Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

Home · Articles · News · Letters · Letters 3/11/04
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Letters 3/11/04

Various - March 11th, 2004
The good & the bad

I would like to comment on two of your recent articles. First, your interview with Judge Gilbert (2/29). You are to be commended for allowing Mr. Gilbert to speak. I am sure it has been very difficult for Mr. Gilbert and his wife and stepson to endure the relentless and merciless attacks this past year. He obviously is sorry for the mistakes that he made and has done everything possible to atone for them. I think it is also noteworthy that he has been honest about his errors when it would have been much easier to lie. It is refreshing to see a public figure admit when he has done wrong.
Second, your article on the Mel Gibson Movie “The Passion of the Christ.“ I disagree with your review of the movie. I consider myself an orthodox Roman Catholic and I did not find the movie anti-Semitic at all. If Mr. Gibson was trying to instill anti-Semitism, wouldn‘t I be his target audience? The Roman soldiers were portrayed in a much more negative light than the Jewish leadership. When I viewed the betrayal by Judas, the denial by Peter, the ruthlessness of SOME of the Jewish high priests and the brutality of the Roman soldiers, I was not angry at Jews and Italians. I was disappointed in myself. My sins are just as responsible for Christ‘s Passion. I think that was Mr. Gibson‘s point. His hand drives the first nail into Jesus‘ hand. You flippantly refer to him and dismiss him as an “ultraconservative Catholic“ that washes his hands of instilling hatred towards Jews. That is a very serious accusation and it is unfounded.
I hope to read more fair and open articles and less individually motivated/biased ones in your paper in the future.

Michael Shockley • Elk Rapids


What an excellent article on Tom Gilbert (2/29). Thanks for bringing the excellent journalism you do to Northern Michigan.

T. Michael Jackson • TC

Good job

Wow! What a beautiful presentation, Nancy Sundstrom (re: “Sara‘s Song,“ 2/22). My daughter was so touched by your words as was Tom. I have already had calls and friends have been so grateful to hear the whole story, which usually would not make dinner conversation.
Nancy, you reached the people I want to reach -- those still stuck in the abuse. Thank you especially for your words.

Sara Anderson

John Paul‘s swan song

What a thoughtfully, well-written article about John-Paul Mendez (‘John Paul bows out,‘ 2/29). You managed to convey many aspects of his exuberance in thoughts, wisdom, music, and his always present “quirks“ of nature. You are right, he is “the best musician you‘ve never seen or heard.“
Thank you so much for your sincerely, honest writing. What a rare treat in the world of journalism. He‘s already had a couple of offers from the Music House and the director of Blissfest. How unfortunate we waited until we were leaving to let Traverse City know of his existence.
We will come back, mostly for the summers. I will keep in touch periodically and it‘s nice to know I can read the Northern Express on-line from Nashville. I would have missed reading the article.
Thank you again for your wonderful writing. It‘s been a pleasure to live in this niche of the world and Traverse City, will always be in our hearts.

Robin Mendez • Nashville, TN

Lumps & pumps

Well, your web site sucks. Looks like it hasn’t been updated in a year, but the recent article “Is Northern Lights Fading?” (2/28) was fantastic. I applaud the enlightened attitude of Traverse City Light & Power. We all do “live here, too,” and that’s the point. We should be way beyond fouling our own doorstep. Last night I heard an inspiring tape of Robert Kennedy, Jr., espousing his environmental views. At the end he paraphrased a Lakota saying which I will further paraphrase, “We don’t inherit the world from our parents; we borrow it from our children.”

Lee Trucks • via email

(The Express was switching over to a new website the day Lee Trucks wrote. We‘re fine-tuning the new www.northernexpress.com and welcome reader‘s input and interest. --ed.)

Message from Dubya

To be read with a southern drawl:
The War on Terra has multiple fronts, and I continue to show my commitment to protecting this great country from the collective threat of terra. Terra can rear its ugly head at any time and in many different forms. Its latest manifestation may come as a surprise to many of you, my fellow Americans.
In the name of national security, I am calling for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages. That‘s right: gay marriages. We have intelligence that demonstrates a link between married homosexuals and terra-ist groups. We also believe that once married, these couples engage in the production of weapons of mass destruction.
We have further concluded that ecologists who think that drilling for oil is potentially bad for the environment and scientists claiming that me and my administration manipulates data to downplay the adverse effects of industrial pollution are loosely affiliated with these gay couples seeking marriage. These three entities -- homosexuals, ecologists, and scientists -- are part of a domestic “axis of evil“ that must be defeated.
This is now a top priority on my agenda, especially since we cannot find Osama bin Laden, and you, the American people, are starting to look ahead to the election. Actually, we now think Osama might be hiding with a gay married couple in San Francisco.
In closing, please join me in my gay battle, I mean, my battle against gay marriages, as we remain vigilant in the ever-broadening War on Terra.

