Ray's GunThis letter is in response to...


Ray's Gun

This letter is in response to an article by Gregory Kane #F (Perspective, July 10), recalling the trial of his son, Ray Chapman, who was arrested for the illegal possession of a handgun.

When the police would not take Ray's robbery report, why didn't he and his father call the mayor's office or the Police Department to lodge a complaint? No, Ray, age 17, decided to get a gun.

Rest assured he did not find it through The Sun classifieds. He obtained it from one of his "homeys," who I'm sure did not have a federal firearms license.

Ray did not have to fill out any federal forms or background checks for the Maryland State Police; he didn't have to wait a week to get his gun; he didn't have to wait 60 days to get a permit to carry a gun. Only law abiding, honest citizens follow those rules. And Ray carried the gun in order to kill another person, albeit before the other person killed him. Ray's attorney had the evidence suppressed (the gun).

His father pondered the absurdity that Ray had clearly been declared a criminal. I ponder the absurdity that he was not.

Maryland has a gun control law that carries a one year mandatory sentence for doing just what Ray Chapman did. What kind of an example does this make for all the other young people who carry illegal guns on the streets of Baltimore?

George Martin

Bel Air


I found the "cartoon" on the editorial page July 16 to be 'D offensive and discriminatory to Christians.

In all the efforts to avoid offending minorities or ethnic groups or reli gions, how come evangelical Chris-tians who express their views about public morality are not off limits?

Do we have to start organizations like other groups have and for which there can be no critical comment without a label of bigotry?

How about an NAACP for the National Association for the Advancement of Christian People?

Or an Anti-Defamation League to protest any negative comments about Bible-believing, God-fearing, law-abiding, Christ-centered believers of any racial or national origin who feel they have been discriminated against or unfairly treated?

Whether you believe in the Constitution or not, the First Amendment still grants to Christians as well as others the freedom to express their opinions, to speak and print their views and to worship as they please, so long as that does not abridge these freedoms for others.

Furthermore it was these same kind of God-fearing Christian patriots who granted this freedom to everyone by adopting that and other amendments to the Constitution.

Why is it now all right to malign Christian "right" viewpoints, but avoid offending minorities?

Whatever happened to the "politically correct" concept of social acceptability?

4 Are we really the enemies to be feared the most?

Does The Baltimore Sun have a fairness doctrine?

Robert T. Woodworth


The writer is pastor, Christ & Country Church, and editor, C&C; Courier/Crier, and religious outreach director, Maryland Right To Life.

Jewish Mysticism

I am writing to protest Jeffrey M. Landaw's narrow-minded review (books page, July 3) of Rodger Kamenetz's wonderful book, "The Jew in the Lotus."

Mr. Landaw's main concern seems to be "getting [Jews] to remain Jewish." Since, among Jewish denominations, Orthodoxy is best at this task, it must also be the "way to encounter the mystical and ecstatic side of Judaism."

The fact that it plainly was not, for some of the passionate and intelligent "JUBUs" [people who are both Jewish and Buddhist] Mr. Kamenetz met, is ignored. Mr. Landaw says that Mr. Kamenetz "never asks whether you can be both a Jew and a Buddhist."

The truth is that Mr. Kamenetz asks this question repeatedly, and reports the anguished self-questioning of others.

The Jewish observance of Zalman Shachter, and other Jews who went to Dharamsala, is informed by archaeology, comparative mythology, awareness of "magical" elements in pre-rabbinic Judaism and of the mysticism the rabbis suppressed. These people felt, therefore, that they could visit the (quite un-"demonic") Nechung oracle. Neither they nor Mr. Kamenetz made this visit thoughtlessly, as Mr. Landaw claims.

I suspect he makes this claim because he disapproves of such openness. Implicitly, he dislikes the idea that Jews might have something to learn from other traditions, as well as the reverse.

He ignores the largest issue raised by the book: the fate of Judaism in an era in which spirituality is inevitably a personal quest rather than a received communal viewpoint, and in which all modes of spirituality, however exclusive, are available to everyone.

Frederick P. Pollack


St. Mary's Orthodox Church Controversy

This is in reference to your article July 18 on the zoning problems at St. Mary's Orthodox Church in Baltimore County.

As a community participant in the effort to focus on the problems at this site, I can assure you that the issue of "those Greeks coming into the valley" has never been raised as your article states.

Nor to my knowledge has there ever been the slightest prejudice shown to this church by any member of the community.

In discussions earlier this year with Ramon Jadra and the other church representatives, the community was willing to overlook a number of existing problems -- if the church would simply recognize that it had already over-stressed this environmentally sensitive property and that any additional building construction was unacceptable to the surrounding neighbors.

The basic problem is that this community depends on wells and septic systems, and a problem here could have far-reaching consequences. The community asked the church to agree that there would be no further construction.

When the church representatives explained their desire to build a patio (which they described as a walled but unroofed court yard that is important in their faith) the community agreed to support this limited construction.

In return for this limited construction agreement, the community offered to support their zoning petition, and the hearing would probably have ended all of their problems.

After some discussion it became evident that the church wanted to retain the right to build a church (the existing building is apparently not a church, although a church was what was authorized) at some future time and our offer was refused.

Subsequently, the church proceeded with its petition to legalize this site, and Zoning Commissioner Lawrence Schmidt had no alternative under Baltimore County regulations but to issue the order that he did. The community has never even suggested that the existing building be razed; this is the result of the church's own action to proceed with this petition without community support.

As a result, this is now a matter between the church and Baltimore County. Mr. Schmidt's order clearly leaves the alternative of reaching agreement with the community available to the church, but apparently the church has elected to appeal the zoning order instead.

Mr. Jadra's claim that the church was ignorant of development procedures rings hollow due to the testimony of one of its witnesses, who, as an employee of Baltimore County (and a professional involved in development process) also ushered its plan through that process.

It does not seem reasonable that a larger building with a different function at a different location with off-site septic and other variations from the approved plan could be constructed due simply to ignorance of development regulations.

The community would very much like to put this issue to rest, and so we remain open to a reasonable accommodation with St. Mary's Church, one which recognizes the environmental limitations of this property.

What is most unfortunate is that other churches have recently seen fit to benefit from what the community sees as a loophole in the zoning laws of Baltimore County, which grants churches (and only churches) the right to construct very large buildings on environmentally sensitive land.

A. Douglas McComas


The writer is executive director, Falls Road Community


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