Message of Easter forever fresh
by Juanita Hughes, columnist
March 31, 2015 07:48 PM | 6 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Juanita Hughes
Juanita Hughes
slideshow
The celebration of Easter has certainly changed in many ways during my eight decades, but its meaning and impact remain constant. The story of the resurrection cannot be altered. We might lose sight of it, we might even choose to ignore it. We might, in our feeble humanity, allow Easter bonnets and colored eggs, baby chicks and bunny rabbits to take precedence over the more serious activities. But within our heart of hearts, the Christ of the Manger and of the Cross has risen. We are forgiven, and the newness of springtime serves as evidence of God’s goodness. The cross has been the primary symbol of Easter throughout the centuries, and will remain so. Without the cross, there would be no resurrection. But our praises and pageants and songs are centered on the empty tomb, a symbol that would be difficult to wear on a chain or decorate with an Easter lily. I have many good Easter memories, but Easter of 1984 occurred for me on July 16. I was in Oberammergau, Germany, with a tour group, there to experience a special presentation of the village’s passion play. This small village has a wonderful story, known today worldwide for this once-every-decade event. The story begins in 1633 when the Black Death, the plague that had swept over Europe for 12 generations, touched every nook and cranny, and left countless families in hopeless situations. The citizens of Oberammergau had taken every precaution they knew to ward off the deadly sickness. They burned “pest fires” day and night. All strangers were forbidden entry into the village. Watchmen were on guard. When, in the late summer of 1633, the deaths and pestilence still did not cease, church officials met and discussed for a long time what further measures they should take. Their unanimous decision was that from then on, every 10 years the devout representation of the sufferings and death of Christ should be given, so that God would have mercy and free their village from the appalling sickness. Passion plays were common at the time, but this one would prove to be different. The vow was made, and from the very hour of the making of the vow, nobody else in the village died of the pestilence that was rampant. The next year, 1634, marked the beginning of the productions, the first fulfillment of the vow. There have been few deviations from the 10-year plan. In 1674, there were so many spectators that they could apparently not find places in the over-crowded church. Plans were made to construct a facility for outdoor performances, and this was scheduled for 1680. Subsequently, the play was held in years ending in zero after that year. In 1934, an extra season was held to commemorate the 300-year anniversary, and in 1984, this was repeated. That was more than 30 years ago, and each year during Holy Week, I return to my diary and photos and guide and re-live those hours spent in the midst of Bethany and Gethsemane and Golgotha. I wrote in my diary: “The 48-voice choir and 65-piece orchestra blended remarkably well. Each segment of the play was introduced by a monologue and music and a tableau representing an Old Testament or Apocrypha event which corresponded with an event in Passion Week. After the tableau, the action would take place. This was a new concept for me, this idea of history repeating itself through these characters. One tableau (from The Apocrypha) was of Tobias’ farewell to his mother. This was followed by Jesus’ conversation with his mother Mary… This was probably the most touching scene in the Play… The image is indelibly stamped on my mind, along with Michelangelo’s Pieta which we had seen days earlier at St. Peter’s.” Another example was the scene of Judas, despairing of his actions, following a tableau of Cain, suffering in desperation after murdering his brother. The population of this little town hovers around 5,000. The townspeople are the actors and actresses, the stage hands, the clean-up crews. The vow is evident, not only in the play itself, but in the very atmosphere. In 2010, the play was held 102 times. Records also show that in 1930, there were 80 performances, an astounding feat considering the play’s origins and the fact that the people of the town are so devoted. The dialogue is in German, but printed texts in English were available. The words and the actions are all too familiar to Christians, and I found it rather easy to understand. Especially the ending. “Hallelujah, Christ is risen!” Juanita Hughes is retired head of the Woodstock Library.
