No Schism

Dear Editors,

The board and staff of the Sustainable Food Center (SFC) appreciate the attention The Austin Chronicle has been giving to East Austin recently, but we were dismayed at the tenor of last week's article "Withering on the Vine" [Vol.17, No.47]. Furthermore, there were several misquotes and factual errors in the article which gave the impression that the Center and Austin Community Gardens (ACG) are seriously at odds.

We would like to say for the record that the Sustainable Food Center appreciates the important role ACG has played in spearheading the community gardening movement in Austin. SFC and ACG staff enjoy cordial relations and members of the two staffs meet three times during the spring to discuss how the organizations could enhance their services by working together. ACG's executive director Frank Fuller never worked for the SFC, but we did share offices and the SFC invested funds and significant in-kind support to ACG to help it get back on its feet several years ago.

"Withering on the Vine" implied that the SFC and ACG are at odds and that we pursue fundamentally different approaches to community development, gardening, and food security. This is simply not correct. The differences in the organizations are a result of their different histories and missions. The SFC is dedicated to building community food security - helping residents in low-income areas develop gardens can be a part of that. The SFC's approach to community gardening has community self-development at its core. We only work in East and Southeast Austin and we offer a variety of programs in addition to gardens. ACG is exclusively a community gardening organization and works in various neighborhoods.

In conclusion, we hope that The Austin Chronicle will be more responsible in its coverage. "Withering on the Vine" created the sense of a schism that simply does not exist between ACG and SFC.

Kathleen Fitzgerald, Anna Maria Signorelli, and the rest of the board and staff of the Sustainable Food Center

[Erica C. Barnett replies: I understand the desire of the Sustainable Food Center's board to avoid the appearence of a "schism" in Austin's community gardening movement, but the statements made by individuals within both organizations made it clear that such a division does in fact exist. I find it regrettable that the SFC ignored the overall positive "tenor" of the story to focus on these points, when both the context and content of the article made it clear that both ACG and the SFC have valid, if differing, philosophies.]

Accessibility Is Paramount

To The Austin Chronicle and its Readers:

In response to your July 31 story about the lawsuit filed by the Texas Civil Rights Project against the Paramount Theatre for alleged violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") regarding wheelchair seating ["Naked City," Vol.17, No.47], the Paramount would like to make three things clear about this suit:

First, the lawsuit accuses the Paramount of being uncaring and unresponsive to the disabled community. This allegation is both false and unfair. The Paramount cares about the comfort and inclusion of all its patrons, including our guests in wheelchairs. Different shows use different parts of the building, and depending on the configuration for each performance, we make as many wheelchair spaces available as possible. We reserve those spaces for disabled patrons, and we offer several of those seats at reduced prices. The Theatre has made many other efforts to reach out to all members of the disabled community. For example, the Paramount has assisted listening devices for people who are hearing impaired. The Paramount has an employee who is a certified sign language interpreter, and some of our school performances are sign interpreted for people who are deaf. Further, the Paramount works with and seeks the input of Access Austin Arts, which is the leading local group for the disabled community in arts issues.

Second, the lawsuit alleges that the Theatre has violated the law. This, too, is false. The law contains three different levels of requirements for public buildings. The lawsuit alleges that the Theatre has violated the law by failing to comply with the most stringent level, i.e. the standards for new construction. In truth, the third level applies to the Paramount, i.e. the standards for historic buildings. The Paramount was built in 1915. Because it was designed and built many, many years ago, the Theatre faces significant challenges to meeting modern expectations. Congress had the wisdom to recognize the difficulties involved with historic buildings and therefore wrote special provisions into the law. The Paramount does not violate the applicable standards, and the Paramount is not in violation of the statute.

Third, the Paramount is a charity. As a 501 (c) nonprofit corporation, the Paramount earns only 80% of its operating revenue from ticket sales, concessions, and rental fees. Only through enormous efforts in fundraising and underwriting are we able to keep the Theatre's doors open for the 180,000+ people who enjoy our programs each year. Given the dramatic cuts in public funding for the arts, the Paramount's relative financial needs have never been greater. Given the Paramount's limited resources, it is unfortunate that we face the large expense of a lawsuit. The Theatre's directors and staff are sympathetic to the issues raised by these groups, but we are surprised to be sued without being contacted first and without any opportunity to address these issues.

The Paramount will make every effort to resolve this unfortunate situation, so that we can return our focus and our efforts to our usual priority of providing the best theatre experience in Austin.

