Promises to Keep
I found Ward Harkavy's article on the Promise Keepers' "home church" ("Preach for the Stars," October 30) simultaneously enlightening and troubling. My own "dreams" and thoughts these last few days have been about the PK folks, wondering what need they manage to fill in the hearts of their countrymen.

I am a disabled vet of the Vietnam era, and last Monday evening I told a friend how the militarism of the PKs is disturbing. I thought aloud how rigidly the program operates. I wondered about how many of the PKs have been in the active-duty service. Perhaps the success of PK is due to a rigid, simplistic way of doing things. Getting an answer from a leader, then following through on it! Avoiding muddying variables can make life more bearable.

I see things quite differently from the PKs; therefore I have not attended any of their events. With a variation on the old saying "Some of my best friends are Promise Keepers," I wish to maintain those friendships, but I wonder if the connection to the other men through PK is akin to what I knew in the service.

As one who preaches the word of God in the best manner I know, I am troubled by the militaristic images used by some others also undertaking the same task. Harkavy's "chain of command" is a well-turned military phrase for this closed group of folks who bring the word of God to others using scripture to their advantage. Since all preachers vocalize things as they hear God wanting them to, I wish to bring to you my views on Ryle's use of Scriptures as cited by Harkavy.

First of all: Connecting the winning of a football game by quoting Isaiah 11:11 is too much. The prophet was not quite directing his thoughts to a Catholic gridiron opponent.

Second: I cannot for the life of me find any words in Judges 5:2 that could be construed as setting up any gender issues. My New Revised Standard Version reads, "When locks are long in Israel, when the people offer themselves willingly--bless the Lord!"

I am glad that my message scripture for this week aimed toward All Saints' Day. It, too, is from Isaiah. It reads "On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food...and will destroy the shroud that is cast over all peoples" (my emphasis). All people are welcome to worship God with us.

Thanks to Harkavy for his good work on this front.
The Reverend Dan Strizek
Pastor, Bethany United Methodist Church

I read with interest Ward Harkavy's article on the Boulder Vineyard and the Promise Keepers. I try to keep track of your persistent Christian-bashing and traditional-values trashing.

I wonder if it ever occurred to Harkavy that the reason for the obvious success of the Vineyard Fellowship, Faith Bible Church, Calvary Temple and the Promise Keepers might be grounded in the possibility that what they teach and preach is actually true.

Oakley Pell McEachren

The Bus Stops Here
I want to thank Alan Prendergast's "Divide the Ride," in the October 23 issue, for printing the truth about two self-styled "supporters" of RTD's Guide the Ride ballot initiative: RTD board chairman Ben Klein and boardmember Jack McCroskey. Whether through breathtaking incompetence or downright deviousness, these two characters did everything they possibly could to sink the measure they claimed to support.

I have no problem with anyone, including RTD boardmembers or employees, openly opposing Guide the Ride. Honest, healthy debate over substantive issues is what good government is all about. What really disgusts me is that Klein and McCroskey claimed they were for Guide the Ride, yet engaged in a steady stream of bizarre antics and public posturing tailor-made to sabotage the measure.

Klein's and McCroskey's so-called "debates" with Guide the Ride opponent (and fellow boardmember) Jon Caldara were utter mockeries. Time and time again, these supposedly experienced politicians would meekly buy into virtually all of the opposition's exaggerated claims without offering any comprehensible support for the initiative.

One might charitably conclude that Klein and McCroskey were merely feeble yet well-intentioned, were it not for their contrasting zeal in publicly badmouthing other supporters of Guide the Ride who apparently hadn't paid them enough deference. Klein and McCroskey behaved like spoiled little kids, and their public temper tantrums were obviously severe blows to Guide the Ride.

I'm writing this letter before the vote on Guide the Ride. Mark my words: If the initiative passes, Klein and McCroskey will be falling all over themselves trying to reap credit, as RTD's chairman and the "Father of Light Rail," respectively, for the glorious victory. If Guide the Ride fails, they'll as usual disavow any personal responsibility and heap blame and derision upon RTD's staff.

McCroskey once called Klein "the most hypocritical man I know." It just goes to prove the old saying: It takes one to know one.

I'm writing this letter on my own time, based on public sources, and solely in my capacity as a private citizen. However, I'm also an RTD employee. Since a majority of RTD's board has already demonstrated its contempt for freedom of speech by voting for a "blatantly unconstitutional" resolution (to quote the court that struck it down) to punish Guide the Ride supporters, I must ask that you please not disclose my name.

Name withheld on request

Alan Prendergast's story on RTD was excellent, and it drew quite a response from the community. From my own experience, RTD sucks. I have tried to use it over the last twenty years, and it's been a nightmare every time. They have literally hundreds of bus-route pamphlets that are confusing and overwhelming to digest. I've been stranded miles from where I wanted to be and covered more distance on foot than I was carried. They've had more than twenty years to create a system that is more usable and customer-friendly, and they have failed miserably.

