The First Amendment: With regard to Angelo Dendrinelis' October 12 letter about John Danforth, the Declaration of Independence was signed by one Roman Catholic, Charles Carrol of Carrolton, who could not vote in his colony of Maryland, and all the rest freemasons, who believe that while religion was good, it should not be forced on another. One signer, Benjamin Franklin, was baptized in what became the United Church of Christ, became a Quaker and then an agnostic who said in his nineties, "I'm not sure God exists, but will find out soon enough." Thomas Jefferson, the principal author of the Declaration, was an atheist who said, "It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there is twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.... The clergy, by getting themselves ingrafted into the machine of government have been a very formidable engine against the civil and religious rights of man" (from Wayne O'Leary's "The Politics of Theology" in The Progressive Populist, June 15, 2005). The Jewish financier Robert Morris funded much of the American Revolution.
George Washington used a "wall" metaphor in a 1789 letter to the Virginia Baptists saying he would support effective barriers against religious repression. John Adams signed a treaty with Tripoli that stated the United States of America was not a Christian nation. Thomas Jefferson's 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptists cited the First Amendment as "Building a wall of separation between church and state." James Madison, the Father of the Constitution, wrote, "The number, the industry, and the morality of the priesthood and the devotion of the people have been manifestly increased by the total separation of the Church from the State." JFK repeated this belief in 1960 ("I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute").
Today's Americans range from agnostics and atheists to Wiccans and Zoroastrians. All have a First Amendment right to practice their religion but not to force it on others.
Joseph J. Kuciejczyk Jr.
The first commendment: Let me commend the photography and graphics in the "Best of St. Louis" issue. I thought the visuals excellent; but maybe the woman that sour-humored Lesley H. Mabrey complained about could have been identified [Letters, October 12]. That lady and the bald Six Flags octogenarian are palatable compared to the RFT's weird and indecipherable "Stage" logo (with a music note!?) or anyone on television trying to sell me a car by using flailing and meaningless hand gestures and talking incessant bilge about 0 percent financing, employee "you pay what we pay" discounts and front-end crash statistics. The foregoing are but two old examples that are far more annoying to me than that woman or the bald guy who at least seem to be enjoying themselves.
Who would Mabrey slam next -- "the Elusive Z's"?
But guys just do want beer and/or sex: I had to write about Deanna Jent's review of Boston Marriage ["Ladies Rheum," October 12]. David Mamet and William Macy sitting around in stereotypical beer-swilling, cigar-puffing, middle-aged white guy fashion dreaming up some Kramden-Norton scheme to get the wives out of their hair? I'm sure you were trying to be funny, but come on. Enough already with the "guys just want beer and/or sex" angle to get a laugh. It's already trite for TV sitcoms. I expect a little more insight from a theater review.
Motion of the Ocean
Full boat: Thanks to Garrett Kamps for bringing yacht rock to the St. Louis masses ["Seasick, Yet Still Docked," October 12]. I've been following these clips at www.channel101.com from the beginning. Oates is officially my new hero, but Michael McDonald is a hero and inspiration to all smooth rockers to emerge from Ferguson.
Keep it smooth and keep the fire burning!
West Hollywood, California
Doobie brotherhood: I thought this article was somewhat lame. I thought some of the comments were flip, sarcastic and a bit pseudointellectual. I realize it's considered de rigueur for each generation to ridicule, etc. the previous generation's music, but even having said that I feel compelled to defend Michael McDonald in particular.
For a long time now, McDonald has been what some have termed a musician's musician. When he was young, he was attracted to and cut his teeth on musicians like Ray Charles and Marvin Gaye, musicians who had much more talent and ability than your run-of-the-mill R&B and/or rock artist. As a result, his musical roots and wings, as well as a distinctive style and voice, have caused him to be the envy of many a musician. His body of work and his talent have evolved and matured. It's always been evident that this is a guy who is genuinely soulful, someone who has a feel, grasp and understanding of music light years beyond many musicians. Although he can rock with the best of them, his taste and interest in different "genres" has often been genuinely sophisticated. This guy's got more talent in his little finger than many artists exhibit in a lifetime. He's excellent and did not deserve to be included in this article.
In Dennis Brown's review of Going to See the Elephant last week, we supplied the wrong number for the Orange Girls theater company. The correct number is 314-520-9557. Also, we neglected to thank Amini's Home, Rugs & Game Room for providing the pool table for last week's cover photo. Finally, Drink of the Week was evidently written after one too many Arnold Palmer Sr.'s: Atomic Cowboy is co-owned by Peter Venezia. That's V-e-n-e-z-i-a.