Reader Mail

Mormons in America

Religious fear and modern politics: Reactions to evangelical worries. Also: Ambush in Samarra. Privilege in San Jose. Student "happiness." Plus much more.

11.2.07

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OUR HEROES
Re: Jeff Emanuel's The Longest Morning:

Jeff Emanuel's article on the brave soldiers of Charlie Company brought tears to my eyes and thankfulness to my heart. God bless those soldiers who put their lives on the line for this country. The value of their sacrifice cannot be overstated. The Democrat cut-and-runners might have gotten their way without this most honorable of sacrifices.

Morley and Willis and their families will be in my prayers. Moser and Corriveau can take pride and comfort in knowing they not only saved their own lives that day, but prevented al Qaeda from using their friends' sacred bodies for evil purposes.

Thank you, Mr. Emanuel, for telling their story.
-- Deborah Durkee
Marietta, Georgia

What a gripping story told by Jeff Emanuel about our brave soldiers. As we can see, it is painfully obvious that today's enemies understand perfectly that they can rely on the liberal media to help them undermine the momentum and support the U.S. has in this war. The treachery by our own media sickens me. They should be prosecuted.
-- John Nelson
Hebron, Connecticut

Excellent article. We could use a bunch more articles by Jeff Emanuel and a lot less articles by several of the squishy metrosexuals that are carried in The American Spectator Online.
-- Ken Shreve
New Hampshire

AREN'T MORMONS CHRISTIANS TOO?
Re: Paul Chesser's Prejudiced for an Eternity:

This was an interesting, yet thoroughly incomplete article on Romney's Faith. Would a Romney Presidency raise awareness of the Mormon Faith? Yes. What effects would his presidency have on the faith of our Nation? Let's see.

This article presented an extremely narrow view that assumes people only fall into only two groups: Traditional Southern Christian or Mormonism. Most people today seem to have little or no faith in Religion. How much worse is it when we elect a man who belongs to the right church but has low morals or values?

Look at the devastating effects that the Clinton Presidency had on our youth. I'm a child of the Eighties and was raised with Ronald Regan in the White House. He was a man that you could look up to and want to be like when you grew up. He taught us that we should be a "Shining city on the hill.". He was like my Grandpa. He made you want to be better. My wife grew up with Bill Clinton as President; her generation was introduced to Oral Sex and Porn on a huge scale. I honestly don't know what church Regan or Clinton went to. The point is what kind of a person they were. What kind of a person do we want to put forward to the world, ourselves and our children as OUR "Commander in Chief" !
I happen to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (a Mormon). I've lived in Utah most of my life and it's one of the safest, cleanest, nicest places you can be. I don't have to lock my cars or house at night. My kids can play with my neighbors' kids and walk to school on their own. If people believe that we're some cult you probably don't know many Mormons. I had a co-worker in Las Vegas try to tell me that we were a cult, I disagreed but I had to think about what a cult is and why I don't think we qualify. In my opinion a cult is an organization that gets people to do things that are wrong, and to keep secrets about it. In the Mormon Church we make promises and oaths but only to follow the Lord and keep his commandments as are found in the scriptures. In other words we help people to improve their lives and do what is right.

My point is that Romney is a good man and he is a great businessman. He has an amazing resume and will portrait values and ethics that we will want all our citizens to emulate. Right now in this country there is a huge amount of influence trying to discredit all religion and Christianity specifically. Let's focus on what we have in common, we both believe in God. However, the other guys in the room are trying to convince us that we're both stupid. It's them we should be arguing with.
-- Rob Andrus

In the article by Paul Chesser, "Prejudiced for Eternity," it is stated by Mr. Chesser that James Walker, president of the Watchman Fellowship, is concerned that Mitt Romney, if elected president, would be influential in bringing thousands of converts into the Mormon Church. Chesser and Walker both ignore a very good example of this hypothesis in the election of John F. Kennedy, a Catholic, as president. Did thousands convert to Catholicism during his presidency? I don't think so. Why ignore this splendid example?
-- Bob Martin
Muskogee, Oklahoma