Very Truly Yours,

Paul Beutel

Executive Director

Paramount Theatre

Bring Back 'Book

Dear Editor,

You used to have a wonderful biweekly article called "AISD Notebook" in the Chronicle. Now that school is looming on the horizon would it be at all possible to bring this back in the same or similar format? It was written by Roseana Auten. Is there another reporter who could cover this? Your news articles on the problems at UT and AISD are, in my opinion, much more informative, better-written and researched and much more relevant than the drudge the Statesman wastes its printer's ink on.


Dolores Phelps

[Ed. Note: Our "AISD Notebook" reporter, Roseana Auten, is off on another educational mission as a new mother spending quality time with her 5-month-old daughter. We're still on the AISD trail, however, and will continue to provide stories on the education beat.]

Back Our Boondoggle

Dear Editor:

"S.O.S." is supposed to stand for "Save Our Springs." Especially if you talk to Brigid Shea.

I support the cleanliness of our water supply as much as anyone else, but only if given Proposition, Prop #2 for instance, is really about water cleanliness.

It is not. After carefully scrutinizing what benefits resulted from the recent Bond Election of Proposition 2, I have come to the opinion that these people that proposed and ultimately caused the developmental elimination of 15,000 acres in South Austin - at the cost to the rest of us of about $12 a year, for what, 30 years - well, were not only interested in a very truly minuscule percentage of water purity, but in fact were more interested in Saving Our (own personal) Scenery. Meaning, in a clearly socialist technique, S.O.S. has gotten the rest of us to "Support (its) Own Special interests" by raising their overworked banner and battle cry of "clean water." This is unethical at best, and a "Support Of a Sham" otherwise. Too bad no one Seriously Observed this Sham? Hindsight being 20/20, I really hope that whenever "S.O.S." cries wolf again, casting their now-tired spell of anal retention, especially to their trusting members, that some courageous and brilliant journalist will be just a wee bit "Skeptical Of Shea." Now, we all have to "Pay Up, Austin"!!

C'mon folks, isn't it time to begin to get really picky about these Props and not swallow the hook, line, and sinker of special interests' debt? Especially when someone pretty-looking on the tube has charm and charisma as does Shea. She's "political high maintenance," and she and her organization will get into our pockets again, and, in my considered opinion, under some very questionable auspices.

Question: Who on the City Council backed the "boondoggle"?

Answer: Sorry Ol' Slusher.

Dan Petit

Picky Parents,
Turning Teachers

Dear Editor,

In your "Naked City" article on Martha Garcia [Vol. 17, No. 47] you mentioned that 15 was not a high number for turnover at a school. This number does not represent high turnover for a large high school, but Ortega had a staff of 43 according to the 1997-98 AISD staff directory. Your article also does not mention the number of teachers who requested a transfer, but did not receive one. When one-third of the staff of a blue ribbon school leaves during a year and others request to leave, but are unable to do so, I believe that this can be attributed to more than "difficult feedback" provided by Ms. Garcia, especially when the parents who lack many of the resources of the "picky parents" of Casis go before the school board to express their dissatisfaction as well. This number is even more dramatic when compared to the turnover rates at Ortega in recent years.

Ms. Garcia is a product of AISD's administrative intern program which places principals in schools after one year of shadowing and becoming very close to the area superintendent under which they serve. One can't help thinking that the parent and teacher dissatisfaction, the threats to children's safety, the alienation of adopters, and general destruction of a formerly thriving community of learners could have been avoided if someone with more administrative experience had been placed in this position or if Ortega had simply been located in West Austin.

John Baker

Detour de France

Dear Editor,

On September 22, 15 cities in France are going to ban the use of private cars for one day. They're doing this so that the citizens can take a good look at their public transportation system and at their own personal transportation choices. They want to think over their city's future, and see their city streets, for a change, unclogged by cars.

Why can't we do this in Austin? Austin suffers from a lack of thought in transportation planning far more than any French city. Let's ban cars for one day, and mull over our present and future as we move about Austin.

Maybe some people wouldn't be able to get to work without cars on September 22. That's okay. The world won't end if a few people miss one day of work. A lot of people might take the day off, to go walking, bicycling, or rollerskating around Austin.

Transportation planning in Austin has been really nonexistent up to now. If we're going to plan a transportation system and have it work well, we need to be able to see the streets. One day of car-free city life is by no means impossible. People who can't imagine even one day without private cars should never be trusted with transportation planning. They couldn't plan their way out of a paper bag.

