Gays and God
Pick the battles: When will we in the gay community learn that not all churches and places of worship are willing to welcome us into their services, hearts and homes ["God Only Knows," by Margaret Downing, May 2]?
Right now we are at the midpoint of our rights movement, but for the Rickards to compare their struggle to attend an expressly unwelcoming church to the struggle of Rosa Parks is absurd at best and, at worst, disrespectful to the black and gay civil rights movements.
We in the community have got to learn that not every table has a place for us to sit. We have also got to learn that not every table is worth sitting at. Not every battle is worth fighting.
Trying to keep the city voters from passing a homophobic charter amendment is worth fighting for. Trying to make a church change its doctrine and teachings isn't.
Benefits without the sacrifice: Congratulations on a well-written article. However, you overlooked several important factors.
I am not an expert on the theology of Vineyard Church or of Michael Palandro. However, I do have a solid understanding of Episcopalian and Roman Catholic theology, and I believe that the article ignored many precepts of these faiths that I would assume Vineyard holds.
You make reference to the scarcity of so-called clobber passages in the Bible, degrade them with that cute nickname, and accept only that they "appear to condemn homosexuality." All of these passages are quite important, and no true Christian can afford to overlook them. You would be hard-pressed to find a well-respected theologian today who would claim that homosexuality is not condemned in the Bible.
Mr. Palandro was fully within his rights to withdraw the services of his church from the Rickards. These two were expecting to receive the benefits of the church without accepting the "price" to be members. The Rickards may feel called by God to change the church, but they should also examine the possibility that perhaps God is not speaking to them. If they find that they absolutely believe that he is, then they are most welcome to form their own church.
Not his fight: God only knows? Give me a break!
The more we try to cram our lifestyles down the throats of the Christian community, the more they are going to give us hell. I have no sympathy for Donna and Marti. They have basically asked for the fight they find themselves in now.
We are never going to change the minds of radical Christians, and why should we? Who needs them? I sure don't, and I don't care for other gays who can't seem to live without them.
As for gay conversion, what self-respecting heterosexual would want an ex-gay? Trust me, you would only be setting yourself up for grief. Donna and Marti, find a hobby, get a second job, do anything; just leave the gay community out of your fight. Most of us learned a long time ago to live and let live.
It's time straights realize not all gays give a shit about getting married, having children or praying with people who can't stand us.
The biblical stand: Christ does love everyone, unconditionally. However, Jesus never condoned sin. And like it or not, the Bible clearly teaches that homosexuality is a sin -- as it does adultery, stealing, lying, etc. All of us sin, but we must recognize it as sin, ask forgiveness and go on. As for Rosa Parks, she was born black. She did not decide to become black, and discrimination based on the color of her skin -- something she had no control over -- was wrong.
It's a much different scenario with the lesbians. Regarding the church's stance, Ephesians 5:11 states, "Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them." Taking a biblical stand may not be popular in today's politically correct society, but God's word is not dependent on the political or social climate of the day.
Vineyard vinegar: Hats off to Donna and Marti for "coming out" with what most people allow to remain a secret. That's what I did when Vineyard Church condemned me for my private life. They liked me before they knew, and even allowed me to conduct a field day for the youths. Upon being honest with them, I was told that I was no longer welcome unless I changed who I was.
I had nothing to do with God or religion for many years after that, but I finally realized that God loved me exactly how I was -- after all, God made me. I strive to live a good, clean, God-centered life and at times even feel that God may be proud of me -- as I am. By the way, isn't it God's job to judge? Those who play God are who we should fear.
The unrepentant: Is it unconditional love that inspired the Catholic Church to cover up the sexual abuse of young boys by its own priests for fear of offending them? What if the Church instead confronted those who did wrong and kept them away from situations where these actions could be repeated?
Do you believe that Cardinal Law should resign his position in the Church? And if he refuses, do you believe that the Church should remove him? And if it does, where is the unconditional love of Jesus in this position?
Can people who continue a lifestyle of stealing and murdering, without acknowledgement of any wrongdoing on their part, be unconditionally accepted in our community without the possibility of being taken out of society?
It is my impression that you disagree with Vineyard's position on this issue. But are you being truly fair in your judgment, since you claim in the first place that there is no sure way of knowing?
Open the doors: My deepest thanks to you for your column, in which you chronicled the spiritual struggle for Marti and Donna Rickard to worship in the church of their choosing. It is ironic to me that a place that is created for the purpose of bringing people together to worship our Lord can be the one place that people are not welcome by self-proclaimed representatives of God. Yes, I am homosexual (and Christian), and I take great offense at any derogatory action taken in God's name.
Does Michael Palandro sincerely think that he has set an example of the type of behavior that Christ would condone? If someone doesn't change to what he believes is right, it sounds as though his answer is to turn them away, rather than continue to live by example and show them what he understands to be God's brotherly love.
