Jesus Would Be Pissed

Letters published June 21, 2001

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Keep the River on Your Right: A Modern Cannibal Tale
International Churches misses the point

Thank you for the insightful article on the workings of the International Churches of Christ ["The Jesus Pyramid," May 10]. I am a former attendee of a home Bible study of the Chicago Church of Christ. I was one who enjoyed the initial contact with the church and the Bible study, but was thrown by the behavior that drove the International Church of Christ in Chicago.

How someone shares his faith is incredibly important. If one claims to be a Christian, a follower of Jesus, then it is imperative to emphasize that which Jesus emphasized. When challenged by those who wanted to "one-up" him, Jesus said, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind" and "Love your neighbor as yourself." Later, the apostle Paul would clearly define the term love: "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy; it does not boast; it is not proud. It is not rude; it is not self-seeking; it is not easily angered; it keeps no record of wrongs."

Am I not violating Jesus's command to love my neighbor if I am impatient, unkind, envious, boastful, proud, rude, and self-seeking?

M. Juri Ammari

Did safety take the backseat?

The February 15, 2001 issue of Scene featured a reflective but largely uncritical article on William H. Denihan ["All My Children"], the executive director of the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) in Cuyahoga County. The writer, Andrew Putz, noted that it was exceptionally hard to find anyone willing to criticize Denihan.

Understandably, very few professionals in the child welfare community would criticize Denihan, given his political influence and financial control over social service contracts to local agencies. No doubt Denihan intended the Scene article to be a publicity piece for his incipient mayoral campaign.

While Denihan has little chance of being elected mayor, what is intriguing about Denihan's campaign so far is his attempt to distance himself from his own employment history -- when he was Mayor Mike White's safety director in 1994. Denihan's campaign director has disavowed Denihan's responsibility for the discredited straight-release procedure used by Cleveland police when Denihan was safety director. The procedure allows police to release alleged offenders, often on the same day arrested, without an adequate background check. This straight-release procedure is blamed for the release of a career criminal who subsequently beat a woman to death with a baseball bat in downtown Cleveland.

Since Denihan wants to be mayor, is it appropriate to ask him what he tried to do in 1994 to change a police practice that posed an obvious danger to others? Many in Cleveland believe that the baseball bat murder would not have occurred if the straight-release procedure had not been in effect.

Protecting children from abuse and neglect is a serious job, and like law enforcement, it often involves matters of life and death. Denihan is in a situation similar to the one he presided over as safety director. He now presides over an ill-conceived procedure called Structured Decision Making (SDM), which was implemented on March 1, 2000. Since SDM has been used to assess the risk of maltreatment to children, several young children known to DCFS have been killed by their parents, and one child was killed while in county foster care. The creators of SDM readily admit that there is at least a 15 percent error rate in assessment, and the procedure won't be valid in Cuyahoga County for another year. SDM is still in the data collection and testing phase.

Denihan probably will soon move on to another job, given his employment history. So he needs to say now what he intends to do about an agency practice that significantly misrepresents the risk of maltreatment to children. Who knows? A little moral courage may be a good campaign move.

Tallis George-Munro,
Former DCFS supervisor

Editor's note: Denihan resigned from DCFS last month to run for mayor.

Mushroomhead ain't the sharpest Tool:

This letter is regarding Rob Harvilla's recent review of the newest Mushroomhead album [Regional Beat, May 10]. Frankly, I was insulted that Harvilla even mentioned Tool, one of the most creative and artistic bands today. As a diehard Tool fan, I feel that, in return for the art and inspiration they give me, it is my duty to speak up when they are slandered in such a way that would give people a distorted view of who they are and what they are about.

Harvilla wrote, "Think Tool without the high-art overtones . . ." In my mind, that is similar to saying that a high school marching band is like the Cleveland Orchestra without the tuxedos. And by the way, one of Mushroomhead's singers, whom you described as a "tortured crooner," would sound right at home singing "Love Shack" with the B-52's.

Mushroomhead's lack of artistry is sad to begin with, but when they get labeled as the "Kings of Cleveland Metal," it is downright embarrassing. It's a sad state of affairs when the majority of bands that make up this so-called scene rely on strippers and Halloween masks, rather than good songwriting. Other cities are probably laughing at the fact that people here actually think this juvenile crap is good music.

I understand that it is probably part of your job to whip up more interest in Cleveland music, but likening Mushroomhead to Tool? Tool deserves more credit than that.

Joshua Huffman
Highland Heights

Celibacy was the breaking point:

I wanted to thank Tom Francis for the wonderful article he wrote ["A Few Good Men," May 24]. There has been so much Catholic-bashing -- specifically, priest-bashing -- so I think it's important for the Catholic Church, her priests, and the seminaries to be shown in a positive light. As a former seminarian, I still have many fond memories of the time I spent there and the friendships I formed. I still keep in touch with some fellow seminarians. Sadly, out of my 11 classmates, only 1 made it to ordination.

I must say that the article was very insightful and very factual. From the classmates I have spoken to, the majority of us cite the vows of celibacy and chastity as the reason for our departure. We all wanted to be able to marry and start families. Speaking for myself, if His Holiness John Paul II lifted the ban on marriage within the ranks of priests, I would be the first to reenter the seminary. But I must point out one thing: Priestly celibacy and chastity have not been around for 2000 years. Until the 1200s, priests were allowed to marry, and we even had a few married popes.

Patrick S. Cater

Ohio's woes are felt everywhere:

Thank you for the excellent job Jacqueline Marino did in reporting "Casualty of the State" [May 3]. This clearly shows a problem with the closing of juvenile mental health facilities that occurred nationwide.

Frank Andrae
Volunteer webmaster, The Mental Health Association in Michigan
Ypsilanti, Michigan

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