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Wednesday, July 16, 2008 01:01 am

Letters to the Editor

Untitled Document We welcome letters. Please include your full name, address, and telephone number. We edit all letters. Send them to Letters, Illinois Times, P.O. Box 5256, Springfield, IL 62705; fax 217-753-3958; e-mail editor@illinoistimes.com.
WHY DID SYMPHONY LET ROSSI GO? For a number of years my husband and I have enjoyed traveling to Springfield to hear the excellent concerts of choral music provided by the Illinois Symphony Chorus, and we commend this dedicated group of musicians for their volunteer effort to bring outstanding choral music to the many people who appreciate it enough to travel considerable distances in order to hear them perform.
We were distressed to learn of recent developments that led to the resignation of Dr. Richard Robert Rossi as choral director [Dusty Rhodes, “Same song, second verse,” July 3]. Rossi brought a special kind of passion to the music he presented that attracted not only talented performers but also appreciative audiences. It seems to us that his salary request was more than reasonable since choral concerts were nearly always sold out and thus were highly successful producers of revenue for the Illinois Symphony organization. His willingness to travel to Springfield every week during the season and sometimes more often in order to rehearse and develop the chorus has also been commendable. We also wish to commend the work of Marion van der Loo, Rossi’s predecessor. She produced excellent choral concerts that were well received not only in this country but also in Europe when she took the group on tour. After a number of years of successful service, she was dismissed from the choral director’s position just prior to one of those successful tours. It seems that the ISO board is unwilling to retain talented conductors or to fund the very modest expense involved in maintaining the chorus, and we think that’s a shame. Firings and recent resignations suggest that there are serious problems that need to be addressed.
To expect volunteer singers to provide leadership for fundraising or to contribute financially to the budget of the chorus is demeaning to the free gifts of time, talent, and travel expense that these excellent musicians already contribute. We believe that the failure to negotiate a reasonable contract with Rossi was a serious and avoidable mistake of enormous proportions, since his concerts were financially successful and were widely appreciated.
Further, we believe that to expect chorus members to provide a solution to this problem by paying even more for the privilege of singing seems to be not only unappreciative and unfair but also a mistaken abdication of responsible leadership. We truly hope that the Illinois Symphony board will be able to develop more inspired vision and problem solving strategies in order to solve this unfortunate problem. Joyce and Ray Allen Charleston, Ill.
PROGRESS COMES FROM OPEN MINDS I completely agree with Rebecca Marks [“Letters,” July 3]. The majority of churches do mean well and are sincere in their teachings. The problem occurs when their limited understanding of God’s love interferes with the equally sincere beliefs and actions of their members. All too often that’s becomes a common theme across our country, not just here in Illinois. I believe it partially explains the decreasing attendance that has been reported. It seems that many of the faithful are questioning the exact interpretations of some of these doctrines, and find that they do fall short in explaining not only God’s unlimited love, compassion, and justice but in how his laws actually operate/manifest in the universe and are expressed in the natural world. We are intrinsically connected to all of it as human beings. (Science is discovering these marvels more and more.) In our society, it appears that most people are evolving on a faster pace to a higher level of understanding. Observations show that this has always been the case. Large organizations and institutions are usually slower in their response to their members’ evolution — somewhat similar to government versus the people. But when time and sincere hearts can engage with open, curious minds, great progress can be the result. Janet Roth-Shaw Springfield
A DOUBLE THUMBS-UP I enjoy Julianne Glatz’s columns a great deal, both for the recipes and her enthusiasm. Maya Buffet is a real contribution to Mexican food in Springfield [“Holy mole!” July 10]. I have sampled mole since first treated to it in Los Angeles in the 1960s. The mole at Maya Buffet is the best I’ve had since then. The guacamole and shrimp in garlic were also delicious. It was a treat; one my wife and I intend to repeat. Lynn Miller Springfield
THE WORD OF GOD “Word of God” in the Bible does not primarily refer to human words that are spoken or written. But for centuries many have thought of God’s communication with people as being mostly confined to human words. Often the Bible, a book of written words, is held high with the proclamation “This is the Word of God.” The idea that we can “read” or “hear” the actual “Word of God” has led us Westerners to think that responding to God is a matter of understanding such human words and then doing what they tell us. But doesn’t this grossly oversimplify the reality of “Word of God” and reduce our being engaged by it to a human-human kind of encounter rather than a God-human encounter? Regrettably, this is the case and is also why many thoughtful people are suspicious of religious language and claims. Until the printing press, ordinary people did not possess many, if any, written words. The first Bible was printed in 1455. But recent centuries of people can hardly think of “God’s Word” except as written or spoken words. This comes in part from the huge impact of the Age of Enlightenment’s materialistic focus from the 1700s on. “Human words” is not what “Word of God” often means in the Bible itself, but rarely is that mentioned in sermons. Here’s a simple example that can change, and make more accurate, the notion of how God might project “God’s Word” into human life. It is the parable of Jesus called the “the sower” or “the soils” (Matthew 13: 1-9, 18-24). The story speaks of a sower scattering seed on hard soil, rocky soil, weedy soil, and, finally, “good soil.” The seed does not become a mature healthy plant except when it lands on the “good soil.” The usual explanation is the seed is the written or spoken human word of God. And only the person who “hears” them and does them is “good soil.” But there is good evidence that a more accurate interpretation is that God is the sower and the “seed is people.” Yes, the unexpected idea is that “God’s Word” is sown among us and it is not human words of religious ideas and commandments but is the people that “drop” into our life. Suddenly the challenge of being spiritually motivated is not primarily about hearing human words from God and doing them but about being “good soil” for the people sent our way. Is that not an astonishing twist on what “Word of God” can mean and on how we are confronted and challenged by it? The people who are sown into “our soil” are children born to our families, the one who becomes our life partner, people that come into our social groups, the friends who arrive in our personal work and play spaces. The parable raises the issue that we are to give all such people the unselfish reception, acceptance; the nurturing, the emotional and truth-telling nutrition that humans need to become the unique persons God intends them to be.
Central to the art or gift of being “good soil” is not seeing oneself as owning or possessing the persons who are “sown as God’s message” into our lives. The soil’s role is only to provide the nutrition, protection, truth-telling, and the love that all developing persons (young and old) need. The miracle of growth and what the plant matures to be or do is all the work of God and remains a mystery to any human judgment. To broaden “Word of God” to include [in its] meaning the “people in our lives” makes it more clear that God can be perceived as a present reality and resource to all humans. This is regardless of formal faith or any faith at all. To have mistakenly held that “Word of God” is primarily human words rightfully affronts many sincere people and should be retracted as to how religious and nonreligious people can explore the practical meaning of God in human life. Jim Hibbett Riverton
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