Comments
(0)
Comments-icon Post a Comment
No Comments Yet
UGA Class of ‘19 will include some of state’s brightest students
by Dick Yarbrough, columnist
March 31, 2015 07:47 PM | 7 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dick Yarbrough
Dick Yarbrough
slideshow
If you are a high school senior hoping to attend The University of Georgia, the oldest-state chartered university in the nation, located in Athens, the Classic City of the South, you have probably heard by now whether or not you have been accepted. The target enrollment for the Class of 2019 is 5,200 and they will be smarter than a whip. Nancy McDuff, associate vice president for admissions at the University of Georgia, says the two most important factors in being admitted as a freshman are grades in academic classes and the strength of the courses selected. In other words, “Easy As” won’t cut it. McDuff says, “We expect students to take advantage of the most challenging courses offered at their high schools. It is possible that a student with a 4.0 GPA who has avoided challenging courses may not be admitted while a student with a lower GPA who has attempted the most rigorous courses at their school is offered admission.” Remember, parents and students hoping to get in UGA next year: You read it here. Leadership capabilities, strong writing, being an active member in school and in the community and showing growth from freshman to senior year are also considered important by the Admissions staff. McDuff says the 22,300 applications for admission to the Class of 2019 was the largest in history. I won’t bore you with a bunch of numbers but of those who have been accepted the mid-range Grade Point Average is between 3.84 to 4.09 and their test scores are out of sight. In addition, these brighter-than-a-bulb kids will have completed numerous advanced placement courses or International Baccalaureate classes. (Note to self: Hide diploma. No one will ever believe that I graduated from a school with these kinds of numbers.) Back when I was actively involved in recruitment, a lot of high school guidance counselors would sniff when it was suggested that their best students might want to consider the University of Georgia as their first choice for college. They considered UGA their “back up” in case a more prestigious institution turned them down. No more. For keeping more of our high achievers in-state, much of the credit goes to Gov. Zell Miller’s Hope Scholarship — one of the few education initiatives our intrepid public servants haven’t managed to screw up, despite their best efforts. OK, so much for those who will and won’t get in my alma mater this year. What about those coming along behind them? McDuff says the most competitive applicants will continue to be admitted regardless of high school, county or state. Some people think the university will accept only so many applicants from a particular school or county or even within the state. Not so. There are no quotas. There is also the misconception that if a student’s family went to UGA, that will help them get admitted. Again, not so. Legacy does not play a role in the admission process. All applicants have an equal opportunity of being admitted regardless of whether or not there is a family history of attending UGA. Getting the best and brightest to attend the University of Georgia has been the singular focus of Nancy McDuff, who will be retiring at the end of June. During her 20 years on the job, more than 140,000 undergraduates — roughly 40 percent of all living alumni — have enrolled at UGA and probably another 140,000 wanted to. In my opinion, one of the toughest jobs in the university has been managed by one of the nicest people walking the planet. Over the years, Nancy McDuff has been lobbied, cajoled, begged and bugged to admit some friend of a friend’s child who was not otherwise qualified. She has withstood the pressure with patience and grace. As one high school guidance counselor told me, “She doesn’t always tell you what you want to hear but she has always been a pleasure to deal with.” While she is looking forward to turning the pressure cooker job over to someone else and enjoying her grandkids, McDuff says, “I will miss the people I have worked with. I take pride in knowing that our efforts have helped make this a better state.” That, she has done and done well. To the Class of 2019: My congratulations. Getting in the University of Georgia is a lot more difficult than when I attended in the long-ago Dark Ages. But one thing will never change. Being a Georgia Bulldog is as good as it gets. Woof! Woof! You can reach Dick Yarbrough at yarb2400@bellsouth.net; at P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, Georgia 31139; online at dickyarbrough.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dickyarb
Comments
(0)
Comments-icon Post a Comment
No Comments Yet
On the transportation bill ...
