May 18, 2000
The Afterlife as Security Blanket
I very much enjoyed Burt Prelutsky's humorous musings about the afterlife (May 5), but underneath his humor he raises some serious questions.While I believe that there is a very human and understandable desire for most people to be reunited with their loved ones in the afterlife, the wish and desire does not necessarily make it true. However, the primary reason I think most people believe in the afterlife is because it allows them the only way out of a serious philosophical dilemma.Normative religion (including Judaism) defines God as a supernatural being who is just and loving and who rewards the good and punishes the evil. If one is honest, however, clearly there are good people who suffer for no apparent reason and evil people who don't suffer nearly enough. In short, there is no justice in this life. People who hold this view of the afterlife and God do so because it offers them comfort, even if it is a false sense of comfort. For those of us who don't hold this view, we can derive our own sense of comfort from the fact that we see the world as it really is, not as we would like it to be.For those who cannot accept the normative view of God and the afterlife, but who seek a form of Judaism which is rational, intellectually honest and 20th century in its thinking, I'd like to suggest a look at Reconstructionist Judaism.
Michael Asher, North Hollywood
Mother-Bashing at the Skirball
When I attended the excellent Freud exhibit at the Skirball Cultural Center for a second time, the featured presentation was "Mommy Dearest." The panel was comprised of well-known comedians led by Beth Lapides.The event dealt with mother-daughter relationships. As an expert of such relationships and the author of "For Mothers of Difficult Daughters," I was sorry that I did not interrupt the program since it was an evening devoted to mother-bashing. A colleague and I walked out with others who were responding in kind. We saw no humor in what they were saying or doing.The comedy was hostile and insulting. We were surprised that an institution of such high regard would participate in a program that demeaned and degraded mothers.
Charney Herst, Ph.D , Encino
He's Got the Number
A letter ("Don't Sacrifice Children" May 5) erroneously stated that City Councilman Michael Feuer's office did not know where to refer residents concerned about possible noise violations at the Breitburn oil drilling site on Pico Boulevard. Complaints should be directed to David Vaccaro, Senior Inspector, Citations Unit, Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety (213) 368-7546.
Daniel S. Hinerfeld,Deputy for Policy and Communication