Love/Hate Mail 

A "nincompoop" responds

A "nincompoop" responds

Phil Ashford, have you ever seen a jackass when you look in the mirror? As described in “Chickening Out” (Jan. 18), I am in “the nincompoop legions” and I have a suggestion. The General Assembly should make provisions today for you and others so inclined to sign up for a state income tax. Your position that the tobacco settlement money “should be returned to the people” is one with which I agree. However, when you deposit the money in the state’s general fund to cover the deficit, you lose me. Your article says “budget officials can consider improvements to the budget—more spending on new or existing programs.” Only in the public sector does “improvement” garner that description.

Stan Churchwell

Tax or spend?

Re: state government’s need for tax revenue (“Chickening Out,” Jan. 18), here’s an anecdote: About a year ago my mother died. Since she had been receiving retirement benefits from Social Security and the state retirement plan, I called both. The guy at SS thanked me for the call, expressed condolences, and said he would take care of the rest. The guy at the state thanked me for the call, expressed condolences, and said he would send me a letter and form to fill out and return. The form was long, had to be notarized, and required a certified death certificate. I got the paperwork together and sent it to the state for their handling.

Which agency spent more processing my report? It’s clear: the state of Tennessee. Was that necessary? Probably not. Ashford may have touched on the problem when he reported that the state doesn’t do zero-based budgeting (requiring each department to describe and substantiate the need for its work), but simply takes last year’s costs and adds some on for inflation and population growth. In such a process, rampant inefficiencies grow forever. It has been reported that over the last 10 years Tennessee citizens’ incomes have grown at one rate, state tax revenue at a higher rate, and state expenditures at the highest rate of all. If this is true, and if my anecdote is representative, we have a spending problem, not a tax problem. Ashford says simplistic “nincompoops” favor budget reductions. Well, we SNs vote. And we expect our representatives in the Legislature to ensure good buys for our tax dollars. We expect managers with integrity in state government to clean up wasteful processes. Do we deserve less?

Michael F. Morgan (Nashville)

Harboring resentment

How consoling to know that “in the buckle of the Bible Belt,” Vanderbilt Divinity School harbors a lighthouse of enlightened, multicultural, and politically correct scholars (“Searching for God,” Jan. 11).

Denouncing the presence of the South African tennis team on Vanderbilt’s campus and supporting the Viet Cong and the Sandanistas surely was heady stuff. Support for affirmative action (i.e., reverse racism) must still give an occasional frisson. No doubt denigrating a Baptist Minister on the Teddy Bart show titillated, although one wonders if Dean Hough would have been quite so candid with a Rev. Al Sharpton, a Mohamed Khalid, or others of that ilk. White Baptists are such safe targets.

The deconstruction of faith is obviously a serious affair at VDS, since the subsequent reconstruction consists of the indoctrination of a politically correct cant that brands “conservatives” (a term never defined) as ignorant, perhaps bigoted, and frequently insensitive. Certainly no one thus labeled could ever hope to teach in the hallowed halls of VDS, as Dean Hudnut-Beumler cheerfully admits. So much for diversity.

To the uninitiated it might appear that the VDS faculty consists of self-righteous, self-congratulatory liberals who have defined that supremely elusive term “justice” to match their agenda. Having absolutized the relative and relativized the absolute, the VDS has reduced Nietzsche’s Cosmic Dancer to the blind staggers.

J.W. Cooke (Nashville)

Dog-cussing Vandy

The statement attributed to former professor Gerd Luedemann in Rob Simbeck’s story about Vanderbilt Divinity School (“Searching for God,” Jan. 11) “... that not only was Jesus’ body not resurrected, but that it may have been eaten by dogs,” is an open attack on the literal Resurrection of Jesus Christ. The statement undermines the very foundation of Christianity. It is understandable why the school is called an apostate institution.

The arguments by professor Amy-Jill Levine presented in the story supporting the so-called contradictions and inconsistencies in the Bible seem rather shallow and simplistic. Is the professor sufficiently informed when it comes to the arguments by conservative biblical scholarship? It seems to me after reading the story that those who attend Vanderbilt Divinity School are just about as naïve and gullible as those who endorse and support the present-day charismatic (tongues) movement.

Rev. Mel Perry, pastor

Grace Bible Presbyterian Church

1700 Neely’s Bend Rd. (Nashville)


Last week, the Scene failed to credit Rob Lindsay for his photograph of Tennessee Titans player Eddie George, which ran on the cover of our Glow supplement. We apologize for the oversight.


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