Letters to the Editor
May 2003
May 1, 2003

Photo spoke volumes

That page one photo of Gene Schneider and his wife, Lee, spoke volumes about those of us on the outside trying to look into the world of loved ones stricken with Alzheimer's. It reminds me so much of myself trying desperately to make connection with the Love of My Life, who is at about the same stage as Gene. It also reminds us never to cease trying, however hopeless the effort may seem.

The reward of those occasional "obscure sounds," as you called them, is far greater than anyone could imagine who has never experienced it. I am fortunate enough that in addition I get an occasional phrase that makes perfect sense, and that really does make my day.

Irwin Smallwood
Congregational UCC
Greensboro, N.C.

Another Alzheimer's resource

I would like to add a book to your list of recommended resources about Alzheimer's disease. My husband Robert is a retired UCC pastor who is also an Alzheimer's patient. He and I have written a book together about our experience, from a spiritual perspective: "Through the Wilderness of Alzheimer's: A Guide in Two Voices," published by Augsburg. We have been told that it is very helpful because it gives the perspective of both patient and caregiver.

Anne Simpson
Peace UCC
Duluth, Minn

Power of photography

The Current Comment on the power of photography from a Christian perspective was prophetic. Church photography in general has been addicted to promoting the comforts of bourgeois illusions rather than the challenges of everyday reality.

The Rev. Ted Erickson
St. Pauls UCC
Ligonier, Pa.

Willing to sacrifice privacy

It seems to me that the folks who fuss most about our rights being violated are the same people who raise Cain when things go bad. There were and are many who complained that the government should/could have done more to prevent the 9/11 tragedy. The way to prevent further disaster is to have as much information as possible. You just can't have it both ways.

We all have an obligation to support and assist our fellow citizens in keeping our nation safe and that may mean that we have to answer a few questions now and then.

I come from a place where people had few choices and little voice, so I can speak to the matter of how my freedoms are being violated. If having my privacy bruised could save even one life from the horror of terrorism, I am glad to sacrifice it.

Maggie Hahn
Columbia, Conn.

Kudos for visitation program

I was glad to see the article devoted to the Pension Boards annuitant visitation program. I have been an annuitant visitor for 10 years for the Nebraska Conference, with more than 55 annuitants to visit. Since I have the whole state of Nebraska, I am almost like the old circuit rider. It takes me a little over a month to visit, and I usually take three days at a time. My wife goes with me, since she is an expert on insurance and taxes, and many annuitants have questions on both of these.

I am sorry that I can only make one visit a year due to the distance and cost. In speaking with pastors from other denominations, they don't have anything like this and they wish that they did.

The Rev. V.F. Deditius
Fairbury, Neb.

Puerto Rico misrepresented

In the March 2003 National Geographics article, "Puerto Rico: Divided Passions" (Puerto Rico: Pasiones Divididas in the Spanish edition), racism is displayed against the island. We are astonished. The magazine presents an awful and false face of Puerto Rico. The photos, interviews and (in the Spanish edition) the negative cover reveal a new face of the magazine. Who doesn't have problems in the United States with drugs and other ugly situations? Why don't they present the other face of the island?

Puerto Rico has a lot of honest people. They love tradition and culture. But they are not uncivilized people, criminals, thieves or smugglers.

We condemn the racism that National Geographic presents in this article. We condemn it all.

Juan M. Gaud
United Evangelical Church
Bayann, Puerto Rico

Patriotism suspect?

I am very disheartened by those who find my patriotism suspect because I ask questions about U.S. policy regarding Iraq. In other countries, it is mandatory to adhere to the prevailing regime. In a democracy like ours, we have the freedom, and the obligation, to ask questions of our government and to receive adequate answers. The more we ask questions and do not receive sufficient answers, the more we slip from the freedom of democracy to harsh clutches of totalitarianism.

When our country's leaders cannot and will not come forward with honest answers to heartfelt questions, we, the people, need to prod our leaders in any of the various legitimate means afforded us under the freedoms of our great country. To suggest that such inquiring is unpatriotic indicates a gross misunderstanding of our democracy and opens the door to the very totalitarian regime against which our revolutionary founders fought.

Paul C. Hunt
Coral Gables Congregational UCC
Coral Gables, Fla.

Thanks for the reprint

I just read Linda Vaccariello's article from Cincinnati Magazine about the closing and the life of Price Hill UCC, which United Church News reprinted in the April edition. It is a wonderfully well-written article: "the sanctuary where their grandparents had sung ÔStille Nacht'" É "this has been Carole Wright's first church. And, ironically, she has become its last minister" É "these clinging-to-life churches" ... "It takes forever for the little congregation to leave."

What powerful words. I have known for a month or two that Price Hill was closing; now I almost feel like I experienced it.

I'm glad United Church News chose to reprint this article. Otherwise, I probably never would have seen it. Thanks.

Pamela Brown
Minister for Communication and Proclamation
Ohio Conference UCC
Columbus, Ohio

Spring break

Sleeping late, hanging around the house and watching TV is what you'd think a seventh grader would do on a break from school. I figured the same would go for my daughter, Elizabeth. However, she had other ideas. She wanted to volunteer some of her free time at church and participate in the peace vigil at noon. When she told me of her plans, I felt like a proud parent that my child was thinking of others besides herself.

The first day of Elizabeth's vigil, I had planned to meet her for lunch afterwards. I happened to arrive at the church a few minutes early and saw her holding her "NO WAR" sign proudly and waving to cars. When I walked up to her, Elizabeth promptly gave me a sign to hold. There we were, mother and daughter, protesting the war together. It was a special moment.

Mary Beth Burnett
First Congregational UCC
Memphis, Tenn.

Born again and pro-choice

Thank you for the column defending reproductive rights and abortion. As a born-again, pro-choice Christian, it is comforting to know that I am not alone in my views. I was impressed by the accuracy and thorough research about the consequences of reversing Roe v. Wade. It truly would be devastating to our nation and world.

I truly feel that if we are ever going to eliminate the need for abortion, it is by birth control, abstinence, fidelity, family planning and zero-population growth. It is by prevention and prevention only. May both pro-life and pro-choice learn to work together to better the world. May the grace and redemption brought by our lord Jesus Christ go with you all and all of the world's people.

Nicole Peison
Salem, Ohio

Send letters of fewer than 150 words to United Church News, 700 Prospect Ave., Cleveland, OH 44115; e-mail 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 File ucc.org/discus/messages/18/18.html.

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