HPBC is on the minds of many this week; Gotham lingers in the shadows.
Kudos to Erica Barnett for her excellent piece on the Hyde Park Baptist situation ["Grow and Prosper," Nov. 19]. Great reporting on a tough, complex subject!
I did want to make clear, however, that the Hyde Park Neighborhood Association fully supports Five Neighborhoods United in its response to the church's current Quarries proposal. It is true that the majority of Hyde Park Baptist's members live in the city's northwest section, and at first glance, this might seem a sensible location for them to develop. However, the proposed project has raised serious concerns about traffic and flooding in the surrounding residential neighborhoods. These are issues that must be addressed.
We strongly support our fellow neighborhood associations in determining and pursuing their own best interests in this situation. We certainly would not want our own current difficulties to be solved at the expense of another neighborhood.
Hyde Park Neighborhood Association
Do Unto Others
Thank you for your coverage of our struggle to preserve Hyde Park from looking like Anyplace USA, and to persuade the Baptist Church to pursue its mission where its current disruptiveness will not intensify to breaking point ["Grow and Prosper," Nov. 19]. Their slogan "Forward Forever" gives me the feeling of being in the path of a bulldozer on a mission, not a church. Or of being in a nest with a cuckoo in it.
I'd suggest they spend 40 days in the expanses of Texas northwest of Austin. It might remind them of some religious home truths, and suggest a different location for expansion.
I appreciate your coverage of the Hyde Park Baptist Church expansion campaign ["Grow and Prosper," Nov. 19]. I am outraged by this church's never-ending aspiration for world domination. As a direct descendant of Rev. Pardon Tillinghast, who built the first Baptist church in America, I venture to guess that while he would be proud of some things Hyde Park Baptist has done, he would be sickened by their blatant disregard for the people who live here and their Forward Forever piggy bank campaigns.
Let us ask ourselves: At what point do we cease being practitioners of faith and become a multinational media conglomerate? Judging by the size and mission of Hyde Park Baptist in comparison to the other four churches within a five-block radius, I'd say they've hit the big time. I find it even more interesting and ironic that the first Baptist church in America is still roughly similar to its original form, while our neighborhood church feels compelled to build nothing less than amusement-park-style developments.
If they're going to play like a big boy, they've got to pay like a big boy. Why should churches of this magnitude be allowed to grow without paying any taxes? Why should they be able to grab premium land and contribute nothing, meanwhile using the value of this land to guarantee funding for future expansion projects?
As residents, most of us are required to jump through hoops, like trained monkeys, before the planning commission when we want to renovate or build additions onto our property. (Obviously, the experience left an impression.) Does all this change when I have "Doing Business as J.C." on my checks? Why should a church be exempt from zoning and building codes? I doubt very seriously many of us would be allowed to whimsically build parking garages on our lots.
I fail to understand why Hyde Park Baptist is treated with such preference. Actually, I choose denial over understanding, because it simply hurts too much to acknowledge that such a distortion of faith and love can exist right next door. I choose to deny that the laws and institutions which we abide by seem to have no jurisdiction over large, Christian business interests. Sometimes it's easier that way.
Hyde Park Bullies
As a neighbor in Hyde Park whose house is a mere block from the proposed garage, I applaud you for raising the profile of this issue ["Grow and Prosper," Nov. 19]. HPBC has consistently ignored the "love thy neighbor" principle and treated Central Austin like its own personal parking lot. We've had our driveway blocked more than once on a Sunday by a HPBC SUV while whole floors remained available in their parking lot, and now they want to lay waste to more of this area in the name of Christian fellowship. With whom? The last time I checked (and as a Baylor grad I'm reasonably familiar), bullying, threats, and outright lies aren't exactly what Jesus was advocating. "As for me and my house --," we oppose the garage!
While there is merit in desiring to fulfill the Great Commission (Matt 28:19), why can't the goals of the gospel be met through mission or satellite churches instead of a single monstrous location? Why should the integrity and all that is good about a neighborhood be destroyed to feed the egos of the leaders and elders of Hyde Park Baptist Church? ["Grow and Prosper," Nov. 19] There are folks who have considerable emotional and financial investment in their homes whose hopes and dreams are being decimated through an erroneous interpretation of the scripture. I am not a new kid on the block, since I have lived in the neighborhood for 65 years. My great grandfather was Monroe Shipe, who developed Hyde Park over 100 years ago. My father spent his life in service to the citizens of Austin as city tax assessor-collector, city attorney, and culminating in 12 years as city manager.
