Volume 17 • Issue 21 | October 15 - 21, 2004


Shedding light under the bridge

To The Editor:
Why does New York City refuse to fix the lights under the Brooklyn Bridge in Downtown Manhattan at Pearl and Frankfort Sts.? I’ve been calling 311 for two years and nothing has been done about it. Two years ago after seven phone calls to 311, they sent someone to fix the lights. But the person they sent doesn’t know the difference between a.m. and p.m. The lights were on all day and off at night. I called 311 again and they sent another person who doesn’t know the difference between on and off because instead of fixing the problem, he shut the lights off completely.

I live across the street from the Brooklyn Bridge in Southbridge Towers and from my balcony I can see the Municipal Building and the State Supreme Court building. The lights on top of these buildings have been screwed up for about a month now. Some lights are on and some lights are off. When is the city of New York going to fix these lights?

Calling 311 is useless and a waste of time. Thank you Mr. Mayor and 311 for putting the lights on on top of the bridge instead of the bottom where it’s more important.

George Marmo

Christian explanation

To The Editor:
I would first like to applaud the Downtown Express for creating a dialogue between its readership and a student at a rural school far, far, away from the world that is Manhattan (Letters, “Christian leader,” Sept. 10 – Sept. 16, Letters, “Christian leader call,” Sept. 17 – 23). I would like to thank the readers that took the time to respond to Ellie’s letter. Actually, I would like to address those readers’ comments on Christianity:

I can’t begin to tell you how I appreciate your candor concerning your perceptions of those of us that follow Christ. There are times that, I too, say as Gandhi said, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” I find myself constantly shaking my head because people like Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson represent my beliefs to the American public, when I find myself distanced from the “Christianity” of those men as I attempt to pattern myself after the very nature of the person of Christ. Taking a page from the author of “Blue Like Jazz”, Donald Miller, I would like to apologize for the Crusades, and for all the other atrocities propagated by the church in our history. If you’ve studied anything of the life and teachings of Christ, you will find nothing supporting those actions. Even though I have had nothing to do with these reprehensible actions, I find myself strongly saddened by the scars that have been left in the wake of some of those who call themselves “Christians.” The Christ I follow defines Himself as Love. Not taking His teachings piecemeal, but as a whole, I find myself seated less in judgment as standing against the injustices and hurts that divide us as human beings. As a follower of Christ, I found the diversity and energy that New York City exudes as a blatant reminder that a diverse Being exists (in me!) and gives me life to the full.

I think that your responses to this Christian student, who finds herself firmly ensconced in “the Bible Belt”, will open her eyes to a world outside the one she knows. I thank you for that. I would have to say that there is nothing wrong with non-Christian Americans, and whole-heartedly agree that there are those that wear the name Christian that do not reflect it with who they actually are.

For my response to Ellie’s question, I would have to look to a king from the Jewish tradition named Solomon. Solomon, according to the story, was given permission by God to ask for one thing. The one thing that Solomon asked for, was not honesty, or to be a better follower of God, or an understanding of history. He asked for wisdom. (I think it took considerable wisdom to make that choice.) I think that in wisdom, (and the wherewithal to act on that wisdom), lies the characteristics vital to good leadership, like truthfulness. Thanks again for the opportunity to dialogue with others concerned about the world and country we all love.
Bill Smith
Cincinnati, Ohio
Bill Smith’s nephew is a student at Kentucky Christian School, whose sixth grade student, Ellie, wrote Downtown
Express several weeks asking our readers what quality they thought was the most important trait in a president. Ellie wrote that she valued truthfulness the most and that she wanted a Christian leader.

Falun defense

To The Editor:
RE “Getting stressed out over meditation group” (Downtown Local, Aug. 13-19:

Just as your reporters heard from some Falun Gong practitioners, it is true that we do have a belief that different races have different Gods.  The way I’ve understood that is pretty simple — just about every race in the world has, throughout history, had different and unique religions, objects of worship, and different interpretations of what “heaven” means.  In the West, many people are Christians and Catholics; in the East they have Buddhas and Daos. Actually, when I first read this section of Falun Gong’s teachings, I didn’t understand where the controversy might come from.  It certainly doesn’t entail any racism or discrimination...there are a lot of Falun Gong practitioners of mixed race, my boyfriend included.

I felt that the article you ran about Falun Gong (although the fact about mixed-race thing was right), gave a rather inaccurate picture of what Falun Gong is.  And given that there is very literally a genocide being carried out in China against millions of law-abiding people who practice Falun Gong, I think that the media and people in the Western world have a certain role to play in helping people to understand what’s going on by painting a more complete picture of what Falun Gong is, and what the persecution is all about. It is a practice with ancient roots in China that belongs to the Buddhist school, although it developed independently of the religion of Buddhism.  It consists of mediation and qigong exercises, as I’m sure just about every New Yorker has seen, as well as a doctrine that’s based on the idea that if a person can align themselves with the virtues of “Truthfulness, Compassion, Tolerance,” they can achieve better health and spiritual balance. Regardless of whether one necessarily agrees or understands all of Falun Gong’s beliefs, everyone can recognize that it is a peaceful practice which certainly should not be the target of an eradication campaign by the Chinese government.

I for one have benefited tremendously from practicing it. It helped me get over addictions to alcohol, I started sleeping better, all my health problems that were never resolved with any amount of antibiotics and chiropractor visits just disappeared. I started feeling for the first time in my life like I could calm down, be honest with myself, and I felt liberated by this

Caylan Ford

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