Rowe Recommended
The article "Variety Club Follies" [by Tim Fleck, July 25] upset me. I have been a volunteer worker for about 50 years with the top organizations in Houston, and to me Laura Rowe was an excellent leader. She "got things done" in a nice way. You cannot sit in an office and make the money she did for the Variety Club. You must get out and meet the ones who contribute. I speak from experience, having won many honors for being a top volunteer. All of us have many faults, but it is wise to focus on the good qualities. I will recommend Laura Rowe for any position she will apply for, and she will do an excellent job.

Choo Choo Van Train

Visualize Understanding
I was delighted to see Michael Berryhill's "Troubleshooter for the Millennium" [July 18] about Phillip Arnold and his work. Adequate press given to the powerful and real healing effects of intercultural understanding, and the tangible damage from its lack, is long overdue.

As an older student working on my B.A., I am appalled by the ignorance of young adults of the nineties regarding the roots and historical context of their own religions. Comments and questions I have heard in my classes reveal an even sorrier state of cluelessness regarding other world religions. Without even venturing into the realm of fringe sects, a basic ignorance of the range of mainstream world-views that flourish around the globe is evident. On a rapidly shrinking planet, with so many wars perpetuated by religious/ethnic systems and international trade becoming less of an option and more of a survival tactic, parochial, ethnocentric views become a hazard to health. Arnold's story demonstrates the impact intercultural knowledge can have.

Although the thrust of Berryhill's article was toward the sensational and timely subject of apocalypse-based American cultures, I think the greater issue is that of religious/ world-view understanding in general. It seems to me it is time to make familiarity with world religions as basic to high school education as literature, math and history. Perhaps then, armed with knowledge of the existence of other outlooks, our society could produce law enforcers who could conceive of non-mainstream religious leaders as something besides con artists. Perhaps they could be capable of responding with some degree of insight, rather than being locked into the dangerous, judgmental panic that a parochial view of the world dictates.

Sara Draper

The Virtues of Tolerance
Michael Berryhill once again brings a truly great resource, unique to Houston, to our attention: Phil Arnold and his Reunion Institute. When loved ones join religious groups foreign to a family, Dr. Arnold provides unbiased literature and counsels communication, not kidnapping. In Waco, he unsuccessfully counseled understanding. His effectiveness with the Freemen should give him many more opportunities to demonstrate the peace religious tolerance brings our nation.

Thomas A. Wright

They Cover the Earth
We thank Michael Berryhill for mentioning us in his article "Troubleshooter for the Millennium" and would like to clarify who we are. The Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers are the Catholic Foreign Mission Society of America, established by the bishops of the United States in 1911. Some 350 priests and brothers are working as missionaries among the poor in 30 countries in Asia, Africa, Central America and South America and Mexico. Our work is worldwide and not limited to Latin America. Our task is that of Christian evangelization and brings us into contact with many cultures, values and theologies.

We have been in the house on Rice Boulevard since 1947, and are glad to share the "religious energy concentrated in the two-block area around Chaucer Street near Rice University" with the other organizations here. If your readers want additional information on Maryknoll mission and educational resources, we would be glad to provide it.

The Reverend Rafael R. Davila
Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers

Death by Outer Loop Attitude
Bonnie Gangelhoff's touching article about the killing of Pedro ["Death and the Raccoon," August 1] epitomizes why some of us wish that people with attitudes like Vivian Gatewood's would kindly choose to live in "plasticland" outside the Loop -- or at least not in Montrose.

Considering Mr. Vonderglotz's efforts and intentions to release the animals into the wild, she could have waited. I would not wish for her pet to disappear, but maybe this is the only way she could develop empathy for her neighbor's pain. Yes, Vivian, please move out to a pristine suburb where you can practice your pushy lawyer's antics on somebody just like you. And you can greet each other with closed fists!

Scott Rigrod

I have found Shaila Dewan's columns on art tremendously exciting, particularly her article on Richard Long [Art, "Walking Man," June 6]. It was as good as it gets, as was her intelligent romp through Asian-American art at the Blaffer [Art, "Crossed Cultures," July 4].

When we were lucky enough to have Susie Kalil writing for the Press, I heard a lot of grumbling. Now we're lucky enough to have a new writer with great insight and potential, not only a knowledgeable and sensitive art critic, but a fabulous writer, and the grumble machine is starting up again. I'm not against getting things right, and I know we all have a right to express ourselves, but please take a moment to chill out and appreciate what we have. A writer like Shaila Dewan doesn't come along very often. Her work would be exceptional anywhere.

Elizabeth McBride

I have had the pleasure of enjoying a long-standing friendship with Richard Fluhr, one of the artists included in the review penned by Shaila Dewan [Art, "Man Oh Man," June 20]. I was absolutely appalled by Ms. Dewan's conjectures -- not merely about Richard's work, but about his personal life, his thought patterns, his HIV status and, perhaps most disturbing, her description of a penis-like shape as a "metaphor" for his own HIV infection. At best, it is irresponsible for an art "critic" to assign a metaphor of her own design to the work of an artist. We possess the intellectual, emotional and spiritual capacity to construct our own metaphors, thank you.

Worse than the critic's assigning of metaphor to Richard's work are her speculations, in a public forum, about the status of the artist's health, and the manner in which he contracted the HIV virus. Such topics are not fodder for discussion or speculation among the artist's friends -- surely they are inappropriately positioned in an art "review." Recently, a grandmother in her sixties, when addressing the International Conference on AIDS in Vancouver, British Columbia, said that she is often asked by virtual strangers how she contracted the HIV virus, as if a gray-haired, white, heterosexual woman would be immune to it. Her reply, without fail, is, "It just doesn't matter." What ought to matter to Ms. Dewan is that Richard Fluhr is a thought-provoking, highly intelligent visual artist and teacher. His work continues to pose important, albeit uncomfortable, questions utilizing a visual palette that manages to be at once lyrical and beautiful, quirky and amusing, angry, powerful, joyful, sensual and spiritual. What matters to me is that he is a generous, smart, loving, supportive, honest and funny friend, a man who is more than capable of describing the metaphors that truly exist in his work. Ms. Dewan's take on his vision and her assumptions about his life diminishes us all.

Lisa Goodman

High Horse
I can stand it no longer! For more than a month, when I exit the Katy Freeway at T.C. Jester, I have been visually assaulted by your totally tasteless, cruel billboard advertising your investigative reporter, Brian Wallstin. The picture of the bloody horse's head certainly draws attention, but in this viewer's eyes, with negative results.

This sign is less than two miles from the SPCA, a shelter for unwanted and abused animals.

Surely your marketing department can come up with something equally eye-catching but in better taste. If not, they should be replaced.

Sharon Balke

Return That Rall
I enjoy reading your articles and investigative pieces, and Tim Fleck's Insider column is especially appreciated. The "information source" is not enough for the largest city in the South.

But, oh my, Ted Rall's cartoon is missing and its replacement, Brodner, is not as funny. Ted's offbeat eye, his characters and his commentary fit well into your newspaper. Dear editors, please reconsider and return Ted.

Richard Garcia

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