Willam T. (Bill) Williams III
Economics of Religion
In reference to your articles on Hyde Park Baptist Church's expansion ["Grow and Prosper," Nov. 19], I would like to make several points:
1. First, if anyone cares to read the entire chapter that any verse appears in that their preacher will use to gain contributions for the expansion, in context, the verse will have to do actually with providing financial support for responsible people in economic distress in the congregation or community.
2. If I asked you to give me a few million dollars, you would probably start laughing out loud. If I told you I was a preacher, numerous people would start emptying their pockets.
3. Jesus certainly did not [get] rich making the statements that he made in public. I really believe a supportive, caring community was his goal and intention.
4. When it is all over with, Hyde Park Baptist, after spending millions, will not be able to afford a volleyball net so young adults could play a casual game on their parking lot on a Friday evening -- and the cost of that is under $100.
I am not that stupid,
Cars Cause Pipelines
I'm glad that so many people in Austin are committed to fighting the Longhorn gasoline pipeline.
However, as long as we regard cheap, abundant gasoline as a necessity of life, such pipelines will continue to be built, and it will be hard to fight them in court.
The most effective way to fight such environmental hazards is to question the necessity of using so much gasoline. Reduce your own habit. If you need cheap, abundant gasoline, then so do people in El Paso. But really, do any of us need gasoline so badly that we're willing to poison our land and water? I certainly don't. I buy no gasoline.
Please, self-styled environmentalists of Austin, start reducing your own heavy personal gasoline habits. Then you'll be in a better position to fight gasoline pipelines, oil and diesel spills, life-destroying highways, urban sprawl, and air pollution.
I am writing this letter to you after reading your Vol. 19, No. 12 issue's cartoon section. The "Slaughter Me Satan" and "Pat Robertson's Dog" cartoons were appalling displays of blatant discrimination and hatred against Christians. As a born-again Christian I greatly resent these cartoons' outrageous attacks on people of faith. Now, I can appreciate humor and cartoons of many kinds (even those that poke fun at ideals that I hold dear). However, these cartoons are way out of line! They are not funny. They are vicious little examples of carefully designed anti-Christian propaganda.
First of all, the "Slaughter Me Satan" cartoon has a not so subtle portrayal of Christians as people who apparently brainwash their children, have no foundation for their faith, and as general hatemongers and all-around wackos. The cartoon uses so much derogatory language and imagery that I don't know where to begin. From the inference of "blind faith" to "666" parts, to the inference that Christians want to "slaughter" "Homo perverts" and "abortion doctors." This kind of humor is simply inaccurate and uncalled for. Second is the "Pat Robertson" cartoon. This cartoon's inference that Pat Robertson's beliefs are like a dog humping someone's leg is really unfair. These two cartoons are perfect examples of the kind of hatred that would not be tolerated if it were subjecting a different group of people with a different ideology.
Let me ask you a question. Would you be so quick to publish, say, a "Slaughter Me, Right-Wing WASP Fascist" cartoon? What about an "Ellen DeGeneres' Dog" cartoon? Of course not! If you did, your office would be flooded with so many letters from offended people that you wouldn't be able to get out the door! Yet for some reason you seem to feel it is perfectly acceptable to bash Christians. Why the double standards? Why are you singling out Christians in particular? I assure you, that if you came to my church, you would not be treated in like manner. You wouldn't find the preaching of hatred, nor would you see anyone ranting or raving or foaming at the mouth. What you would find are people who would treat you with respect; with a smile and open acceptance.
It is truly sad that you have felt the need to engage in acts of outright hatred in this manner. It makes me wonder if you have any professional ethic or sense of moral decency at all. You should all be ashamed of yourselves.
