I enjoyed Steve Zeitchik's profile of Etan Cohen, director of "Get Hard" ["An Unorthodox Comedian," March 15]. He writes that traditional religious organizations are suspicious of creative professions. That shouldn't be any surprise — if you're trying to teach eternal verities, the last thing you want is new, creative thinking (except maybe for fundraising).
Although some great artists are recognized for bringing the prevailing style to its highest level (e.g., J.S. Bach), more artists stand out for breaking with tradition and orthodoxy (e.g., the early Impressionists and the first Abstract painters). There is also the bohemian lifestyle of creative people, with too much fun and not enough obedience. And finally, it's tough to make a living in the arts; if you're just barely making the rent, how can you contribute to the church?
He also writes that the religious are wary of journalism. Skepticism, which every journalist who deals with leaders needs in abundance, is the mortal enemy of faith.
Zeitchik's piece about Cohen and his choices on how to live a life of faith in the modern world is remarkable and inspiring.
When he writes, "I grew up in a Modern Orthodox home not dissimilar from Cohen's," he takes me on a journey I did not expect in today's L.A. Times, but he took me places I wanted to go.
I'm not Jewish. I'm a woman.
But as a person of faith living in this secular world, Cohen's choices and the life he is living have great meaning for me and give me more hope than I would've expected to find in a piece about a "raunchy" comedy. The words of Cohen's rabbi — "that the truth is godly in some way and if you feel this is a true expression of yourself, follow that" — encourage me, maybe bizarrely, maybe not, not only to see "Get Hard" but also to find and live my own truths.
The queen of this 'Empire'
Taraji P. Henson is the glue that holds "Empire" ["Tough Talk With Cookie," March 15]. It's a wonderful show. I definitely agree with the academician who indicated that the show had "ham-fisted racial and sexual stereotypes." But still, Cookie is my favorite character. The show is humorous, a little far-fetched, but on the other hand, keepin' it real. I love every bit of it.
This is one of the most amazing shows I have seen in a long time. The cast fits like a glove. The suspense and the drama hold your interest right to the end, and you still want more and cannot wait for the next episode.
Henson (Cookie) has this role down pat. Maybe it's because she and "Empire" costar Terrence Howard worked together on "Hustle & Flow," but the chemistry is definitely there. Jamal (Jussie Smollett) is the pretty, gay boy who has so much man in him, but he is also the peacemaker of the family who loves his mother.
I believe we are going to find out that the baby really is Jamal and that since Lucious (Howard) is dying, he would rather die as a protector of his family.... Well, I guess we will just have to wait and see.
Congratulations to the writers, the crew and the cast; I know they are going to bring the awards home without a doubt.
Mary Jo Geddes
I am so happy for Henson. She deserves the recognition she is getting. The show is absolutely wonderful. I love it, so fresh and so new, like nothing we've ever seen on television. "Empire" forever!
Joy to behold
on the stage
The photo of Hope Boykin reminds me of Afro-pop singer-dancer Fatoumata Diawara ["Timeless and Timely," March 15], when she puts her guitar down and starts that endless, wild spinning, like a dervish dancer. She spins forever while smiling.
I saw the Alvin Ailey company last year — exciting performances, renewed inspiration. I shall never forget Judith Jamison's solos from another decade. This troupe is a national treasure, and Boykin is a joy to behold.
Glorious feast for the eyes
What a glorious cover by Michael Glenwood for the Spring Arts Preview [March 15]! The composition of the musician in black against the white background leading up to the burst of color and design was Sunday brunch for the eyes. By the way, it would make a lovely poster.