Remembering the victims: I just wanted to write you a short note to thank you for this article ["Family Ties," by Craig Malisow, November 17]. I was born in the Children of God in the early 1970s and left around six years ago. Your article was very well researched and thorough. Sometimes journalists are attracted to the more sensational aspects of growing up in a cult and the many wild events that occurred, and they overlook the victims. The Family International/Children of God has gone to great lengths to rewrite its sordid history and marginalize its victims as "liars" and "discontents." An article that covers this history in such great detail and makes such a compelling case serves as an important affirmation of what many in my generation suffered. We can't change our past, but I think we all feel unanimously that we never want to see any child in any new religious movement or cult experience some of the things and observe some of the things that we did. As you accurately pointed out, things have changed for children and young people in The Family International, but the organization will never be trusted until it truly comes clean and accepts responsibility for its actions in the '70s, '80s and early '90s and purges its leaders and members who participated. Thank you.
Erik M. Lehnsher
Shame on you: I don't know where Craig Malisow got some of the information he used in his article "Family Ties," but I can say from firsthand encounters with the Family that the article is riddled with distortions and misconceptions. For some undisclosed reason, Malisow seems bent on targeting this international religious group with serious (false) accusations. I seriously doubt Malisow has ever even spent time visiting one of the Family's homes -- has he? And if he hasn't, how in the world can he dare to write such accusations? Anyone who has had extensive dealings with the Family would be shocked at many of the blatant lies that he states in the article. Some of the quotations that he used in the article were not taken from the group's writings. Who has fed this poor reporter the distortions that he has written in this article, and how in the name of journalism can you allow something so utterly untrue to be published? Shame on you! Of course, I doubt you would publish the comments I am making here, which will be one more evidence that you are not really interested in the truth about a young and genuine Christian movement that continues to have a profound effect on the lives of many needy people around the world.
Newport Beach, California
On the Road Again
Hard to the core: I sort of feel your pain ["Road Trip," by Brian McManus, November 17]. Being on the bottom list of bands (the not-getting-paid-shit list), we also endured cancellations, members with freaky habits, truck-stop snacks for meals, picking up gigs on the fly, people who just plain look at you weird, going broke and sound guys -- or anybody, for that matter -- who hate your guts for trying to redefine what it is to be a band (e.g., no drummer). If asked to do it all over again, I would in a New York minute.
Big Mike, Anguish in Exile
Risky business: It's interesting (ironic?) that the booker suffered serious injury while on the road, after taking the Fatal Flying Guilloteens off the road. (You've probably heard that a November 4 accident in Delaware killed the DMBQ drummer.)
Whatever the case, FFG's RV problems and the Delaware accident point to the perils of extensive touring: exposure to dangerous highway accidents.
But how dangerous is it, relatively speaking? Perhaps someone should do a risk comparison of driving in the United States and, say, serving in Iraq.
The results might prove interesting. This isn't to make light of the risks of soldiering in Iraq, but more to be mindful of the risks of domestic roadway transport.
Or maybe Brian McManus would really have something to write about if FFG bit the bullet, so to speak, and combined risks by touring Iraq.
Just suppose: Let's say the events happened just the way the students claimed they did ["The A Student," by Todd Spivak, November 3]. Let's say the students are just as honorable as those mentioned in the media and in your articles.
Now let's say an event of this nature happened in, oh, Denver Harbor or Acres Homes Hello? Hello? Hello is anyone still listening?
Sherry R. Henderson
How interesting: You say, "The city sends a special something to Africa," without a single word to substantiate your claim ["From Houston with Love," Hair Balls, by Richard Connelly, November 10]. Did you mean to say this? Because from the facts in the story, it seems Houston didn't send a damn thing to Africa, given how the equipment was sold at auction.
Moreover, since the city wipes and formats its hard drives before releasing them, I'd think you might sing some praise for once.
But you'd probably choke on something like that -- like you might on a hair ball in your own throat.
Don't blame the city: So a computer that the city had wiped of any sensitive information and sold at auction years ago ended up in Africa. So what? What would Richard Connelly have the city do, install tracking devices on all the items it sells at auction? Keep all its surplus equipment in the Astrodome? There are plenty of things the city government gets wrong. This doesn't seem to be one of them.
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Joe Carl White
Great article: If you continue to slam the radio here in Houston, eventually something will happen ["Low Ride, Take It Easy," by John Nova Lomax, November 10]. Man, I don't have to tell you how strong local radio can be. There's some little station out in Alvin, KACC/89.7 FM, that plays the shit out of our music, and the funny thing is I've never heard it. But I get e-mails and cell phone calls from people saying they just heard us on the radio. Even fans get excited to hear local talent; it's just part of the whole experience, I think. Keep up the fight!