Paul Chesser's column about a Romney presidency is interesting and thought-provoking, but I can't help but suspect that he wouldn't say the same thing about a Catholic candidate. After all, don't most Evangelicals (like Chesser) think that Catholicism is "false Christianity"?
-- Joseph P. Postel
Chicago, Illinois

Does anyone believe that New Age-ism adherents have increased just because of Oprah Winfrey? Or that Scientology has benefited from Tom Cruise's headlines? How many Mormon missionaries are currently saying, to paraphrase Walker, "Would you like to hear about the faith of our U.S. Senate Majority Leader?"

It's obvious that James Walker has an axe to grind about his former membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And Paul Chesser is all too happy to help turn the grinding wheel for Mr. Walker.

Of Chesser's many injudicious arguments, I find this one to be the biggest whopper: "But for the most part Christians believe that Mormon theology leads its adherents to an eternal separation from the Lord." Chesser has taken the simple term "Christian" meaning a person who believe in Jesus Christ, and elevated it to the same intolerable level as that espoused by the Westboro Baptist Church who picket military funerals.

Who appointed Walker or for that matter, Chesser, as arbiters of who is and isn't a Christian? If I want to know more about New Age-ism, Scientology or the Mormons, I certainly wouldn't start with a visit to Walker's website or believe anything in Chesser's column.
-- Paul Lindberg
American Fork, Utah

President Bush is a Methodist. Methodists send missionaries all over the globe. Methodist membership has steadily declined during Bush's presidency.

Prejudiced for Eternity? Are you projecting?
-- Mark Tarnowski
Methodist

First, Mr. Paul Chesser, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not need to have a President of the United States to achieve "instant credibility." Second, how has Presidents Bush's evangelical religion helped in the missionary efforts of his church? A poor president probably leads for poor missionary recruitment, so is the fear really of a Mormon in the office or is it a fear of an effective Mormon in the office? And if you are afraid of Mr. Romney being a good president is that the same as being ashamed of the poor performance of the Evangelical currently in office? As for the Eternities I would fear more about putting an atheist into the highest office who continues the assault on the family, and who will place more liberals on the high court than Gods wrath over a Mormon in the office.
-- Todd Gray

If you follow the logic Mr. Chesser relays to us from dogmatic anti-Mormon Christians, then no true Christian should ever vote for anyone of no faith or any other faith. That means no Jews, no Moslems, no Hindus, no Buddhists, no Atheists, no Agnostics, no Deists, in short, no nothing unless the candidate avows an approved Christian religion. It wasn't that long ago that that type of bigoted thinking included Catholics. And as much as Protestants keep having internal struggles and splitting up to form new churches, if you follow that despicable logic to its bitter end, then nobody will be acceptable unless they are from your own particular Christian Sect.

Frankly, we Mormons believe in the Christ as depicted in the bible, but not the different being as set forth by those who would toady to the emperor Constantine hundreds of years after Jesus lived, died, was resurrected, and was written about in the scriptures we all call the bible. As much as all Christians, we believe we can only be saved through exercising faith in Christ. Yes there are some differences, but we don't believe that additional and continuing revelation from God contradicts biblical revelation and witness of God in any way. While we do have a similar arrogance in believing that we are right, (don't we all), we have given up the tactic of accusing everyone else as wrong for the more fruitful tactic of admitting we all have some truth, and wanting to add to that by sharing more truth.

If you follow the arguments Hewitt puts forth, you will realize that there is a much bigger downside possible to Mormons, when one of us chooses to run for President than there is an upside. Any Republican candidate will be demonized. Any candidate of faith will be demonized. As long as we stick together, nothing bad will happen. But if Bush's example is followed for a Mormon President, Mormon popularity will fall because of the behavior of a Mormon in the White House. But Hewitt argues further that once anti-Mormons amongst the faithful Right join with the secular Left in demonizing one of the faithful Right's own adherents, that we will have participated in making this demonization of the faithful acceptable across the board. And the broader Christianity, which has long been in the cross-hairs of the secular left, will finally fall victim to their attacks. In short, Christianity will suffer from it own partisanship, a truly bitter end for such despicable logic.

