I enjoyed Alan Archibald's divine (pun intended) letter [Back Talk, June 18]. But, instead of wondering how many angels can fit on the head of a pin, I now wonder how many could fly through the gaping hole in his argument.
Angelology is a worthwhile area of philosophical and spiritual inquiry, and it is interesting to contemplate angels as cosmic engines and "intelligences without bodies." But does Mr. Archibald really believe that the 70 percent Hal Crowther derides for believing in angels are theologians? That they believe in angels in any way except the Touched By An Angel, ceramic cherub figurine, fuzzy New Age or literal Christian sort of way?
If most of our citizenry viewed their religious belief as "an act of moral imagination," then there wouldn't be anything disturbing about a widely held belief in angels. Mr. Crowther was surely not inveighing against those like Mr. Archibald, with their elegant, sophisticated, abstracted beliefs. He was clearly referring to those who believed in angels in the same way they believe in a "literal, biblical, blazing Armageddon." The sort of belief that is its own means and end, that brooks no argument and validates violence.
If more Americans shared Mr. Archibald's erudite and theologically sound view of angels, there would be nothing alarming about the poll numbers Crowther cites, since that sort of belief is benign and useful. But I have seen the fundamentalists with the Hellfire in their eyes, and I am much afraid. Maybe I'm too cynical, but it seems as if most poll-takers lack this sort of critical thinking ability, and fail to see angels as anything but another vague implement in a distant God's plan to spread America's primacy to the edges of the world.
In the issue of June 18, Godfrey Cheshire reviews the Palestinian film Divine Intervention. Fully half of the column space is devoted to "Israeli bashing" rather than to movie criticism. Either your editors were lax or your editorial policy needs revision: A critical review of a Palestinian film should not in my view be subverted to a platform for the reviewer's partisan political harangue whether it is anti- or pro-Israeli.
Thank you for running Lissa Brennan's article, "Please Do Touch the Art" in the June 11 issue on arts accessibility for people who are differently abled. I am writing to clarify the arrangement that the Touchable Art Gallery at Duke University Eye Center has with Governor Morehead School for the Blind in Raleigh. While it is accurate that Cultural Services staff members at Duke University Medical Center have curated a number of objects from the GMS collection, we do not actually own any of the art. But we do benefit enormously from a wonderful reciprocal loan program with the School, which owns a portion of the former Mary Duke Biddle Gallery for the Blind collection. This arrangement affords GMS students and faculty easy access to a collection beyond the school's borders, and it enables the Eye Center's gallery to offer a greater variety of exhibitions to our visitors.
The Touchable Art Gallery at Duke University Eye Center is just one facet of Duke Medical Center's Cultural Services Program which also offers programming in the visual, literary and performing arts for patients, their families and medical center staff.
Duke Eye Center
Arts Program Coordinator
Cultural Services Program
Love is never wrong
Your feature on Angel Collie ["A Different Kind of Education," June 11] gave me hope because unlike Angel, my family was not supportive of my gay brother.
I've been thinking a lot this week about life's ironies. A box arrived Thursday, something I actually sent to myself from San Francisco. It contained a lovely hand-hammered copper mobile that my gay brother Jerry bought me for my 50th birthday. He died at 4:30 that same afternoon, finally succumbing to the ravages of lung and liver cancer.
Tears burst out at odd moments without provocation, which seems strange to others because for 45 years Jerry and I had no contact with each other. Our father had rejected him and Jerry in turn learned to distrust his family. Seventeen years older than me, I barely knew he existed until a cyclic attempt to reconnect worked in 2000. Jerry and I discovered that we loved turquoise jewelry, Native American hand carved fetishes, and shared an acerbic wit that annoyed others as much as it delighted us. We had little time together but I'm grateful we did not miss it altogether.
There is a hole in my soul where we bonded. He's still there, but alive only in memory. At the end, he was not in much pain and, as these things go, his passing was gentle. I spent 10 of the most wonderful days with him and I will always cherish them. From the moment I heard the news about his aggressive cancer, I found myself singing Cat Stevens' song, "Oh Very Young."
We cried when I left and he said that he didn't know how to say goodbye to me knowing we would never see each other again. Somewhere in my past, I recall someone saying that there is too much hate, pain, and ugliness in this world for any type of love to be wrong. I agree.
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