Preaching to the Choir
Equal-opportunity evangelists: As a serious student of the Pentecostal movement, I can only amen the observations of writer Jennifer Mathieu in regard to the general openness of said movement to minorities and women ["Power House," April 4]. Far too often news organs such as yours wrongfully paint fundamentalist Christians as homophobic, racist and downright mean. Photographs from revival meetings as far back as the 1930s show racially mixed crowds in attendance.
The truth is everyone is equal at the foot of the cross of Christ.
All in the family: Excellent article describing it exactly as it is. You did leave out the story of April Osteen's husband, who has a wonderful church in Arlington, Texas, and is also following in John Osteen's footsteps. And you also omitted Paul's personal story about leaving a surgical career to come back to Houston from Arkansas to help his family.
I believe the entire family is an example to the congregation of what can happen if you read it, believe it and then put it into action. After all, that is what we do when we take a Dale Carnegie course, isn't it?
I attend Lakewood, and although I was raised a Catholic and still on occasion attend the Lutheran, Catholic and Episcopalian churches in my inner-city neighborhood, I cannot find in them what I have found in Lakewood: real encouragement, love and forgiveness. Each section of the church is like a small community within itself, and everyone knows everyone, and we become friends and look forward to sitting by each other every Sunday.
Cult dangers: Charismatic leaders like Joel Osteen have been around throughout recorded history. Unfortunately, few people are culturalized to challenge generally accepted notions of "reality" and, instead, find solace in the cushion of "groupthink."
Hopefully, the power of natural leadership -- as seen in Osteen -- isn't mishandled. Because once the tide has started, people will indeed allow themselves to be led over a cliff. Why else would Islamic extremists strap explosives to their waists, walk into shopping malls and blow themselves -- and everyone around them -- to dust, in the name of "God"? Cyanide Kool-Aid in a certain South American jungle also comes to mind. Belief systems can and should be challenged if we are to remain a free society.
Jay B. Rusovich
Capitalism's best: If Andrew Rathmann's anger arises from the poverty, injustice and oppression that exist in our country and the world, it is justified ["Half-Baked Notions?" Letters, March 28]. However, Mr. Rathmann seems to be directing his anger at the cure for such ills, free-market capitalism, rather than at the ills themselves.
What Mr. Rathmann calls "capitalist fantasy literature" concerning the success of immigrants ["American Breadwinners," by John Suval, March 14], I know to be the story of my family and others who made a decent life for themselves, their children and their grandchildren by hard work, sacrifice and, yes, even some self-interested competitiveness.
Mr. Rathmann does not offer an alternative to what he describes as a capitalist fantasy. However, I will note that capitalism's two major ideological rivals -- socialism and communism -- have proven that they can provide only untold human misery or, at best, a modest redistribution of wealth.
Only capitalism has shown that it can create wealth and can improve by accepting reforms. I believe that Marx was right in one respect: Capitalism is the next step in social and economic evolution after feudalism. Unfortunately, too much of the world and parts of our country remain mired in feudalism, whether it is called state capitalism, crony capitalism, state socialism or monopoly capitalism.
Three cheers to the Chanases for showing the power of free-market capitalism, and three cheers to the Houston Press for printing their story.
Life in the Slow Lane
Unbrakeable: Scott Rice ["Spyder man," Letters, March 28] wants every motor vehicle in the congested city of Houston to move over to the right to enable him to speed from his distant home in Humble without slowing down for congestion ["Crunch City," by Jesse Washington, March 14].
His letter is indicative of a probable root cause of Houston's dismal accident rate: a woeful ignorance on the part of the motoring public. Perhaps mandatory defensive driving classes could remedy the dangerous arrogance he displays, as he weaves in and out of traffic in a vain attempt to get ahead of everybody else.
Law-abiding drivers have no obligation to enable scofflaws like Mr. Rice to drive at deadly speeds.
Editor's note: Rice complained of slow drivers failing to move out of the fast lane; he did not say he sped.
Facts and Fantasy
Life at Jones: I am a student in the Vanguard program at Jones High School, but I am also zoned to Jones ["The Great Divide," by Margaret Downing, March 7]. I resent the implications made by Yolanda Davis-Johnson ["Jones Defender," Letters, April 4].
First of all, the Jones library has been closed for renovations since the beginning of the year, and its temporary home was across the school, far away from the Vanguard wing. Second, there is no "good" library or "bad" library, there is only one library.
Third, comprehensive students frequent the hallway where most of the Vanguard classrooms are located, and no one ever tells them to leave unless they are disrupting classes, but this also goes for Vanguard students. Fourth, just because the pay phone is located in the Vanguard hallway does not mean comprehensive students cannot use it. In fact, they are the majority of the ones who do use it.
Thank you, and please get your facts straight next time, Ms. Davis-Johnson.
What on Earth?
Waste not: I enjoyed your piece on the Citizens' Environmental Coalition ["Earth Quake Day," by George Flynn, April 4]. I believe that CEC is generally a good organization. However, you let CEC off the hook by making only a passing reference to its affiliation with Waste Management.
As you surely know, Waste Management is a megacorp that has committed some megawrongs. Indeed, Arthur Andersen's sorry auditing of the runaway Waste Management accounting carried great weight when the Justice Department decided to indict Andersen. Of course, the company has had numerous legal problems relating to its handling of waste.
That CEC would associate with Waste Management is bad news. Perhaps the Earth Day at Rice will be more educational, but that doesn't erase -- in my opinionated mind, anyway -- the taint of the Waste Management sponsorship.
Name withheld by request
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Morals -- not money: KRBE is talking trash when its spokesperson suggests that the Citizens' Environmental Coalition dropped out of the station's pseudo-Earth Day event because of the cash.
Last year I helped with one of the environmental booths at the KRBE festival. During the event, CEC leaders and others were already talking about pulling out for the reasons given in your story -- long before anyone knew how much money CEC would receive.
The KRBE event is dead, even with live music. Hopefully CEC will recycle Earth Day into an inspirational community festival.