Is it excessive to ask for one day of reflection before we carelessly throw away millions of dollars and our city's land, water, and air on ill-considered plans? Please, let's try one day of no private car use in Austin. Even if you're not interested in transportation planning, it would be a great opportunity to dust off your rollerskates or tricycle, and see Austin as you've never seen it before.

Yours Truly,

Amy Babich

Art Imitates Mall

Dear Chronicle:

I just now finished reading Greg Beets' wonderful article on the Mall of America ["All Under One Roof," Vol.17, No.46] and felt compelled to share with you my "Ode to Mall of America" written after a visit there in April 1993. Greg has perfectly captured the faceless, nameless placelessness of the auto/airline world that threatens to engulf us if we don't reassert the traditional urban development of the past, where living, walking, cycling, and transit come ahead of cars, consumerism, and corporate control of our lives. You can be sure you'll never read an article like Greg's in the Statesman!


Dave Dobbs


by Dave Dobbs
(Written after a visit in early April 1993)

To the Mall of America I tell you I went,
My wallet and my feet, they both got bent.
With more junk to buy than my yard has in it,
The list of crap was near infinite.

Three full floors of consumer lures,
And half a floor more of other manures.
In the middle of the thing they've a rollie coaster,
And other rides for your little boaster.

Now parking you see is not a problem.
They've acres of the stuff all stacked a top `em.
There's parking ramps both East and West,
And parking in front of the entire mess.

On a freeway intersection they've located this thing,
Rock, steel, and glass, and ring-a-ding, ding.
Between the 35's East and West,
Driving 494 is really a test.

The ramps are all metered one car to a green;
Getting onto this thing is really mean.
County 77 into a freeway they made,
For dear Melvin Simon and his arcade.

Thru Sun County Airlines and Dallas direct flights,
To Minneapolis/St. Paul and the Mall's delights.
Only a mile or so from the airport's front door,
The ACG's dream of the perfect store.

You'd Rather Have Bertin Review It?

To The Editor, Austin Chronicle:

Did Raoul Hernandez find my performance as bassist on Sebastian Campesi's new album First Day of Spring so totally lackluster and without merit that it wasn't even worth the ink to print my name ["Texas Platters," Vol. 17. No. 47]? I think it more likely that Mr. Hernandez is so shallow a listener that he didn't even realize there was a bass player on the recording.

Over the years I have received many reviews from major daily newspapers around the world for performances with such artists as Louie Jordan, "Fatha" Hines, Lee Konitz, Eddie Harris, Cannonball Adderly, Rassasahn Roland Kirk, Sarah Vaughn, Mel Torme, and Stephan Grapelli to mention but a few. I'm sure Mr. Hernandez has no idea who those artists are, but some of the most accomplished music journalists in the world have found my work (and my name) at least worth mentioning.

As to the review itself, Mr. Hernandez must have glanced at the cover of the CD and figured since Mr. Campesi was holding a violin and not wearing a cowboy hat he should blather some nonsense about chamber music - in a review of a jazz album! One would hope that someone who has risen to the level of senior music editor would have at least gotten beyond stereotyping

instruments and paid attention to the music. He then proceeded to compare Sebastian (a jazz violinist) to, of all people, Yo Yo Ma (a classical cello player)! I guess it is far beyond Mr. Hernandez to name even one other jazz violinist for comparison.

Sebastian Campesi is a master jazz musician who has led a fascinating musical life and was mentored by Joe Venuti, one of the greatest jazz players of all time. He deserves better from the Chronicle.


Art Langston, M.M.

Chicago, Ill.

Support for Storyville

Dear Chronicle,

While I thoroughly enjoyed your article on David Grissom and David Holt, delving into the part of the band that is (unjustly) rarely exposed, I must tell you that I was trembling after reading your review of Storyville's Dog Years. While I am not immune to critics' harsh comments and exaggerated descriptions, I am also not one to return blows ... it's just "part of the business" I tell myself and my husband. But this was not your normal critic's review, this was full of anger and hatred and Mr. Bertin's choice of adjectives were purely mean-spirited - they were not meant to express his feelings about the record, they were only meant to emotionally abuse everyone involved. I am so sorry that Andy's long-overdue article with David and David had to be ruined by such an ugly finale.

And, as for your comments in "Dancing About Architecture," I cannot believe you would try to plant the final word, denigrating others' comments about your poor choice ... after all, "they're just opinions!" I must side with our friends, Dudley, Bob, and Debra, in pointing out your hypocritcal ways - success breeds criticism at the Chronicle. For Malford, David, David, Tommy, and Chris, not only is this their livelihood, it is their lives. Musicians eat, drink, and breath their music ... they don't just sit around and write about it.

