Hookah hooked: I read Jason Sheehan's "So Far, So Good," in the April 21 issue, and was befuddled. This corner is quite familiar to me, yet I'd never seen Hookah Cafe. At any rate, I stopped by that night and pigged out. Lamb kebab, kafta, shish tawouk, veggie combo (hummus, baba ghanoush, falafel), lemonade. That falafel is the best I've had in Denver.
Jesus H. Christ, it was good! Every single bit of it was great. I found out that the owner/ cook/server -- a great guy -- slaughters and butchers the lamb himself. Otherwise, he doesn't know where it's been. I love the seedy, casual air and the way he brings tea without asking. A very relaxed evening.
Thanks for the article. Jason has revealed a hidden neighborhood gem that I'll patronize a lot this summer.
Fancy footy work: Thanks, Westword, for Bill Gallo's coverage of James Waddell's attempts to discover the first-ever U.S. native to play professional Aussie Rules Football in Melbourne ("Getting a Footy Hold," April 14). Like Waddell and Alan Nugent (coach of the U.S. select side), I believe the U.S. is a potential hotbed of talent for the sport. Further, Nugent's vision of a U.S. side eventually defeating their Aussie counterparts is not as far-fetched as it may seem.
The experience of another sport in its U.S. infancy -- rugby league (a variant on the far more popular rugby union) -- is instructive in this regard. Last November, the U.S. rugby league select team, the USA Tomahawks -- who, like the Denver Bulldogs players, are teachers, engineers and plumbers by day -- came within minutes of defeating the mighty Australian Kangaroos. The Roos haven't lost an international series in 32 years.
Aussie Rules (and rugby) recruiters will ignore the vast U.S. talent pool at their own peril. Or until James Waddell makes them see the light.
Faith, hope and charity: What a well-written, enlightening article on Reverend Benjamin Reynolds! I found new faith and hope in reading "A House Divided," Laura Bond's article in the April 14 issue. I now know that our world is not absolutely on a road to perdition. I find it interesting that preaching acceptance and unconditional love places a religious leader in a position of having to defend himself. I believe that if half the church leaders who are investing resources to fight "moral issues" in the political arena would expend those same resources on helping the needy, we would live in a much better world today.
All one needs to do is watch the news to see that we are not focusing on the issues that need focus. We still feel as a community that it is better to invest resources in fighting issues like "gay marriage" than it is to educate and protect our children from those who really mean harm. How would Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. feel about the hateful statement of Reverend Gregory Daniels of Chicago, who proclaimed, "If the KKK opposes gay marriage, I would ride with them"? How ignorant and absurd can you get? Can you hate anyone so much that you would unite with a force that abominates you?
So I have added Reverend Reynolds to my prayers, because he needs them. And for all those who have their hearts full of hate, I say a prayer, too. Because I believe in a God who is a loving God. I think that along with murder, hate is an abominable sin. When the world is over, I think there will be plenty of room in heaven. Particularly room for those who "loved their neighbors." And in hell, there will be plenty of room for those who professed to be God-lovers but used their positions, resources and time to fight "moral issues" rather than to fight hunger and injustice.
Judge not: It warmed my heart to finally see someone trying to teach tolerance in church. When you talk to Christians, they are very black-and-white on the issue and not willing to listen, but I feel that the way Reverend Reynolds explains the situation will finally make people think, and maybe learn and change. He obviously has a great understanding of the Bible, and if he could guide me on what to read, I think I would be able to debate with the crazy Christians and make them think instead of judge me and hate me.
Highway to hell: My passion regarding homosexuality is not to direct hatred toward homosexuals, but to warn them that it is wrong for them to think that it's okay, especially to the point that they are teaching in the church. All homosexual churches are willfully living a sinful lifestyle, and all heterosexual churches accepting homosexual churches are condoning the lifestyle. Homosexuality is simply a stronghold of Satan, the Angel of Darkness, and it will lead all of them straight to the pit of Hell. I have noticed that Scripture backs up all my opinions. Please note all Bible-based churches will accept all people as they come, but to come and then decide not to allow the Holy Spirit to change your sinful behavior is not acceptable, period. Why go to church if you're going to continue to willfully sin? Just stay in the world, because both will go to the same place for eternity.
