Matters of faith Thank you so much for the article “I want my faith back.” It takes real courage in today’s climate for writers such as Jennifer Barnett Reed and those leaders of faith quoted to speak out from their hearts about their convictions. I, too, am amazed at the hateful messages of the so-called “right.” I cannot remember ever doubting my faith in God, but those folks certainly do not speak of the One in whom I believe. Of course, at early maturity I chose to leave the church I was reared in just because of such self-righteous teachings. And, yes, it is time we acknowledge that God is bigger than any of the divisions we might try to impose upon ourselves and that we are all His creatures. How sad He must be at the priorities we have chosen. If we truly believe in a Lord of Love, we as a nation must come to grips with that and it matters not in what manner we choose to practice that faith — just that we practice it in love for our fellow man. After all, after the commandment of love of God comes the one of loving our neighbor as ourselves. It is said that anything can be justified by quoting Bible scriptures out of context. How much better it would be to love one another where we/they are and praise our Lord while doing it. Carolyn Ringer North Little Rock Thank you, Jennifer Barnett Reed, for the excellent article. You are speaking for me, and many of my friends! Elaine Edge Hot Springs Village Jennifer Barnett Reed’s article was truly inspiring. As a liberal and progressive Christian, I am definitely in her “Amen” corner. Perhaps we are too polite and too aware of good manners to have the “in your face” methodologies of the ultra-conservative religious groups. “Amen” to her announcing her agnosticism in her 20s. So was I. It was a sure cure and a necessary part of my religious journey to shed my religious past as a fundamentalist. It was great to hear that we progressive Christians are not a dying breed. The denomination of my church, the United Church of Christ, where I serve as an ordained minister, is open to all people regardless of race, culture, ethnicity, marital status, sexual orientation or economic background. As mentioned in her report, the television ad by the United Church of Christ was not aired by some networks because it was too controversial. What is controversial about the statement in that ad that says, “no matter who you are, or where you are on life’s journey, you’re welcomed here”? Thank God there are open-minded people of faith, Christians, Jews, Muslims, who do care about the social needs of the poor — education, hunger, peacemaking — and do something about it. Rev. Dan R. Thornhill Co-Pastor, Faith United Church of Christ Little Rock I’m a University of Arkansas employee, a person of progressive faith and a former journalist. I have been appalled at the lack of reporting on the less-than-ethical tactics of this current administration — and extraordinarily confused by it, as well, having been one of those “watchdogs” for years myself. However, I wanted to thank you so much for writing the article on faith and pointing out that we’re out there and we’re watching things. I am a regular reader of [Sojourner magazine’s email newsletter] (which you referred to in your article), and my best friend is a former youth pastor at Second Presbyterian in Little Rock. Karen Aken is an incredible pastor and I was pleased to see her quoted. Please continue to hammer away at this issue. I have posted a link to your article in my Live Journal (and got to it because I’m a regular reader of smirkingchimp.com, which picked it up and featured it on its home page today). Thank you, thank you, thank you — FINALLY something out of this state we can be proud of. Pamela M. Hudspeth Fayetteville Your edition of Dec. 23, 2004 (by your reckoning), has only now reached Me. I am not without a sense of humor. (See, e.g., Job.) However, the truth — I do not deal in “facts,” I deal in truth — is that I am indeed a Republican, despite your cover story to the contrary. I have been a Republican for quite some time, again by your reckoning. From, say, “In the beginning.” Nevertheless, I am also a Democrat, and everything else in between and on the edges. Kind of like the Three-In-One thing, get it? In short, I Am That I Am. I told you that about 5,000 years ago, already. Perhaps you’ve forgotten. I haven’t. God (We suspended our usual rule requiring a hometown and callback number for this letter, though we can say it was e-mailed by an emissary who practices law in Little Rock.) I am or was a Christian until Nov. 2. Then I decided that if these people like Bush and his henchmen were Christians and going to heaven, my wife and I didn’t want to spend eternity with them and their kind. So I told God that I no longer believed that he was stronger than Satan and now I’m searching for a God of compassion, love and caring. Not a God of killing or starving the children, but a God like I thought that Jesus was. I am on the outside looking in and all I see is evil