Cal Anton

Oh, Brother!
I am compelled to respond to a recent story that, for me, has transformed Westword from a harmless, pretend newspaper into a prime example of vicious and irresponsible pseudo-journalism. I am referring to Chris LaMorte's "Big Brother Ain't Laughing," in the October 23 issue.

LaMorte reported that a CU Online professor removed a student from her magazine writing class for what appears to be a crude but harmless remark the student made in class. The article purported that Scott Lafferty, the innocent student, was forcibly yanked out of a college class for merely responding in a creative manner to a "creative assignment."

The only thing LaMorte has really proven with this story, however, is that anyone with a grudge can walk into the Westword office and actually be taken seriously. And, while that may reveal no more than the gullibility of the people at Westword, what is truly egregious here is that the paper did not even bother to determine whether or not Lafferty's story was in any way factual. Yes, the article made it clear that an attempt to reach Professor Cindy Martin for comment was made; however, just because a valuable source declines to comment doesn't mean that source can be discounted. If the "other side" of a story such as this cannot be accurately represented, then the story should be dropped until further information can be ascertained. Period. No respectable journalist listens to the ranting of a disgruntled college student and takes it seriously without checking the facts.

In addition, the article makes it clear that while more people than Martin and Lafferty were involved, no participant other than Dean Marvin Loflin was contacted before the story went to press. Are we supposed to believe that everything that comes out of Lafferty's mouth is golden--not only puerile comments about "licking cat's butts," but damaging and unsubstantiated claims about top administrators at a reputable university?

In fact, do we really know that Lafferty was expelled only for his "cat butt" comment? That's what he claims, but I don't see any proof to substantiate that claim. Having taught online for CU in the past, I know that all course material, including student participation, is printed and archived, and copies are sent not only to the teacher and students, but to the chair of the department, the people who provide technical support, and several administrators. I wonder if LaMorte bothered to check out a transcript of the course to ascertain whether or not the comment was taken out of context.

LaMorte and the editors at Westword have woefully failed to practice the basic tenets of responsible journalism; that is, to get both sides of a story, to make even a cursory check on the reliability of their sources, and to gather even rudimentary research on what purports to be a researched article. I wish to call on readers to exercise what we at UCD teach our students: read critically, check the facts for yourself, and don't place any faith on obviously shoddily written and under-researched material.

Catherine Alber

I am a student of Cindy Martin's at the University of Colorado. Today I witnessed the effects of tasteless reporting. This is a bold instructor who has taken up the challenge of teaching (for peanuts) as a "renegade" for CU Online. Which is, after all, a time-consuming, thankless job. Martin is a person I would optimistically recommend as a "traditional" classroom instructor; her Online students, who don't see her in the classroom, are missing out.

Defending this 34-year-old Lafferty guy is a joke. Lafferty is immature and in dire need of help. In fact, a freshman-level course is where he should have been, learning a new vocabulary (since he hasn't been in school since he was sixteen).

And for the readers, the rest of the story: Lafferty posted much more than what was reported in Westword. If you read the article, perhaps the quotes seemed out of context, and I would dare to say that they are. Most important, let's get at least one thing straight: Cindy Martin is great. (In other words, she is definitely not uptight, rite, nor is she a bitch.)

Michael L. DeRosia

Lafferty had a legitimate gripe concerning his essay before he called the teacher a "bitch." I don't believe the university (or teacher) has the right to censor what students write. After all, it is a writing class, isn't it? But Lafferty overstepped the boundaries of common sense when he retorted with below-the-belt name-calling. A college student should know better than to resort to such childish antics.

Besides, wasn't the topic of his essay "Mr. Death"? A previous instructor with whom he'd had obvious difficulties in the past? Makes you wonder...

Mark Stanley
via the Internet

Hire Lafferty.
Dick Valentine
Wheat Ridge

Race Cards
T.R. Witcher's article on Jamal Muhummad ("The X Files," October 23) was really interesting. On one side of this person was an outspoken hatred and racist attitude, on the other a more human and understanding one. The latter seems like it may be a reason why he is no longer a spokesman for the Nation. The comment about expecting an apology is absurd. I see his point, but there is no one who can apologize for what was done in the last 400 years, let alone for what Hitler's racism did to the Jews or what Pharaoh's racism and hatred did to the Israelites.

History has been repeating itself for thousands of years, and until mankind can drop the hatred and bigotry that have been revitalized over and over again, I doubt there is really much hope for peace on this planet. There's no way we can erase the past, but we can change the future.

All we can hope is that we learn from our mistakes and make this planet a better place for all of its residents.

Jamal and I may both have a common interest in ancient history, though, which I have always found fascinating. The current thinking of the scholars about the pyramids is full of so many holes it isn't even worth giving any credence to. This man is a thinker and a seeker, and I do have to admire him very much for that.