by The Savannah Morning News
March 31, 2015 07:46 PM | 22 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Credit a narrow majority of state senators for stepping up big Friday for better roads and more jobs for Georgia. In a 29-25 vote, the Georgia Senate approved a transportation measure that would raise about $840 million a year to help keep the state’s road system from falling apart. (Unfortunately, Chatham County’s two senators canceled themselves out; Ben Watson voted “yes” while Lester Jackson voted “no.”) Although that amount is short of the estimated $1 billion to $1.5 billion that transportation officials say they need, at least this measure didn’t crash and burn and keeps the legislative process rolling. Two weeks ago, the state House voted 123-45 to pass a similar proposal — one that would generate $900 million a year in new revenue. Friday’s approval of H.B. 170 by the state Senate sends the measure back to the House for revision, with an eye on reworking the bill so that majorities in both chambers can support it. Then it can go to Gov. Nathan Deal for his signature. Finding money to maintain Georgia’s roads and bridges and to fund needed new projects are priorities during this legislative session. Federal highway money has essentially dried up. State lawmakers can no longer dodge their responsibility to come up with an alternative funding plan. Either Georgia finds its own source of funds, or its transportation system will deteriorate and jobs may go elsewhere. Fortunately, most lawmakers aren’t going to let that happen. Both the House-approved and Senate-approved bills create a state excise tax on each gallon of gasoline and diesel fuel sold at the pumps (the House version’s tax rate is 29.2 cents per gallon; the Senate’s version is 24 cents per gallon). It would replace the existing sales tax, which is now levied on the total purchase price. That’s one difference the House and Senate must work out. Others include whether the state should charge an annual highway user impact fee ($10 per motorcycle, $25 per passenger vehicle and $50 per big-rig truck or bus) and continue to allow cities, counties and school systems to collect sales taxes on motor fuel — especially local option and special purpose local option sales taxes approved by local voters. On LOST and SPLOST taxes, lawmakers must respect the wills of local voters. They must not undo by legislative fiat in Atlanta what has taken place at the ballot box. At the same time, majorities of the House and Senate appear of like minds on eliminating the state’s aviation fuel tax credit given to air carriers like Georgia-based Delta Air Lines. With fuel prices down and airlines profits up, the tax break isn’t necessary. Roads need more help than the friendly skies. Also eliminated by both chambers was the $5,000 state tax credit for the purchase or lease of an electric car, while owners of such vehicles would have to pay a $200 user fee each year. The fee is only fair; owners who escape fuel taxes at the pump should pay for their share of the wear and tear on roads. While Republicans control the legislature, this measure wouldn’t have gotten this far without the support of some Democratic lawmakers in the House. They deserve credit for seeing the big picture, along with Republican lawmakers who have supported it. Unfortunately, many legislators reflexively opposed H.B. 170, without offering workable alternatives. Voting “no” on needed relief for highway headaches is no answer. It’s a dodge. It’s encouraging that majorities of lawmakers are addressing the funding shortfall head-on.
Comments
(0)
Comments-icon Post a Comment
No Comments Yet
In this Jan. 4, 2015 file photo, a Monarch butterfly takes flight from a plant leaf in the Piedra Herrada sanctuary, near Valle de Bravo, Mexico. The population of the species has experienced a 90 percent decline in population along its migration route from Mexico because of habitat destruction due in part to weed killers and herbicide-resistant plants like those Monsanto and other agribusinesses offer. Agribusiness giant Monsanto Co. said Tuesday, March 31, 2015 that it will commit $4 million to help stem the decline of monarch butterflies. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell, File)
In this Jan. 4, 2015 file photo, a Monarch butterfly takes flight from a plant leaf in the Piedra Herrada sanctuary, near Valle de Bravo, Mexico. The population of the species has experienced a 90 percent decline in population along its migration route from Mexico because of habitat destruction due in part to weed killers and herbicide-resistant plants like those Monsanto and other agribusinesses offer. Agribusiness giant Monsanto Co. said Tuesday, March 31, 2015 that it will commit $4 million to help stem the decline of monarch butterflies. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell, File)
slideshow
In this Oct. 30, 2012 file photo, shows Robert G. Lustyik Jr., leaving the federal courthouse, in Salt Lake City. Lustyik, a former FBI agent accused of derailing a fraud investigation by making a suspect appear to be a key counterintelligence source is set to be sentenced in Salt Lake City Monday, March 30, 2015. Retired New York agent Lustyik, 52, pleaded guilty in September to fraud and conspiracy charges. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)
In this Oct. 30, 2012 file photo, shows Robert G. Lustyik Jr., leaving the federal courthouse, in Salt Lake City. Lustyik, a former FBI agent accused of derailing a fraud investigation by making a suspect appear to be a key counterintelligence source is set to be sentenced in Salt Lake City Monday, March 30, 2015. Retired New York agent Lustyik, 52, pleaded guilty in September to fraud and conspiracy charges. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)
slideshow
*We welcome your comments on the stories and issues of the day and seek to provide a forum for the community to voice opinions. All comments are subject to moderator approval before being made visible on the website but are not edited. The use of profanity, obscene and vulgar language, hate speech, and racial slurs is strictly prohibited. Advertisements, promotions, spam, and links to outside websites will also be rejected. Please read our terms of service for full guides