Americans and the Morality Debate

With regard to your editorial "Time for Moral Judgment" (Sept. 14), I question two points.

First, your advice to take President Clinton's penitence "at face value" seems questionable given Clinton's record and rings of a naivete uncharacteristic of your usual deep and probing thinking. Is it really sound advice that the American public take at "face value" the "penitence" of a man whose public record gives evidence of penitences consistently more political than sincere?

Second, your statement that Congress will "rightfully keep an ear to the public's sentiments" is a little ambiguous. Are you advocating Congress follow the opinion polls in basing their decisions? Or should the Congress follow the evidence, the law, and their conscience, and let public sentiment hopefully follow their moral and legal leadership?

The proper role of public sentiment on congressional action is a major issue; I wish you would address it in more depth.

Don R. Adams

Sugar Land, Texas

Many thanks for the editorial "From Now Until 2000" (Sept. 15) pointing out that we ought to "ponder the national morality rating." Sadly, we Americans have indeed lowered our standards.

Perhaps we should ask - is it really possible, is it wise, to put Clinton's actions behind us and move on with him as president? The practice of lying he has built up over the years clearly clouds his judgment. World issues at this time call for the utmost in clear-headed thinking. We should feel confident, not embarrassed and concerned, when our president speaks and acts on our behalf.

Linda Shaver

Newburyport, Mass.

Pastoral help for caregivers

I have read with empathy the article "Family Caregivers - 'Everyday Heroes' Need Help" (Sept. 16). But as an ordained clergyperson, I find some difficulty in family caregiver Carol Levine's logic. "There is a kind of vacuum in the response of the faith communities to caregiving," she says, noting that in her conversations with caregivers, "no one mentioned organized religious institutions or clergy as a source of solace or assistance."

Many theological schools have provided the Clinical Pastoral Education program for seminarians and clergy for several decades. Yet, even without such a recognized program, the structure of many local houses of faith is designed to offer comfort in ways befitting the needs that are voiced within their communities. Clergy often volunteer as on-call chaplains in hospitals while the staff chaplains go home for the night. Laity offer various volunteer ministries to hospitals, daycares, and retirement and nursing homes.

Since clergy and houses of worship are involved in these and other types of caring, they seldom have time or funds to advertise these services. Consequently, these caregivers did not know about the availability.

Rev. Michele Scott

Shellsburg, Iowa

Lumping Canada in

In an item showing home market values in "A Week's Worth" (Sept. 8), you note that "Home prices are high across the US." But the chart referred to includes a Canadian city, Vancouver, B.C. As a courtesy to your Canadian readers, and as a matter of accuracy, please don't lump Canadian markets in with those of the US.

The US media make constant reference to "world markets" as the US and everything outside of North America. Canada is America's biggest trade partner, and America has a trade deficit with Canada, but we are still carelessly and constantly being lumped together. This was not one of NAFTA's achievements - a free trade zone does not constitute a single "market," and even if it did, it should not be referred to by anyone as "the US market." Such presumptuous hegemony is rude at best, no matter how benign its intent.

Neil R. Hughes

Athens, Ga.

The Monitor welcomes your letters. Only a selection can be published, and we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. Mail letters to 'Readers Write,' and opinion articles to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail to oped@csps.com

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