Finding Spirituality Without Church Ties

Regarding "Despite Spiritual Hunger in US, Pews Still Go Empty" (Feb. 17): An important view not discussed is that many of us who were brought up attending a congregational church with our families are still very much spiritually centered, but we choose to follow our own paths without the political baggage that often accompanies modern day organized religions. Many of today's globalized denominations presume that a spiritual commitment should also endorse the church's political and social leanings.

Now that my children and I follow our own personal spiritual interests without conflicting ideologies, we feel much closer to our faith.

Michael Hamilton

Idyllwild, Calif.

Editor's note

A Page 1 story in our Feb. 17 edition offered detailed information about membership declines at some mainline churches. We are reminded of a letter from the Monitor's Founder, Mary Baker Eddy, to the paper's first editor instructing him not to publish statistics about membership decreases at other churches. Mrs. Eddy urged her periodicals to follow the Golden Rule in their treatment of other denominations' membership data. It is advice we should have followed.

- David Cook


Tobacco lawsuits up in smoke?

Your assertion in the "Tobacco's Road" (Feb. 2) editorial that it doesn't make sense to grant tobacco firms immunity from future lawsuits by individuals factually mistakes the liability provisions of the settlement negotiated by the industry, state attorneys general, private plaintiffs' lawyers, and representatives of the public health community.

Under the resolution, individuals would still be able to sue tobacco companies for all compensatory damages and for punitive damages relating to any future conduct.

Moreover, there is no limit on the amount of damages any individual could recover as a result of such lawsuits. The industry is paying more than $60 billion to settle past claims from punitive damages. And as a result, such claims and class action lawsuits would end.

Scott Williams


Maternity leave's burden

I am responding to "Why Do Americans Get Short-Changed on Maternity Leave?," (Feb. 18) on the status of maternity leaves in the United States. I have read many similar pieces over the years and all ignore the same aspect of this topic: Who will do the work?

I am a woman, but not a parent, and I have worked full time for 25 years. I have covered for more maternity leaves than I can count, often seeing my workload double. I have never been paid a dollar more for the extra work, nor have I been promoted any faster than my co-workers who are parents. Now that the standard maternity leave is three months (and I am seeing nearly everyone take this time), the burden on the remaining workers is even more stressful. This debate will only have integrity when the issues on both sides are given equal weight.

Jennifer Enright-Ford

Oconomowoc, Wis.

Avalanche zone: Enter at own risk

Regarding "Shortfall in Avalanche Detection Funds" (Feb. 19): I am amazed at the degree to which we assume social responsibility must compensate for lack of individual responsibility. The story quotes a National Forest officer as saying most deaths are preventable with proper avalanche forecasts. Not mentioned is the fact that these people could ensure their own safety if they would just stay off ungroomed mountainsides.

Most avalanche forecasts would be unnecessary except for irresponsible recreational users, who voluntarily risk their lives. They should fund the forecasts themselves.

Jim Nordgaard

St. Louis Park, Minn.

Your letters are welcome. All letters are subject to editing. Mail to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail to oped@csps.com

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