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Shopping for salvation

Thanks for the article on Christian products ("Would Jesus Buy It?" May 1). Although I personally am not a fan of the "trinkets," I can tell you how much I value the quality Christian literature available in our local retail stores, i.e., Wal-Mart, Target, King Soopers, etc.

I believe the products we buy are a blessing if they help us in our walk with God, help us to hear His word in our daily lives and to live as Jesus taught us to live.

Everyone's relationship with God is unique and between that person and God, which is why I try not to pass judgment on the products sold. What I may not find important may be very meaningful to someone else. It's important that we remember that the product does not substitute for God, that God is alive in our hearts through His Spirit.

What a blessing to live in a community where God is alive in so many hearts!

-- Dr. Mary Zesiewicz

Colorado Springs

Hoorah for honesty

It is good to hear that some high-ranking officials have the decency to follow their morals when they see those around in power abusing it. I am heart-warmed to hear that Britain's secretary for International Development resigned over the UK's Iraqi policy. Short states that she cannot continue on in her role since "this resolution [the UN draft that the United States and the UK submitted] undermines all the commitments I have made in [parliament] and elsewhere about the reconstruction of Iraq. Clearly this makes my position impossible."

How I wish that Colin Powell, our secretary of state, had the guts to do the same. What an utter embarrassment it is that in our country, the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, is totally usurping the authority and validity of the Department of State. The LA Times reported on this issue May 8 in an article written by Sonni Efron. She writes that a young diplomat in the State Department said, in speaking about the Pentagon's new role in shaping foreign policy, that, "It's the 'Dr. Strangelove' syndrome: There's very much the dominance by this institution whose sole role ultimately ... is to kill people and blow things up and they do that very well."

Pre-emptive wars, wars to prevent the proliferation of WMD [weapons of mass destruction] that we now cannot find, and wars over who will control oil are bad foreign policy. When will someone in our government stand up and refuse to participate in this ongoing sham? When will we as Americans read all the articles about the war and see the full story that is coming to light now that we have declared "victory"? Hurrah for Clair Short.

-- Cris Stoddard

Colorado Springs

Doesn't it matter?

Is there some sort of contest going on among formerly progressive commentators to see who can plant the biggest kiss on the posterior of George W. Bush? Does he get a pass on everything, including those elusive weapons of mass destruction? Doesn't it matter that this administration engaged in a massive campaign of deception and half-truths to lead us into a pre-emptive war? Doesn't it matter that Bush is well on his way to turning our formerly peace-loving nation into a belligerent and aggressive one? Doesn't it matter that Iraq and Afghanistan are in chaos, Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein are still loose, and a new generation of fundamentalist fanatics is being spawned in the Middle East? Doesn't it matter when our government lies to us?

-- James J. Amato

Woodland Park

Eyes wide open

I just got through reading your article about the now long gone same-sex benefits that our City Council just abolished ("The Belly of the Beast," May 1), and [letters] from the many different people that had so many harsh things to say about alternative lifestyles. I just got sick to my stomach. I myself am a gay male here in the Springs. I just moved up here from Alamosa three years ago, and since I have been here I always heard how cruel and mean people are against our lifestyle. Up until now I have never seen, firsthand, any examples of the ignorance people have in this community.

I have done a lot of volunteer work through our UCCPE [United Court of the Pikes Peak Empire] organization with never a confrontation. Being from a small town this truly shocks me. And working right next to Focus on the Family's headquarters really fills me with dread. But anyhoo, I just wanted to say thank you very much for the article. I hope that this will help open the eyes of our community as a whole to the hatred that is filling our society and help make a major change in the way people think about life.

-- Clint Kelly

Colorado Springs

Get it right

An open prophecy to James Dobson and Will Perkins:

The Lord spoke to me this morning over a strong black cup of coffee, and He has a message that He wants me to convey:

As long as you profess to speak for Me, I'd appreciate you're getting it right. Where did I say to befriend the powerful? Where is it written "Thou shalt plunder the planet"? When did I appoint you arbiter of health care? Do I not love those whom you despise at least as much as I love you? What are you doing in those fine homes and expensive clothes? Where have you come up with this revisionist version of my life?

