Letters to the Editor

Watt's New?

Interior monologue: As a 27-year, now-retired employee of the Department of the Interior, I cannot thank you enough for Alan Prendergast's "Grazin' Hell," in the April 7 issue. I worked under more than a few Secretaries of Interior, and Gale Norton is absolutely the worst. She took over where James Watt left off. (You didn't mention she also worked for him while he was Secretary.) When asked at the University of Colorado which philosophy most influenced her, Norton cited Libertarianism. I believe Libertarians oppose all public ownership of land. They also believe Mr. Robbins has an absolute right to destroy his property in any way he sees fit. Personal property rights are the Father, Son and Holy Ghost to Ms. Norton. Nothing in this article surprised me.

What did surprise me was that only one letter was printed in response. I expected a whole page of letters. Guess the victims of Ms. Norton are too frightened to speak and her supporters have nothing to say. Keep up the good work, and remember: Bush appointees are like cockroaches. They run for the cover of darkness when the light of truth is shined upon them.

Jim Wilkinson

School Daze

A lesson in laughs: The April 14 What's So Funny was great commentary on the Denver Public Schools debacle. As a graduate, I know too well the ineptitude of that system. Adam Cayton-Holland always does a great job. I enjoy reading him!

Dave Jacobson

Good God!

What the hell? Laura Bond's feature profiling Reverend Benjamin Reynolds ("A House Divided," April 14) was well-written. Unfortunately, that's about the only good thing I can say about it. In the Bible, the word "Emmanuel" means "God with us." This pastor has certainly perverted the meaning. Nothing, and I mean nothing, about the church's pastor is encouraging. Perhaps at some point he recognized God's truth, but now he has lost his way as a man of God.

I don't know Reverend Reynolds personally, but his actions sent a chill through me. As a pastor myself, I could only feel deep grief and outrage at the horror he has heaped upon this house of God. And for what? Some phantom-purporting theology that God accepts homosexuality? Does he think he is doing God a favor by force-feeding the church a diet of maggot theology? I can only hope that those with any spiritual intelligence will escape quickly with their sanity. My conclusion: There must be a special place in hell for people like him, who so wantonly destroy good people in the name of God.

Reverend D. L. Foster
Atlanta, Georgia

Change is good: "A House Divided" really inspired me to seek change, to go back to church, and in the words of a member from Emmanuel, "at least try to let God change [me]." I would like to thank you for taking the time to write this article. Thank you for the work and effort you put into this.

I would really like to get in contact with Reverend Benjamin Reynolds and thank him, but if that is not possible, I hope that this e-mail gets passed along to him, and if it does: Reverend Reynolds, thank you so much for allowing yourself to be used of God. I really admire your boldness and courage to reach out and touch so many lives. I hope that this e-mail is of encouragement to you. Thank you!

Carlos Loya

Truth will out: Thank you for the article on Reverend Benjamin Reynolds. It was a great piece, especially since Reverend Reynolds's church is in Colorado Springs, the heart of the conservative Christian movement. From my perspective --and yes, I am an African-American male whose grandfather was a biblical scholar -- Reverend Reynolds's quote of "Truth is truth, wherever it's found" says it all.

Vernon Robinson
via the Internet

Holy rollovers: I enjoyed "A House Divided." I thought that congregant Verna Williams explained it best: Faith in Jesus is supposed to transform. The Lord saves us in whatever condition we are in, and with the in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit challenges us to live after His example -- that is, holy.

Homosexuality is not holy. Just because Jesus never explicitly speaks against homosexuality does not mean that He condones it; He said that He came to fulfill the law and the prophets. If the Old Testament says it's wrong, the New Testament does not make it right. The New Testament is the fruition of what is but a shadow of the Old -- e.g., Jesus is the final sacrificial lamb. There are a lot of well-meaning folks who are perhaps open to benefits accrued via civil unions (myself one of them) and who are not homophobic, but who believe that homosexuality is immoral, and this belief is based on clear Bible position. We very much take issue with gay supporters telling us that we are homophobic because we believe the Bible and that it must be the Bible that is incorrect, not them.

What that Herndon Davis did is beyond appalling. He is attempting to take a sordid history, and the emotional weight of it in the black community, to justify his position. To some extent, he is right: The Church should not be about hateful actions towards homosexuals, but it should also call it what it is -- sin. As Jesus said to so many whom He healed, "Go and sin no more."

