A center of hopeFOR 25 YEARS, the Maryland Rehabilitation...

NOTES AND COMMENTS

June 20, 1998

A center of hope

FOR 25 YEARS, the Maryland Rehabilitation Center has offered hope to disabled people who thought independent living, or holding a job, was an impossible dream. On Friday, the program celebrated that anniversary.

A division of the Maryland State Department of Education, the center has served more than 50,000 people with occupational training, medical evaluations and support, residential services, job placement, help with practical skills such as driver education, therapeutic and recreational activities, as well as other services. One of nine comprehensive vocational rehabilitation centers in the United States, the center's programs attract interest from rehabilitation professionals around the world.

It has also earned the loyalty of clients, employees, volunteers and other supporters who recognize that by giving people with disabilities the practical help they need to become productive citizens, the center is creating plenty of winners -- not only the people who benefit from its services but also the community at large.

No reform in sight

THE STALLING continues in the U.S. House of Representatives on campaign finance reform.

Instead of getting to the heart of the issue -- banning the unconscionable soft money system that allows special interests to pump millions of dollars into the electoral process -- House Republican leaders seem determined to continue the pattern of delay.

That approach fools no one, increasing the likelihood that campaign finance reform will be left in the hands of the voters, who in November will have a chance to voice their opinions about lawmakers who attempt to avoid it.

A neon guitar, how quaint

OH, TO RECALL innocent times -- we mean last year -- when some people thought a 65-foot-tall neon guitar was out of place atop the century-old Power Plant at the Inner Harbor. Now the replica seems practically understated beside the ESPN Zone, a sports-themed restaurant that is to open next month, also in the former power-generating station.

Passers-by will note the faux flaming kebab that skewers sports balls on the side of the eatery; a grove of satellite dishes on the roof to pull in game broadcasts; and signage that's as subtle as Dennis Rodman.

It's hard to argue against the concept, however. When the Power Plant looked like, well, just a power plant, it couldn't sustain an entertainment business.

The high-wattage ESPN Zonereflects the Disneyfication of the harbor (quite literally, since Walt Disney Co. is a principal in the sports-dining venture as well as the Port Discovery children's museum, set to open in December). Note, too, the pink zebra-stripe awnings at Planet Hollywood at Harborplace.

With the excitement these ventures are pumping into downtown, though, it's hard to quibble with the decor.

Much ado over submission

THE SOUTHERN Baptist Convention's recent declaration that woman should respect and obey her husband and "submit graciously to the servant leadership of her husband" has generated more controversy than it deserves. It is neither new nor an anomalous relic.

Most conservative Christian denominations formally subscribe to this view of family roles, derived from Paul's letter to the Ephesians, while moderate and liberal groups have been debating the meaning and modern relevance of Paul's words for years.

Outside the faith, moreover, the Southern Baptists' edict is irrelevant. Within, it is unlikely to generate much discord. Conservatives now dominate the faith, so church leaders are preaching to the choir with the submission ruling. And moderate Southern Baptist congregations that might have a different view on the role of women are free to disregard denominational pronouncements.

The Southern Baptists, we suspect, welcome the attention the edict has brought. Last year, they seemed to enjoy putting on a united front while the media lambasted them for boycotting the Walt Disney Co. in protest of its nondiscriminatory policies toward gays.

A conservative religious group taking on America's foremost purveyor of family entertainment because it extends fairness to a certain group of people -- that is a worthy controversy. A conservative religious group advocating a traditional view of the husband-wife relationship is much ado about nothing.

Pub Date: 6/20/98

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