Here is my 10-step program for removing the log from your eye:

Spend two weeks in wilderness. No books, no tapes, and for my sake, no Bible. Learn awe, perspective and the sacredness of all creation there.

Read something -- anything -- by non-Christian authors. Whitman, Berry, Abbey, Wilber, Darwin and others have wrestled more honestly with the questions I have hidden in creation than have you, and there is much you can learn from them.

Meditate.

Seek out friends among the Muslims, the liberals, the secular humanists (where do you come up with these crackpot labels for my children?), the poor, the sick, the agnostic.

For one day, live without judgment. Don't label anything or anyone right or wrong, good or bad. Just observe.

The next day, embrace life. Smile. Hug a tree. Give five bucks to the homeless man on the median. I know, I know -- he'll probably just spend it on liquor. DO IT!

Go out and dance. It doesn't matter if it be friend or stranger. It doesn't matter their sexual orientation. Just dance, and feel my joy and exuberance flow through you.

Skip church this week. And next. Don't give a reason and don't make up an excuse. A little secret -- I spend very little time there myself.

Next time you say "God said," check with me first. We may need to redefine our boundaries.

Lighten up. This crazy quilt of creation reflects the richness of my imagination. In it you find all the colors of the rainbow -- I like all the crayons in the box. Learn to love the questions. You may, in the process, earn for yourself some hard-won wisdom, and not the garden variety that comes with blind adherence to a doctrine.

One last question: How did you twist my message from spending time among the outcast to spending time casting out? If you have any questions, you can find me downtown ... the best disciples are those who aren't already sure they know everything.

-- Jesus

P.S. Who is this Ed guy who also claims to be speaking for me? I don't know him!

-- Jess Roberts

Woodland Park

Council's true intention

As long-time members of the community, our initial thoughts regarding the City Council decision to abolish health benefits for same-sex partners was that the council had made a huge mistake. After reading Mayor Rivera's take on the issue, however ("Are You Ready For Me," May 8), we were swayed and now agree that it would be unfair to cover same-sex partners and not cover a man and woman in love, living together, who decide to remain unmarried.

Our objection is with Ed Bircham and others like him for treating this City policy change as a victory for their self-righteous, intolerant cause. Last time we checked, you judge a person not by skin color or sexual orientation, but by whether they are good or bad members of our society.

If the Council's true intention was to rectify an injustice, we are all for it. If instead, the change was part of the agenda promoted by Focus on the Family, Will Perkins and Mr. Bircham, then we are truly embarrassed and concerned for the future of our community.

-- Bernard M. and Victoria A. Benyak

Colorado Springs

Thanks for nailing it

I'm not a regular reader of the Independent (habit seems to have taken over as I subscribe and digest the "Gazelle" every day); however, each time I pick it up, I find articles I'm pulled into, to the point I can't put it down. Your Public Eye column of May 1 was one such item (along with Hazlehurst's "Caving Council" [Outsider, May 1] -- brilliant!).

Your assessment of our city and its lack of identity finally put into words what I and others have felt for a long time. I struggled for years trying to define and describe the feel of this city I've call home for 20 years to no avail. Thanks for nailing it for me!

I've tried:

"Biggest-small-town" in the country (smallest-big-town in the country?)

"A small town that got really big" (but didn't know it)

"Cow town" (hey I don't know!)

And so on. What I've surmised is ... this "town" has no feeling, no soul, no smell, no buzz.

I have a friend who, after years of needing some substance from the city he lived in (this one) finally had enough and moved five years ago to Portland, Ore. I have visited many times since. I'll be back. Ride the light rail into the city center and as you step off, you can feel the buzz, the vibe of that city. It has a feel, a soul. Portland might not be for everyone, but other places have the same kind of hold; a personality, a confidence, an attitude, an identity. We don't appear to know what we are yet stumble forward purely through the passage of time.

It's sad, really.

Again, thanks for putting down on paper so well what I've tried to define for years.

-- Kevin O'Connor

Colorado Spring

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