lacrosse has enjoyed significantly increased popularity all over the nation and in some other countries as well. But no matter where it is played, lacrosse belongs to Baltimore, the city that built it, that knows it, and that loves it no matter who wins.

Marta Randall is a Baltimore Fishbowl summer intern. She graduated from Hereford High and plays lacrosse for a New England liberal arts college.

 

Q & A With US Congressman John Sarbanes

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Elected in 2006 as a Democrat to the U.S. House of Representatives from Maryland’s 3rd Congressional District (comprising parts of Baltimore City, plus portions of Baltimore, Howard, and Anne Arundel counties), John P. Sarbanes has established moderate-to-liberal political bona fides over his two-plus terms, focusing on health-care, education, and environmental issues. He voted for the landmark health-care overhaul, to repeal the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy regarding gays in the military, and against a bill that would have denied federal funds to Planned Parenthood.

Currently, Sarbanes sits on the Natural Resources and the Space, Science, and Technology committees, as well as on four subcommittees, notably the one overseeing national parks, forests and public lands.

Born and raised in Baltimore, Sarbanes graduated from Gilman in 1980, from Princeton University in 1984, and then earned a law degree from Harvard in 1988. He spent the next 18 years working as an attorney at Venable. (Oh, his first job: whipping up milkshakes at the Prevas Brothers stall in Fell’s Point’s Broadway Market.) 

His father, Paul, served as a U.S. Senator from Maryland from 1977 to 2007, exiting Congress just as John entered it. 

Married with three children, Sarbanes, who turned 49 on May 22, lives in Towson. 

Sum up your life philosophy in one sentence.

Treat people with respect and don’t get ahead of yourself. 

When did you define your most important goals, and what are they?

My most important personal goal is to provide for my family. I defined that when I got married and started a family. Beyond that, to be a good citizen who is contributing to my community in some way.

What is the best advice you ever got that you followed?

If something seems too good to be true, it is. 

What are the three most surprising truths you’ve discovered? 

I try not to be surprised by the truth.

What is the best moment of the day?

When I walk into my house at the end of the day.

What is on your bedside table?

The Collected Stories of James Thurber and The Collected Stories of J.D. Salinger.

What is your favorite local charity?

The Public Justice Center.

What advice would you give a young person who aspires to do what you are doing?

Do the job you have well and the rest will take care of itself. 

Why are you successful?

If I’ve had success, I attribute it to being a good listener.

If Congress lifted its ban on earmarks for a day and permitted you to submit one piece of locally related legislation, what bill would you push for passage?

Sufficient funds to clean up Baltimore Harbor. 

What is your favorite film about American politics — and why?

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, because it shows you can be idealistic and also make a practical difference.

What music are you into right now that might surprise us?

I’m always into bluegrass.

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