I frankly would rather Romney hadn't chosen to run because I don't want to suffer this demonization. But his running has made me realize that the religious faithful still hold onto bigotry. I hope I am wrong, but I doubt that if Romney wins the nomination that the volunteers, whose efforts put Bush over the top, will show up, and that that bigotry would then be responsible for another 8 miserable years of Clintons. Which is really worse, a couple of extra Mormon converts, or a lot more youngsters being taught to have sex before marriage, and following the public example of the rationalization that a Lewinsky isn't sex? And that is just a small taste of the anti-Christian influences of the first 8 years of Clinton.

Seriously, Romney winning or losing isn't going to make a difference to the number of young Mormon adults giving up part of their life to help others through sharing their faith, and I doubt that Romney's winning will make a significant positive difference in the number of people who convert. On the other hand, 8 more years of Clinton will make the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (our real name) look like a great refuge for those who want to protect their families. As important as sharing the Gospel is, I would rather protect the country from such harm than try to gain from such means.

Does it ever bother anyone else that you can make a living in the Christian community by choosing to be an Anti-"fill in the blank" expert? The one Mr. Chesser tells us about appears more concerned with hurting the faith he deserted than he does in witnessing for the faith he joined. That definitely biases him to not properly think through the consequences of his actions. Even if he is right, his actions may be part cause of a lot more damage to Christian families than he is trying to prevent.

In the winter of '83-'84 as I was serving the people of Vienna Austria as a Mormon Missionary, I had the opportunity to listen to some young Iranian activists spout similar false logic, but they carried it to a much more drastic conclusion. Basically, they said if your faith is right, then you have a responsibility to prevent others from following false faiths. But, they concluded this justified their use of force to convert others, and to guarantee that the converted won't sin. That is not the thinking of a loving, merciful or even just, God. Right ends never justify Wrong means. And God values our freedom to choose so much, that he permits bad choices. Yes, choices, whether bad or good, will have both temporal consequences and eternal consequences, bad for bad and good for good. And paraphrasing Paul, all of us will make bad choices sometime, thus we all need to exercise faith in the redemptive powers of Christ's Atonement. But becoming a disciple of Christ means trying to become like Christ and sharing his Gospel with Christian behaviors such as love, mercy and justness.

The world would become a better place, if we all focused on living and sharing our faiths with love instead of attacking each other's faith. And if some of us are so dreadfully wrong as Mr. Walker thinks, may God be loving, merciful and just.
-- James Bailey
P.S. If God were to turn out to be the evil God described to me so long ago, I would choose to oppose Him. Righteousness and goodness would demand it even against an all-powerful and vindictive evil. But I am sure that there is a God, and that he is the source of all goodness and righteousness. And thinking of those student activists whose faith was so distorted as to justify evil brings me sadness on their behalf, and regret that my witness was not heeded.

There were a couple of very telling comments in this article.

First, "But for the most part Christians believe that Mormon theology leads its adherents to an eternal separation from the Lord."

It is amazingly offensive to think that most people who profess to believe in and follow Jesus Christ have such an incredibly arrogant and judgmental view towards Mormons and others who don't hold exactly the same views as they do. When presented with this, most Christians I have talked to simply say, "you Mormons think everyone else is going to hell too." And this brings up the second very telling comment.

"We see this as an opportunity for us to educate people on what Mormons really believe." I have nearly snorted milk through my nose more than once while reading articles and comments written by Christians about what Mormons believe. Many statements are outlandish and completely false, and others are twisted ideas that result in the same thing: a misrepresentation about Mormon doctrine.

