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Archive for September, 2008

Conveniently located off the ring road that encircles San José’s urban chaos and snuggled up next to the landmark Law Faculty (Facultad de Derecho) of the University of Costa Rica, the Hotel Ave del Paraíso is a jewel that is easily overlooked.

The Adamski family has converted a sprawling old home with its attending jumble of buildings into a boutique hotel that can only be called enchanting. A superb pricing policy makes this my hotel for business and pleasure when in San José.

Each room is expansive and distinct. High ceilings, an old home’s surprises, and attention lavished upon the engaging ceramic floors make the Ave del Paraíso worthy of many repeat performances.

A passable breakfast in the Costa Rican style comes with the room. Restaurants, the large San Pedro Mall, and the University are all within walking distance. Taxis are easily available just outside the gate. The only downside I’ve experienced is that traffic noise on the circunvalación begins at the crack of dawn. Turn up the ceiling fan and you might not notice.

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Some years back, while living in Costa Rica, I found the Hotel Grano de Oro a fine place to take guests for a nice dinner. During a recent business trip, I decided to stay for a night at this constantly improving establishment, whose only deficit is its rather seedy location on the east side of the country’s capital city. I hasten to add that security around the hotel itself is top-rate and so the neighborhood should not be considered a show-stopper.

An elegant new dining room and a set of new rooms has added to the Grano de Oro’s charm since I knew it as a dinner guest. The price was right and I was upgraded to a superb, beautifully appointed deluxe room.

This hotel and the Hotel Ave del Paraíso, across town, now become my two favorites for business travel to Costa Rica’s Central Plateau, especially when the alternatives are so often the familiar chains that are the rather colorless bread and butter of business travel in less exotic places.

Staff was friendly and attentive, the restaurant and room service fare were respectable, but the charm of the property itself is the real winner here.

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When the principal airline of the tiny Central American country of El Salvador some years ago began acquiring and organizing the assets of carriers from Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Peru, it was a boon for air travelers in the region.

I have flown Grupo Taca (as the airline is now known) many times with only positive experiences to report. A gradually increasing number of North American destinations makes this airline comfortably accessible from the United States and Canada.

Grupo Taca’s superb lounge in Lima, Peru’s airport is not to be missed. Now that long-delayed improvements at Costa Rica’s Juan Santamaría International Airport have passed from the ill-fated hands of Alterra Partners to the Houston Airport System, one dares to hope for improvements in the small lounge facilities there. Taca’s flagship hub in San Salvador has always been more than adequate and anchors the three-hub operation up and down the Americas.

There are now many air carriers serving Costa Rica and the region. North American-based travelers ought not overlook the considerable advantages offered by less-known airlines like Grupo Taca and Panama’s excellent COPA Airlines, with its über-convenient Hub of the Americas and handy cooperative agreements with OnePass and Continental Airlines.

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The uninhibited poet of Song of Solomon paints the portrait of two lovers drunk with love.

Each longs for the body, the company, the love of the other. Each describes in lavish detail the beauty of love’s object. Both are driven to behavior bordering on the outlandish by the surge of love’s private frenzy.

You have ravished my heart, my sister, my bride,
you have ravished my heart with a glance of your eyes,
with one jewel of your necklace.

(more…)

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For partisans of language practice that erases the gendered aspects of the way people speak and write, the apostle Paul’s vocabulary as he wraps up his first letter to the Corinthians could be embarrassing.

Be courageous, he tells them. His word is andrizesthe, a verb associated with the noun aner, for ‘man/male’. A less circumspect translation in times before such matters had become part of our consciousness might have rendered this ‘Be men!’, or ‘Play the man!’. Readers female and male would have known what he meant and felt themselves called to a common response. (more…)

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Bryan Adams’ 1996 compilation of greatest hits is all about cheap thrills. With lyrics like `The only thing that looks good on me … is you’, `I just wanna’ be … your underwear’, you don’t buy this album after a hard think about whether to spend your nine bucks on this or on, say, that new translation of Homer’s Odyssey. You plunk down your cash for good, old-fashioned, hedonistic, irreverent rock & roll. The second most overused line in assessments of Bryan’s music—after `the Canadian rocker’—seems to be `feel-good rocker’.

With good reason. (more…)

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Biblical realism is not given to flights of fancy. The biblical understanding of the human creature is tenaciously realistic about both his frailty and his enormous capacity for evil. The first chapters of the biblical anthology tell us that man and woman are glorious creatures, saturated with qualities that affiliate them more with the Creator than with the creation of which they are undeniably a part. It is this very grandeur that frames the fracturing of the divine image in humankind as tragedy rather than a merely regrettable accident.

If, as the old table prayer puts it, ‘God is great … God is good …’, the biblical witness might be paraphrased as claiming that ‘Humans are great … but humans are not good …’ (more…)

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In the last two decades, the wily old PhD has been challenged by a feisty upstart, the Doctor of Ministry. High-achieving individuals dedicated to some field of theology, biblical studies, or pastoral ministry often hop back and forth between the two, wondering which better fits their needs and life situation.

First, some terminology. Let’s begin with the Doctor of Philosophy. In North America, this research degree is usually abbreviated Ph.D, while in Great Britain PhD is more common. There are variants, of course. Harvard University and Harvard Divinity School, for example, offer both a Ph.D. and a Th.D. The latter abbreviates Doctor of Theology. Although there are fierce debates inside Harvard regarding the equivalence (or not) of the two degrees, people on the outside generally regard them as two variants of the same course of study. On the other side of the Atlantic, Oxford University offers the DPhil. (more…)

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Seattle-based Emerald Water Anglers can fit a one- or two-day fly fishing school into your business trip to Seattle. Better yet, they’ll tailor the pace and content to your level. They can do this because their classes max out at four students and usually only enroll one or two at a time.

I capped a recent week of meetings in that gorgeous Pacific Northwest city by joining Ted McDermott and another student I’d never met for a day of bumping up the fly-fishing skills. I found Ted an engaged and knowledgeable teacher who was able to work with my fellow student and me to craft a class on the hoof that moved us both forward. Ted was particularly helpful on reading the water and understanding hatches, two areas where my own adventures in fly fishing needed some shoring up. (more…)

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It is common to imagine that Paul’s discussion with the Corinthians in this place is about spiritual gifts or even about glossolalia, the phenomenon of speaking in an unknown language.

It is not.

Paul’s intense concern to help the Corinthian church get the thing right is about selfishness over against a concern for the integrity and maturation of the community. ‘Speaking in tongues’ is merely the occasion. (more…)

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