Pressing the Pulse
Thank goodness for your paper.
I'm trying to entertain family from Turkey, and your paper makes it possible to keep in touch with the pulse of Houston. After all, there's not a whole lot to see in our city.

Sue Ulu
via Internet

Diverse Worship
Thanks for your article covering Houston churches and their diverse approaches to worship ["Smells Like Holy Spirit," by Hobart Rowland, February 19]. I've participated in a prison ministry where First Presbyterian Church's Quest band, 40 Days, plays for inmates at the Boot Camp in Atascocita. This kind of worship service may not be for everyone, but it's a ministry in more ways than one. It's filling a need. It allows prisoners to pray. And the band is made up 100 percent of volunteers. Isn't that what sharing the faith is all about?

Margaret Miller
via Internet

Heading Toward a Relapse?
Let's not forget the days of oppression. While the title's catchy, "Smells Like Holy Spirit" is just another step farther onto the slippery path back to the days of women reduced to subservience, gays being reviled and subjected to miscellaneous other torture due strictly to the widespread judgmental belief among Christians that their lifestyle is immoral, using scripture to justify segregation and an endless list of horrifying examples of what happens when Christians (other religions not excluded, when in a position of power) get their chance to rule the day.

Metro is nothing more than a great marketing scheme meant to package Christianity (in a hip sheep's clothes) to make it palatable to Gen Xers. Christians have and should have the right to freely practice their religion. They do not have the right to infringe on the liberties of those who do not choose to practice their religion. History says they find this infringement irresistible.

There were reasons we stopped school prayer. There were reasons we gave women the chance to have a career and, later, to earn wages equal to their male counterparts. Spotlighting Metro and Quest only adds steam to the perception that we're headed toward relapse. Maybe Houston Press should do a retrospective showing the atrocities suffered at the hands of a highly religious society and the progress we've made on social issues due to our culture's large-scale abandonment of their intolerant belief system. Many people seem to have forgotten.

Dutch Small
via Internet, Houston

One More Time
Having been lambasted twice in the Press for my letter deriding the insipid and waterlogged film Titanic ["Waterlogged Metaphor," January 15], first by Danny Sadler ["In Over His Head," January 29] and then by Peter Lunde ["Metaphorical Maligning," February 12], I feel obligated to respond and restate my position on this farce of a movie.

First, I stand corrected if I meant to imply that the film Titanic should contain the intellectual richness of say, a Shakespearean play. Hollywood producers are unaware of intellectual richness in any medium, are unaware of the dramatic devices of the theater and, even weirder, cannot recognize them when they inadvertently appear in their own films, i.e., the Freudian overtones of Steven Spielberg's Jaws.

They cannot be blamed: They are brilliant when it comes to their money and childish when it comes to the intellectual tradition of the theater. The director of the film Titanic, for example, made a brilliant decision to build the story line of the film around a love story, and it paid huge dividends at the box office (especially from the teenybopper "repeaters"). I commend him for this decision, as a businessman, but not as an artist. The Hollywood gang is good at what it does, and what it does is pander to the bourgeois sentiments of a bourgeois mass-market culture, a culture that accepts with equanimity the right of their President to get b---j--s in the White House but would be shocked, horrified and outraged if his wife were doing the same thing to, say, the Secretary of Defense -- so much for the blather of the "feminists."

I stand by my original judgment of the film. It is an interesting film in the way that, say, a 200-million-dollar fireworks display would be interesting. Who wouldn't want to see that? It wins like a Hitler panzer division wins -- what it cannot achieve by right (artistic merit) it achieves by might (massive budgets and special effects). Remove these elements from the film, and who would go to see it?

Thomas A. Smith

Year of the Rat
The correct term is "hazing" ["The Few, The Proud, The Battered," by Ann Zimmerman, January 15]. It is traditional for the new cadets since the beginning of West Point. I read your article and recalled my new cadet status at New Mexico Military Institute, Roswell, New Mexico, in 1951. We were called "rats," and the "rat year" lasted until June 1952. It was brutal (physically, mentally and emotionally), painful and degrading. It encompassed strict discipline and rules with strong penalties for failure to comply with standards -- those standards established about 1906. Rats ran if they moved; "old cadets" walked.

Nobody quit, nobody cried, nobody told one another, nobody sued; we did our rat year as everyone above us (old cadets) had done. We endured. The next year, we were old cadets, and dished out the same to the new cadets, or rats. We learned discipline, military aspects, honor, courtesy and, especially, how to study or learn to learn.

At our recent 40-year reunion of the class of 1953, I saw many former cadets I served with as a rat and an old cadet. I am happy to say our class did not have any draft-dodgers or flag-burners: All served in the armed forces as officers, all went to college and all are relatively successful. No one in our class was anything less than a good citizen.

Thus, I suggest the "battered" return to their mothers' apron strings, feel sorry for themselves and cry "wolf." I postulate that the "battered" will be the first to desert in time of need. If the "battered" think MMA was tough, they should think of what it was like at NMMI in 1951, at the height of the Korean War.

Generation after generation of new cadets and recruits in the armed forces has survived, but now the system is subject to less discipline, less rules, less everything. With the foregoing, you are going to get less of an American.

Hugh T. Echols
NMMI, 1953, Houston

Last week's story about Houston Area Community Services (HACS) reported that Harris County Judge Robert Eckels appointed HACS Executive Director Joe Fuentes as chairman of the Ryan White Planning Council. Fuentes was appointed to the planning council by Eckels, but the council members chose Fuentes as their chairman. The Press regrets the error.

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