Archive for August, 2013

PR about PR

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

On Sunday, I appeared on the local cable news channel, New York 1. This summer, we sponsored a contest to develop decorations for the sidewalk shed that protects the public from deteriorating stonework. We wanted in effect to turn the ugly scaffold into a billboard to publicize the church and its programs; as the reporter for NY1 remarked, “turning a lemon into lemonade.”

The entries have just been submitted by graphic artists studying at Hostos Community College in the Bronx. Further details about the project, video, and the winning designs will be available on the church website.

This happy event reminds us that Madison Avenue is still a famous street, even though most of the ad agencies are scattered all over the city. It also reminds us how our location is a plus. Though we are landmark in a prominent area and thus will have to pay a premium to fix our spire–still, we are a landmark in a prominent spot. We should be grateful for that.

This publicity was gained through the auspices of a PR firm. Thus our effort to gain publicity for the church itself led to good publicity for Incarnation. A multiplying effect, like loaves and fishes. —J. Douglas Ousley


New York as Theme Park II

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

I have warned in a previous note that New York is becoming a theme park for tourists, at the expense of those who live and work here. The closing of streets and intersections for weird public “spaces” and the endless parades and street fairs were examples I noted. Visitors may benefit; New Yorkers pay the price.

The trend is becoming more pronounced. City-financed bicycles are now being ridden by tourists who don’t know that it is illegal and dangerous to pedestrians to ride on sidewalks. The public areas in Times Square and Madison Square are now being rented out to fast food vendors, depriving the public of those spaces that already increased vehicular traffic. Or they are allocated to businesses that are making promotions or hosting performances. On Monday at 8 a.m., I saw commuters actually walking in the street in Times Square because the sidewalks and “public” spaces were filled by some event.

We who are part of the living New York community are happy for tourist dollars. But we don’t want our city to become like Venice or  even London–a place for tourists and rich second-home owners. We love our city and want to keep it livable. —J. Douglas Ousley


Pilgrims All

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

The horrific train crash in Spain carried many travelers who were making the traditional pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostella. As a recent book by a former assistant at Incarnation points out, pilgrimage is an important part of every religion, and it is as popular today as it has ever been. Sheryl Kujawa-Holbrook’s Pilgrimage: A Sacred Art also details the spiritual benefits of seeking holy places. As Kujawa-Holbrook says, this search is “a journey to the center of the heart.”

Even those who aren’t vacationing can think about the places we consider sacred. I know a group that regularly meets for coffee that still bemoans the loss of the French coffee bar where they began meeting. The place has been closed for years (when it was open, the service was atrocious!)–yet it was for members of the group a kind of sacred space because it was where they were together every week.

Central Park is one of my places of pilgrimage in the city; I would also add a few spots where I can walk along the Hudson. These places remind us that we are always on a journey toward the destiny God has for us. —J. Douglas Ousley


History in the Making

Friday, August 2nd, 2013

I just attended my first official and legal same-sex wedding. Three things of note:

First, the order was virtually the same as for previous Prayer Book weddings. With a few edits, the Book of Common Prayer liturgy did just fine. No need for “special services;” marriage equality is not all that hard to put into words.

Second, several observers remarked on how “traditional” the service was, compared to many write-your-own-vows weddings. Traditionalists should be pleased.

Third and finally, the congregation was 80-90% heterosexual or children, and yet there was a universal sense of freedom and liberation and a step forward for everyone. —J. Douglas Ousley