Letters for September 9 

Readers sound off on the BART strike, Café Gratitude, and density in downtown Berkeley.

Page 3 of 4

Although I am not Catholic, I resent how you singled out the new bishop in your attack piece. I am not a bigot, but I happen to believe that straight and same-sex couples should have the absolute same legal rights and should all have to go through a civil ceremony to satisfy the legal component and that the word "marriage" be reserved for the optional ceremonial component of the union. In that way the Unitarians could conduct same-sex marriages while Catholics could stick to their age-old beliefs. I visited the new cathedral recently and found the interior beautiful (many local artists), but what I found even more beautiful is that there is a medical clinic there for the uninsured. Why don't you write about all that instead of this divisive attack piece?  

Yvonne Byron, Oakland

"I Am Annoyed and Disappointed," News, 8/5

Landmark Isn't Religious

My name is Father Gerry O'Rourke. I am Emeritus Director of the Ecumenical and Interreligious Office of the Archdiocese of San Francisco. I am also current Chair of the Ecumenical and Interreligious Commission of the Archdiocese of San Francisco. I am President Emeritus of the Board of Directors of the Interfaith Center at the Presidio of San Francisco. I am an Ordained Catholic Priest since 1950.

My work as a Catholic Priest and as an Ecumenical and Interreligious Leader locally, nationally and internationally has been enormously blessed and enhanced by my participation in and experience of the work and programs of Landmark Education.

I have no hesitation in recommending and approving the great work of Landmark Education. Having personally observed and participated in numerous Landmark Education programs, I can clearly state that Landmark Education is not a religious, cult, sect, or religious denomination. In addition, Landmark Education is not and never has been anti-religious or an obstacle to my religious beliefs. As a Catholic Priest and recognized leader in ecumenical and interreligious affairs, I can declare that Landmark Education has been a huge asset and empowerment in my life as a Priest and a person of faith.

Rev. P. Gerard O'Rourke, emeritus director, Office of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, Archdiocese of San Francisco

Higher Truth

Your August 5 story on Café Gratitude was very revealing. I don't think I plan to dine there, ever, as a result. And while the article does not delve too much into the company's claims of "Sacred Commerce"— I would certainly buy into it — if they perhaps profit-shared with their employees or were worker-owned. Having participated in the labor movement, perhaps I am biased, but their rule on employee participation in Landmark Forum and all that culture entails seems like a sure way to union-bust (before the fact). Don't get me wrong: I am all for spirituality and personal transformation, as a personal and private decision, but to make employment and promotions dependent on it, and to make employees pay for it probably is a violation of the law. It also seems like a conflict of interest, as the owners of both entities are one and the same. And while I do understand that many people have benefited from attending Landmark, this smells of hypocrisy. The owners seem out of touch, as there were indications that it wasn't such a great work environment in terms of having to work "long, tiring shifts." We are talking about the food-service sector, with all due respect — I've been there and done that. I would encourage the owners to rethink their policies, out of compassion for everyone's sanity and pocketbook. As for Ms. Ritter; perhaps another Bay Area restaurant could hire this courageous, easygoing, and sensible woman for a leadership/management position. I would certainly dine there! Finally, perhaps a belief we can all agree on, one Gandhi himself said and professed, "There is no God higher than truth." And am I glad it came out in this piece by Sam Levin.

Thank you.

Anna Roy, Oakland

"Ohh Shyt," Letters, 8/5

Great Read

I loved reading the letter ("Ohh Shyt") that was written by Y. Maria Aldana. It was informative, entertaining, and straight up. Ms. Aldana should consider blogging about food. A list of her favorite restaurants would be a good follow-up. 

Paul Cumpian, Berkeley

Miscellaneous Letters

Let's See the Models

While I personally support the original "greener" downtown plan to the one backed by the Planning Commission and the mayor, it would be helpful to both sides if the community could compare what Berkeley would look like under both plans. Other cities, such as Havana, let citizens see and approve a three-dimensional scale model before changes are made. Berkeley should so the same by creating a web site showing both plans.

Tom Miller, Berkeley

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