Thank you to Selena Eargle, Daryl Becker, Claire Ashton, and all the other music lovers that have supported these guys for many, many years. I can't tell you how much you mean - Storyville truly loves Austin. And a big hug and kiss to A.J. Vallejo for writing exactly what I, and apparently so many others, felt. As a "band wife," I've had to sit by and watch these guys take punches from their own brothers and sisters, from Stevie to Arc Angels and now Storyville. This time, I just had to say thanks to everyone else.

To end on a positive note, I want to take this space to send much love to my family of David Grissom, David Holt, Malford Milligan, and Chris Layton (and wives and soon-to-be wives!). You have given Tommy the lift he'd needed for a very long time and have sent him places he hasn't been before (you know what I mean). Tommy means the world to me and anything/anyone that makes my husband happy, makes me happy, too. I love you guys.

Kumi Shannon

Sucking in the Nineties

Michael Bertin,

Thank you for having the guts to say what discerning Austin musicians and lovers of music have thought for quite some time [Vol. 17, No. 46]. Storyville sucks. Regardless of talent, Storyville sucks. What really needs to be questioned isn't your review of their latest sucky record, but:

1. Why did the Chronicle waste so many pages on a feature article ["A Piece of Their Souls," same issue] about a band that sucks so much?

2. With so many truly original and good bands around, why does a band like Storyville even have a record contract in the first place?

And a word to those who wrote in griping about Michael's review: ... Just because a band is an "Austin institution" is no reason to be apologetic for mediocrity.


Carey Eskridge

Doubly Troubled

Dear Editor,

Thanks so much for featuring Austin musicians in your film-video magazine. Good use of quotes from W.C. Clark by writer Christopher Hess ["Confessin' the Blues," Vol. 17, No. 47]; always enlightening to encounter the actual words of the person featured. Also good article by Andy Langer about Grissom and Holt ["A Piece of Their Souls," Vol. 17, No. 46]. Too bad it contained that unfortunate phrase, claiming they "play circles around the other local guitar heroes." So, Andy Langer, are you a musician? A guitar player? Why don't you ask David Holt or David Grissom if he thinks he can play circles around W.C. Clark, Jesse Taylor, the Sexton brothers, John X. Reed, Ian Moore, or Chris Duarte, to name a few? You provided us a perfect example of the truth that "comparisons are odious."

A better use of the space given over to Michael Bertin's uncalled-for slam of Storyville would have been a musical history of Tommy Shannon and Chris Layton. A sidebar for the sidemen. Can't have a band without 'em.

Wali Stopher

All Threats Aside...

Dear Editor,

As a fellow Austin Musician I have to agree with my good friend A.J. Vallejo (threatening words aside) ["Postmarks," Vol. 17, No. 47] that the Chronicle is very consistent when it comes to crushingly bad reviews. The only time I have read a good review is when it's an outrageous band with no lasting value, so underground that you'd have to have a shovel just to get a listen. I've

always been a firm believer in, "if you have nothing good to say, say nothing at all." Good words to live by. That was one of my favorite things about the now defunct mag Mike's Feedback. There was never a negative review in any of those pages. I don't know if it's "tough love" you're trying to instill in our musicians here in Austin, but I think there is a better way. I mean, how in the world can Michael Bertin say Storyville's Dog Years "is a listless and soulless bluesy rock album?" Maybe he should have read Andy Langer's article first and learned the history that surrounds that band. One single note from Malford Milligan's voice is blues enough. As for the "Whatever happened to" statement, these are the same people that had talent then and continue to have talent today. You just don't lose it along the way. So please, from one Austin musician to the Chronicle, can we all just get along?

Lonnie Trevino Jr.

Hang on to Your Ego

Dear Chronicle,

At the threat of having my fingers broken and teeth kicked in, I would just like to tell Michael Bertin to keep up the good work. As a musician, all I have to worry about when I get up to play is that the audience might hurl insults, the guitarist might be out of tune, and that the club might actually charge us for the bar tab. The threat of bodily harm from thin-skinned bratty egomaniacs is quite rare. Go ahead and shoot any of my bands' pride and joy down anytime you see fit, because it comes with the territory, and most bands around this dump won't shoot back. As for Mr. Vallejo ["Postmarks," Vol.17, No.47]: If you really want to be in Oasis, you've got to use the word "cunt" more often in your verbal attacks on the misunderstanding world you live in. Keep working hard for that deli tray.

