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Letters to the Editor

Readers write about religious music at schools during the holidays, reducing human population growth to improve the health of the planet, and monitoring teens' use of the Internet.

December 18, 2008



Question of religious music at school during the holidays

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In regard to the Dec. 16 Opinion piece, "Ninety minutes of school holiday music – and nary a note about Jesus": While author Barbara Curtis finds her children's holiday musical programs lacking in any reference to Jesus, I find secular holiday music is often infused with expressions of love and longing for togetherness.

Why does Ms. Curtis mention the ancient Aztec practice of infanticide? Surely in all our combined years of education in Roman Catholic schools, my children, siblings, and I were never taught about the Inquisition.

We Christians do indeed sanitize the religious education of our young. We focus on the love and generosity which Christianity (and other belief systems) teach, and leave out the more unsavory aspects of its history.

And why must the one Jewish family be singled out by Curtis as "nonpracticing"? Surely they may be deeply spiritual, value their culture, live remarkably ethical lives, and still not participate in organized religion.

Children need models of empathy and tolerance, not bigotry. Perhaps if parents lived these values there would be no need for teachers to do anything but impart knowledge.

Andrea Hitt
Winchester Center, Conn.

I have little sympathy for complaints from some Christians that multiculturalists have stolen "their" holiday, which actually has aspects that are pre-Christian in their origin.

In addition, the quotes from the music teacher in this commentary were somewhat offensive to me as a Jew, by implying that only Christian music has "artistic merit." That teacher has obviously never studied Jewish musical traditions, African musical traditions, or religious songs and chants from India and the Far East, if he or she implies that only Christian music is "any good."

Music can be a very powerful psychological and social force. It has unifying power. While I agree that sacred music should be part of a well-rounded musical education, perhaps college is a better place for it than grammar school.

Rebecca Firestone
Oakland, Calif.

A healthier planet needs fewer humans

Regarding the Dec. 10 article, "Environmentalists send their wish list to Obama": I would like to add this suggestion to the list: Encourage negative population growth. This can be done through tax credits for having a maximum of two children within a lifetime.

Even if we all conserve our energy use, if people continue to "overproduce," we will advance very little in our attempts at preserving a healthy planet. Conservation must include the number of children people choose to have.

Jackie Leonard-Dimmick
Atherton, Calif.

Track your teen's Internet use

Regarding the Dec. 5 Opinion piece, "My teen wants a computer in his room. I say no. Here's why": To author Janine Wood, we say, "Stick to your guns!" We let our son have a computer in his room and it was a big mistake.

We thought we were smarter, with our daughter, by having the computer in our shared home office. We didn't realize till much later that she was going on the Internet after we were asleep, and that is where she learned lots we wish she hadn't – and also made contacts even she now wishes she hadn't.

Ellie and Rick Braman
Oroville, Wash.

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