I find the decision by the Charleston School Board to begin opening meetings with a prayer very disturbing. I hope that if they decide to go through with this, they decide to make this a non-denominational event. If they choose to focus on one particular religion they will be ignoring the law of the land in favor of their own mythological opinions. If the school board would take a few moments to see what happened in Great Falls when they tried to promote a single religion, the board might decide that stepping into this arena and risking taxpayers’ dollars would be unwise. The U.S. District court ruled this type of activity violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment. This decision was upheld by the very conservative 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. The court stated in the decision that this does not allow “any … legislative body license to advance its own religious views in preference to all others.” Does Mr. Ravenel think he and the Charleston School Board are above the law? Why this continues to happen is astounding to me. If people feel the need to pray to some deity, there are 24 hours in the day. Please pick as many as you need that are not during taxpayer’s time. I think we would be better served if they would focus on the problems affecting our city’s schools rather than provoking the federal courts and risking a long and expensive battle.

Robert Donovan
Mt. Pleasant


I’ve just finished reading Greg Hambrick’s cover story (“Rethinking AIDS,” Nov. 29) about HIV/AIDS and I have to question the article’s direction. I find it curious that the City Paper, generally a responsible publication, would run such a piece. If you are looking for angles in which to cover the AIDS pandemic there are better stories out there, namely the fact that our state has the longest waiting list for HIV/AIDS medications for unfunded patients in the nation. I’m a social worker at the MUSC HIV/AIDS clinic and see firsthand the struggle that those with the illness live with. I also see how antiretroviral medications can save a patient’s life. I have to say that while reading your publication’s article I was dismayed and disappointed. You guys can do better and have done so in the past.

Wood Marchant


Patrick Sharbough’s shot at Thomas Kinkade in his Nov. 22 arts column (“A Little Perspective”) reminded me of an amusing incident. Walking down Cannery Row in Monterey a few years ago, I noticed a Thomas Kinkade store standing side-by-side with a photography gallery selling mainly Ansel Adams prints, as well as some excellent work by contemporary California landscape photographers. I couldn’t help asking a woman working in the Adams gallery, “Has anyone ever commented on the incongruous aesthetic juxtaposition of your store with the Kinkade Barf-O-Rama next door?” She struggled to suppress a laugh while making the finger-to-lips “shush” sign. There were other people in the gallery, and apparently she didn’t want to offend any potential customers who might have just wandered in from next door.

Regarding R.T. Shepherd’s comment that “the cognoscenti” consider Norman Rockwell to be “high schlock,” I don’t know which “cognoscenti” he has in mind, but Rockwell’s work seems lately to have undergone something of a reevaluation among some critics. I remember seeing, a couple of years ago, a small collection of Rockwell originals at the Portland Art Museum in Oregon. I grant that the Portland Art Museum is not the Met, but still it is a very respectable museum.

As for Andrew Wyeth being “middle schlock,” that seems a strange designation for someone who produced one of the most famous paintings in New York’s Museum of Modern Art. I am referring, of course, to “Christina’s World.”

When I was a kid, “Christina’s World” was hanging on a staircase landing in MOMA. They have long since moved it. The image is so arresting that people would make the turn from the stairs to the landing and be stopped in their tracks, thereby risking other people crashing into them. I remember witnessing several near-collisions of this type.

Fred Hutter

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