Using the former issue as a point of discussion let me explain. Although most Christians may believe that Mormons, and literally countless billions, will be consigned to eternal misery because they do not perform the act of learning about Jesus and accepting him as their savior, Mormons believe that God truly is all-powerful and all-loving and is certainly able to get all his children to the final destination to which they belong, even if they did not have a fair chance during their mortal life to learn about the atonement of Jesus Christ or apply it in their life. This includes the billions who have been and will be born in lands where Christ is unknown; it includes children who die before having a chance to mature; it includes even those who know about Christ's atonement already but may be lacking some important understanding and are kept from it by conditions outside their control.

In other words, although most Christians believe Mormons are headed for eternal misery, Mormon's believe that most Christians are good people and are headed for eternal happiness because they love truth and goodness and accept it whenever it is clearly presented to them.

Fortunately, in the end truth will out, and when people learn it rather than the caricature, it doesn't seem "a little, uh, wacky."
-- Robert Madsen
Orem, Utah

First, a disclaimer, Gov. Romney is NOT my favorite candidate for POTUS in the 2008 election cycle. That said, the Christian Evangelicals concentrated attack on Romney BECAUSE OF his Mormonism is NOT the way to go.

The Mormons believe in the Bible. It is just that they add a few books and principles to what the rest of us believe. The Roman Catholics celebrate a couple of extra books and saints that the Baptists don't also, and the Jews exclude a major part of our Bible. Should we then exclude Roman Catholics and Jews from consideration for POTUS also?

I believe that I could make a good case that any practicing member of the mainstream Protestant churches should be excluded because they believe in a false God, or false religion. Of course we would also have to exclude all Gnostics, and Atheists, and anyone else that refuses to identify what religion they retain. Oh, and what about our Islamic citizens? Should all of them be excluded, or just the Sunnis, or Shias, or Wahabbists, and what about the Buddhists.

And can I ask what ever happened to the whole leaving that which belongs to Caesar to Caesar, and that which belongs to God to God? May I respectfully suggest that, since Mormons accept the preponderance of the Christian Bible's pronouncements and laws, we should let God, Himself, be the judge of whether they get into Heaven or not. Let us concentrate on issues of American sovereignty, and what is good for our country, and let God take care of issues of Eternity.
-- Ken Shreve
New Hampshire

Apparently the title of this article ("Prejudiced for Eternity") would be a good description of TAS. I am beyond disappointed that TAS, which I have read for years for its principled conservative outlook, would print such drivel. Here you print an article on why a member of a religious group should not achieve high political office. I am impressed by your stand for religious freedom. Perhaps a secular-progressive style of separation of Church and state applies to some religious groups? Ironically, there is a banner ad for your Pursuit of Liberty series when I accessed this article. Would that be religious liberty? A liberty that is included for those running for office? This article is a major disappointment and calls into questions TAS's reputation for standing by principles. I trust you no more.
-- Marc Hansen

Paul Chesser replies:
I would just respond to the comments of this nature by saying this was not an effort to stifle anyone's opportunity to pursue the top office in the land, but to give a window into the thinking of many within a large bloc of voters. It's just a fact: many if not most evangelicals place eternal destiny above political considerations on their priority list, and issues that strike at the heart of what leads to salvation are at issue here. Religious liberty promises the freedom to exercise your religion; not to practice it and give you the right to hold elected office.

There are many well-reasoned, intelligent and well-written defenses of a Romney (or Mormon) presidency (some included in this list of letters), and my experience with TAS has been that they believe in the free exchange of ideas and not the promotion of a single religious belief to the exclusion of others.

THE BEST KIND
Re: James Bowman's Bella:

Without getting into all of my disagreements with Mr. Bowman's review, such as whether the movie should have provided more details into Nina's situation (I think less is sometimes more), let me address his main charge that the movie is propaganda or a Sunday-school lesson.

I noticed that Mr. Bowman liked the movie Friends and Neighbors, which shows people being awful. I liked that movie, too. Bella shows, in addition to people being awful, people being good, and it definitely points to the possibility that people will repent of their awful ways. Why is it propaganda to show people being good, but it is not propaganda to show people being awful?

