Alive and Vital

To the Editor:

I appreciated many of the comments in Chris Davis' year-in-review article ("[Art]ticle/P[art]icle," December 27th issue). However, I was surprised that he seemed so ill-informed about the activities of the Memphis Symphony. Davis laudably commended GPAC's IRIS orchestra for its premiere of Stephen Hartke's fine new clarinet concerto, but this was hardly the first "original classical work since Don Freund left the U of M," which was in 1992!

Davis seemed unaware that the Memphis Symphony has regularly programmed contemporary works in a variety of venues since then. One of the most memorable was the commissioned premiere in 1997 of "Monument" by David Sampson, a moving tribute to the Vietnam War Memorial. NPR devoted an entire segment to it on All Things Considered.

In 2001 alone, the Memphis Symphony performed works by several local composers (including a substantial piece by me) and several composers of national and international stature. The Memphis Symphony is presently without a hall but it is not homeless. Its home is right here in Memphis and I hope Davis and your readers will come discover just how vibrant and alive it is.

Robert G. Patterson, member, Memphis Symphony and IRIS

Air Ball?

To the Editor:

I think John Branston threw an air ball with his contention (City Beat, December 20th issue) that the New Arena Public Building Authority is a private sector takeover of governmental responsibility and "in the hands of people outside the control of city and county division directors." The building authority is in fact part of city and county government, just like all other boards and commissions that have existed for decades and whose dedicated volunteer members have guided public projects and services of all kinds. The building authority must have city and county approval of its entire budget, the arena location, design, and more. Its members are nominated by the mayors and appointed by the city council and the county commission. It is hardly the profile of unbridled power operating free of public checks and balances.

Also, to Branston's point that the new arena is a "cram-down" by a small group of men and women with money and clout: This seems an overly cynical interpretation of the facts. In truth, Pitt and Barbara Hyde and the Cates brothers preferred The Pyramid as the Grizzlies' home and it was the NBA that set the equation in simple terms: New arena equals NBA team. No new arena equals no NBA team.

"Cram-down" seems an erroneous term in view of three separate polls showing broad support for a new arena. In the end, this was more powerful than anything else in obtaining legislative approval.

Thomas E. Jones, Senior Advisor to the Shelby County Mayor


To the Editor:

In the December 27th issue, the review by Leonard Gill of the book The Prayer of Jabez was puzzling. The first sentence reads, "Explain to me the inexplicable." To ask that question indicates that Gill is not very familiar with the fact that the awesome ways of God cannot be explained in human terms. Throughout history, as recorded in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, the underdog who has looked to the Almighty for guidance and assistance has always been victorious. It is documented that God has worked many miracles on behalf of those who know Him.

While reading the review, I felt sad that Mr. Gill obviously has never experienced the incredible acts of God in his own life. Then I read his last sentence, which advises everyone to "hold on to your 10 bucks." What is his objection to people finding strength from this book? What is his objection to having one Bible instructor for every 50,000 people on the earth? What is his objection to an unknown preacher and publishing company being successful? I wonder if he feels the same about the author of the Harry Potter books.

My sincere advice to Gill and anyone else with his viewpoint would be to find a good church (I can recommend one) and start developing a relationship with the Almighty.

Teri C. Rowell, Memphis


To the Editor:

I am writing to vent my frustration with the Shelby County School Board's decision to possibly include Bible study courses in the system curriculum. The last time I looked, there was a church on every corner of this city. I am not against the teachings of Christianity or any other religion, but I am against them being taught in our schools with my money. Our Founding Fathers were very clear about this -- not to protect the churches from government but to protect the government from churches. The county and city school systems are in need of a major overhaul and I applaud many of the recent moves by both school boards, but this should not be part of the plan.

Mike Hagan, Germantown

The Memphis Flyer encourages reader response. Send mail to: Letters to the Editor, POB 1738, Memphis, TN 38101. Or call Back Talk at 575-9405. Or send us e-mail at All responses must include name, address, and daytime phone number. Letters should be no longer than 250 words.

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