R. Nolen Miller
via the Internet
God's messengers: As an Evangelical Lutheran minister, I commend you for Laura Bond's nuanced article about the ministry of Reverend Reynolds. Reflecting on similar divisions in my own denomination over issues regarding human sexuality, I see both pain and the opportunity for spiritual growth as we ponder questions such as: Is the church always right? How do I read the scriptures most faithfully? Is God still speaking? Does God have anything new to say? How do we hear God's voice?
In the past, God has often spoken through the last, the least and the littlest, and through rejected minorities rather than through the establishment. So when minorities -- be they ethnic, sexual, spiritual -- have something to say, we had better listen up!
I believe that every human being is created in the image of God, and that sexual variation is not an accident, a sickness, or a sin. Clearly, not everyone agrees on this, but this disagreement itself can be a gift to us: an invitation to be in greater dialogue, to pray like we've never prayed before, to listen harder and deeper, and with greater humility and respect. "A House Divided" encourages this kind of dialogue.
Pastor Bea Chun
San Jose, California
Fear factor: Today's so-called culture war would have us believe that every issue is us against them -- including homosexuality. If you're Christian, you must condemn gays (or the "gay lifestyle," if it makes you feel uncomfortable to think you're actually oppressing a separate class of people); if you're gay, you're a hypocrite -- and sometimes ridiculed in the gay community -- if you say you are a Christian. The truth is that there are more gay Christians than most people realize. Despite having grown up being told that the truth would set them free, many gay Christians are afraid to tell anyone.
However, I suspect the Hateful Right may realize that we number in the hundreds of thousands in the United States alone. Like all oppressors, they must continue to vilify us to maintain their sense of superiority and supremacy. What a grossly distorted gesture of reconciliation that they should reach out to African-Americans to help perpetuate the oppression of gays.
Many African-Americans are insulted that advocates for gay rights have likened these extremists to the KKK and the struggle for gay rights to the civil-rights movement. Comparisons like these are necessarily imperfect because our experiences are different, but one parallel does seem clear: Until people of conscience --whatever their race, whatever their faith, whether they are straight or gay -- speak up against oppression, it will continue. From John 1:5: "The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood."
Thank you for being a light in the darkness.
The gospel truth: That Reverend Reynolds believes what he does about homosexuality and is preaching it as gospel to his congregation should come as no surprise. This thinking is completely consistent with the teaching at Iliff. And that he adds a large dose of politics is very consistent with many black churches around the country, which utilize various forms of liberation theology. What would have made good press is if a conservative theologian were to come up with the same conclusions that Reynolds does.
You may think that I am lambasting homosexuality here. I am not. I'll keep my views on that to myself for now. I am mainly concerned about priorities. A healthy church should hold up the primacy of the Bible, and should preach salvation, redemption and sanctification based on the cross of Christ every Sunday. It sounds as though Reynolds has put other things ahead of the Gospel.
All God's children: Reverend Reynolds is really showing the true spirit of God to the nation. God loves all of us. God accepts all of us. God wants us to have life, love and happiness. Every one of us is a sinner, and none of us is in a position to judge the sinfulness of another.
Someday, all churches will understand that discrimination against a whole class of people, such as gays and lesbians, is wrong and hurtful, and they will recognize that teaching hate is incompatible with their mission. Until that time comes, people like Reynolds will stand as a beacon and as a testimony to what is possible when the focus is put on how God would want his children treated.
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Pray as you go: I want to thank Laura Bond so much for having patience and taking the time to prepare her awesome article. The "Sexuality in the Black Church" Bible study has taught me more than I expected, and I seek to learn even more. Reverend Reynolds is an intelligent, strong, compassionate, obedient true man of God with great vision. I commend him on standing strong regardless of what others say about him or this church and pursuing what God has called him to do. After all, we are not here just to take up space. I believe that God has a plan of work for each of us. Reverend Reynolds is a hardworking servant and educator striving to lead his congregation in the right direction, and that includes to "love thy neighbor as you love yourself."
Right now, my pastor is in need of lots of love, prayers and support for this incredible journey, and I ask anyone who reads this to help meet his needs. As a member of this great church called Emmanuel of Colorado Springs, I will continue praying, loving and supporting my pastor and this church as he/we continue to uphold the Word of God, "building the church from the inside out" and becoming "The Whosoever Church"!