In his prayers: Thank you for Steve Jackson's beautiful story about Father Jim Sunderland, "War and Remembrance," in the September 26 issue. It captured the essence of his soul, of how he relates to everyone fortunate enough to know him. Father Sunderland has touched the lives of people he's never met and is in the daily prayers of many of us. I've never known anyone like him and felt special when he said he would always be my Catholic rabbi.
Several years ago, I appeared on a panel of speakers with him at the University of Denver, and his ability to give and receive love with every person there was a joy to watch. He was very protective of me when my beliefs about the death penalty and Judaism were attacked by another panelist. Father Jim encouraged me to never waiver from what I know to be true. I have also watched him struggle with his beliefs when betrayed by someone close to him, but forgiveness and love rule his life.
Father Jim has made my life better for knowing him. I send him my deep love.
Saints and sinners: Thank you so much for Steve Jackson's article about Father Jim Sunderland. I met him as a freshman at Regis University five years ago and immediately developed a great fondness and respect for him. To tell the truth, I put him up on such a pedestal, I didn't realize that he is a real person with family, friends and "lost loves."
A good friend of mine has since shown me the wisdom that "every saint has a history and every sinner has a future." Realizing this, I think, is how we learn to see both our heroes and villains in more than one dimension.
In his article, Jackson did a wonderful job of portraying not only Father Jim, but also the men on Colorado's death row as "human" in every sense of the word (including "child of God"). I was very deeply moved.
Write to life: The story on Father James Sunderland was beautifully done and explained, without apology, his ministry to criminals and his opposition to capital punishment. But I also remember when Sunderland's commitment to life extended to the unborn. There was no mention of this in the article. Has he changed his position on the "seamless garment" -- the protection of life from conception to natural death? Or did Westword for some reason simply elect not to include that fact?
Joanne Marie Roll
He's got the touch: I must say that this was one of the best articles I've ever read in Westword. Steve Jackson's writing was excellent and the story very moving. Whether or not you believe in the death penalty, it is clear that Father Jim Sunderland is a truly amazing human being. I was able to connect with a lot of things in the article.
My husband attended Regis High School, and I have heard many great stories about the Jesuits. Thanks for such a touching story.
via the Internet
Good (writing) versus evil: It is unfortunate that so many journalists have, like Robin Chotzinoff in her September 20 "Digging Out," felt the need to share some sort of muddled or newly found theology to explain to their immediate world the meaning of the tragedy/attack/act of god/satan. She is a fine writer with insight into the human condition and the wit to convey ideas and personalities vividly. Perhaps insight and wit are also casualties of the events of 9/11, one hopes only temporarily replaced by such public soul-searching.
This event has been declared from the top down as "evil" -- a word that was scrupulously avoided by the media and government in the wake of Columbine or the Oklahoma City tragedy/attack/ act of god/satan. A word never considered in relation to a devastating earthquake in Mexico City or typhoon in Manila. Acts of nature, to be sure. And is not "human nature" god-given as well? All the rest is politics.
It was said this past week by one of the endless parade of "intelligence experts" that one should never try to get inside the mind of the enemy. But consider this: American evil exists, but is rightly accepted as a very small aberration that can make a very large impression with acts of shocking violence, usually with political motives -- even the politics of student life or the business world. This is also true of Muslim society and of every society on earth. Such a small percentage of a moral and peace-loving people, but one that needs to take its fervent beliefs to the limits of sanity and beyond. Yes, terrorism needs to be eliminated from the earth if we are ever to hope for a golden age for everyone, not just Americans. But terrorism is the grown child of imperialism, of exploitation, of greed and decadence. So where do we really start? Who sowed the seeds of hate, Cain or god/satan?
Local heroes: I read Robin Chotzinoff's "Digging Out" while passing through Denver on business. I was touched by this line: "Even as everyone else was going down in the Twin Towers, the firefighters were going up." It encapsulated the heroism and selflessness of the New York Fire Department men and women who lost their lives in the service of others.
However, I wanted to remind your readers that the heroism of firefighters doesn't stop at NYC's city limits. Every firefighter who goes into a burning building to save the lives of others is worthy of the same respect, be they from NYC or the Indian Hills Volunteer Fire Department. Your own volunteer firefighters can be killed just as dead by the collapse of the roof of a burning single-story ranch house.
I hope your readers remember this the next time their local volunteer fire department has a fundraiser. While the size of the departments and the buildings may be different, the heart and spirit of your local fire department is just as big as those of the valiant heroes who lost their lives in NYC. Please help your local heroes go home to their families by providing them with the equipment they need to safely protect your family.
