The Naked Truth

Plus: Osteen's Off, Extra Innings at Rogers, All That Jazz

The Naked Truth

Montgomery County news flash: The article about Montgomery County and the "cover-up" of Michelangelo's David, removal of paintings with nudes portrayed, removal of books from libraries and the banning of the class T-shirts ["(Cl)ass Warfare," by Beth Gullett, December 5] was referenced in the Nudist News this week.

As a longtime nudist, it never ceases to amaze me the misconceptions people have about nudism, nudists and the human body in this country (and how prevalent and accepted it is in European countries).

But when I read something like this article -- the covering up of one of art's acknowledged masterpieces -- I can find only disgust for those so shallow as to initiate such nonsense, and pity for those who blindly follow or don't have the good sense and courage to stop the nonsense from happening.

One would hope that minds would never be so small or prejudices so great as to allow such things to happen in this day and age. I hope that common sense and reason ultimately prevail.

Mark Ashworth
Lutz, Florida

Advise and consent: I am on the board of directors of Mainstream Montgomery County, which was mentioned in your article by Beth Gullett, and I just want to write and express my admiration for the article. I agree with her conclusions, but I must point out a small error: It was a committee of librarians rather than Commissioners Court that returned the books to the shelves.

Commissioners Court (specifically, Judge Sadler) began this controversy by summarily removing the books. There is now a committee of five citizens appointed by the commissioners to "advise" the existing committee of five librarians who are responsible for deciding these matters. It has no power whatsoever to affect policy except as assistants to the librarians. The decision-making power is still in the hands of our hired professionals, the librarians.

We are not privy to the votes of the citizens committee because Commissioners Court stipulated that the committee would be advisory only, in order that their deliberations would not be legally required to be open to public examination.

So, you see, Judge Sadler's Commissioners Court has succeeded only in adding an unnecessary and functionless level of bureaucracy to a system that worked fine before they saw fit to meddle with it.

The Reverend Ross H. Henry

GOP Conspiracy?

TAKS critic: I am so proud that the Press started writing about the Republican agenda of TAKS ["Wake-Up Call," by Margaret Downing, November 28]. The TAAS test helped get President Bush into the White House even though each year the bar was lowered behind closed doors. The state has known that the TAKS test was going to be lower and has informed the school districts for the last couple of years that one in five students will pass the test.

No test should be developed with failure as a goal. The government wants public schools to fail this test so a voucher system can be implemented. It's a lot easier to get that system implemented when 80 percent are failing rather than 11 percent.

We should thank every voter who placed these politicians in office for destroying our public education system. The TAKS is leading Texas backward, and the population should rise up and ask why our children are headed for failure no matter what they're taught. This is wrong. Give the children a chance and maybe many of our learning problems will be solved.

Carl Birk

Osteen's Off

Gays and religion: I was most dismayed that you would pick Joel Osteen as best religious leader [Best of Houston issue, September 26], in light of the feature you wrote on him and his church earlier this year ["Power House," by Jennifer Mathieu, April 4].

The article noted that he does not "condone" homosexuality and sees it as a sin. Notwithstanding the blatantly obvious flaws in this belief (such as, how does anyone condone something that is beyond the realm of control or choice because of its biological nature and, therefore, makes our "approval" or "disapproval" a moot point?), I fail to see how anyone could be considered a leader when he continues to hang on to such antiquated beliefs and value systems that make no sense and are harmful to others.

Osteen and his ilk are no leaders, religious or otherwise, unless you count their power to lead the ignorant and misinformed into more discriminatory, violent behavior against gays and lesbians by trumpeting this nonsense. You can do (and have done) better than this, Houston Press. It's time to print a retraction and chalk up your choice of him to poor judgment on your part.

Neal Massey

Joel's a real joy: This is a great informational article. I enjoy Pastor Joel Osteen, and he is my favorite TV minister. I wait up late at night just to see him. He surely is God's gift to humanity.

What is most admirable about his ministry is that he doesn't ask for money as most of his so-called equals on TV. He spends almost every minute of his broadcast time preaching and, most touching, leading people to Christ. Most of the other preachers spend the final ten minutes begging or trying to convince their viewing audience to purchase their products, which in my mind is despicable.

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