Sin becomes boring. Ask any priest who hears confession. All sins become the same rejection of God driven by a pathetic selfishness and pride. Each road to redemption, on the other hand, is unique.

Bella delves into different relationships and how each can make a difference. We are shown the relationship of boss worker, co-workers, parent-child, and siblings. The film also shows other seemingly prosaic relationships, as Nina and Jose walk through New York City -- for example, the relationship between storeowner and customer, which happens to abrupt when a customer charges that he received the wrong change. As they make their way through the city and surrounding to the sea (to which all the rivers flow), I couldn't help but think of all these different lives and the millions of ways in which they intersect and flow together.

This is not only a movie that I enjoyed, but one that will stay with me forever. I dare say that it has even made me a better person, as I have reflected on the mysteries touched upon by this seemingly simple film and tried to imitate what they contain. If this is propaganda, it is the best kind -- the propagation of the faith, which is performed through the deliberate spreading of the truth.
-- Richard Hunter
Falls Church, Virginia

James Bowman finds a rare movie (Bella) that speaks truth to power -- a truth Bowman professes to believe -- and then demeans it by defining it as propaganda. Is he really in agreement with the life principles expressed in this movie? Or is Bowman himself afraid to be closing in on the truth? In my humble opinion, the world needs more such "propaganda."
-- S. Theresa Shaffer
Bethesda, Maryland

Mon dieu, another "propaganda movie"! Mais jamais la vie! Mais la! (cajun translation...I'll be darned)
-- Clasina J. Segura
New Iberia, Louisiana

JOURNALISM DONE RIGHT
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s Missing Scandals:

Our esteemed editor in chief, perhaps waxing nostalgic for what was once a noble craft, generously labels what he perceives coming from the established media as journalism. Mr. Tyrrell's chronology is but a few of the more recent egregious examples of what passes for journalism today. Some conservative commentators, like Rush, have come to label this phenomenon for what it really is; management of the news. But even this meme is way to benign a label for what is really going on here. From CNN's Planet in Peril series, to General Sanchez's recent excoriation of the MSM for their deliberate biased coverage of the Iraq war, what passes as established media journalism today, is nothing more than agenda driven Leftist agitprop, pure and simple. In order to accomplish their intended goals, lies, distortions, out of context quotes, emphasis or de-emphasis, depending on whose ox is being gored, along with plain old stupidity and laziness, have become de rigueur. For the most part, the fourth estate has become a morbid shell of itself. It's no wonder the left perceives talk radio and the new media as its enemy. Keep up the good fight Bob.
-- A. DiPentima

As Mr. R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. so aptly writes at the end of his piece "Missing Scandals" November 1, 2007:

"Perhaps as conservatives continue to break the liberal monopoly the liberals will raise their journalistic standards. Or maybe they will get worse. Most of the aforementioned plagiarisms and hoked-up stories took place in recent years."

It is predictably likely that the liberal monopoly will abandon truth all together as they sink deeper into their la-la world of misinformation. After liberal intellectuals convince themselves that they are the creators, whether it be of truth and reality, or of life itself, there can be no pulling back from their sense of overwhelming power.

All we have to do is look at how overconfident have become the proclaimed leaders of Democratic politics, in the face of mountains of evidence of self induced, international corruption. Look at the self-delusion of millions of liberal, as well as unwise, voters who stick their fingers in their ears and close their eyes, yelling "Na na na na na na!!!" when confronted by the mountainous evidence of this corruption.
-- Duane Davis
Zimmerman, Minnesota

This is a tale that goes back more than 70 years with the Pulitzer Prize-Winning Walter Duranty saga of the paradise on earth that was the Soviet Union in the Thirties.

