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The cowboy way

Thanks to Noel Black for his wonderful feature story on cowboy churches ("The Lord is My Saddle Partner," May 15). These Christian communities represent not only a slice of Western Americana, but also a more down-home and positive picture of Christian faith. These Christ-followers (like many of their urban and suburban city folk also) put evangelism and helping the needy at the top of their lists instead of constantly harping on "changing our godless culture" via political action or judicial orders.

My first contact with a cowboy pastor was in Oakdale, Calif., the self-proclaimed "cowboy capitol of the world." The church was called Bunkhouse Fellowship and Pastor John was well over 6 feet tall and looked like a younger version of John Wayne and/or the Marlboro Man with a mustache. When he walked into the local coffee shop, Bible in hand, to lead a men's Bible study, you could feel his strength and humility. The half-dozen prayer meetings I attended with him and his fellow ranch hands were among the most intense and honest I had ever been to.

John was called to the ministry after God got his attention in true cowboy fashion. He had dreams of making it big on the rodeo circuit, and the talent and ability to make them a reality. Yet, one day while out on the range, his horse was spooked causing him to fall out of the saddle and land on the hard ground. Somehow the reins were entangled around his ankle and the horse dragged him across the ground at high speed. John suffered back and leg injuries in the process -- ending his plans for being a rodeo star. While recuperating, God spoke to John about humility, love and spiritual priorities. And not long after, Bunkhouse Fellowship was born.

Whether you're a Christ-follower or a skeptic, it would do your soul well to visit one of the two churches described in Mr. Black's article. You might find what you never looked for.

-- Steve Bell

Colorado Springs

Clashing worldviews 'crazymaking'

In your attempt to be tolerant and inclusive, the May 15-21 edition presented mutually contradictory and exclusive themes. Your front-page cover shows a fundamentalist, Christian cowboy praising God with his arms upstretched to heaven and right below the picture you have an article on "pot, porn and pickers." Perhaps this is either a conscious effort or subliminal attempt to blend the two.

This journalistic schizophrenia presents two worldviews that clash. You cannot blend orthodox Christianity and secular humanism and come out with a consistent, biblical lifestyle. There are times when embracing "diversity" will only bring philosophical and moral ruination.

The article on Cowboy Churches was well written and even presented the evangelical Gospel. On the other hand, you have a paid advertisement by Janet Brazill, a Free Thinker, who does not believe in God nor does she believe the Bible, who blatantly asserts with "no doubt" that King David had homosexual relations with Jonathan. She confuses love with sex and has such an open mind and free thoughts that her brain falls out.

You show the Cowboy Christians in a good light that are "radical for Jesus" and then we read a Letter to the Editor where this poor sap from Woodland Park speaks for Jesus. To him, Jesus is a tree-hugging nomad, who hates church and wants to dance with homosexuals. Of course his Jesus would not know Ed Bircham, James Dobson or Will Perkins because this personage he babbles about is not the Jesus of the New Testament.

The Cowboy Christians talked about living a holy and pure life and yet your paper is filled with numerous advertisements promoting porn and sexual immorality. Your lead article talked about people who believed the Bible and then you include comics on page 37 that mock the biblical teachings of the end times and show a cartoon of Michael Moore having sex with Hillary Clinton. These radical paradigm shifts from page to page do not promote inclusiveness but only a sense of reality detachment and crazymaking.

-- Tom Pedigo

American Family Association State Director

Colorado Springs

Do as I say, not as I do

I am writing because I am deeply concerned about the direction of our government regarding nuclear weapons. On the one hand the Bush administration has labeled Iraq, Iran and North Korea an "axis of evil" because they are/were developing nuclear weapons programs. While on the other hand the Bush administration is calling on Congress to repeal the Spratt-Furse provision, which bans mini-nukes so that the DOD can begin developing the RNEP (Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator) more commonly known as "bunker busters."

These actions break the global Non-Proliferation Treaty, which basically states if you don't have nuclear weapons, you can't build them; in exchange, those of us who do will work to get rid of ours.

These actions by the Bush administration raise one essential question for the American public to consider: How can we complain that countries like North Korea shouldn't build new nuclear weapons in violation of the treaty when the Bush administration proposes doing the very same thing?

-- William Holley, Jr.

Pueblo

What if?

I have been thinking a lot about the cutting of same-sex benefits for City employees, Focus on the Family and Ed Birchham. I think I have a different way of sizing up the situation.

