Religious Diversity

To the editor: Look to the second to last paragraph of the cover story (“Losing our religion”, November Advocate) to discover why churches are dying: “Church should be a place where people ‘meet God’ and ‘connect to the truth.'”

Here’s what’s wrong with this: There is almost certainly no God- especially the arbitrary and vindictive schizophrenic of the error-laden scriptures. And what these grifters and charlatans proclaim to be “the truth” is more self-serving opinion than anything provable. “Truth” is by definition provable, factual, real, consistent and testable.

More and more people are realizing this, refuting involuntarily imposed childhood indoctrination, and rejecting organized religion. A recent Pew Research Study revealed the that the largest growing segment of adherents is “no affiliation”.

It doesn’t take a genius to recognize that the owner’s manual for religions, chock full of absurd stories about talking donkeys and levitating Bronze Age magicians, can’t possibly be “the truth”.

Want to have a social club devoted to philanthropy? I’m all for that! You can do that very well without subscribing to an absurd self-loathing terrorist ideology that threatens you with eternal agony at the hands of a “loving God”.

Churches are closing? Good news! Maybe the land will be put to good use by profitable tax-paying entities, and we can fill a few more potholes and give our public school teachers a raise.         -Jim Curtis

To the editor: We read with great interest your article on the neighborhood church. We spent several years in two neighborhood churches (neither were mentioned in your article). We were members of one church for six years, and the other for eight, so we had quite a bit of ourselves invested in the two churches. Sadly, we ended up leaving them both, although we were very fond of the people.

We worked very hard to help both these churches grow. My husband was a Bible teacher, a deacon and an elder, and I was active by organizing and leading children’s choirs and singing in the adult choir as well as being a soloist. There was a low-simmering tension point in both churches concerning the old ways versus the new ways and the changes the needed to be made. A few members were of the opnion that it was up to the pastor to bring in new members. Many did reach out, but to little effect.

Subsequently, we visited Park Cities Presbyterian Church, mostly because we had friends there. We were impressed not only by their magnificent worship service, but the fact that the gospel was not watered down as it is now so much these days. We found that they worked hard at making the big church small, and within months of our first visit in 1998, we joined the church.

Many of our friends and neighbors in the Lakewood area have found church homes outside of the area for hte reasons mentioned in your article. Many of the area churches (but not the two we attended) have so watered down their teachings that it is barely recognizable as Christian, and people hungry for good teaching also leave that for reason.       -Jeannine Gott

To the editor: As the four-month-old pastor of 105-year-old Grace United Methodist Church, I shared with my new congregation yesterday from the pulpit that I was challenged and delighted by the goad your article gave us here in this diverse neighborhood to be the vanguard for our community in programming, worship and healing.

I would love to have you visit us on Sunday morning where you will see babies of many colors, teenage Cambodian girls, venerated octogenarians, gays and straights, Latinos and European Americans, old and young, rich and poor, and Nigerians recently come from a 12-year stint in a Benin refugee camp. When little Darios from Burundi sat on my lap yesterday for the children’s sermon, I nearly wept with thanksgiving at the gifts here, even for me personally. When you come, you will sense a spirit in this place that is like no other.

But it isn’t a moldy, caught-in-the-past sacred. It is lively, even with what many would call a “traditional” worship service with pipe organ, a choir, robes and acolytes. It honors the past and celebrates the God among us who leads us into creativity: from hot-off-the-press anthems to helping those without health insurance or legal aid. From supporting ministries for those who have been victims of torture to experiencing invigorating ways to understand prayer or the book of Revelation. From learning  how to deal with financial problems to seeing liturgical dance in worship.

Our services are at 10:50 each and every Sunday morning without fail. There’s a life here I want you to experience. You may just want to hang around awhile! Check us out at www.gracemain.homestead.com             -Rev. Diana Holbert

A Poor Excuse For Service

To the editor: I just read with amazement Rick Wamre’s article (“The clubhouse church”, November Advocate). I could have written it word for word. Only difference was that we had money and land, but no vision. We were exactly the “clubhouse church” – we, too, put our hearts into it for many years, but failed in our attempts to help move the church forward. We, too, gave up and moved on, and I feel a sense of guilt to this day.

We left thinking God was calling us to serve in different areas that could make a difference, but we, like you, have yet to find that calling. That is our fault however, we haven’t made the effort we committed to make – but we are looking.

We have visited lots of churches, some we like and some we don’t, but bottom line, there are places right in front of us that we can serve, like Dallas Central Ministries, Mercy Street, Big Brothers, mission trips, etc. The list is long, but for some reason, we think we should be doing this through a church, and if we don’t feel good in that church or have a connection, we use that as our excuse to not get involved in some type of ministry or outreach. God have mercy on us!

I hope and pray you and your wife (and me and mine) can seize upon opportunities that are right in front of us to share the love of Christ and serve others (as Jesus would do), i.e. “find a way to carry out the mission of making a difference” – even if we’re not a member a “club”                               – Jeff Garrett

Give DART Riders More Credit

To the editor: In the November calendar, you wrote: “Eleven months out of the year Dallasites don’t care much for mass transit…”. Boo, hiss, Advocate! DART ridership continues to increase dramatically in DFW – especially as fuel prices and environmental consciousness increase.

One quick Google search of “DART ridership” shows fact after fact of ridership increases from 2005 through Octover 2008.

Granted, Dallas is not New York or Chicago in regards to mass transit use, but we are doing pretty darn well considering DART’s “newness”.

Along with more than 50 percent of my neighbors, I ride the rail system daily and it is considerably crowded. Yay, Dallas!

The Advocate is a cool mag that should inspire and elevate our thinking and help Dallas evolve. So next time, give Dallasites more credit!                         – Alyson Black

Take The Blame

To the editor: I agree with many of Jeff Siegel’s comments in “The Blame Game” (November Advocate). I witnessed Hinojosa and  Lowe accept blame and responsibility for the DISD financial debacle. It seemed like words, not personal acceptance of the moral and ethical responsibilities for the situation. No shame or repentance for their negligence and malfeasance.

You are very right about the fact that no punishment has een handed out to leaders. Their contempt for the citizens of this city is overpowering. The smell from Ross Avenue is more than we get near the Trinity River after a recent rain.      – Gene Davis