Richard G. Burley II
I wasn't going to read the feature on Ron Schroeder ["Just Call Him "Coach,'" Nov. 19] because I see enough crap about the Chaps in the Statesman. However, I happened to catch the note about the author being a stud high school writer, so I decided to skim the story to see how good the kid was. Man! In the four paragraphs on page 44 that I read, he managed to misspell Pearce, Klein Forest, and moved John Tyler High School from Tyler to Longview. I quickly jumped to the beginning of the story, where by the twelfth word he had misspelled the city he lives in -- it's West Lake Hills! I don't blame the kid -- he's just getting started -- but how about springing for a proofreader? Or are you guys trying to get him a job at the Statesman?
Waco Evil Exposed
Thanks for your Waco coverage. Even Agent Sage's comments were peppered with places where the truth might shine in, despite his undying faith in his agency, which has now become suspect.
The Ruling Class, happening, in our era, to have descended from families of the Great Pirates (Buckminster Fuller, "The Great Pirates," Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth) has little compunction in decimating slaves and warriors -- it is the natural order during an Age of Aquisitors. I see little difference in the infamous Mayan blood sacrifices, the killing fields in Vietnam, or the fire and rain of bullets in Waco. Spilling of someone else's blood to draw power is the black magician's last resort. Why is our DOD housed in a pentagonal building?
I am 57. My father served in the Pacific in WWII, my grandfather in Germany in WWI. To what end? That shipbuilders and weapons merchants might own more castles. What is wrong with us that we keep serving Mammon, and not ourselves, We the People? Pope John Paul worked as a young man in a German chemical warfare lab. Senator Prescott Bush, as Standard Oil of New Jersey, sold oil to the Germans, refueled Nazi subs during the war. General Motors built Nazi warplanes, in Germany, and after the war, US tax dollars paid reparations to GM for damage to their German factories (the Snell Report).
So, is our goverment capable of exterminating 80 innocent people right up the road in Waco? Yes. Is our government capable of training local police with military troops in our own cities? Of course.
So, what is there to do? Get armed and make a stand against Delta Force troops? Don't be silly. My first suggestion would be to learn to pray. The get active and spread the word that we're in for nasty weather. The Y2K computer glitch may be the least of it, yet it escapes me how such an obvious glitch was ignored for 30 years. Conspiracy? Most certainly.
Thank you again for your Waco pages. Believe me, this ain't gonna go away.
Hands off the Guadalupe
Thanks for covering the fight the Guadalupe River Trout Unlimited is in against the GBRA to keep water in the Guadalupe River ["A Dam Shame," Nov. 12]. It is more than just a trout stream, it is a jewel in the Texas Hill Country and these "bastards" are trying to de-water it.
In response to the recent architecture wars, I must say that the critical analysis in the press has a rather large blind spot. On one front, the regents are dismissed as "hillbillies;" on another, Randall Davis (developer of Gotham) is called meretricious and crass. I don't want to argue against these characterizations, but someone needs to point out that the opposition is not as all-knowing as we laypeople are led to assume.
One may seriously doubt the regents' or Davis' judgments, and yet wonder what is the alternative? If the Dean of Architecture and a panel of experts design us a building based on the most avant-garde predilections, is it likely to be beautiful? Useful? Harmonious and graceful? Look around. Well-respected modern or postmodern architects have been busy in this town, in this state, in this country, for decades. Where are the beautiful buildings? Want to see samples of cutting-edge architecture? Go see the UT Communications building. How about the HRC. The Convention Center. Look at the civic buildings in any large city -- Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles: a melange of cell-clock, deprivation chamber, and Disney dungeon all diligently blue-pencilled to come in under cost. We are the richest university in the world: If we had the proper eye we could afford Frank Gehry to mould us a museum with just aluminum siding and a staple gun.
The fact is that nothing, rollercoaster roof or not, will look good with the PCL and Jester in the background. And with the Hyatt and the American-Statesman for neighbors, Gotham may be as ridiculous as it wants and owe no one an explanation. If you want a lovely cityscape, go to Europe. Almost everything built here in the past sixty years is an eyesore, either acute or chronic, and so the current squabbling can only be understood by any disinterested person, with an eye for beauty, as political infighting of the most mysterious and arcane kind.
Aghast at Gotham
As a resident of South Austin, let me say I'm aghast that this city is willing to allow something like Gotham to be built on the shores of Town Lake.
