OK, I get it. Clergy sex abuse in the Catholic Church and its steadfast refusal to become transparent and to legally prosecute those who are clearly guilty. TV preachers always begging for money to support their lavish lifestyles. Right-wing conservative churches that have no interest in addressing the critical and controversial social justice issues of our day. There is plenty to complain about in the church today. I know that. (“Fastest growing religion is ‘None,’ ” part of the Star Tribune’s ongoing “The Unchurching of America” series, Nov. 11.)

But consider this. What do you gain by withdrawing from the Body? Nothing. Hypocrisy in the church? Of course. So why are you surprised? It is ingrained in our lives and always has been. (And please don’t tell me that you are free of hypocrisy.) Stay with your faith community and let your voice be heard.

The comment I hear most today from young people is this: “I am a spiritual person, but I have no time for organized religion.” This is nothing more than a huge cop-out. Every picture of the church in the New Testament is relational: the vine and the branches, the shepherd and the sheep, the hen and her brood, the temple of living stones, even St. Paul’s great analogy of the human body, Christ being the head. And the hand can’t say to the foot, “I have no need of you.” Every part of the body is important, and that includes you!

It is very difficult to maintain a vital and growing faith in isolation. I would argue that it’s impossible to do so for any length of time. So find a healthy congregation where people are well-fed by the word and the sacraments and then move out into a very needy world to make a difference. Better to light even one candle than to curse the darkness. Our world needs the church!

One more thought: The words “worship and work” have the same derivation. Worship is the work of God’s people. We don’t come there to be entertained, though worship should be engaging, uplifting and even challenging. We are created as a marvelous trilogy of mind, body and spirit. Here in America we do a good job of feeding the body and the mind, but I fear the spirit is very often woefully undernourished. How many of our major societal problems are related to people who are spiritually dead or dying? Being the church today is serious business. Please don’t neglect it. When you do, everyone loses. I hope to see you in church.

The Rev. Paul L. Harrington, Rosemount

• • •

I’m someone who makes his living doing Christian work. Still, I’m not overly sad to see some of our churches closing their doors. The institutionalism of many churches outstripped their mission some time ago. Jesus remains wide open, though, for those holding anxiety, guilt and the intuitions and questions of mortal life; in short, for humans! Jesus’ trend lines are good, too. He’s very unlikely to close up shop in the foreseeable future.

Joel Warne, Plymouth


Did Minnesota get played, too? Well, some here did. Maybe not all.

When I started reading Lee Schafer’s Nov. 11 column, “State, like others, was played by Amazon,” I thought it was a mea culpa. Then the column suddenly became a gratuitous swipe at Gov. Mark Dayton and his “restrained” proposal to Amazon. Plenty of ordinary Minnesota taxpayers saw the Amazon HQ2 sweepstakes as a scam designed to extract as many concessions as possible from a few preselected preferred locations. I wonder if Dayton saw this, too, but could not “ ‘no-bid’ the Amazon project” because of pressure from what Mr. Schafer describes as “many in the business community … particularly in the technology community … grumbling that a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity wasn’t getting much of an effort.” They were probably the same people who thought that Minnesota should put more money and effort into competing for other “once-in-a-lifetime” deals like the Foxconn plant that was awarded to Wisconsin.

If Schafer’s last three paragraphs are sincere and not sarcastic, I entirely agree with him. Whatever the preparation of Minnesota’s letter to Amazon cost, it was too much. I hope that from now on we will have the elementary common sense to use Minnesota taxpayers’ money to provide education, training and infrastructure that will help businesses grow and create jobs in the state, and not to buy jobs from somewhere else. Of course, if businesses from elsewhere want to join us, that’s fine. But no bribes.

Miriam Segall, Minneapolis


Retreat from war, not from the world — it can be done

John C. Chalberg’s Nov. 11 commentary usefully recounts a couple of “(Not-so) Great Crusades” that, he claims, “prepared the way for an American retreat from the world that did not end until Dec. 7, 1941.”

There was, in fact, no such retreat. David Swanson’s book “When the World Outlawed War” tells the story of Frank Kellogg, U.S. senator from Minnesota, Calvin Coolidge’s secretary of state and 1929 Nobel Peace Prize winner for his work on the Kellogg-Briand Pact:

“In 1927-1928 a hot-tempered Republican from Minnesota named Frank who privately cursed pacifists managed to persuade nearly every country on earth to ban war. He had been moved to do so, against his will, by a global demand for peace and a U.S. partnership with France created through illegal diplomacy by peace activists. The driving force in achieving this historic breakthrough was a remarkably unified, strategic, and relentless U.S. peace movement with its strongest support in the Midwest; … its views welcomed and promoted by newspapers, churches, and women’s groups all over the country; and its determination unaltered by a decade of defeats and divisions. The movement depended in large part on the new political power of female voters.”

With the midterms behind us, it seems like the perfect time for another “unified, strategic, and relentless U.S. peace movement.”

Lead on, Amy and Tina!

William Beyer, St. Louis Park


Travel article could have focused on where it’s more accessible to all

As someone who has spent many summers in the woods surrounding Lake Superior, I appreciated the Nov. 11 travel article about whether “72 hours on the North Shore” could lower one’s stress. I think as a society we are losing touch with nature in an increasingly digital world, so the reminder to Minnesotans of what is so naturally precious about our state was nice to see.

While I think the article had good intentions, the informal “experiment” appeared to have spending time in the woods as the only independent variable. However, the woods the writer and her friend went to required driving far away from the Twin Cities, and they enjoyed the indulgences of a private cabin, wine, cheese and chocolate. I worry that by adding expensive add-ons to the trip, the demographic of middle- and lower-class city dwellers, who could have benefited from a message encouraging them to spend some time in nature, felt the prospect of nature-time inaccessible.

To make the experiment more credible, please clarify that it includes factors other than time in nature. Additionally, it would be nice if you suggested some places near the Twin Cities to which residents could go to inexpensively find some peace in nature, or even provide some tips of how one can enjoy simple aspects of nature like a flower garden or clean air.

Gabby Law, White Bear Lake