Ames Bern Amesville Volunteer Fire Dept.
Peace and quiet: Regarding Michael Roberts's "Stop Imagining," in the September 27 issue:
The Clear Channel list debacle is an example of many things: how quickly and completely political correctness can go bad; how a big corporation tries to anticipate (or even create) public reaction; how that same big corporation loses touch with the real world; how little faith people in power have in those they serve.
On the other hand, it shows how, thanks to the mass media and the Internet, this kind of silliness gets exposed and put in its proper place. Now if we can settle down all the conspiracy theorists and other paranoids, we can get on with enjoying whatever music we like.
via the Internet
For the record: First and foremost, I must applaud you for Michael Roberts's well-written article. I work at a major record store downtown, and although we are a corporate chain, all of our employees tend to drift away from the mainstream, and much of the time in our back halls and rooms is spent in discussion of politics, music and the like. We were all appalled when we were faxed a list of songs that Clear Channel had apparently banned from the airwaves -- this being just two days after the attacks. We were milling about, our hearts heavy and our thoughts ground deeper inside than perhaps we had collectively peered in a long time.
For us, music is, and always will be, a place of solace, something I think everyone can relate to. Who cannot mention a certain song or album that has affected them greatly at one point or another in their lives? Words and chords strike a deep note in your heart when you need it most.
Having come from vastly different and far-reaching musical tastes, we all were struck low by the addition of "Imagine" to the Clear Channel list. It is a song that has deeply touched anyone who has ever heard it, and for it, of all songs, to be shelved at this particular time seemed a cruel blow. I was touched that not all of Clear Channel's employees felt the same way as the rest of the company. One of the morning DJs on KBCO was reading the list aloud, and upon coming to "Imagine," immediately played it with great joy.
Thank you for voicing in print the disapproval felt by many. I have never been much of a radio listener, and Clear Channel has now ensured that I never will be again.
Creed it and weep: Because Michael Roberts's opinions are shit and always have been, period, I don't see the use in responding to his "Stop Imagining." However, he is utterly lacking in a true understanding of the First Amendment, free speech and the level of culpability that a corporate radio station has in denying or infringing on said rights. He has no concept of the corporate entity, nor does he understand that defensible corporate action is simply not an infringement on "free speech," as he classifies it in this case.
"Cutting off access" to what are, after all, a group of pop tunes (and "Imagine" is simply boring and insipid, despite Roberts's determination that it is "universally" regarded as anything at all) is not, under a true legal analysis, what has taken place. The strained reaction to September 11 by this corporation, while in many cases laughable (if it was a time for real laughter), was not worth the ink Roberts saw fit to spill on it. He appeared in this article exactly like the sophomoric journalistic hacks I was exposed to in college: determined to twist his opinions around until he had manipulated -- oops -- masturbated them into something destined to change the face of news. In the end, all he effected was another lame-ass slam on Creed.
What the pluck? I enjoyed Michael Roberts's article on the censorship at the chickenshit corporate radio stations. I think it would have been good to mention some alternative radio stations, such as Radio 1190, the AM revolution.
via the Internet
Falling stars: What is your obsession with John Elway and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? You've published nasty little items about this in the last two Off Limits columns. With the world heading into war, does anyone really care that John Elway's appearance was postponed on the show?
And shouldn't that be billionaire, anyway? I'd be a lot more interested in these sports people and entertainers if they would quit telling us to donate to disaster relief and concentrated on donating just a tenth of their salaries. So what if Jim Carrey donates a million? He'll still have at least $19 million left after it's subtracted from his next movie deal.
via the Internet
Give, and you'll get a quarter back: Dear Mr. Elway,
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While watching Mr. Bush address Congress and the nation, I was struck, in particular, by his plea for donations to help the victims of the horrendous events of September 11. This sounded reasonable, humane, so I looked to see what could be spared. Unfortunately, after taxes, rent, heating, electricity, telephone, car payment, car insurance, etc., I am not embarrassed to say that I only have $120.78 left to last until the end of the month.
Working in the educational field, there never is enough money to go around, considering how rent has risen 400 percent over inflation in the last five years, heating 50 percent over the past year, and so on. I thought of you. Many of the victims were office workers, firemen, police officers, just like thousands of others who have watched you perform with such elegance and dedication in football stadiums around the country for so many years. I guess what I am saying is that these types of people have provided you with the level of financial security and freedom you enjoy today, so perhaps you could contribute a little for all of us who have nothing to spare.
Or, better yet, a lot.