Conference a place for understanding

In a recent My Word, author Walter T. Davis was very critical of "Making the Desert Bloom," an interfaith dialogue organized by the East Bay Jewish Community Relations Council and hosted by the Graduate Theological Union.

Without endeavoring to offer a rebuttal to his critiques, I would simply like to note that as a participant in the conference, I found it to be helpful, dialogical, frank, honest and aimed at fostering understanding more than advocating any one point of view in regard to the ongoing tensions between the nation of Israel and the people of Palestine, and their political representatives.

Indeed, one of the main presenters, Rabbi Sheldon Lewis, defined peace not as homogeneity of belief, but as the respectful coexistence of passionate differences. I thank the JCRC for this effort to build bridges and look forward to joining with it in ongoing efforts at "reaching across the aisle" in the face of this most vexing of religious, political, economic and human rights issues.

The Rev. H. James Hopkins

Pastor Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church Oakland

It is very good to be an A's fan now

Now that the final 27th out of the year has been called, and all the dust has settled, let me just say it's good to be an A's fan right now.


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Even though our team has been pretty awful in recent years, even though they didn't make the World Series this year, and even though they're the less-loved team in a shared territory, it's really good to be an A's fan right now.

Having people say they can't stand us and seeing people getting irked by Oakland's success actually feels kind of good after the initial stinging sensation.

It means the A's are doing something right, and MLB can feel the elephant in the room waking up, getting ready to start a ruckus.

If the Giants continue their own trajectory, I have a feeling that next year, or at least very soon, the last Bay Bridge Series of the year will also be a game to capture the flag; 30 tiny flags, that is, all arranged in a circle atop the commissioner's trophy. Go A's.

Nelson Rivera

Vallejo

Maybe we could try some better planning

Kudos to the city of Oakland and its planning departments. It has newly paved and striped Fifth Avenue a few months before PG&E comes along to dig it up to do pipeline testing.

It does this every time and everywhere I have seen it pave our roads. I can't wait to see what work needs to be done on my street after it approves my request to pave and paint the lines.

Jengiz Haas

Oakland

Demonstration of climate change

"Frankenstorm" Sandy is one more dramatic demonstration that climate change and its extreme weather patterns are now part of our future.

Although we're unlikely to reverse climate change, we can still mitigate its effects by reducing our driving, energy use and meat consumption.

Yes, meat consumption.

A 2006 U.N. report estimated that meat consumption accounts for 18 percent of man-made greenhouse gases. A 2009 article in the respected World Watch magazine suggested that it may be closer to 50 percent.

Carbon dioxide, the principal greenhouse gas, is emitted by burning forests to create animal pastures and by combustion of fossil fuels to confine, feed, transport and slaughter animals and to refrigerate their carcasses.

The much more damaging methane and nitrous oxide are discharged from digestive tracts of cattle and from animal waste cesspools, respectively.

We have the power of reducing the devastating effects of climate change every time we eat. Supermarkets offer a rich variety of soy- and nut-based products, and an ample selection of traditional vegetables, fruits, grains and nuts. Product lists, easy recipes and transition tips are available at www.livevegan.org.

Samuel Bentino

Oakland