in the churches. So I guess I am going to stay out until I feel it’s safe to be called a Christian. Ted A. Hood Little Rock In her delusional rant, Jennifer Barnett Reed says, “I want my faith back,” but nobody took it. She also says, “I’m starting to take the right wing’s hijacking of my religion very, very personally.” What nonsense. Ms. Reed is a Methodist and absolutely nothing significant has changed in the Methodist Church since the election nor is anything likely to change anytime soon. Most conservatives left the Methodist Church years ago and it is now stagnant and drifting to port under liberal guidance. Despite all her religious talk, Ms. Reed’s real concern is political. She and her fellow leftists want to “do good” with taxpayers’ money, and it’s getting harder for them to get their hands in the U.S. Treasury. The difference between conservative and liberal Christians is that the conservatives believe in all Ten Commandments, whereas the liberals only believe in eight. They covet the earnings of others and want the government to extort (i.e. steal) that money so it can be used as liberals wish. This is why they are referred to as Eight Commandment Christians. Someone should tell Ms. Reed that Jesus didn’t think very highly of coveters or thieves no matter how highly they thought of themselves. Tom Strickland Little Rock The Mansion Having read your article concerning the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation’s $750,000 grant for a “new” Governor’s Mansion and the corresponding matching funds received from the Republican elite, I must comment. Why? What’s the deal? Is this really necessary? What a wonderful thought. They are replacing a recently remodeled Governor’s Mansion with a larger, more expensive, bigger and better piece of crap. Are there no triple-wide mobile homes out there? Why not build a 7,000-square-foot homeless shelter, complete with kitchen and dormitory facilities, next to the present Governor’s Mansion? What a waste of money. George McFadden Jr. Pottsville Go TiVo Being an avid user of their product, a stockholder in the corporation and father of the vice president for business development for TiVo Inc., I can say the answer to the headline question Jim Harris posed Dec. 23 (“Do you really want a TiVo for Christmas?”) is a resounding yes. Much like icemakers improved the ubiquitous refrigerator, TiVo has enhanced television, but in even more profound ways. As you know, just forget to fill up the programming queue with your Season Pass Manager or Pick Programs to Record functions, and presto, a lineup of programs automatically appears based on viewing habits. As with the icemaker, one wonders how we got along without them. There is a downside. Like most fans, Jim is obviously suffering from the symptoms of TiVo-itis (i.e., the anxiety that comes when watching TiVo-less televisions, wanting TiVo technology on radios, etc.). This is the early onset stage, which is followed by progressive worsening and insatiable desire for more and more functionality. Then come the impatience and incredulity of interacting with friends and neighbors who have absolutely no clue about our appreciation for this marvelous little device. Sadly, there is no cure. In short, you’re hooked. However, there is comfort in knowing that you are not alone. The real answer is to spread the gospel of TiVo to the unknowing like you are doing, in hopes of multiplying our clan. Larry E. Lichty Little Rock Social Security Not content with wholesale misleading of the American public, President Bush is endangering my wife’s retirement and the retirements of millions of Americans with his plan to dismantle Social Security. Recently, White House plans were revealed to cut promised benefits to retirees by nearly a third. For the average person, the so-called retirement savings account alternative promises a diminished retirement outlook and increases the already monstrous federal deficit. We can’t stand by and let the wealthy, George W. Bush and the Republicans, cut our promised guaranteed retirement benefits — especially when so many of us are counting on Social Security. Patrick McKelvey Little Rock Nursing home abuse Abuse isn’t always visible in care facilities. We look for the usual signs, but the smallest things add up to abuse, neglect and death. Unfortunately, we learned this too late to prevent the pain our mother sustained in the last year of her life. The most common abuse is hygiene. Check teeth to see if they’re clean and gums aren’t infected; how often a nursing home resident is bathed, and if toenails are clipped and not growing over in the skin. Report and investigate any injuries, no matter how minute. Take pictures for your records and make copies of all doctor visits, treatments and medication. The law should require video cameras in rooms of care facilities. Only a family member should be able to remove the tape. Let’s make a difference so our mother and hundreds of other loved ones didn’t die in vain. Vickie Parker LaPlace, La.