Hunter Darby

Maybe if They Play Louder ...

Dear Editor,

Hello, I just want to say I really like your magazine. I was in Austin in March and found out a lot of music does not reach Europe. But I can read what's going on in Texas. And the quality is excellent!

Thank you very much,

Bart Ebisch

The Netherlands

Talking With Your Hands

Dear Austin Chronicle,

I suggest Mister Vallejo pace himself in assaulting music critics he disagrees with. If his band ever leaves the confines of the Steamboat nouveau hippy scene, he may find himself with a painful backlog of opinions he feels obligated to repress.

P.S. My fingers and my teeth say your band sucks.

Greg Wilson

Holt, Grissom, and Midas

Dear Editor:

It sounds as though some of your readers are taking Mike Bertin's review of Storyville's Dog Years way, way too personally ["Postmarks," Vol. 17, No. 47]. Are the Austin Music Award Poster Boys such CenTex Godheads that they are exempt from poor album reviews? I'm thinking that Claire Ashton and her cult of rockers who listen "religiously" to Storyville ought to try out some clubs other than Antone's once in a while and see that there are a lot of bands in Austin (good and bad). And not everyone thinks that Storyville has some sort of musical Midas Touch. As far as A.J. Vallejo wanting to "kick [Bertin's] fucking teeth in," settle down, tough guy, you're no Henry Rollins. I guess I would, come to think of it, enjoy seeing that matchup ...

Daniel Watters
San Francisco, Calif.

Opinions: Everybody's Got One ... or Two ... or Three

Dear Editor:

I seems as though Mr. A.J. Vallejo has a little problem with rage. His violent response to a little criticism makes me wonder just how long he has been playing music or whether that letter came from the real A.J. One thing I have learned about music is that no matter how great you think something sounds, there will always be someone to whom it sounds like crap. I respect Mr. Bertin for calling it the way he hears it instead of just pandering to local crybabies like A.J. Vallejo.

A.J., when you decide you want to truly begin supporting local talent, you can do so in three easy steps: 1. Put an end to your juvenile threats against local critics, 2. Stop attending sold-out, s.r.o. shows by the biggest band in town, and 3. Go out and see a local band you haven't heard of ... someplace where they play for free to a handful of people. For the record, we do it here twice a month. The Shiner is ice cold and everything is free. Hope to see ya!


Grant Wishes

Bertin Hates the Cranberries, Too

Dear Editor,

Hmmm ... let me see, if I was the editor for a highly esteemed weekly magazine would I keep a critic like Michael Bertin on my staff? Well, shockingly, the answer is no. I would contemplate, though, that maybe by keeping him on the staff that he would generate enough controversy as to intrigue the interests of readers. I would also contemplate that I may lose some readers due to his personal attacks on local bands. The thought would also cross my mind that maybe some local bands are apprehensive about sending their CDs in to the Chronicle for review because of one prozac-needing critic. Now if I was in a band I would think seriously about sending my CD to XLent instead. In light of the circumstances it would be a wise business decision to let the poor guy go, sentencing him to a sickly life on the Drag amongst the throngs of musicians who failed in part due to his biased reviews. Sometimes controversy diminishes loyalty.

One more thing. As I was watching MTV's Road Rules I noticed a familiar sound in the background music. As I thought more about it I realized it was the music of one of our own local bands called Cling. Can anybody tell me how MTV found their music credible enough to use on a nationwide show, but we didn't find them credible enough to even recognize them or offer them support? I think there's something definitely wrong with this picture. Maybe they're just not hippie or bluesy enough. Either way I find them to be a very talented band and strongly recommend that we give them a listen. If you are a Cranberries fan, then you'll love Cling.

Stephen Soto

Storyville: Expecting Excellence

To the Editor:

I would agree with my friend A.J. Vallejo ["Postmarks," Vol. 17, No. 47] that Michael Bertin's not-so-positive review of the new Storyville album was perhaps positioned in a cumbersome place, immediately following a glowing (and ample) Andy Langer article on the band. I don't agree, though, with A.J.'s sentiment regarding the cutting of slack for Storyville. If Storyville is such a great band, deserving of such admiration, then shouldn't those in charge of reviewing their output be expecting truly great music from them? Shouldn't the standards for excellence be as high (if not higher) for a band who are "as Austin as it gets" as they are for any other? Do you think Storyville expects leniency or undue favor from the music press of their hometown? I have to believe that they're big enough to weather the occational bit of bad press and stand by their material. The real problem here is that in the Live Music Capital of the World, one is often judged not by one's level of performance, but by how long one has been around. It's an environment that, as we are beginning to see, breeds not only apathy but also mediocrity. I would implore Selena Eargle, Daryl Becker, Claire Ashton, and anyone else who thinks Storyville is the only band in Austin to take the time to distribute their support and enthusiasm for our city's music a bit more evenly.

