The underlying source of strife at First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood [“A Prayer Denied,” Dec. 30–Jan. 5] is that conservative, right-wing evangelicals are upset because of what they see as apostasy creeping into their church in the form of liberal, gay-friendly leaders and clergy who are affiliated with more inclusive branches of the Presbyterian denomination, as well as the introduction of elements from other religions (specifically, Islam) into their services.
All the B.S. about contemporary vs. traditional worship and music, money problems, alleged power grabs by clergy, etc., is a smoke screen for a rabidly homophobic subset of the congregation that would rather split its church into pieces and then, as rats deserting the proverbial sinking ship, leave after tearing the place apart. That is the root of the problems plaguing Hollywood Presbyterian Church.
Clearly Ms. Pelisek has not been to many churches in the last 30 years. Her claim that “groveling for dollars may be part of the Sunday script at many churches” is false. The type of televangelist hypocrisy that Ms. Pelisek alludes to went out of style decades ago.
I’m not a member of Hollywood First Pres, nor had I known anything at all about the split in that church until I read your article. But I know that if such stereotyping had been directed toward any of the L.A. Weekly’s sacred cows, like the West Hollywood gay community, the writer would have been admonished and the story dropped entirely.
I saw Caché at the IFC festival last month. It was difficult to watch and to follow. Ella Taylor damned it with praise [“Film Openings,” Dec. 23–29], thus exhibiting the very persona of the character Georges, which director Michael Haneke was seeking to strip bare. Taylor didn’t even mention the immigrant Algerians and their roles in upending Georges’ patina of civility, which, after many years of intimacy, couldn’t allow him to trust and confide in his wife, who eventually corners him to admit that he has witnessed a horrific act for which he may or may not feel guilty. Haneke is basically asking, If we in the West are so supportive of the morality propounded by the Judeo-Christian ethic, why are we so callous when it comes to being “our brother’s keeper”? Yes, he afflicts the comfortable. Taylor, though always so quick to jump on left-leaning thought, turned and ran, just as Georges thought he could. As Haneke tried to say, sometimes there is no place to hide.
F. Daniel Gray
Regarding Dave Shulman’s list of the Top 10 glands [“Glands of the Year 2005,” Jan. 6–12]: I am very upset that the thyroid didn’t make the list. The thyroid kicks ass.
Up in Smoke
I was surprised and disappointed to see a restaurant that actively promotes smoking of tobacco listed as an example of “where to eat healthy” by Jonathan Gold and Michelle Huneven [“Eat Healthy, Floss Regularly,” Jan. 13–19]. The growing use of hookahs, which are especially appealing to younger smokers, is introducing many teens and young adults to a potentially deadly habit. Certainly, a restaurant devoting any part of its establishment to hookah smoking would not qualify for a list of healthy restaurants.
To the Moon
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As a NASA employee, perhaps I’m too close to the subject to give an objective view, but I’ll give it a shot anyway.
Margaret Wertheim’s essay was frivolous [“8 Reasons Why Going Back to the Moon Is Loony,” Jan. 6–12]. “There’s no atmosphere”?! Come now, can’t you take shots at NASA and the president with a little more technical savvy than that? The reasons for going back to the moon are many, and they far outweigh the drawbacks Ms. Wertheim lists (some accurate, some ridiculous). We are never getting off this planet until we learn how to do things like operate out of an atmosphere for YEARS at a time, fix things that break in hostile environments, live off alien lands, etc., etc. What better laboratory could you have than our moon? It’s three days away and hostile enough to get us ready for Mars, Europa, Titan et al. Or we could just stay home and wait for the next comet impact or a supervolcano to wipe us out. It would be cheaper.