Letters to the Editor

Some final thoughts

Re: Jack Lessenberry's column "Can You Dig It" (Metro Times, July 19). I grew up the son, grandson, and great-grandson of small town funeral directors. I don't plan on following the family line, but I am soon to graduate with a degree in mortuary science from Wayne State. I'll hold a license to practice funeral service in Michigan. I'm trained.

Mr. Lessenberry, however, is not only untrained, but grossly negligent and slightly raving in his recent attack on the funeral service. Lessenberry brings nothing new to the long array of suckerpunches dubiously dealt.

I find DIY funerals a fascinating prospect, a viable option for those willing to handle their own dead. I'd love to help, and, frankly, the "funeral midwives" who facilitate these events are no more than funeral directors with no legal right to help with paperwork and with the same advice I would give a family who asked me how to have a funeral at home. My family has helped our local Amish do home funerals with homemade caskets for decades.

Lessenberry has noticed something that the funeral director community has been trying to change. Twisted funeral directors, as well as many corporate funeral homes, have estranged us from the people we seek to serve, and funeral directors haven't done much about it. No good funeral director I'd ever associate with pushes sales on clients; it's unethical, wrong, not representative of an entire profession.

Personally, I'd like to see people allowed to dig their own graves if they so desire. I want people to have a choice in caring for the dead in a manner most meaningful for them. I'd like to see more environmentally friendly alternatives to cremation. I'd like to see people back in touch with their dead. And I'd like to see critics like Jack Lessenberry give us some feedback we can apply rather than the typical rhetoric that only enrages, alienates and discourages the funeral directors looking to help. —Tyler Pray, Detroit


Questions & answers

I caught Jack Lessenberry's article "Thugs and muggers" (Metro Times, July 12). My question for the Michigan Chronicle is how many pieces of silver they're getting from the DeVos campaign? As for Dick DeVos and the Michigan Republicans running around acting like they're shocked and upset at the ad, that's about genuine as Michael Jackson's nose. But then again, I suspect the Michigan Republicans think we in the city of Detroit are like their voters — we're not bright enough to put two and two together and figure out who bankrolled an ad slamming Jennifer Granholm. As for the mayor throwing a fit and therefore dragging his feet about backing her: It's one thing to drag your feet to back Granholm when she's facing some lame Republican from Oakland County; it's another story when she's facing a George W. Bush type of right-wing republican. —John Conner, Detroit


Fuel for thought

Ben Lefebvre's long article on ethanol ("Stalking the Answers," Metro Times, July 19) was objective, well-researched and well-written. Sensible solutions to energy and global warming issues will require a better-informed public. More articles like Lefebvre's are needed. I see too many op-eds and other information from research institutes and foundations with innocuous sounding names but which are financed by the oil, coal, electric power or, in the case of opposition to the minimum wage, the fast food industry. Readers shouldn't have to spend hours on Google searches to identify these biased sources of one-sided opinions. That's why I appreciate articles like the one by Ben Lefebvre. Great job! —Ralph Deeds, Birmingham


Alive and kicking

Re: Jim McFarlin's recent Metro Times article on the 2006 World Cup ("Our Cup runneth over," Metro Times, July 5), I could not agree more with the line from the article, "... all you need to play is passion and a round object." But I disagree with the point that the reason for the U.S.'s demise in soccer is that nobody watches it. Yes, viewing numbers are low, but the reason the United States will never be a world power in soccer is that despite the huge numbers of U.S. youth that participate in the sport, the large majority of players don't enjoy it enough to ever play informal soccer for the love of the game and at the same time better their skills in noncontrolled situations. The vast majority only play when the coach says it's time for practice or a game. Conversely, in the majority of countries around the world, kids without the means to play soccer or "football" formally (with an actual soccer ball and nets) play the game sunup to sundown in alleys and fields with anything that can remotely resemble a soccer ball and a goal. It's also why the next great heavyweight champion will never emerge from an affluent suburb. It's all about grit and passion and a love of the game, and, unfortunately, when it comes to soccer, we are very good at showing up for games and taking the pitch with flashy "kits" and expensive "boots," but when it comes to love of the game and passion, we ain't got it. —Kurt Kosmowski, Northville


What's going on

In the past few weeks Israel has killed hundreds of Lebanese and Palestinian civilians, in many cases wiping out entire families, in clear violation of international law. I am dismayed that the United States has stifled any attempts to bring the matter to the United Nations.

It is nothing short of barbaric that Israel would bomb civilian areas in response to the capture of two soldiers who are serving in a military that is illegally occupying millions of people. It is outrageous to suggest that the bombing of Lebanon and Gaza are in response to the capture of three Israeli soldiers; this is an attempt to overthrow Palestine's democratically elected government and to further torture Arabs living to the north in Lebanon.

I urge you to remember that the real hostages are the 9,000 political prisoners, including women and children as young as 9 years old, who have never been charged with a crime and have in some cases been sitting in Israeli prisons for decades.

The only way to peace in the holy land is to call for a single democratic nation with equal rights for Palestinians (Muslims and Christians) to live side by side with Jews. This will require dedication and commitment by the United States and a long-term international presence to assure progress. —Rehab Amer, founder, Parents Crying Out, Justice for All, Dearborn

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