- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 17, 2002

'Big Fat' hit

"Obviously, Hollywood's typical contemporary fare doesn't command our culture the way the media makes it seem. A considerable audience plainly wants something else but unlike the billions of McDonald's buyers just aren't being served.

"'My Big Fat Greek Wedding' deserves to be called an alternative hit. Its cross-ethnic love story is not fairytale magical, but a class comedy. The Old World strictures and solidarity that immigrant enclaves sustain for New World survival and success are broken down by the second-generation's desire to escape from repressive tradition. Toula's love story is recognizable by all tribes.

"Offering chagrin and comfort, 'Greek Wedding' embraces ethnic paradox. It has a quality that has been disrepute in pop culture since the Beats: wholesomeness. It airs out that modern dissatisfaction with what you are, as an irony of American democracy, and then very sanely reproves it."

Armond White, reviewing "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," in the September 11 issue of New York Press

'Unthinkable then'

"Thirty years ago, the ferment for ordination of women was on everyone's radar as far as 'gender issues in the church' were concerned. At the time, that issue was cast in terms of validating the ministry of women in the Church.

"It was unthinkable then even by ardent proponents of women's ordination that we would arrive where we are today in many Christian communities. We have moved from a policy that was supposed to affirm women in ministry to a policy where opponents of women's ordination are excluded from Christian ministry.

"At first, egalitarians championed a kind of laissez-faire policy, where anyone was free to believe what he pleased about the ordination of women, so long as it did not impinge on another's conscience. But, when the egalitarian conviction occupies a seat of ecclesiastical power, that laissez-faire policy changes to a policy of exclusion or coercion.

"Now it is the traditionalist who must be reformed. And, if he will not reform, he must be excluded from speaking or living out his convictions. In my own church, it is now unlawful for me to be ordained to the diaconate or presbyterate because of my beliefs about the ordination of women.

"When egalitarians as different from one another as high-church Episcopalians and the Willow Creek congregation unite in demanding allegiance to women leading men in church ministry, I think the writing is clearly on the wall what the church has believed and practiced for 2,000 years is now labeled as oppressive, a resistance to the Spirit of God, and something to be persecuted."

Bill Mouser, director of the International Council of Gender Studies, writing on "What Is At Stake?" at www.fiveaspects.org

Migrant culture

"Salman Rushdie's place in New York is meant to be the dot on the map where he push-pins a period at the end of the long and winding sentence his life has been. He talks about the city with enormous feeling, claiming that it offers him a sense of belonging to a specific geography for the first time in decades.

"He came here for the freedom America allows. Here, he notes, people far better known than he travel around with all the freedom that a pair of sunglasses affords. 'Writers can be anonymous here, because America has so many celebrities for the paparazzi to stalk,' he said at Syracuse University. New York is also a city predicated on the mongrel sensibility that Rushdie finds so appealing.

"'It's a culture made up of migrants. Everyone is from somewhere else. And so I finally have the amazing experience of feeling normal,' he said. The realization of belonging came to him last September 11, as he stood in his bathrobe before a hotel TV and watched the second airliner crash into the second tower. 'For hours I found myself unable to sit down,' he said at the Syracuse talk. 'I just stood there. It seemed disrespectful not to stand.'"

Mary Karr in "The Domestic Verses of Salman Rushdie" in the Sept. 13 Chronicle of Higher Education

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