Stick to Singing -- I just wanted to respond to the events involving the Dixie Chicks. Since when did being an entertainer mean that you could use any platform to espouse your personal and political opinions? Being an entertainer is a job, just like being a cook, a doctor, a janitor or any other thing where you get paid to perform a specific function.
If I pay $50 for a concert ticket, it is to hear you perform, not to hear your political views. If you want to espouse those then call a television station and get on This Week with George Stephanopolous or some other political show, but please don't do it on stage. If I were to start spouting off my political views and opinions to the clients who came to my office, I would a) get talked to by the suits, as did Natalie, and b) quite possibly get fired.
This isn't about her using the word "ashamed" or having a contradictory opinion, it is about how she chose to express that opinion and the venue she did it in. When performers are in concert they are at work and unless someone specifically asked her opinion on the war at that moment I feel she should have kept it to herself. She has the right to her opinion, but I have the right not to hear it when I am paying to hear her sing, not protest the war.
A Place of Peace -- The cover story on the Monastery of St. Gertrude in your last issue ("Out of this World," 3/20/03) was excellent. I first visited the Sisters' home 14 years ago as part of a humanities project documenting their work in the world. It was a transforming experience. Over the years, I returned several times for retreats, and eventually became an "oblate" or extended member of the community. The oblate community is open to both women and men, and even to people of faith outside the Roman Catholic religious tradition. A potential oblate goes through a lengthy discernment process: inquiry, candidacy, and oblation. It is a group dedicated to prayer, peace, hospitality and justice-making in our very secular world, while giving something back to the monastery, if even just in prayer. To live these values outside the monastery walls is not easy. There are many oblates in the Spokane and Coeur d'Alene area and they regularly gather.
Being an oblate means different things to different people, but to me it has been grounding and centering influence. I have tried to live the Rule of Benedict in my daily existence where prayer, peace, justice and hospitality are not common. I find it is much easier to do within the monastery walls than in the world we live in. I am grateful for having Benedictine spirituality in my life, and the opportunity to visit this refuge of peace, especially now, in this war-focused world. Thank you for sharing this place of light and hope with other readers.
Clark Fork, Idaho
Don't Miss the Museum -- The article on the monastery at St Gertrude was great. They are a nice group of sisters. But you only briefly mention their fine museum. It is one of the best in the Northwest for a museum of its size. We have stopped a number of times there, and each time we see something we have not seen before.
When you are driving Idaho's Highway 95, going through Cottonwood, Idaho, stop by the monastery and see this great museum. The sisters will show people both the monastery and the museum. Enjoy!