Name withheld on request

Woman Bites Dog
What gives regarding Kyle Wagner's October 23 Mouthing Off? Her diatribe about the Laughing Dog Deli both intrigues and annoys me. She writes, "The setup is an invitation to chaos." The Dog's setup is a little bit better and no worse than any other delis I've been in, and I've been in a few. (I'm from New Jersey.)

I'm not going to argue with Wagner's comments about the food--since she used descriptive words such as "yuck" and "awful," what's the point? I usually go there between 2:30 and 3 p.m. about once a week for lunch and, honestly, nine times out of ten, all of the specials are gone. Someone must like them.

The Laughing Dog serves the neighborhood well. They have good sandwiches, soups and salads. It's a place to go for coffee, bagels, sodas, lattes, cigarettes, chew, etc. It has good music and clean, aesthetically pleasing surroundings. Eat in or eat out, it fills a desperately needed niche in a neighborhood filled with bars and pricey, pretentious restaurants.

Wagner stated, "I've given this place enough chances, and if you don't like what I say about the Dog, bite me." Christ, what an ego. I get the distinct impression that she has some kind of "bone" to pick with this place. It sounds almost personal. Kyle, why don't you go home and kick your own dog?

Randi Powell

Good Night, John-Boy
I am generally a big fan of Westword and Kenny Be, but I would like to say this about the many people who wrote last week criticizing Be for his mean-spirited, tasteless, disrespectful October 16 cartoon about John Denver: Ditto!

Carol Carpenter

I wonder what motivated Kenny Be's disrespectful and cruel comments about John Denver.

He says, "You stole your name from our town..." The objective truth is that John Denver named himself after the city of Denver. Why does Be find it offensive that Denver named himself after a place that he loved and felt to be part of him? The city of Denver "stole" its name from somebody else, too, you know. Be has a very strange way of looking at things. More accurately, he could have written, "You loved our town so much that you honored it by choosing its name for your own."

Just because Denver was no longer at the very top with multiple platinum and gold albums doesn't mean his "career had burned out" or that he was a "fallen idol." There are millions of loyal Denver fans who will continue to purchase and listen to his wonderful music for the rest of their lives and would have continued going to his concerts if it were still possible. I stood in line at the memorial service with people from all over the country who risked their jobs to come to Denver for that service, people who had attended hundreds of his concerts, people who had been to multiple symposiums at Windstar. This man with the beautiful voice who sang those sweet, haunting, uplifting, optimistic songs that spoke to your heart and often brought a tear to your eye, this man who was so loving and caring and good and decent--this man still had many fans of all ages.

Why attack a person like John Denver? There are a lot of people more deserving of being made fun of than John Denver. The ways in which he was imperfect are minor. Look at the other end of the spectrum--the self-indulgent and anything-goes/no-morality crowd that is so abundant, particularly among celebrities. Denver cared about the world and others in it, not just about himself, like most celebrities. He stood up for what he believed in and tried to make the world a better place rather than doing whatever would get him fame or fortune, like most celebrities.

John Denver was a wonderful person, a very special shining light in a world that has extremely few of his quality. His death has devastated a whole lot of people all over the world--and especially in Colorado.

Darlene Boord

Kenny Be's appalling, disgusting way of getting a laugh at John Denver after his death only proves how lenient our society really is. If I were a governor or the president, I'd order Kenny Be strapped into an electric chair. John Denver touched us with his moving music and love for Colorado (I'm not a native). His music helped me through some difficult times, when I just moved here as a child. Kenny, what will you have to justify your actions to God on judgment day? Maybe you and Gary Lee Davis will be roommates in hell. Unlike John Denver, you won't make it to heaven.

Name withheld on request

Mayberry RIP
Regarding the October 16 Off Limits item on the JonBenet Ramsey investigation:

You know, I am sick and tired of hearing about this case--which is not really a case, after all! How many people do you know who can get away with murder and still not be under custody? Come on--this is crazy. It's just a prime example of how money can help people weasel their way out of trouble. These people will not be convicted, even though they deserve to be.

So let's just face it: Our justice system here in Colorado is in the Mayberry era. Don't waste our time with these little heartbreaking stories. Just get it over with!

Wayne A. Cordova
via the Internet

Letters policy: Westword wants to hear from you, whether you have a complaint or compliment about what we write from week to week. Letters should be no more than 200 words; we reserve the right to edit for libel, length and clarity. Although we'll occasionally withhold an author's name on request, all letters must include your name, address and telephone number. Write to:

Letters Editor
PO Box 5970
Denver, CO 80217
or e-mail (include your full name and hometown) to: editorial@westword.com

Missed a story? The entire editorial contents of Westword, dating back to July 1, 1996, are available online at www.westword.com/archive/index.html


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