Robert A. Menafee
Dayton, Ohio

Opening the door: Thanks for your coverage of Pastor Benjamin L. Reynolds's "The Black Church and Sexuality" class. I have only a couple of quick mentions:

1. Emmanuel is not tiny; it is the largest and most respected African-American ministry in the city. Which isn't to say that it is not tiny in comparison to New Life Community Church -- which, come on, really isn't a community church at all -- but the point should be made that the African-American community in Colorado Springs is rather small. In context of that community and the churches established within it, Emmanuel looms largest as the standard-bearer.

2. Pastor Reynolds does not have a big office. There are mirrors in there because it's so small; the mirrors help with the claustrophobia.

3. Pastor Reynolds does not have a penchant for shiny shirts. At least none that I've observed.

I wish the doubters weren't the loudest voices in the pew in Laura Bond's article, but it's possible they accurately summed up the overall perception: The majority left the Bible study unpersuaded. Most comments seemed more emotion over intellect. While many congregants seem to accept scriptural challenges that allow women in pulpits, many of these same congregants seem suspicious of scriptural challenges to the church's historical condemnation of gays -- suggesting, perhaps, some personal agenda rather than an objective review of empirical evidence.

As I told the pastor, it occurs to me that, at the end of the day, we really may not be able to change the way church people think. And finally, that may not actually be our purpose. Our purpose may actually be to raise the issues and get people thinking and talking, so that the next one who comes along will find the door opened just a bit wider than where we found it. And the next generation of church folk will be just a little less ignorant, just a little less afraid, just a little more patient, just a little better informed.

And, when I think if it in those terms, it's really not so bad.

Reverend Christopher J. Priest
Colorado Springs

Casting the first stone: I was very disappointed in the sloppiness of Laura Bond's work. She wrote that the Federal Marriage Amendment "had just been introduced by Colorado Springs representative Marilyn Musgrave." Huh? Last time I checked,. Musgrave represents the fourth district of Colorado, which covers the plains from Fort Collins to Lamar, but does not include Colorado Springs (which is represented in Washington, D.C., by Joel Hefley).That is a pretty glaring error that I'm surprised her editor -- if she has one -- didn't catch.

She also wrote that in the 1970s, city leaders "began recruiting right-wing groups as a way to prop up a sagging agricultural economy." Is she making this stuff out of whole cloth? First of all, my understanding is that the recruitment of the religious ministries began in earnest in the late 1980s, as a result of the cutting-back of the military at the end of the Cold War. Second, as a native of Colorado Springs, I have never even heard of an agricultural base to the economy. Historically, the economy there was based on gold and other mineral extraction, tourism and the military.

The mistakes match the generally sloppy and pejorative tone of the whole article. It seems that Christians must either be portrayed as homophobic and on a witch hunt, or they are enlightened and tolerant of homosexuality. Contrarily, most of us are working to maintain a loving stance toward all, but not allowing sin to rule over any of our brothers and sisters. I personally work to include all sins of adultery along with the other sins that must be confessed and repented of, but which don't preclude Christian fellowship during that process. If you want to go to a scripture that speaks to the (w)holistic approach that the Bible actually calls for, read Ezekiel 16:49-50.

Steven Flanders
via the Internet

Editor's note: We stand by our depiction of Reverend Reynolds's shirts, but thank Steven Flanders for pointing out two truly boneheaded errors in "A House Divided. " Forgive us our sins.

The Marry-Go-Round

Social malcontents: In regards to Laura Bond's "Love and Happiness" and "A House Divided," in the April 14 issue, be advised that the real crisis is not marital or spiritual (tell your pastor), but social. Society as a whole pressures people, especially the young and naive, into procreation, marriage and having children.

The 50 percent divorce rate is because of people not being ready to give up their lives for their children. So before any more social-pressure-created children are raised, please make sure you are ready to give up your own life, your wants, your dreams. And then show your next generation how to trust only your God and savior to have the compassion and love necessary to break the chains of social pressures, to do what in your own hearts are true.

