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Fighting for God

Dear Editors,

Back about four years ago I got invited to go to church, a youth group with fun games and great people. I fell in love with the atmosphere, the fun, the people, the escape from everyday hardship, the escape from life. My mother had passed away and my father was out of the picture, my brother and me were living with our sister, we were going to a new school for the third year in a row and we didn’t have any friends at the time. When I went to that youth group once a week, everything went away, I didn’t have to think about my life, I didn’t have to think about homework, I was happy and I made friends. I grew in age and the church gave me opportunities for volunteer work. I started to make coffee and espresso every Sunday to benefit the youth group I once belonged to. I went on a mission trip to New Orleans to aid in “disaster relief.” I went to Sunday morning service, and that was going great.

On one particular Sunday morning the head pastor showed a video about the “war” on earth. He showed clips of “what we see everyday.” These clips were of parks and school and playgrounds, people walking their dogs without a care in the world, everything happy here in Durango. He then shows clips of “what God sees everyday.” These clips were borrowed from the movie “Troy” and were of death and destruction, war and everything unhappy. He then went up to the altar and said something to the extent of, “Being a good person just isn’t enough to get into heaven. You must fight for the church.” No longer was the church a safe haven for those in need, no longer was its main focus helping people. The church was recruiting people to fight in a war, or rather, scaring people into the Christian faith.

I still live with the same issues I have always faced, and more have been added to the mix - college tuition, a job, my future career - and the church is now telling me I must join a war or go to hell. The church is telling me that the old lady who bakes cookies for the mailman, my 6-year-old nephew, Santa Claus, my sister, her husband, all my friends, teachers, roommates, aunts, uncles and acquaintances are all going to die in hell because they don’t know God, because they are not “fighting” for God.

I think to myself, “What would I have done if that4was the first thing I heard the first time I went to church?” I would have left, never to return. After hearing that and seeing what was shown, I wouldn’t blame a visiting person for not coming back, not getting the help and comfort they need from the church. The sad part is, they lost an opportunity to know God, to get help if they needed it, to know something better. Now that person must look elsewhere. Into drugs, alcohol, crime, suicide and who knows what because the church wanted members to fight its war rather than people in need.

The church needs a different angle, rather than looking at all the bad in the world and “fighting” against it. Why doesn’t the church offer and give the good things? Friendship, fulfillment, understanding, knowledge, acceptance, sympathy, compassion, kindness, enjoyment, satisfaction, and most of all, love, the opposite of war. These things can be offered to everybody. Maybe, just maybe, the church can change some people’s lives without mentioning the “war.” Maybe the church can change the world, by setting an example of how love can cure things rather than war.

- Jimmy Johnson, via e-mail


Watching where we’re going

Greetings to the Durango Community:

As a 10-year resident of Durango, I would like to warn you that I was nearly hit by a white Taurus station wagon at about 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 4. My husband and I were traversing the cross walk at Second Ave. and College, a street I’ve walked across many times, as have you. On our way to a movie after a bite in the bar at Randy’s, we’d gotten halfway across the street when I realized the oncoming car was not slowing down. Luckily my husband was a few steps ahead of me, and he jumped forward out of the way. Meanwhile, I leapt backward, using form similar to the time I came upon a rattlesnake in Horse Gulch. However, this time the tire of a slowly moving car approaching behind me from the opposite direction rubbed my heel. Kinda scary, huh?

Well, that didn’t bother me as much as the response of the woman in the Taurus. She had finally stopped in the middle of the crosswalk. She rolled down her window a quarter of the way. In frustration and fear I told her she needed to watch where she was going, and that this was a crosswalk. Her reply after almost taking out my lower body was, “You need to watch where YOU’RE going!”

And you know what? She’s right. I do need to watch were I’m going, and this town needs to be aware as it grows to place an increasing value on compassion and neighborliness. As we deal with more traffic, more people, more stress and the decline of a reassuring natural habitat, we need to watch where we’re going. Because if we don’t, we’ll be responsible for our own self destruction, as I nearly was yesterday in the cross walk at the corner of Second and College. Unfortunately, it won’t be just one person, it will be an entire community that will have lost its individuality, its open-heartedness and quaint Western charm. Durango will become any other Colorado city that grew up too quickly and became jaded, aloof and ugly.

The saddest thing about that whole exchange on Friday afternoon was that I probably know that woman somehow; you probably would recognize me in the way of Durango; I’ve worked many counter jobs in Durango over the years, including Nature’s Oasis, Magpies and the Ore House. I recognized that woman’s face from somewhere. It made me very sad to realize that I’ve probably served her, gone to a concert with her, or worked on a neighborhood organization with her, and now we’ve come to such uncivilized terms. 

Please, Durango, we need to watch where we are going.

– Thank you for your time and thoughts, Stephanie (Mountpleasant) Snitselaar


 Adventures with Gutter

Dear Editors,

Several weeks ago, I made plans to indulge in a leisurely day of shopping and lunch with my roommate. We walked down College Ave. toward Main, and as we passed Second Gear, I heard an excruciating meow.It didn’t take me long to figure out the kitty was stuck in the sewer drain underneath the street. Although I couldn’t see the kitty at all, I knew he was down there. I found the nearest man to help me get the grate off the hole and proceeded to crawl down the drain.

Still, no sign of the little creature…

After I sized up the very small hole and realized the magnitude of the problem, I called upon the Humane Society for some assistance, but to no avail, they were not interested in helping the kitty. So, I took it in my own hands and recruited my fellow friends for assistance.

Every day for two weeks, I walked down College Ave., orange pylons in hand, which the city required me to use, as well as, water, food and a flashlight. I had already put a cage down there for shelter from the torrential rains Durango was receiving at the time.

Several of my friends were convinced I was feeding the sewer rats, because the food would mysteriously disappear with no sign of a feline. I ignored and continued what became my daily routine.

Finally, one sunny Sunday afternoon, I went to feed the black hole a little later than usual, and to my surprise, found a little black and white kitten sitting on top of the cage looking up through the holes in the grate and crying uncontrollably. It took about an hour and a half to lure him into the cage with food.

I knew today was the day … so I waited.

At last, I witnessed the little baby fur ball slowly and fearfully walk toward the food. It seemed like an eternity, but I was finally able to shut the door and pull him out of the gutter! As the crowd chanted “Gutter! Gutter1 Gutter!” in unison, I knew that was his new name.

Gutter is now living with me on Fourth Ave. and is happy and as boisterous as he can be.

– Lori Spearman, Durango



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