I am just a local artist, an actor and director to be exact. One of my favorite acting exercises was the game "What If?" What if this character was in this situation at such and such time. So ... what if ... Will Perkins went to visit Ed Bircham at his office supply store and the building caught on fire and the two men were trapped inside the burning building? And, what if the only firefighters were on duty that day were the gay ones? Oh, and to make it even more dramatic, what if the only nurses on duty at the local burn units at all of the city hospitals were lesbians? Kind of puts a different spin on things, doesn't it?

-- Tony Babin

Colorado Springs

Choice is key

The Benyaks sound like nice people ("Council's true intention," Letters, May 15), but I think they are missing the point regarding the unfairness of not rescinding health insurance coverage for same-sex domestic partners of city employees.

The key word in their phrase "a man and woman in love, living together, who decide to remain unmarried" is decide. Same-sex partners do not have the luxury of "deciding" whether or not to get married and therefore to become eligible for health insurance coverage.

-- Paul Weeks

Colorado Springs

Ominous winds of change

Saturday, April 26, was windy. As I was driving east from Delta to Paonia our dark mountains were virtually obscured by a thick haze. Dust blowing off of the adobies, dust from dry, open fields, dust blowing from agricultural areas miles away. The sky was streaked high with yellow dust.

Like many areas in Colorado, ours is frequently windy. What if our wind contained the residues of genetically modified drug crops? Industry claims that pollen's altered DNA is quickly destroyed, but what of error? What of seed mistakenly spread? Corn is promiscuous, humans fallible and nature unpredictable. Contamination will creep past the designated fields and gradually pollute crops and grasses beyond. Because homeostasis occurs in nature, drug production belongs in controlled settings, not in open-air fields. A moritorium must be placed on biopharming in Colorado until the safest, most conservative methods are agreed upon by a broadly represented panel with public input.

Colorado citizens must have a voice in biopharming, a life-manipulating technology that could harm us all. Currently, citizens will be denied information about the types of drugs and chemicals grown. The crop locations will be kept secret.

-- Suzanne Watson

Paonia, Colo.

Marlboro Town

Sitting at Denny's on West Bijou, I overheard a business lady ask the waiter about the smoking policy. "Don't you have a ban on smoking in restaurants like we have in California?"

For a moment I contemplated stopping by her table on the way out to sympathize. "Ma'am," I would say, "when I moved to Colorado Springs in 1982, the secondhand smoke on the walls in this restaurant was already so thick, the Health Department should have ordered this building torn to the ground."

However, when I glanced over my shoulder, she was already gone. I suspect she is not the only tourist who will remember Colorado Springs as "Marlboro Town."

Serving in the USAF as an assistant club manager in charge of the Base Package Liquor Store in 1976, I remember when the DoD, outwardly admitting their role in introducing so many young people to the habits of smoking and poor health consequences, began a campaign to encourage all servicemen to stop smoking and control their drinking. Some years ago Pueblo introduced the concept of a riverwalk and more recently banned smoking in all locations except a smoker's own home.

To our newly elected City Council, all I can think to say is, "I'll see ya'll with your kayaks at Confluence Park, and don't forget your paddles ... and your cigarette nipples."

-- Peter Dunn

Colorado Springs

Clarification:

A play on words in last week's Livelong Days section of the Independent might have misled some readers to believe that the Uncle Wilber Fountain in Acacia Park was in danger of closing. Like most nonprofits, Uncle Wilber depends on donations to survive. In addition to its founding benefactor, the Smokebrush Foundation, so far more than 100 local families and businesses, including the Independent, have made contributions to ensure that tens of thousands of children and adults from all over the city can prance, dance and get cool under Uncle Wilber this summer. We are pleased to report that through the Friends of the Fountain, Uncle Wilber has generated more than enough support to remain open this summer.

Of course, the major threat to Uncle Wilber's longevity is the drought. Even though most of the fountain's water is cleansed then reused, around 30 gallons a day is lost to evaporation. This is less than the water used in one typical shower. Nevertheless, if Stage 3 water restrictions are mandated, Uncle Wilber, like all outdoor fountains, will close.

The Independent urges those interested in supporting the Uncle Wilber Fountain to contact Sara Welborn at the Friends of the Fountain, 444-0884.

-- John Weiss, Publisher

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