STREET FIGHTING MAN
All-or-nothing Omar: That was an interesting read about Omar Call ("Performance Athiest," Niki D'Andrea, December 25). It's unfortunate that he's an all-or-nothing kind of guy.
At one point, he was a 100 percent Christ-believing Mormon. Then he becomes a 100 percent atheist who wants to convert small children to his newfound belief system. Weird.
Jeff Schrade, Stafford, Virginia
Trading one dogma for another: I feel just as sorry for strict atheists as I do for strict Christians, Jews, or Mormons. How can anybody be that sure they're right?
I know, some people will say they talk directly to God — that's how they know. These are the people whom I consider bonkers, or liars. At least Omar Call doesn't do that.
Yet all he's done is replace one dogmatic belief system (Mormonism) with another (atheism). He's a fool to be so committed to any belief. Omar's just another of those annoying street preachers you cross the road to avoid. Here's an idea: Why don't we all stop worrying about what some religious/atheistic propaganda tells us and just try to be good and honest people? What a concept, eh?
Jack Williams, Las Vegas
Pray for Omar: From one extreme to the other. From the LDS cult to atheism. Hope Omar Call regains his faith in God.
Avinash Machado, Los Angeles
Welcome to the new cult: If millions of people worldwide share the same common (non)-belief and use the same arguments and rituals to convey those beliefs, then atheism in and of itself is a religion. Welcome to the new cult.
Niki D'Andrea's article proved what I have known for years: Atheists have now become every bit as annoying (if not more so) as the street-corner Bible-thumping testifiers that inspired them to turn their back on the word of God.
Jack Fire, Mesa
Suggestive poses are unbecoming: I know Omar. I debate with him often on Mill. He gave me a ride home once. Interesting guy.
Some of the pictures (flipping off, cross as gun, hostage situation, cross in mouth) invoke a sense of hostility, and even violence, that caught me off-guard. This type of posturing is unbecoming.
LDS and actual Biblical Christianity (read: orthodox evangelicalism) theologies were unfortunately conflated in this article. This is much to the detriment of the reader's understanding.
Once again, I'm just glad New Times is covering stuff like this. So props on that end.
Vocab Malone, Tempe
Christ's radical message gets lost: Very good article. I admire Mr. Call's willingness to publicly challenge religious dogma.
Some [people] assert that LDS is not Christian. That assertion is false. LDS members believe in their version of Christ, just as Catholics and the many Protestant faiths have their own versions. The LDS version is among the least believable, but it is a variant of Christianity.
Not mentioned in the article is the overwhelming scientific and historic evidence that people created god(s). The reason there's so much good and bad is that there's no beneficent god ordering nature. The good and bad done by people is all to our credit.
What I find most frustrating about Christianity is the failure of many Christians to pay attention to Christ's message, which is very radical. Christ said to love our enemies and to practice pacifism and material selflessness.
Many people in the United States, and especially those who call this a Christian nation, are among the biggest supporters of our military and the strongest opponents of collective welfare. These positions contradict Christ's teachings.
Jesse Chanley, Mesa
Pictures not suitable for Christmas: What were the editors at New Times thinking by running such a sacrilegious picture on Christmas Day? The very idea of running a story about such a terrible man on this holiest of days!
The pictures on the inside of your paper were worse than the one on the cover, especially the one in which he's got the cross in his mouth, as if it were a gun he's using to blow a hole in his head.
I can tell him that he doesn't need a gun or a cross for that; he's already got a hole in his head, judging from your story.
Ned Graham, Phoenix
For believers and non-believers: Interesting article! I haven't read much atheistic work, like Richard Dawkins' or Sam Harris', but a Buddhist friend of mine let me borrow Anthem by Ayn Rand.
I'm a very open-minded/curious guy who loves to pursue absolute truth wherever that leads me. Here's a really good book for believers and non-believers: I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist by Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek.
