I really enjoyed Nina Shapiro's objective and informative article on the prosperity gospel movement ["Blessed for Success," Nov. 5]. I was so impressed with the input she included from PLU, UW, and Jewish and Christian perspectives. I have to admit I expected the issue to be slammed as hypocritical and braced myself as I began to read. I am not a follower of the movement but am a believer in Christianity, and I found it refreshing to read a positive voice of reflection on an issue that continues to be controversial. I came away more informed on the subject and believe I received balanced viewpoints from both sides.
GLORY, NOT GOLD
I grew up in SeaTac, and many of my friends went to Casey Treat's church ["Blessed for Success," Nov. 5]. I was raised in a church that had an unspoken idea present that it was a sin to be wealthy. I see Treat on his Harley or in his Mercedes, and I grimace a littlenot because it's wrong, but in all my examination of the doctrine, I can't find the place he seems to have found in scripture or life. It was interesting in the article when he said that if the young, rich ruler had followed Christ, he would have received what he'd given 100-fold. Every one of Christ's disciples died as a martyr, some in poverty. Peter was crucified upside down because he did not see himself as worthy to die in the same manner as the Lord.
If one believes there is an eternity in heaven, then this life is a fart in the wind ('scuse the analogy) and the followers of God have one purpose: to bring glory to His name. I believe God is using Treat and that teaching to bless many people. Problem is, we have this tendency to want to find an all-encompassing truth. There is no all- encompassing truth when it comes to these intricate details of Christian doctrinenone that will be grasped by human minds, anyway. That is why there are so many people who are blessed by God but believe different doctrines. I have felt the Holy Spirit leading me to a life of simplicity. Treat has not. That's OK. But don't let any preacher tell you that the young, rich ruler would have been rich again on Earth. No one can know that. He may have been crucified upside down right there next to Peter.
I should like to compliment Nina Shapiro on her excellent piece on the wealth movement afoot in Christianity today ["Blessed for Success," Nov. 5].
I met Casey Treat when he was in Bible school in the '70s and spoke at our church's youth group. It was held then by our youth leader and others that Treat would be a rising star, and I see he has indeed "made it."
I'm concerned that the religion of money is a manic kind of thing where those seeking riches are encouraged to be in a happy state and to allow no negativity to cloud their mind or obscure their goals. Have you ever seen Amway people in action? They are almost in a frenzy of money chasing that permeates every part of their lives.
It is too easy to sugarcoat the message of Christ with happy assurances that believing in him will guarantee you wealth in this life. I always thought that his message was to build mansions for the next life, by giving and helping others. Shapiro was quick to point out that some very generous people gave a lot of time and money to help others. I think that is what it's all about.
David M. Cray
DEATH PENALTY'S LESSON
I read with interest Knute Berger's novel justification of the death penalty [Mossback, "On Death and Dealing," Nov. 5]. I was disappointed, though, that a man as normally insightful as Berger would have ignored a glaring flaw in his argument: Despite the existence of the death penalty in Washington state, the women Gary Ridgway admits to killing are still dead.
Ridgway's plea bargain actually weakens the case for the death penalty. It reinforces the logic that if you are going to kill one person, you might as well kill several others. That could save your life later when you bargain for the closure of unsolved cases.
The main argument made by death penalty advocates is that capital punishment serves as a deterrent. In Ridgway's case, it did not. Nor was it a deterrent to Ted Bundy, Robert Yates, Mitchell Rupe, etc.
There are many other reasons to oppose capital punishment. There is the expense of prosecuting such cases through the mandatory appeals in place to guarantee (we hope) that we kill only the guilty. There is often the cost of defending such cases, as many accused of murder are poor and avail themselves of public defenders at public expense.
Most damning of all, however, is the social cost. If video games can desensitize people to violence and thus encourage violent behavior, how can the cries of "Execute the son of a bitch!" coming from our courts do any less? The death penalty teaches us that killing can be justified. The consequences of that lesson are obvious to every civilized nation; that is why so many countries have prohibited capital punishment and, interestingly enough, have far lower murder rates than the U.S.
GUN TO GARY'S HEAD
When you put a gun to someone's head, you're more likely to hear what they think you want them to say than the truth [Mossback, "On Death and Dealing," Nov. 5].
I imagine Gary Ridgway was told: "We've got sufficient evidence to prove you killed some of the people connected to the Green River killings. Plead guilty to all the killings, or you're likely to get the death penalty for the handful we can prove." You're trusting a killer to be honest when it's in his best interest to make the complete confession. And Ridgway's behavior demonstrates that all he ever cares about is what he views as his own best interest.
LAUNCHING A SCHOOL BOARD
Excellent article and the best of all the newspapers on the races ["Sea Change in Seattle," Nov. 5]. Thanks for endorsing the four wonderful candidates that will soon be leading the Seattle School District into a better and brighter future. Maybe they will even set the example for the state . . . and nation.
LEFT TO BE DESIRED
I read Steve Wiecking's review for A Streetcar Named Desire and was disappointed by parts of it [Opening Nights, Nov. 5]. There were a lot of comparisons between this production and the movie. Readers don't want to know how it's different from, or similar to, the movie. We're not seeing the movie, so don't review it.
I appreciate Wiecking putting much of the "blame" on the director for what he thought didn't work from an acting standpoint, but is it fair to throw in the line "We won't even go into the Jackie Gleason-ish destruction that Cory Nealy has wreaked upon . . . Mitch" without some justification? It seems like Wiecking did go into it a bit but failed to elaborate and/or justify what he didn't like about it. It reads like he was trying to get one final dig into the review before he ran out of the room. That's way too easy to do in a review (and overdone in Seattle). I feel that Wiecking owes readers, and the production, more than that.
I read Laura Cassidy's article on Elliott Smith ["The Same Kind of Scars," Oct. 29]. I want to thank her for writing such an eloquent piece on a wonderful songwriter who will be sorely missed. It was a sad day when I found out he was gone, and Cassidy put it into words so well.
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