Grateful for ManKind: I am disappointed at what I consider to be a very biased and inaccurate representation of the ManKind Project ["Weekend Warriors" by Chris Vogel, October 4]. I for one am very grateful for the project, its training and the Integration Groups. I am certain that much of what was said about the Houston center's activities regarding intimidation and inappropriate behavior is false. The rest seems to be taken quite out of context. I believe that responsible journalism requires you to write a story about men like myself who are grateful and have benefited so much from the program...Talk to our parents, wives, children and find out why 40,000-plus men have become better fathers, better men because of this wonderful program.
Boy Scouts: I experienced the MP training some years ago. It reminded me of my initiation into the Order of the Arrows while in Boy Scouts. I was terrified as a young boy by men with painted faces dressed up as Indians who yelled at me as I desperately held onto a rope while being led into the woods blindfolded. That earlier experience made the MP initiation less strange to me and actually kind of fun.
The ManKind Project
Both the Promise Keepers and the MP both grew out of the '90s men's movement and although very different in their philosophies, they arose from a real need. I feel if Michael's family and friends would shift a little of their energy from tearing down to considering what is attempting to be built by the MP experiment, they could utilize their findings in a way that makes sense to them and can still honor the life of Michael Scinto.
Obviously parts of the MP organization are working, and though some pieces may be restrictive, narrow or broken, so are the men in this country, and we are in desperate need of some large-scale help.
You said it: The writer's sensationalist treatment of the rituals shows exactly why they are kept secret. Taken out of context, they seem bizarre, cultish and even nutty. It opens participants to ridicule. In their proper context, they are part of a deeply moving and meaningful experience that has helped me and many other men enormously.
Just like Mass: Your out-of-context description of the activities of the weekend does a great disservice to this work. Consider how a Sunday at a Catholic Mass might sound, with a similar hack job.
People were kneeling and chanting before a man wearing a skirt. They blew choking smoke around the room. The man in the skirt gave people human flesh to eat and blood to drink. He then doused an infant with water, producing screams of terror. You get the idea.
And from our online readers at houstonpress.com:
Nice job, Vogel: I can't believe some of these comments that people are writing. How can they not have sympathy for this Scinto family? This was a very powerful story, and hopefully it will save lives rather than destroy them. My heart goes out to the Scintos and I pray for them and wish them the best of luck. Please have faith, believe and do not pay attention to all the rude people, but know that there are people out here who do care. Nice job, Vogel...
Oversight needed: Despite the outcries in the comments, I found this article to be a balanced and focused look at a troubling event. Perhaps not all MKP events are like what Michael Scinto experienced, but even the smallest amount of oversight of the events could have prevented his death and gone a long way toward reassuring the public that the majority of MKP events are not as traumatic. Mr. Vogel's article revealed what can occur when organizations are permitted to operate in the dark, using secrecy, fear and intimidation to reduce the conversation to whispers. Thank you, Mr. Vogel, for opening the door.
Preying: After reading this article, we strongly believe that this group should be under further investigation. They are preying upon young men who have emotional and physical problems. They are going after easy targets, the ones who are desperately seeking help. Unfortunately, a life was lost for this story to be made published. Justice will be served.
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Derrick and Shelley
A Mistake in Leadership
In the story "Weekend Warriors," we misidentified the executive director of The ManKind Project Houston. The current executive director is Greg Gondron.
The Houston Press regrets the error.