I can only assume that your editors carefully discussed the merits of placing Joel Osteen on the cover. And I can only deduce that they decided that the benefits (presumably in terms of the appeal to his religious constituency) outweighed the costs. One question they might not have considered, or considered carefully enough, however, is how the decision to use the image of a fundamentalist preacher to sell magazines makes you appear to the rest of your audience, including but not limited to mainstream Christians.

At best, it is cynically pandering to a vocal religious minority for commercial reasons; at worst, it comes dangerously close to advocating (implicitly, but clearly nonetheless) Osteen’s charlatanism and fringe religious views.
Mark Vail
New Orleans, Louisiana

You really dropped the ball by putting Joel Osteen on the cover. His “ideas” for Texas were nothing but tired clichés and useless platitudes that anyone could have pulled out of a fortune cookie.
Tara Burkholder
San Antonio

The Texas Monthly Brainstorm” was pretty good comedy [May 2009]! It is hard to determine which feature was funniest, but I laughed heartily at Isaac Barchas’s “Plunder California’s Universities.” In this era of post—George Bush economies, no state has it made, but what we in California don’t have is a whiny secessionist-talking governor, rednecks, tornadoes, frequent floods, droughts, and hailstorms. Our universities and talent pool are here because they want to be here. If Texas was all that, wouldn’t they have packed their bags decades ago?
Lawrence Denger
Berkeley, California

As a lifelong El Pasoan, and therefore a lifelong Texan, Alfredo Corchado’s suggestion to “Let El Paso Go” is fightin’ words. We are the self-proclaimed Mexican food capital of the world, and I will not succumb to blue tortillas and huevos rancheros made with tomato sauce. Embrace us if for no other reasons than our great food and quirky time zone.
Ray Adauto
El Paso

Story of a Lifetime

Skip Hollandsworth’s writing has been a part of my life since I would sit in my dad’s lap and we would read Texas Monthly together. But I think this is the first time he has brought me to tears. “Still Life” is wonderful, both tragic and inspiring [May 2009]. Thanks to Skip for telling it and the magazine for printing it.
David Caldwell
Louisville, Kentucky

As a member of the Hillcrest High School class of ’75, I want to thank you for the beautiful story on John McClamrock and his mother, Ann. We will never forget him, and the story gave us clarity and closure.
Kathy Rapport

Thirty years ago, when I was a teenager in Austin worrying about what clothes to wear and if I’d ever get asked out on a date, I didn’t know that there was a boy two hundred miles away who was lying in bed, fighting for his life every day. I can’t begin to express the impact that this story has had on my life. I found myself thinking of that precious family and crying periodically for three days after reading the story. And now, whenever I find myself feeling blue, you can bet I’ll reread this story to remind me of just how blessed I am.
Antoinette Griffin

Think it’s unprofessional for me to be crying at my desk while administering the TAKS test to a group of seventh-graders? My heart is broken indeed. Mothers like Ann and innocence like John’s are precious and so hard to find. I loved it, and needed it.
T. Graham
Via e-mail

Fool Proof

Hooray for the citizens of Lubbock! As a former denizen, I am thrilled at the prospect of the alcohol-sales ban’s being lifted [“High Plains Snifter,” May 2009]. As for the Strip’s being a landmark, all I know is that it was a place I personally was never keen on visiting. During my time in West Texas, my husband and I would joke that we felt like criminals on a moonshine run having to drive outside the city limits just to pick up a hugely overpriced bottle of wine to have with our dinner.

In response to the pastor’s concern as to the possibly immoral “end result” of the humorous scenes portrayed in beer commercials: With the current ban, the scenes in those commercials would be followed by people driving drunk several miles up Lubbock’s major highway to get back to the Strip for another case of cold ones, thus endangering the lives of themselves and others. That end result, people, is what’s really frightening.
Samantha Mabry

Bellying Up to the Bar

I am writing to ask a follow-up to [the Texanist’s] response on how to shoot tequila [Reporter, The Texanist, May 2009]. In your response, you say “. . . from the navel of a giggling Swedish dental technician . . . after a Jerry Jeff Walker birthday celebration . . . with an international oral hygiene convention.” Perfect answer, by the way. My question: When is the next Jerry Jeff Walker birthday celebration with an overlapping international oral hygiene convention? Sign me up!
Scott Anderson
McLean, Virginia

What a Load

It occurred to me shortly after reading “Elephant Dung” that if you substituted Washington, D.C., for Texas; Obama for Perry; and the U.S. Senate and House for the Texas Legislature, almost all of George Christian’s presumed advice would apply, particularly “Be fiscally responsible” and “Don’t overreach” [Behind the Lines, May 2009]. Whatever criticism Burka may have about the Texas Republican majority, we do have a substantial Rainy Day Fund when many other states are on the verge of bankruptcy.
Bill Parmeter
Marble Falls

Paul Burka’s blathering about the Republicans governing Texas is Burka dung! The vast majority of Texans would vote for voter ID and reject federal funds that permanently raise our taxes without our input. Ignoring the will of the voters appears to be Burka’s yardstick for measuring a leader. Standing up and doing what’s right is the mark of a true leader. If raising taxes would solve every perceived problem, then California would not be facing a never-ending fiscal crisis.
Gary Schwede