Sack off the mark? Not necessarily


The May 3 Letter of the Day ("What would Jesus do? Cartoon took liberties in assuming") explained Catholic theology when commenting on Steve Sack's April 30 cartoon showing the pope, a nun and Jesus. However, we've had a Reformation and 500 years of diverse theology since.

The Reformation exploded when Martin Luther studied the Bible and reacted against what he saw as the pope's abuse of the "power of the keys," which gave the church the exclusive right to tell the people what Jesus wanted.

Luther translated the Bible into German, and English scholars produced the King James version, opening interpretation of scripture to everyone and, for many denominations, spreading the power of the keys to all Christians as well. Ever since, Protestants have used -- and sometimes abused -- scripture as they've tried to apply it to their lives.

What would Jesus do about today's arguments over sexual identity? I don't know. He didn't say. Matthew 7:12 is the best I've found: "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets."

Instead of worrying about things he didn't think important enough to comment on, maybe we should concentrate on taking care of the poor and healing the sick. Jesus had a lot to say about that.

Steve Sack may have had it right when he drew Jesus standing on the side of the nuns.


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Down syndrome

Taking George Will's column a step further


In what I assume was supposed to be a tribute honoring the life of his son, George Will masterfully demonstrated in one column ("A life well-lived, given the chance," May 3) why I have never been a fan of his writing or philosophy.

In one sentence, he states, "Jon was born eight months before Roe vs. Wade inaugurated this era of the casual destruction of preborn babies. This era has coincided, not just coincidentally, with the full garish flowering of the baby boomers' vast sense of entitlement, which encompasses an entitlement to exemption from nature's mishaps, and to a perfect baby."

In one swell swoop, he manages to disparage every woman or couple who has ever had an abortion as doing so "casually" and with a sense of entitlement.

Later in the article, though, he mentions that his son and others with Down syndrome depend on the kindness of strangers to successfully maneuver through life and admits that "judging by Jon's experience, they almost always receive it."

With one decision (to bring the baby home), Will seems to believe that he is now entitled to dismiss the reality of other people's lives -- that when confronted with cataclysmic situations, other people decide what to do without anguish, without guilt, without spiritual, religious or moral internal guidance.

In doing so, Will reveals that he alone is the exception -- the "almost" -- the stranger who refuses to extend kindness and a willingness to forgive that all of us, not just people with Down syndrome, need more of.


• • •

In 1966, my future wife brought me home to meet her family. Ron was one of her younger brothers. He didn't have Down syndrome, but was severely challenged. In 1953, just after birth, his mind and body had been ravaged by convulsions due to a blood sugar problem. In a situation similar to that of George Will's son, advisors at the hospital suggested that the baby be left behind, to die or to be institutionalized.

But Ron's parents loved all their children unconditionally, so they brought him home, and the family rallied. Siblings accepted roles that had to be delegated. The oldest daughter, age 11, became an accomplished cook. My wife-to-be, age 8, was responsible for laundry. (I still let her do it today.) Everybody had jobs, but the greatest contribution they all made was to just love.

When I met Ron years later, he was flourishing in the way that mattered most -- emotionally. He was good-hearted and displayed a remarkable sense of humor, even though at 13 he generally functioned as a 2-year-old. Most remarkable was the closeness in the family that had been enhanced by Ron's very presence. He died in 1970, but his influence lives on through everybody he touched.

As Mother's Day approaches, let's be reminded that we've lost more than the Down syndrome kids who have been killed in the womb. We've lost what they could have done for us.


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Spending choices

Environmental threats do not discriminate


A May 3 letter writer claimed to "prefer my tax dollars to go to the stadium, since it is an investment in our community and not, say, a study of deformed frogs (which, thankfully, has been discontinued) or light-rail transit that serves a fraction of our population."

To claim that a government agency that works for the people, not a corporation, should not investigate clear environmental abnormalities is breathtaking in its ignorance. Such abnormalities can indicate larger environmental issues that can affect human beings.

Frogs and humans share the same environment. Their water is ours. Should a substance, such as PCBs, be found to have caused the deformations, then we are all at risk, Republicans and Democrats alike.

As to his issue with light rail, the idea that mass transit doesn't enhance the general welfare is just not supported by the facts. We cannot build enough roadway to accommodate our current levels of traffic, let alone our future needs.

Even if the writer had his way, the vast amount of private property needed to produce this huge increase in roadways would mean the use of eminent domain on scales never before seen. Does the letter writer really favor such large-scale transfers of private property to the state?