A.J.: I hope the leg's better. Watch out for those pain pills, I think they're making you hostile!

Chris Mosser

Storyville Can Stand the Weather

Dear Chron,

I'm responding to that A.J. Vallejo character ["Postmarks," Vol. 17, No. 47] who threatened to break the fingers and kick in the teeth of Michael Bertin because Michael didn't like Storyville's latest record. Who is this knuckle-dragging jerk? Is he from Austin? Did he show up uninvited to give our town the dose of snarling mediocrity it so badly needed?

I would think that Dave and Dave and the rest of Storyville have been professional musicians long enough to weather a bad review. It seems like they'd be hip to the idea that any press is good press. Further, they're not exactly hurting for good press in this town. The only

local media love fest that's bigger than the one for Storyville is currently being held for Lucinda Williams (Our Lady of the Sacred Long Awaited Follow-Up Record) - you'd think these people were uncontrollably

bleeding from the hands and feet, doing their penance for the Gods of Rock.

Anyway, one bad review in a local paper is simply not offensive enough to threaten bodily harm to the Chronicle serf that had to write it. If this guy really needs something to seethe about, let's assign him to complain about the quality of public housing or schools or something.

Well, truth be told, I wouldn't want this guy teaching in my schools or living in my neighborhood.

Thanks very much,

Genevieve Van Cleve

Way to Go Dogg!

To the Editor:

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) applauds the Representative Lloyd Doggett for his recent vote to save $10 million of taxpayers' hard-earned dollars and to protect wildlife in the West. Specifically, he supported the Bass-DeFazio amendment to an annual appropriations bill to cut the budget of a federal predator control program, known by the euphemistic name of Wildlife Services (WS), formerly called Animal Damage Control.

Unfortunately, the House, after approving the Bass-DeFazio amendment, re-voted and reversed itself and rejected this sensible budget cut by a 192-232 vote. The reversal occurred after the powerful livestock industry attacked the House for cutting into its subsidy.

While WS engages in some useful operations that prevents conflicts between people and wildlife, such as preventing bird strikes at airports, the agency spends a large share of its resources on killing predators for the benefit of a small number of wealthy ranchers. In 1996, for instance, WS personnel killed more than 90,000 coyotes, black bears, mountain lions, bobcats, and other mammalian predators. They killed these predators principally by using cruel and indiscriminate steel-jaw leghold traps, snares, and poison, and by shooting them from aircraft.

The program is as inefficient as it is cruel. WS spends $3 for every $1 of livestock damage. If WS simply reimbursed ranchers for their losses, they would save the taxpayers millions of dollars.

The HSUS is grateful for Rep. Doggett's attempt to rein in this wasteful program.


Wayne Pacelle

Senior V.P.


Lewinsky 3:16


Reading last week in the Corpus Christi Caller Times yet another example of the "Christian" practice of citing the Bible to justify hatred of others made me resolve to ask the following questions of the sophisticated and diverse readership of the Chronicle. What do you make of the fact that those who would cite Biblical passages to support attacks on our president and to justify their beliefs that his presumed lying about Monica Lewinsky makes him unfit for office seem to overlook John 18:16-27 as a precedent? There a man: a) is chosen not by a fallible popular electorate, but by Jesus Christ (aka God) himself; b) to be leader not for two four-year terms, but for life; c) not of a country 222 years old and of ca. 250 million people, but of an eternal and universal church of literally billions; d) not to manage the well-being on earth of said quarter-billion, but to care for the immortal souls of his followers. This same man under repeated direct questioning denies that he is a disciple of Jesus Christ, as Jesus Christ knew he would. Yet Jesus still "elected" him to "preside" over his church. Is this man called Peter the prime example of and precedent for Hitler's "big lie" theory? Or is it alright to lie about one's relationship with God made man, but presumably not about a highly educated adult woman? Or is Jesus Christ just wiser and much more Christian about mortal weakness and differentiating what is needed in a leader from what is fallible in a private person? Or are there other answers?

On a metaphorial road to Damascus,

Tom Palaima

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