If Mr. Tyrrell would write the best-seller on this, put me down for 10 copies.
-- Al Cameron

Could it be that the mainstream media is awash in scandals, because the liberalism that undergirds it is as bankrupt as their false reporting? As to not being a journalist due to one's conservative philosophy take that as a compliment Mr. Tyrrell -- many Americans, if not a majority, hold journalists in contempt and view them as no better than their political masters (i.e., Democrat politicians). The so-called fourth estate is a joke.
-- Michael Tomlinson
Jacksonville, North Carolina

NO WAY, JOSE
Re: Randal O'Toole's San Jose's Public Planning Debacle:

Yeah, what we need is more people encouraged to come to California to get cheaper housing! When was the last time the author drove on the 405, 210, 101, 91 freeways? Such drives would surely be more fun with more cars and trucks. And, of course, more air pollution. Or the last time he tried to get into an ER or a medical clinic in SoCal? The recent fires, an annual occurrence, show what happens to habitations on marginal land. Even the present population size strains the available water supply.

Just what is wrong with SJ's model of development that it encourages the residence of the educated, talented, and affluent and discourages that of the uneducated, unskilled, those who drain, rather than contribute to the economy and general welfare? I hope the people of SJ and SiliValley are wise enough to maintain the status they presently have.
-- Keith Varni

The housing problem in San Jose is simply a result of old fashioned supply and demand.

The demand, an international, diversified high tech entrepreneurial environment with opportunities to make a lot of money, great weather, great culture and recreation (Napa Valley wine country, Lake Tahoe, etc.).

The supply, a limited geographical area surrounded by mountains and water with no place to expand and communities that have decided not to allow Hong Kong high rises or the development of every possible bit of open space (such as in Los Angels). No debacles, no conspiracies -- just many people wanting to live in a great place.
-- Joseph E. McClellan
San Jose, California

WHAT'S IN A NAME?
Re: James David Dickson's Failing Grade:

Your assertion that "...When students pay $40,000 per year, as at the top schools, they simply don't want to be told what they may or may not take..." and "...And if one, or even several, colleges tried to take a stand by implementing stricter curriculums, students would simply bypass them in this buyer's market..." is false. The topnotch schools aren't faced with a buyer's market. They always have far more applicants then they have places in their entering freshman class. I would assert that if a Harvard or a Princeton decided to implement a required core curriculum they would not have any problem attracting students. In fact they would get stronger students then their competitors without a core curriculum. What about the nation's top Public institutions? Many students attend these schools because of the cost. The Students who attend these schools would be unlikely to go elsewhere to avoid taking the core because of the cost advantage.

When I attended university some 40 years ago all schools had a core curriculum and nobody griped about it. We just took the courses because we had no option. Higher education is still a sellers market because it is deemed essential to a person's future success. Initially, students may resist the adoption of a core curriculum and the weaker students will probably search for universities with lax requirements but in the long run students from the schools with a core curriculum will do better in their careers and higher education as a whole will advance.
-- Jerrold Goldblatt
Arlington, Virginia

James Dickson replies:
Indeed, Harvard, Princeton, and Yale could set most any standard and still reject far more applicants than they accept. That's not my point.

My point is, students accepted to Harvard typically have other, top-quality choices, including possible scholarship offers (outside of the Ivy League). Why go to a Harvard with a strict core curriculum if there's no curriculum at Brown? Why pick Yale when you can pick Stanford? Besides, unless the "big three" were to collude on core curriculums, the more likely scenario is that Harvard's loss would be Princeton's gain, and so on. This is a zero-sum game, and if you don't think that a priori course selections would turn students off, I'd ask why the practice isn't more widespread?

And what with the relatively recent movement towards picking the best school for you as opposed to the "best school," period, names -- Harvard or otherwise -- don't seem to mean as much to my generation as happiness. That students would be "happier" with a tight, core curriculum is questionable, tending negative.

Buyer's market, indeed.

GREAT MINDS THINK ALIKE
Re: Jackie Mason & Raoul Felder's Race and Intelligence:

Jackie Mason asks, "Does that mean, if Watson is to be believed, that Africans should not be entitled to an equal share of the economic pie, the right to be equally educated, or the right to have all the protections and benefits that government can offer?"

