By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
The 2,000-Year-Old Virgin
She gets around: I enjoyed the latest sighting of the Virgin Mary; it was an interesting article ("Do You See What I See?" by Jesse Hyde, December 29). She really gets around. My own spiritual journey started off with the myths and superstitions of Christianity and later other world religions. I respect the right of anyone to believe whatever they wish. But I also agree with Professor Dawkins at Cambridge who points out religion is a pernicious influence because it encourages belief in ideas not supported by evidence. As I grew older, slowly and surely, the widening rift between religion and reality caught my attention. Atheism was the only tenable position I could find. It astounds me that the fact of human evolution remains controversial even today.
The story about the sighting of the "Virgin" reminded me of a story recounted in Kurt Vonnegut's latest book, A Man Without a Country. Vonnegut was asked to serve as president of the American Humanist Association, a largely ceremonial post that basically involves doing nothing. One of his predecessors in that office was Isaac Asimov. Upon Asimov's death, Vonnegut was asked to make some comments to the humanist gathering celebrating Asimov's remarkable life. Vonnegut couldn't help himself. He began by saying "Isaac's in heaven now." The crowd erupted in sustained uncontrolled laughter the likes of which he had never seen before. Now there's a group with a sense of humor.
I know that face: Let's say you do see a face in the tree/window/door. Um, er, since no one knows what Jesus looked like...how do you know it's him?
Pain in the Ash
Nice try but no Dickens:As a resident of the Enclave at White Rock, I read with great interest Jim Schutze's story about the closing of the trailer park on Highland Road ("Board of Scrooges," December 22). While I cannot comment on the Dallas Board of Adjustment proceedings, I do take issue with Schutze's desire to demonize certain residents of the Enclave and other groups who work hard to improve our neighborhood and city.
When reading Schutze's story, one might imagine Scrooge himself living in the Enclave or, better yet, Mr. Potter lording over the poor residents of Pottersville. In fact, as opposed to Schutze's fiction, the Enclave is one of the most vibrant "new working class" communities in our city. It is diverse in race, ethnicity, religion, culture and economic condition. Most houses are well under 3,000 square feet--huge compared to those in the trailer park but hardly mansions or even "McMansions" as described by Schutze. I don't know any "mini-aristocrats" in the Enclave, persons with "squinty little eyes" or persons who worry about "their reputations" because there happens to be a trailer park nearby. I do know doctors, lawyers, teachers, small-business owners, homemakers and retirees. The only common denominator seems to be some level of achievement and a desire to live in a safe, clean neighborhood.
As for me, my house is not an "empty box." It is home to myself, my wife and our three young children, and it is alive with faith, family and our many friends from the Enclave and beyond.
I don't really blame Schutze for writing the story the way he did. Good writers often embellish to make a point. Like Dickens' more famous Christmas morality tale, Schutze's story makes for colorful reading and makes valid observations about flawed political processes, societal indifference and the terrible plight of the poor. Dickens' famous story, however, can be found on the fiction shelves of your local library. Schutze, on the other hand, would have you believe his story should be wedged between The New York Times and The Washington Post.
Yet, Schutze does nothing to investigate the underlying (and often self-inflicted) causes of extreme poverty or the trailer park owners, who appear to have profited from this venture without investing in safety or infrastructure. After all, it is much easier to resort to class warfare and exaggerated themes of evil peering down from castles than to deal with the issues objectively.
I am concerned about these people who will no doubt be forced to move in the near future. I don't know anyone in the Enclave (or anywhere else) who is not concerned about them, and many are seeking to help them relocate. But I must admit, next year I will not miss the small-arms fire I will no doubt experience as the clock strikes midnight on New Year's Eve.
McMansioned to death: I wonder whether the builders and buyers of the houses in the Enclave at White Rock who are discomfited by the proximity of their less fortunate neighbors in Ash Creek Mobile Home Park ever gave a thought to those of us who have lived for decades on the pleasantly unpretentious streets adjacent to their invasive McMansions. For years we enjoyed an unspoilt view beyond Highland Road and the fun of watching from our front porch as fireworks exploded over Fair Park. These "puffed-up" houses have rendered such pleasures a thing of the past.