However, I wonder at the irony of all the supposed pro-environmentalists in Austin who drive around in a mobile version of Gotham. Yeah, those giant vehicles, which not only use precious resources at an alarming rate, but also make driving hell for others.
Those of us who chose more modest, affordable, and eco-friendly smaller cars are endangered by your need to proclaim whatever image-enhancing wierdness you insist on. Why do you need a tank with four-wheel drive to get around? Wouldn't you honestly feel more secure if the streets (and the air) were safer for all of us?
Are you really much different from the developers and investors of Gotham?
Just the Facts
In light of the fact that Austin is the laughingstock of Texas (which is really bad if you include Houston and the Rio Grande Valley), what makes Rich Oppel think the Statesman is or will be the "Newspaper of Central Texas"? His (and your) insidious liberalism is a blight on the wane even here in Austin. Oppel would do well to just report the news and not try to be part of it, circulation and credibility concerns not withstanding.
Why not provide safety and security for our traveling public, is this asking too much? We the traveling public are not provided available adequate security as indicated by the present and past disasters on surface and air vessels. There should be a requirement for all craft providing public transportation that leave our shores or pass state lines be equipped with automatic devices constantly transmitting data and voice communication to an external data bank. Anyone with minor knowledge of communications and electronics is aware of available devices that would provide instantaneous data on problems of impending or past disasters. The cost is now near-negligible for electronic transmission devices. We the public go through the agonizing wait, puzzlement of possibly never getting a clear answer, and extremely costly search for the data and voice devices on these craft. This data could be accessed instantaneously from the external data bank. The traveling public certainly should be able to take advantage of available technology.
Jack E. Rogers
Past President, Ex-Officio
Guadalupe River Trout Unlimited
Insensitive to Immigration
Once again, Lamar Smith has blatantly disregarded a large section of his constituency. With the tabling of the Central American Parity Act (HR2722), members of our community will be left in a state of immigration limbo. The act would have eliminated years of discriminatory treatment of Central Americans, some of whom have been given the opportunity to adjust their legal status; others have been ignored regardless of similar country conditions. One segment of this constituency is the Hondurans and Nicaraguans who have been granted Temporary Protected Status which expires July 5, 2000. Now that there is no relief to be found by the Parity Act they will either be forced to leave or enter into a year-to-year renewal of status that for some groups, like the Liberians, has lasted for over eight years. Lamar Smith is the chairman of the House Immigration Subcommittee, and he has subverted the democratic process by not allowing Congress to consider the merits of the legislation, even if just to kill it. Maybe because he knows that it could pass. See you next session, Lamar.
Nell W. Barker
Political Asylum Project of Austin
2001: The Real Millennium
I am so tired of seeing so many different people and the media claiming that we are at the end of the 20th century and that the next millennium is about to begin. One example (of many) was during the World Series, the claim was made that this was the last series of the 20th century. Ain't so! In fact, Jan. 1, 2001 will be the beginning of the next century and the next millennium.
Why is this true? Simple answer. There was no year zero! The Gregorian calendar began with Year 1. There was no zero in Roman numerals so they had no way to write it down. What this means is that 1, 101, 201, 301, 401, 501, 601, 701, 801, 901, 1001 and 2001 etc. are the beginning years of the respective century or millennium.
R&SA uno: Hey, what's new?
R&SA dos: Did you hear that a Scott Heard from San Diego is coming here, to play for UT's baseball team?
R&SA uno: How come?
R&SA dos: Because, according to the coach, you're too pendejo to play.
R&SA uno: No, I'm not, he's never asked me.
R&SA dos: You have to be enrolled at UT first.
R&SA uno: Damn!
R&SA dos: Where'd you get that roach?
R&SA uno: At the corner store. Here, man.
R&SA dos: They're looking for a chancellor too. I bet you won't be called up.
R&SA uno: I doubt it.
R&SA dos: You know what? My sisters are getting pissed off because the softball coach is getting girls from California, Virginia, and Tomball, Texas to play next year.
R&SA uno: They've got to get enrolled at UT first, right?
R&SA: Raised and Schooled Austinite.