Disregarding for a moment the question of government dictated "equal shares" of the economic pie, what the issue of intelligence and one's fate in a meretricious society does mean is that government dictated largesse needs to be driven by the criterion of intelligence and not simply by race.

As Hernnstein and Murray suggest, even though blacks as a group have an IQ one standard deviation lower than the general population, a "secret" fact not disputed by anyone in the field of psychometrics, the dominant effect of intelligence on one's ultimate socio-economic status requires attention to intellectually dull whites as well as intellectually dull blacks, and given the 87/13 ratio of whites to blacks, there will be far more intellectually dull whites than intellectually dull blacks, even after adjusting for the group IQ difference.

The authors of The Bell Curve note that a room full of white women with a group IQ of 120 has the same rates of college graduation, career progress, socio-economic status, marriage and children within marriage as a room full of black women with a group IQ of 120. They also note that a room full of white women with a group IQ of 80 has the same rates of high school dropout, children out of wedlock, single parenthood, and narcotics abuse as a room full of black women with a group IQ of 80.

What does it all mean? It means the attention needs to be directed to differences in intelligence, not race. Sounds like the antithesis of racism, but somehow that's not how the hysterical drive-by media paints it.
-- Frank Natoli
Newton, New Jersey

A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS
Re: Elizabeth Nolan Brown's Clove Encounters:

According to your writer, Miss Brown, the 2004 National Youth Tobacco Survey obtained data on the different types of tobacco/smoking done by said youths. I see that the total of all the types listed equals only 49%. Does that mean that all of the rest of the smoking is marijuana, or was the survey done maybe with youths that were themselves under the influence of said wacky-tobacci?

I personally have found no influence of marijuana on the ability to do basic arithmetic -- this is from my friends, I mean...
-- Jimmy Antley
Gadsden, Alabama

2001: A SPACE ODDITY
Re: Kate Shaw's letter (under "All Movies Are of Their Era") in Reader Mail's Who Elects the Brain Dead?:

Regarding Kate Shaw's letter of 1 November, I just have to comment that I was around when Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey was first released. I went to see it with my girlfriend (now my wife) at the Key Theater in Georgetown. We were apparently the only two people in the theater who did not think the movie was "heavy, man." But then, we were probably the only two people in the theater who weren't stoned (maybe Mrs. Shaw's kids will enjoy the film more if she let them toke up before popping the DVD in the player). Recently, we watched the film again with our two teenage daughters, whose reaction afterwards was "What the heck was that all about?" Good question -- like most of Kubrick's films, there was a lot less there than met the eye, and in the cold light of sobriety, it doesn't age very well.

On the other hand, both thoroughly enjoyed Apollo 13, neither had to be told that it already happened. They also loved The Right Stuff, which is a better movie than either 2001 or Apollo 13. But then, Dad's been an aerospace analyst for close to 30 years, and both he and Mom have actually met Chuck Yeager -- and, yes, he's as charming in person as he is in the film (he's the bartender at Pancho's).

There are plenty of really good films out there--and in some ways, we are living through a golden age of children's films (especially animation). Parents just have to do more preparatio evengelorum before dragging them off to the theater.
-- Stuart Koehl
Falls Church, Virginia

COP OUT
Re: Christopher Orlet's Forever Young:

Near the end of "Forever Young" (10/26/07), a review of Death of a Grown-Up by Diana West, Christopher Orlet writes a line that undermines the entire force of both his review and of West's book: "Most of us, however, have to live in the real world, have families to support, put in 9-hour work days, and in general act our age." Quite so, and hence, the problem identified in the book and the review is not really widespread at all. If a few inconsequential old "adolescents" wish to behave a certain way, "most of us" -- along with our schools, businesses, and country -- will be entirely unaffected. A perfect reason not to read such a misleading and inconsquential book.
-- Rob Tally
San Marcos, Texas

Christopher Orlet replies:
By "most of us" I meant TAS readers. The few, the proud, the grown-up.

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