Letters to the Editor
June 2003
June 1, 2003

Photo 'a powerful statement'

In preparation for an upcoming trip, I read an online edition of the Nicaraguan newspaper La Prensa. In the early days of the war, it ran the same photo of the Iraqi man and little girl that appeared in the latest United Church News. I printed the photo and kept it close at hand to remind me of what was really happening in Iraq. For me, it was a powerful statement.

Our mainstream media have sanitized the war to the extent that we might think no one suffers. How different American public perception might be had photos like this one appeared on the front pages of our daily papers and in the evening news. War is really about bloodied little girls and anguished fathers. Thank you for giving us this dose of reality.

The Rev. Richard Clough
First Congregational UCC
Indianapolis

Photo showed poor judgment

I disagree with your decision to run the photo because it was poor judgment, not because I think war in Iraq was a good idea.

The Rev. Duayne R. Meyer
Northfield Community UCC
Northfield, Ill.

Public denied knowledge

Thank you for publishing the kind of photo and the type of reporting that we got almost none of through the media.

As the director of the BBC and many other impartial observers declared, the U.S. public was denied knowledge of what the war meant to ordinary people. The embedded journalists and the Pentagon praised each other up and down, so we got the feeling we were hearing all there was to hear. As a result, many U.S. citizens who had earlier questioned our going to war felt, "It's not really all that bad."

The Rev. Alfred Krass
Levittown, Pa.

Vietnam vet weighs in

As a Vietnam veteran I cannot express enough disgust for the United States government's wanton rush for using and consuming its war arsenal. Many, many people make lots of money off of the suffering of the human race. Many sheltered, middle-class Americans have no idea what is entailed in war.

We need to see the atrocities of our actions. Please keep forcing people to think outside the box.

Kim A. Peterson
Yorkville, Ill.

Cost is too high

I had no idea I should be so careful in reading my church newspaper, for fear that my children may see what was in it! I was not prepared and was therefore caught completely off guard when they saw that photo. I'm glad my hometown newspaper has a conscience when it comes to printing war pictures. They seem to realize I can read the article of a mutilated little girl and feel the pain. I can visualize on my own, without having it forced on my own small children.

I'm sorry you chose to print that picture. Please cancel my subscription. I realize this is a free paper, but I can't afford to get it.

Sharon Baker
Petersburg, Neb.

Balanced coverage

Thank you for another fine issue of United Church News. It contained good articles and balanced coverage.

I specially appreciated the story by Robert Fisk about the reality of war. The news media in its efforts to be patriotic, supportive of our troops, and make money simply did not give us a picture of what our bombs were doing to people in Iraq. For them the war was a welcome spring replacement for the mayhem of professional football, and the constant reporting of violence, murder and rape.

While we watched and cheered we had little sense of the untold suffering created by this latest effort toward economic empire building. Robert Fisk, uncensored by the American military, was able to give us a picture and story we needed to hear.

The Rev. Jim Smucker
Lacey, Wash.

We need to know

Yes, indeed, that photo should be shown. The accompanying article is even more important. Americans need to know. Our government has not only sanctioned, but demanded the war. Yes, Hussein was a most cruel and ruthless tyrant and, yes, he placed his military and critical buildings in the vicinity of heavily populated areas. None the less, it was our arms and our men that not only killed innocent people, but brutally maimed children—and not just a few.

Carl Rothe
First Congregational UCC
Indianapolis

'Inexcusable separation'

I read with interest, and some concern, the front page feature about the Ring family's woes, with both mother and father deployed to a war zone by the U.S. military. This inexcusable separation during a military campaign speaks volumes about the need for more responsibility on the part of parents who believe that duty in the military is more necessary than staying home with the kids. I can't help thinking that mother Tiffany Ring could have been excused from dangerous war-time duties while her husband served overseas, especially since two children are involved.

It has nothing at all to do with pride of country, "America the Beautiful" or the U.S. Marines. It has everything to do with two parents in harm's way while two children back home are the responsibility of their grandmother.

W.L. Gjebre
Trinity UCC
Greensburg, Pa.

No to psychedelic drugs

I was overjoyed to read [April issue] that the Northern California Nevada Conference voted not to allow pastors to use hallucinogenic and psychedelic drugs (aka entheogens) for themselves or on parishioners to explore the possibility of attaining higher levels of spirituality. Medical evidence is clear that experimenting with hallucinogens and psychedelics in the past and present is dangerous in both the short and long term. The effects are produced by deranged brain processes and are not the result of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit can produce amazing results in the life of an individual. The Pentecost account in Acts speaks of unusual sounds and actions being observed. Clearly this was the work of the Holy Spirit, and not the result of alcohol (entheogens) or any other mindaltering substances.

As the project has no medical or biblical support, it should be tabled forever and not considered later.

R. P. Parsons, M.D., FACS
Marthasville, Mo.

Resurrection and Saddam

I write to thank UCC General Minister and President John Thomas for his thoughtful reflection [April issue] on "What does the resurrection mean for Saddam Hussein?" His ideas were nicely nuanced and subtly stated and, I think, theologically proper and correct: extending the reach of the cross, the caring of Christ, and the transformative power of God unto the uttermost parts of the world, and even to the underworld.

Coupled with John's profound insight into the truth embodied in the resurrection story is his masterful way of expressing his points: "while all are guilty, all are not equally responsible;" "our complicity with the cross and our companionship with Christ;" "simple dualism and superficial...have their allure."

What a treasure John is to the church, in this case wedding theological truth with aesthetically-pleasing language and thereby marrying beauty and truth. I'm sure even Keats would be pleased.

The Rev. Richard T. Schellhase
St. Andrew UCC
Lancaster, Pa.

Remembering Harold Wilke

Thank God for such good Christians as Harold Wilke [April issue]. As a handicapped person myself, I'm grateful for the Americans with Disabilities Act, but I had no idea that a UCC minister had fought so hard for its passage. Thank God for such persons and for this opportunity to help to continue such good work through the Harold Wilke Fund. I just wish I could afford to donate more.

Laura Millichamp-Lawrence
Novi, Mich.

To contribute, send checks to the Harold Wilke Fund, UCC Financial Development Ministry, 700 Prospect Ave., Cleveland OH 44115-1100.

Send letters of fewer than 150 words to United Church News, 700 Prospect Ave., Cleveland, OH 44115; e-mail  goldere@ucc.org. Letters may be edited for brevity and clarity. Comments may be posted to the online forums of United Church News at  ucc.org/discus/messages/18/18.html.

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