Week of June 30, 2004

Freelancing Opportunity
The Riverfront Times is looking for freelance writers to contribute to our music section. Knowledge of dance music and hip-hop is a plus. Please send writing samples to:

Jordan Harper, music editor
c/o Riverfront Times
6358 Delmar Boulevard, Suite 200
St. Louis, MO 63130

Seek and Find
A delicate balance: I want to thank Ben Westhoff for the piece he wrote in the most recent RFT ["Jesus for Juniors," June 23]. I work with the worship team at my church, New Testament Fellowship in Alton. A few months ago we revamped one of our Wednesday night services into something called Mosaix. It's being labeled as a postmodern service and is targeted at young people, those in their late teens through early 30s. While we're nowhere near the capacity as the church in Harvester, we service our community in as many ways as possible.

I've read through Relevant magazine and I peruse their Web site quite often. Their philosophy on the church using all forms of art and writing, secular or divine, is an extremely smart one, especially when dealing with a generation of people that have been disaffected by some Christians who haven't acted according to God's word. I've seen newspapers and national magazines both pander to and rip to shreds the religious organizations they've covered; I believe your piece displayed a delicate balance of the good and bad that can come from a group of people in "the church" wanting to do something different. It's all too true that Christians are usually not ahead of the cultural wave of things but that we repackage what's already been made popular and slap a Jesus label on it. As a Christian who is also an artist, I think it's important that Christians be markedly different than the rest of the world in their attempts to take the Gospel to those who need and want it, but at the same time be culturally relevant. I understand that it's important to want to give younger people a reason to want to find out more about Jesus, but we can't patronize them anymore.

As we get older (I'm 28), it's easy to remember how little we knew back then, but it's also easy to forget how much we knew, and how easily we picked up on things. I hope that people in their twenties with a heart for ministry read your article and become inspired to do better.

Thanks again.
Zach Lorton

If thine eye offends: I thoroughly enjoyed reading the article "Jesus for Juniors." I thought Ben Westhoff did a fantastic job covering all aspects of the Realm. I am simply wondering why he had to use a phrase that I hope I never have to read again. Did he innocently insert it in the article because he knew the article would attract the interest of churchgoing people?

The phrase I'm referring to occurred on page 22. The sentence is: "Jake seems to take his future a bit more seriously than his cousin, but he's certainly done his share of ****ing up." I can't believe this phrase is even allowed by federal regulations. Even if it is, I can't believe common decency -- even by today's standards -- wouldn't cause you to use a less offensive phrase.
Gary Trotnic

The holy horror: It is a shame that an article can be written about a Christian youth center, yet the author uses such poor judgment that he can't keep from using the "f-word" for even one article. I'm sure the people at First Baptist Church in Harvester will appreciate that when they hang a copy of it on their bulletin board.
Kevin Herweck

Love for the Underdog
Whoa, Nelly: I opened this year's Riverfront Times Music Awards issue with unreasonable optimism [June 16]. Sure, St. Louis has three genuine rap stars and countless hit singles among them, as well as major promotion from record labels and MTV. But surely that doesn't mean underground favorite Jia Davis couldn't eke out a victory, right?

Please. The RFT Awards should be a celebration of local artists who actually need the prestige and exposure that comes with this victory. Nelly's victory over Chingy and J-Kwon is interesting in and of itself, but the numerous wildcard votes of non-rap fans make the results a reflection of American pop culture, not of our local music scene. To keep it fair, there should be an additional underground rap category, so local artists like Jia, Soul Tyde, Midwest Avengers and Da Hol' 9 can get some love.
Andrew Friedman
St. Louis

A Dandy Magee
A request from "Giddy Girl": I have read with some amusement the opening paragraphs of Mike Seely's "Raggedy Dandies" [June 2]. First, let me tell you how pleased I am that John Magee (referred to in your article as "Moose") is finally getting a little press coverage. John is a man who continuously busts his ass for the good of others -- the children he teaches, his friends, softball buddies, his family and even strangers.

If you want to write an interesting cover story, write one about John Magee. He is a character in all senses of the word. The story might not be controversial, but it's a feel-good story, because John's a feel-good type of guy. His friends all feel blessed to be around him. His antics make us laugh. He is encouraging, smart and single (in case there is some interest from some young ladies out there!) He stands out in a crowd not only because of his height but because of his outgoing personality. So, Mr. Seely, how about it? A nice fat article detailing the wonder that is John Magee.
Karen "Giddy Girl" McAtee
St. Louis

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