Art smart: Thank you so much for the review of Emily's show ["Let's Go to Print," Matt Smith, Nov. 16], which helped me tremendously and which I'll bring with me the next time I go.
What an interesting balance you provided between the tough urban problems S.F. bears and the understanding of Emily's abstraction of it and then her recognition and portrayal of the beauty and pain of it which were so striking in the pieces. I love, also, that you included a few of the poems.
I would have been so intrigued if I had read your article about the show without knowing a thing. The poetry, the physical process, the public concerns, the aesthetics, and, of course, the personal were all there. I had some of the same questions when I was at the show knowing her father had just died.
Again, thank you for a masterful piece.
A Promise Keeper responds, calmly: Having attended the Promise Keepers event in San Jose, I read your article ["The Manly Men of God," Infiltrator, Nov. 16] with some interest.
Let's just get what I agree with you about out of the way first:
1) The comedian really wasn't funny. Brad Stine does suck. His brand of humor is very self-serving and mixes in machismo with patriotic undertones. It smacks of paranoia that America hates Christians (but he still loves being an American). This complex and incongruous insecurity is pretty apparent in his pandering for applause.
2) Overall, I thought you did a good job detailing all that went on. However, the man wrestling with the chains actually came after the main speaker on Friday night. Not before.
3) The blending of patriotism and evangelical Christianity is pretty repugnant. As someone who served in the Army Reserves and now serves the church, I think it's inappropriate to suggest that God is somehow connected with the church and military force. In my view, that cheapens faith and compromises the integrity of the church's witness.
That said, I don't think it's quite fair for you to be so harsh and sarcastic with this event. While it's not exactly my cup of tea, one shouldn't be so glib to criticize something that actually calls men to something more than themselves. It is a faith event that is cynically viewed and mocked by you ... and that is an ironic taste of intolerance on your part, considering your article's inherent criticism of their exclusiveness and stance toward homosexuality.
Curiously, I really would like to see your bravery and your paper's wherewithal to have you or another staffer infiltrate the Million Man March or some other event that is sponsored by Louis Farrakhan. The fact is that in Northern California, Christians are a safe and easy target.
I am assuming that your article is some attempt at humor (it did make me chuckle a few different times), but your writing focused on the nuances of Christian subculture (the "ights" and music and macho hooks), but the whole "movement" is centered around making men better fathers and husbands. It chastises men to not be absentee parents or neglectful spouses. In short, it calls them to be responsible men -- and that certainly isn't a bad thing. I wish that perhaps your article would have been a little bit more balanced in that regard.
S.F. hopes you'll turn those cheeks our way: All those comments about testosterone-laden manly men got me turned on, buddy! I'm being silly here, but just how many of these lost, wandering souls will be wandering into gay ol' San Francisco, and not just for fag bashing?
A lot of these guys (please note: only the butch, handsome ones, please! gay men, as you may know, have a very high "standard" of male beauty, so only the "beauties," please!) may be "switch-hitters" (or at least one hopes), so I'd just like to remind them that God still loves them despite their sins and their brutish "bitch, where's my dinner?" attitudes.
Peter George White
Love and lockjaw from the East Bay: On a bad day, Infiltrator, when you wonder what is the point of torturing yourself by entering one more scuzzy swamp of spiritual and political horror, please know you have a rabid fan base here in the East Bay -- your work is brilliant! We (my friends and I) love you. We wait eagerly for each new installment. You are a treasure on the planet. Bless you. Each article always reaches a point where I laugh so hard I'm crying. This time it was you being in the prayer circle trying to keep your hands appropriate. Thank you.