Otherwise, have safe sex; marriage because of pregnancy can and will be a ball and chain of blame. Your "could haves, would haves" are too late. And on the other hand, there are thousands of couples unable to have children. What's the difference with same-sex marriage?

D. Vigil

Is everybody happy? "Love and Happiness" was nicely done. It's fascinating how the right can manage to find an audience for that "men are from Mars" crap. How nice it'd be if life or relationships were that simple. It reminds me of the ex-gay movement and their theory that if you undergo enough same-sex bonding, you'll eventually heal your broken paternal relationship and suddenly start hankering for, well, you know...

John Dicker

Love me gender: I would recommend not tripping on acid after watching 1950s television in Texas. I see Laura Bond was as offended by this anti-feminism as I am. What good does hiding the friction between parental opinions bring to a child in learning to debate and make decisions? Where did they get the data for these scientific "secrets"? I agree with equal freedom of speech, but these people should not be making a living giving this sort of advice. Perhaps I am looking through Laura's perceptive lenses here, but the wife seems like a mindless automaton.

God doesn't create these gender roles; advertising does. In the relentless search for cool, the advertisers have destroyed our standards and limited our intellect to that of apes. If I had a girlfriend or wife, I would be suspicious if I came home to her wearing a "painted house." I would be searching high and low for the pizza boy or some other scoundrel. If this is the way the religious right chooses to perceive the roles of women and men in the 21st century, then that explains the state of the union today. No wonder violence and oppression remain staples of American foreign relations. The people in charge are stuck in marriages with people they can't stand, and feel the only way out is the end of the world. This is just a hypothesis; there aren't enough asylums to house the sexually repressed maniacs of this country.

But what do I know? I'm a thirty-something single with no sign of ever changing my hermit status. At least I'm not willing to destroy anyone else's life but my own for the sake of love or Jesus. End rant.

Reverend Lani Milbus
via the Internet

The Examined Life

Nothing personal: At the end of Juliet Wittman's unfortunate review (or personal essay, I should say) of David Mamet's Edmond ("Darkness Personified," April 14), she questions why the producing company, the Denver Rep, would choose to stage such a play. My question to Ms. Wittman: Why not distance yourself a little from the plays that you critique? Otherwise, rename the theater page "editorial."

Plays like Edmond are very important, in that they exist to question our beliefs about our perceptions and judgments. As so many of us often do in life, Ms. Wittman has failed to see the opportunities for personal growth that exist when we find ourselves offended or angered by something and then take the time to examine where that comes from. I see Edmond as the most honest character in the play, almost a modern-day Jesus, in fact. If Jesus were alive and living in America, he would not be crucified; he would be put in jail so that society could continue avoiding difficult issues and pain.

Ms. Wittman, you have taken for granted the fact that you get paid to write for a newspaper that most people can't even afford to advertise in. Sharpen your journalistic skills a little by sparing us the recap of what happens in the plays you review, and inject a little pro-and-con discussion instead. You have passed judgment, and you have completely missed the point of why challenging theater is valid theater. I suppose that's why you write for Westword and not the New York Times, and why it's important for people to rely less on what critics have to say and to think more for themselves.

Thomas J. O'Connor
via the Internet

Lights, Camera, Action!

Dumb and dumber: Robert Wilonsky's review of Sahara ("Fortunate Son," April 7) shows how ignorant he is. Wilonsky apparently isn't bright enough to notice that it was biological, not nuclear, contamination in those barrels. And had he bothered to read any of Clive Cussler's books, he would have known that his stories are action-adventure and don't pretend to be some literary masterpiece. Hell, in half of his books he introduces himself -- Clive Cussler -- as a character. Just as a wink to let us know that this is just some fun.

Wilonsky needs to get off his high horse and perhaps get a check-up from the neck up. Jerk.

Charles Dykeman

Pitch, pitch, pitch: Regarding Jean Oppenheimer's "For Love of the Game," in the April 7 issue online:

Although Fever Pitch is based on Nick Hornby's semi-autobiographical novel about a British man torn between soccer and romance (a 1996 British film, starring Colin Firth, similarly revolved around the protagonist's beloved Manchester United club), anybody who has ever lived in Boston will know that the depiction of obsessed fans is no exaggeration.

Oppenheimer is a bloody oaf. It's Arsenal, not Manchester United!

Dave Morrell
via the Internet

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