Mailbag: High school appreciates Festival's donation

The Laguna Beach High School music programs would like to thank the Festival of Arts Foundation for its continued support and donations.

This year's donation of $5,000 enabled Laguna Beach High School's music programs to replace instruments, provide scholarships, participate in competitions and to continue to improve and expand educational programs and the value of music.

The high school's music department once again looks forward to a continued relationship with the Festival of Arts Foundation.

In these difficult financial times, it is absolutely wonderful to have a community-based organization that helps our public educational system.

Mary Bader

Laguna Beach

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Laguna should follow Newport's example

In a recent 5-1 vote, with one council member absent, the Newport Beach City Council approved the use of bicycle sharrows to be painted on Pacific Coast Highway in Corona del Mar.

Sharrows are traffic lane markers used to remind all road users the lane is designated multi-use for both cyclists and automobiles. The council was responding to a one-year study and a letter of recommendation by the Bicycle Safety Committee of Newport Beach.

With plans for sharrows on Pacific Coast Highway in neighboring beach cities, maybe Laguna Beach will follow the same recommendation for these traffic safety devices.

Les Miklosy

Laguna Beach

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Muslim column increases understanding

I just wanted you to know how much I enjoy reading Mona Shadia's weekly column in the paper. I grew up here in Southern California and had never spent much time with people from the Middle East, or people of the Muslin faith.

After 9/11, my feelings for Muslims went on a downhill slide in a big way. I wanted nothing to do with Muslims. Then, five years ago, my wife and I went on a cruise from Barcelona across the Mediterranean to Alexandria, Egypt. As we docked, I heard the evening call to prayer, and I thought, wow!

The next day, I hired a driver, and my wife and I toured Alexandria. It was fabulous. The history is amazing, the city, and various digs, etc. I went into the main mosque (my wife did have to go "behind the screen," but she understood this is the custom) and was greeted warmly by everyone wherever I went. The city was really interesting, but the people are what made our visit so great.

My entire outlook on people of the Muslin faith changed 180 degrees that day. We had a wonderful time in Alexandria, and then went onto the Giza plateau for the most amazing experience ever, the pyramids.

It was a trip I will never forget. The Egyptians were so warm and welcoming. The disastrous action of a few radicals will never diminish my respect of the Egyptians I met.

Thank you for Mona's column. I hope it will bring a better understanding of the teachings of Muhammad to those of us who were brought up in different faiths. Keep up the good writing.

Bruce Johnston

Newport Beach

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Turning to Christ is the way

I found it interesting reading Mona Shadia's experience, "Praying five time a day is hard to, do" (July 5), on praying. She states how some Christian "schmuck" shared his faith in Jesus Christ and it led her to return to the Muslim mandate of praying five times a day. She goes on to state how praying more often makes her feel better and connects her to God.

If this is true, imagine how great she would feel, and how much closer to God she would be, if she turned to Jesus Christ. Christians are told to "Rejoice evermore and pray without ceasing." (1 Thessalonians 5:16-17).

Furthermore, it is important to "prove [test] all things and to hold fast to that which is true" (1 Thessalonians 5:21). The single most important thing we need to test is our faith. Is the "God" I'm worshiping the true, living God? Countless souls pray to "dead" gods and idols, and no matter how many times they may pray, God will not hear their prayers.

Contrary to what Muslims may say, Allah and God are not the same. Allah grants admittance to heaven to those who construct the tallest of ladders reaching to heaven, with each rung being their good works. The more good works, the greater the chances of entering.

Russ Niewiarowski

Newport Beach

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