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July 30, 2008

Inbox — July 30, 2008

Letters to the Editor

WHAT SAY YOU?

You really did a job on Second Presbyterian Church (“Church Hoppers,” LEO Weekly, July 2). To treat the article kindly: Your problem was that your writers couldn’t decide what genre to work in. Was it a humor column? Was it a serious review of Sunday worship? Was it a cheap class attack by writers in blue jeans who felt uncomfortable among people who dressed differently?

The concept of reviewing a church on a Sunday morning is an interesting, if not exactly new, idea. I have read for many years some trenchant and penetrating church reviews in a semi-professional publication. I often said “ouch” as I read them, so it isn’t that they were easy on the subject. It was, rather, that they understood their subject well.

We don’t know the background of your reviewers beyond the little that was said in the column. The idea of the young Starbucks employee reviewing Sunday worship is a particularly interesting one, however, in that churches need to be seen through the eyes of persons who are searching, if indeed that is actually the case with this person.

However, the other reviewer needs to reveal more about himself since he purports to speak with authority. For instance, we don’t know if he is committed to the institutional church or if he regularly attends Sunday worship. (Would you send a vegan to review Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse? Or someone hostile to classical music to review a Mahler symphony?) What does he know about worship and its ingredients? What is his own background that prepares him for this review? What homework did he do beyond a trip to the Web? And because dress is so important to him, why does he take pride in standing out as different?

Your reviewer needs considerably more sophistication than shown in this column; unless, of course, it is not a serious column. In that case, I would still ask why the people of Second Presbyterian Church should have been the object of his derision.

The Rev. Richard H. Humke, Episcopal priest, Louisville

Editor’s Note: George Halitzka, the “other reviewer” referenced above, is a self-described Evangelical Christian and weekly churchgoer. This fact was revealed in the June 4 issue of LEO Weekly, when the series was launched. 

 

IN HISTORY WE TRUST

Joe Phelps’ opposition to Gov. Beshear’s idea to add “In God We Trust” on the Kentucky license plate was an unexpected but refreshing read. However, Phelps appears to misunderstand the well-documented history surrounding this phrase.

Congress first added “In God We Trust” to our currency in 1954 as a Cold War ploy to combat “atheist” Communism. This “atheism” of Communism resulted from the view that citizens should be obedient to the state, not God. However, this does not reflect the views of most true atheists. Most atheists simply do not believe in God for personal reasons, but rather believe in explaining and understanding the natural world through science, not religion. In fact, the Constitution, the framework our country is built upon, never once mentions God or the Bible. It specifically forbids government sponsorship of religion. The Founding Fathers (and some past presidents) like Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, Thomas Paine and John Adams were not Christians, but actually deists. Most were outspoken against Christianity and believed in an initial God behind nature’s physical laws, but no further intervention in the world after that. It is very disconcerting how few Americans actually understand our nation’s history, including “politically correct” politicians like Gov. Beshear looking for cheap ways to secure votes in future elections.

Paul R. Johnson, Louisville

 

DIRTY DEEDS

I am always amazed by the amount of time people in Frankfort are able to dedicate to irrelevant issues that serve only to divide us, rather than focusing on the unsatisfied basic needs of Kentuckians. What will Jesus be most impressed with, our colorful license plates or the one-in-six Kentuckians living in poverty? 

Yet instead of serious programs to eliminate the same depressed conditions that embarrassed Kentucky in 1960s documentaries, we’ve seen a pattern of behavior in Frankfort, of legislators more interested in advertising their religious beliefs than showing them through actions.

Not only do I believe license plates with religious messages could easily be argued illegal if someone sued (see KRS 186.164 9C, the law governing specialty plates), but here we are again, talking about something that serves only to sway elections and is of no consequence. Can we just get over it and concentrate on what we all share in common?

People of all political parties and religious affiliations (and those without either or both) all want the same things. We all want good schools. We all want safe streets. We all want low taxes, fair wages, job security, affordable energy, good roads and accurate elections. We all want to know someone will take care of us if we get sick or hurt. The list is really staggering, and yet we have been able to accomplish so little.

And while some of us may want to live in a state that officially endorses the Christian God, none of us want to continue living in a state where one-in-five families lives on less than $300 a week. Sooner or later, people must realize that the constant airing of personal religious beliefs is a distraction that gets in the way of what we all need.

If you’re not gay, it doesn’t hurt you if gay people get married. They are not you. If you don’t like gambling, that doesn’t mean everyone else should have to do without it. If you don’t drink beer, it’s still OK for liquor stores to exist in your county. Truly compassionate (read: Christ-like) work that would substantially help people could get done in this state if we weren’t so concerned about the face we put on it. Gov. Beshear and the rest in Frankfort should show us with deeds, not words.

Scott Ritcher, candidate for State Senate, District 35, Louisville

 

SHADES OF GRAY

The recent primary election in Kentucky brought the needed conversation regarding race in this state. Some Kentucky voters said Barack Obama’s race was a factor. The problem is, Obama is not black, he is biracial. And this is probably why some Kentucky Democrats voted against him. Probably one of the biggest fears among some whites in their world, as they see it, is the perceived decline of their “pure” white world. They believe their daughters and sons will actually disregard the fears of their parents and grandparents in establishing meaningful relationships with other races.  

Being a well-groomed, educated black man, I’ve seen those fears upon the faces of white males while strolling in downtown Louisville. The look of disdain that a blonde, blue-eyed white female would find me attractive enough to eyeball probably makes them uncomfortable. I’ve seen on occasion when a young mixed couple is together, mostly black male/white female, white males seem to cringe at the sight. (The same look my white male Air Force counterparts gave me while stationed in Europe, during the ’70s and ’80s.)

The media should play a larger role in explaining white attitudes toward race relations. The question that needs asking is, how can you continue to hold such attitudes when children of mixed-race couples will become the new “minorities”? Years ago, a former white female co-worker whose daughter gave birth to a biracial son seemed so distraught about having a mixed grandson. Later, someone told me her husband was a suspected member of the KKK. The next time I saw her, I asked her about her grandson. She said, “The world is changing.” I said, “Yes it is, but for the better.” We never conversed about race, but I had the feeling she’d overcome her attitude about race. At least I hope so.  

Keith E. Lewis, Louisville