Dubya (Jim Schramski) • via email

Betrayed by authorities

I really don‘t know what to do or where to go anymore. My husband has
managed to create himself a not so nice prescription drug addiction, as
well as alcohol. I, being the concerned wife that I am, tried to pull
together a intervention with his doctor, counselor and family. It did not
go as we had planned, considering he would not come into the doctors office
and the doctor told him we were all there waiting for him.
I saw him getting worse every day; he really didn‘t know what was reality anymore. He was having hallucinations, nodding out in the middle of meals and
losing his grip on life. When he finally managed to convince his doctor
to give him an Oxycontin perscription, I panicked.
I called the non-emergency number to the police station to ask about an involintary treatment order for him. They directed my call straight to the
prosecutor, who assured me what I was doing is “tough love“ and my husband
was going to get the treatment he needs. Well four felony counts later,
my husband is not getting any treatment. He is sitting in the county jail
awaiting a trial.
I went to the prosecutor believing what I was doing was a good thing, only to now feel betrayed by a public official. My husband is now looking at 16 years of prison for a crime he swears he did not commit. All because I trusted what I was
saying to this man was going to be used for treatment purposes, not convictions.

Aimee Schwarz • Maple City

Bridge a goner?

We‘d like to make you aware that the Grand Traverse County Road Commission has received the MDEQ‘s March 1 letter of guidance on the Hartman-Hammond road and bridge project. As a result, the Michigan Land Use Institute thinks it‘s very clear that the Hartman-Hammond road and bridge project is unlikely to be built, period.
The MDEQ found the road commission used an “erroneous assumption“ to eliminate the popular Smart Roads alternative and wrongly advanced a highway project promising the greatest damage to natural resources. As a result, the MDEQ wholly rejected the conclusions of the “seriously flawed“ million-dollar environmental study for the project, which the road commission launched in 1997 and completed in early 2001.
The state environmental agency also found that the portion of the Boardman River valley that the road commission seeks to fill and cross has “substantial historical, cultural, scenic, ecological and recreational values,“ based upon the public‚s feedback and the road commission‘s own submissions.
The letter specifically cites the significance of the packed July 2003 public hearing and the Institute and our allies‘ prior lawsuit in outlining the importance of the Boardman River valley and the environmental standards to be applied in this review.

Kelly Thayer • Transportation Project Manager, Michigan Land Use Institute

The unfair Marriage Amendment

Currently there are resolutions before both the State House and the Senate
calling for a Marriage Amendment to our constitution.
The amendment would prohibit Michigan from having (gay) civil unions. It would
prevent local governments from providing domestic partner benefits. Cities
like Ann Arbor and Kalamazoo, which currently provide such benefits to
their employees could no longer do so. The amendment would prevent school
districts from offering domestic partner benefits to their employees (both
Ann Arbor and Birmingham school districts currently provide such
benefits). State colleges and universities would also be prohibited from
recognizing domestic partners of both employees and students. Recognition
of domestic partners by employers frequently includes health care
coverage. Children who live with a gay or lesbian family member will be at
risk for losing health care coverage.
Among the benefits and protections of marriage are: hospital visitation,
inheriting property, child custody and visitation, joint adoption of
children and recognition at law of both parents, the right to obtain
United States citizenship for partners and children, dependent health care
coverage, family and medical leave, social security and government pension
plans, and decisions regarding funeral and burial to name just a few.
Michigan‘s constitution has never been amended to single out a class of people
for unequal treatment, yet this amendment would make it legal to discriminate against gays and lesbians in this state.
Gay and lesbian couples in lifelong relationships pay higher taxes and are
denied basic protections under the law. They receive no Social Security
survivor benefits upon the death of a partner, despite paying payroll
taxes. They must pay federal income taxes on their employer‘s
contributions toward their domestic partner‘s health insurance, while
married employees do not have to pay such taxes for their spouses. They
must pay all estate taxes when a partner dies. They often pay significant
tax penalties when they inherit a 401(k) from their partner. They are
denied family leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act. All Michigan
families deserve these crucial protections.
According to conservative estimates from the 2000 census, there are more
than 1 million children being raised by same-sex couples in the United
States. Without the ability to establish a legal relationship to both
parents, children of same-sex couples are left without important
protections, such as Social Security survivor benefits.
We are not asking for special rights, just the same rights afforded to all
other Michigan families. Amending the constitution in Michigan to
legalize discrimination against any group of people sets a bad precident.
This proposed constitutional amendment will hurt, not strengthen, Michigan