Doesn't mean God was involved in the good, either: Omar Call talks about the evils done in the name of God. Just because evil is done in the name of God in no way means that God was actually involved.
On the flip side, how about the good done in the name of God? The charities, the homeless shelters, the food and clothing banks, the hospitals? Ever hear of an atheist charity? Ever hear of a pagan food bank? Me either.
If anything has outlived its usefulness (if it ever had any), it's atheism. Promoting a cause that's mostly about being against something is simply a dead-end street. Try being for something, something positive, life-enhancing, enriching, freeing, contributing to the wellbeing of others as well as yourself. Go ahead, try it!
Club soccer has gotten worse: I heard about this article from one of my teammates. When I read it, I agreed with pretty much everything that was stated ("Soccer Bomb," John Dickerson," December 18).
I've been playing for SC Del Sol for most of my youth soccer career, so I will not comment on Les Armstrong, because I never knew him personally. I do, however, agree with what he said about parents. I think that parents of competitive players have caused the biggest problems. From a player's point of view, it's pretty evident how parents try to embellish their kids' abilities, try to prove to other parents that their kid is better.
I believe money's thrown around and flaunted through the camps children are sent to, their personal training, and the equipment they use. The saddest thing is the bad-mouthing parents resort to during games. Many times, I've heard parents bashing on other kids' abilities during games, for everyone to hear, and when their own kid makes a mistake, they say nothing. I don't want to sound like I'm saying this about all parents. Sometimes there are maybe just a few of these [bad] parents with one team, but even one is too many.
There's an immense difference in club soccer in Arizona from when I was younger to now (as a U18 player). Clubs have become a lot more expensive, and false scholarship hope has been given to players. We're told that if we outplay everyone on the field, we'll be noticed. Coaches need to start explaining to their players the importance of their academics. I've not met one person to go on to play for a D1 college that had horrible grades.
I do know many extremely skilled players that are given a chance to play in community college, which for some reason is looked down upon by some soccer players, coaches, and parents. From my junior to senior year, about half of the soccer players I know have changed their mindset from a D1 or D2 to community college, including myself. The other half are still following the dream, while paying a good amount of money, and not having any guarantees.
I think these decisions should be placed in the hands of players with parental support. It's sad to see some players being forced into situations they don't want to be in. Some parents and coaches need to settle down and rethink what we all do. Soccer is a beautiful game. I love my team. We are a family. I just wish that all players at different clubs in Arizona could say the same.
Janele DeBaca, Phoenix
They're all playing the same game: It's interesting how Les Armstrong criticizes parents who use withholding of rides to other players as a means of competition, given that he demands that his players be unrelenting on the field.
If this is all in pursuit of the future reward (however illusory) of scholarships, then everyone appears to be playing the same game.
Mike Chichester, Glendale
Napolitano deserves better: For 30 years, Thursday mornings have been enjoyable periods, as New Times editions elicit anticipations. But Michael Lacey's assessment of Janet Napolitano's the closest thing to yellow journalism that he's penned ("Nope," Michael Lacey, November 27).
Considering the very, very few issues used to evaluate our governor, and let's include her public service as our former Arizona Attorney General and her career in the U.S. Department of Justice, she's faced mountains compared to any of us.
In the December 4 edition of New Times, columnist Stephen Lemons called the governor a coward ("Benedict Napolitano," The Bird), basing that assessment on just one issue. Call him an idiot jokester because he knows not Janet Napolitano.
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Then, there were negative letter-writers in that paper called "name withheld" who came across as the most irresponsible nitwits ("No to Janet," Feedback).
But kudos to the positive folks complimenting the governor, respecting both her career efforts and the lady herself.
Overall, she deserves much better from the Arizona populace.
Don Begalke, Phoenix
High hopes for Janet: You've written a very informative piece about Janet. Thank you. I just pray that she'll do a good and effective job with Homeland Security.
Susan K. Stegemann, Phoenix