Tonight four women are coming over to pray.

I just read Michael Ventura’s “The Witness Tree: Memoir Of A Ritual” [Issue 195]. I used to check out his column when I picked up the LA Weekly at a fashionable little deli near my house. Sometimes I really liked his writing. Lots of times I thought he was full of shit, self-absorbed — even by L.A. standards — to an incredible degree. Sometimes the column would start off great but end in an inspection of Ventura’s bellybutton lint. I thought maybe if he drank a little less, took better care of himself, or went to bed before three in the morning, he’d lighten up.

But today as I sit entertaining hopes and fears about our new “girl’s praying group,” his words read fresh and inspire. I might even read a little of it tonight in our circle.

Gretchen Newmark
Portland, Oregon

I’m still vibrating from “The Witness Tree: Memoir Of A Ritual” by Michael Ventura. What a hell of a piece. I read it greedily, the way I used to binge on Twinkies.

I have been doing ritual through psychodrama with a long-standing group. Ventura’s piece both echoed and foreshadowed some of my own experiences and thinking. And in between the echo and the shadow, he nailed everything right to the cross.

P.S. The new cover layout looks great!

Diane Gallo
Mount Upton, New York

Joyce Nelson points out in The Perfect Machine: TV in the Nuclear Age that ads must be more stimulating than the program. So when Lynn Stoller says in her letter [Issue 192] that “I actually enjoy looking at their ads,” I don’t doubt it. Advertisers have failed if the viewer hasn’t been seduced. The ad tries to marry itself to the content of the articles, so that the content equals a commercial. Try ignoring those Ad-vocates; I would rather pay extra than be invaded and enraged by an army of arm-twisters.

Randall M. Tillotson
White Rock
Canada

The Sun is an incubator of false consciousness steeped in self-help, feel-good rhetoric, which encourages the illusion that you are not implicated in the issues you claim to address. This publication is a highly offensive piece of pretentious white trash.

Nerad
Fallbrook, California

A wonderfully crafted, unfailingly interesting magazine. Every month, my wife and I fight over who gets it first. Keep it up!

Andrew Hidas
Santa Rosa, California

I won’t be renewing my subscription to The Sun. I’ve enjoyed the thoughtfulness of your magazine for the past two years. Yet I feel its maleness subtly leaching through. That’s not what I need.

Noel E. Clark
Gardenia, Maine

When I was first introduced to The Sun two years ago, I found it on the bedside table in a friend’s guest room. It took me a year before I decided to treat myself to something I really wanted — a subscription for the holidays. My husband chided me, and my son couldn’t understand when I announced again this year that all I really wanted was another year’s subscription to The Sun. Thank you for a year full of surprises and literary jewels.

Carla Filippelli
Fairview, North Carolina

How pathetic that Bill Schlicht at Key West Review laments the loss of all that tried-and-true mainstream writing from the likes of Robert Bly, Bucky Fuller, etc. [Correspondence, Issue 195]. Keep on publishing new voices and culling favorites from other sources. I was proud my story [“Sonderkommando,” Issue 186] appeared in the same issue as Ignacio Schwartz. His story “shocked” my brother-in-law; that’s the best recommendation I can think of in this jaded era. Let Schlicht publish his tales for trendies, you guys just keep on doing what you’re doing.

Ivor S. Irwin
Branford, Connecticut

Listen, don’t let the turkeys gobble you up! Stay true to your inner voice. Stay in shape! Keep working out. Pray, meditate, dance, weep, and gnash your teeth. Do whatever it is you’re doing that keeps you doing what you’re doing. I don’t know of anyone publishing more alive, inspiring, accessible poetry and prose than The Sun. And as for your slacking off on publishing writers of “stature” . . . lordy, lordy. It seems to me just about everything you publish has “stature.” It’s a seamless garment. There’s no stitching between the Blys and the Antlers, the Sparrows and the Levines. You are not elitist, and that is a good part of your saving grace.

I just read Ventura’s “The Witness Tree” and am inspired. Rosenthal, Ventura, Ram Dass — all are writers who do not deal in “givens.” Nothing is given. Everything must be filtered through individual awareness and verified, over and over again. Evolution hinges on diversity. It is the venom of sameness in our veins that has us in delirium and will stop our heart from beating if we don’t slash an X over the puncture wound and suck the poison out. X marks the spot.

John Bennett
Ellensburg, Washington