Tammy Jamett-Yount • Ann Arbor

Passionless about The Passion

Following our Ash Wednesday service, my wife and I (both ordained ministers) drove to the movies. The full to capacity parking lot confirmed our expectations. A palpable tension filled the lobby as teary-eyed people milled about us. We’d heard some churches bought the cache of tickets for member-only showings. Lucky for us, we were seeing The First 50 Dates starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore. Neither of us had the slightest inclination to watch a one hundred minute scene of Roman torture and execution, the ending to which we already knew. We were especially wary of this one that allegedly fans anti-Semitic flames.
Redemption is a powerful experience for Christians. Knowing and experiencing God’s unconditional love, regardless of personal failings, brings comfort, healing, and inspiration. Christians are taught that humanity has been redeemed because Jesus died on the cross for our sins. Acting as a substitute, Jesus became a surrogate for us, a proxy. While many Christians find great comfort and rich meaning in this traditional teaching, other Christians, myself included, find the violent and oppressive images unhelpful in expressing God’s compassion and love for humanity. Did God really coerce Jesus to the cross? Did Jesus choose the cross voluntarily? Both? Neither? Regardless the perspective, the violence and oppression in Jesus’ death seems an odd way to express the zenith of God’s love. What does Jesus’ horrifying death really teach people about redemption? With what imagine of God will those young children we saw entering the theater leave?
Throughout the eras of history, Christians have understood Christ’s Passion differently. During the few centuries following Jesus’ death, when people believed spirits and devils controlled everything, Jesus’ death was understood as a ransom; Jesus’ death was payment to the devil for the sins of humanity. During the Medieval era, Christians concerned themselves with paying honor and loyalty to God (like peasants to a king). They gave Jesus’ death a chivalrous character; though people dishonored God by sin, God made restitution for humanity by sending God’s own Child to die on a cross, thereby satisfying God’s own violated honor. Also during these Middle Ages, Christians were concerned with repentance. Jesus’ crucifixion took on a moral flavor; a teaching about God’s love that would drive people to repent, seeking forgiveness. The Renaissance era, a time when people were focused on law and politics, Christians understood Jesus’ death as justice for humanity’s sin.
What does the Bible say about the Passion? Christians usually turn to Paul’s writings to find the orthodox position. Surprisingly, reliable translations of The New Testament (not paraphrases) show that Paul does not think of Jesus’ death primarily as a sacrifice (excluding the uncharacteristic Romans 3:24 passage). Neither does Paul think of Jesus’ death as a substitution made on humanity’s behalf. Instead, Paul is concerned about solidarity with, participation in, or belonging to Christ. Paul expresses this redemption as being ‘in Christ.’
In the Gospels redemption came through Jesus’ ministry to those in need. Jesus’ healings of body, mind, and spirit didn’t happen through one excruciating Roman death sentence, but by continually ushering people into a right relationship with one another and with God. Perhaps redemption can come to us by Jesus showing us that life can be lived more abundantly through healing, peace, and compassion, rather than fear, violence, and oppression.
Doesn’t our world need that kind of redemption? We live under threat of nuclear weapons. We defile the earth with our choices, actions, and lifestyles. The sins of racism, sexism, and homophobia are in plain sight. When wives are abused by husbands, and children by parents, must we continue to point to Christ’s abusive death as the path to redemption? Can we look at the world honestly, claiming that sin and evil have been overcome by Jesus’ brutal demise on the cross? If Christians are called to think critically and live faithfully, as I believe we are, wouldn’t it be more thoughtful, more relevant, and even more scriptural, to see that redemption has to do with God, in Jesus, offering people a vision of the resources leading to an abundant, relational, peaceful life? Isn’t this what Jesus spoke of in the famous Sermon on the Plain (Luke 6: 17-49), in the Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12), and in the admonition to love one another above all else (John 13:34-35)? Will we continue searching for healing, peace, community, and compassion by looking to the Roman Empire’s pogrom of violence, coercion, and destruction?
Far from advocating a cross-less Christianity, I wonder if we might find redemption in the larger story. What did Jesus and that rag-tag band of followers do as they roamed the remote villages of the Middle East? They dealt with people’s problems, revitalized communities, organized a movement, and boldly proclaimed that a new social–political order was about to be established. When the populace was alerted to how the ruling elite exploited and oppressed, troublemakers were targeted and punished. Convinced Jesus did not die in vain, disciples continued this mission. Might redemption be found in the larger story, and not just in one violent moment?
The Passion of Mel Gibson will shape people’s perception of Christianity-for better or worse. Gibson’s claims, ‘the Holy Spirit is just working through me’ sells plenty of tickets, but I’d have thought God had better cinematic taste. I don’t like to tell God what to do, but if you’re trying to build up humanity, why be fixated on the tearing down parts? God, we’ve already seen enough of that. Maybe God and Jesus need new P.R. agents.
Might it be time for Christians to search out less violent and more peaceful paths of redemption? Maybe the Holy Spirit was also working through The First 50 Dates. We saw a movie about accepting other’s differences, growing in awareness of past wrongs and repenting, offering forgiveness, seeking healing, and building relationships. Plus, we left the theater refreshed and laughing. Which movie would Jesus see? Redemption just might not be where you thought it was.

The Reverend Corey Sanderson
The Potter’s House of Grand Traverse,
United Church of Christ

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