Our first and only mission as Christians is to win souls for Christ. Churches should be opening their doors, not shutting them in the faces of people seeking to worship God. However, I forgive Michael Palandro. After all, God loves him in spite of his "Christianity."
James E. Black
No crusaders: Marti and Donna Rickard are not a pair of Rosa Parkses, they are a pair of idiots.
I am always amazed that gay people would want to belong to organizations where they are clearly not welcomed. Like the Log Cabin Republicans' sad attempts at being accepted into the Republican fold, the Rickards' crusade to belong to this "Christian" church is pathetic.
Rather than investing their time in trying to change the hearts and minds of this congregation, they might do better to spend some time sorting out their self-loathing issues. Only people who really hate what they are would place themselves in such hostile environments.
Lord's limitations: Thank you for your column. I know Marti and Donna, and I know the Vineyard. I started my adult Christian walk at a Vineyard in Santa Monica, California. Christ was alive in that church. I won't attend Houston's Vineyard because I think God is limited there. I think Christ is limited in most churches, gay and straight. I choose to worship where my sexuality does not determine "where I sit on the bus."
Judge not: Every person, group, movement, reform or change in human history ever deemed "different" at the time from the accepted norm has inevitably endured hurt, hatred, harassment and persecution. If we truly know of the existence of a higher power, then we must also acknowledge that he (she/it/whatever) is truly in control of all things -- and thereby, who are we to judge?
Name withheld by request
Biblical truths: The Scriptures are God's perfect will. The church agenda is not the gay agenda. The Scriptures will not be changed to suit the gay viewpoint. Yes, a person can include sin in his agenda, but it will come with consequences. God is clear on sin. Man cannot change this. Hats off to a minister who will stand up for God's word.
Good research: Such a thorough and unbiased article ["Child Support," by Brian Wallstin, May 2] is what I have come to expect from your publication. Keep up the good work.
In Jay's Day
Rent tales: As property manager for Jay Hollyfield during the early 1990s, I am uniquely qualified to share a few comments ["Pam's Last Stand," by Jennifer Mathieu, April 25].
Jay was the son of wealthy parents who had once owned numerous properties, which he or his sister ultimately inherited. The tenancy was certainly not C and D class, as the article stated, but rather an interesting mix of attorneys, artists, photographers, teachers, antique dealers, nonprofits and clubs, all of which paid their rent on a timely basis.
One day two fragile ladies came into my office at 2700 Albany requesting to see the area of the building where their room had been when they lived there as orphans during the early 1900s. I escorted them to what was at the time a photographer's studio, and when I looked back over my shoulder to catch a glimpse of them reminiscing, they had vanished.
Jay Hollyfield was one of the most thoughtful people with whom I have ever worked -- totally in contrast to certain modern developers who have taken over Houston with their own brand of American Psycho housing.
Upon Jay's death from AIDS in 1994, the vultures began circling, and the good old days gave way to the present. Sorry, Pam, but such is "progress."
Prolific author: Richard Connelly obviously doesn't know Mattress Mac too well either, otherwise he would know that this is his second book ["You Don't Know Mac," May 2]. The first book, Elvis Is on the Lot, was sold in local bookstores three or four years ago, and I have a copy.
Mac gets bashed a lot for self-promotion in his charitable giving, but who cares, as long as people are being helped? If you added up the community involvement of all the furniture stores in town, it would probably be only a fraction of what Mac has given back to worthwhile causes.
Eaten up: It is apparent that the writer of Night & Day [Dylan Otto Krider, May 2] is biased against video games. Anyone who thinks that video games (which incorporate reading, problem-solving and solid reflexes into one package) are less challenging and even "mindless fare" in comparison to comic books has obviously been in a cave for the last 30 years or so.
Play Pokémon on the Game Boy. Any of them. You will all eat your words.
Caipirinha class: Imagine my dismay when the newspaper that brought me a 12-part series on the history of barbecue and a 32-part series on Mexican versus Tex-Mex got the Caipiroska all wrong ["Stirred and Shaken," by James W. Crooker, April 25]. It's not a Russian drink invented by a Gershwin piano player in an Argentine restaurant.
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A Caipiroska is a variant on the national drink of Brazil, the caipirinha. Sip a caipirinha and enjoy one of the truly great summertime drinks. Brazilians will tell you that caipirinha means "little hillbilly."
Because making them is labor-intensive, it's nearly impossible to get a good caipirinha at an American bar. In Houston, the best are at Fogo de Chão and perhaps Rodizio Grill. Avoid the one at Bossa; they make it as badly as they spell it.
I hope you get good at caipirinhas before the weather gets too hot.