Letters to the Editor

Does Christianity need a hipster bible? Plus: Irrational fretting over cyberslacking; WTO articles discuss everything but trade itself.

Published December 6, 1999 3:01PM (EST)

Second coming

Any attempt to get people to dust off the Bible and approach it in a new
way is welcome, and I will be interested to see if the Pocket Canons will
have as much impact on religious thinking as Jonathon Keats hopes.
However, before he knocks the Gideons Bible again, Keats may want to be
aware that the translation the Gideons use is none other than the King
James Version that the Pocket Canon has repackaged.

-- Brendan O'Sullivan-Hale

Utter coolness. I have always thought that the Bible in small
doses could reach more people faster. And
with all that hipness that comes attached to it, maybe some people can get
some spiritual ease. Whatever their religion or secularism.

When I first read the King James Version, I was about 6 or 7, and all those begets had me taking a doze. When I got older, though, I read it from time to time for inspiration and found none of the
fundamentalist BS that subsequent preachers had told me over the years.

Though my religion has changed over the years, I still find the Bible a good read. So who knows?
I just might go down to my local megabookstore, buy this book and sit down
to read some probverbs with a cup of cappuccino.

-- Michelle Rudd

While I would agree that fundamentalists
have done more damage to the Christian message than legions of avowed
anti-Christians could ever hope to do, I submit that Jonathon Keats has missed the
point. He suggests that the Bible is good literature (it is) and is at
the center of Judeo-Christian morality, but he seems to have failed to
grasp that the main point of nearly every story in the Bible is that there
is a source from which this morality comes, and that this source (which
Christians and Jews, among others, call God) has an enduring love for
humanity in general and each individual in particular.

That is the message that the fundamentalists have obscured by their insistance that
there is only one way to understand or interpret Biblical writings, and that failure to interpret the writings THEIR way merits divine
condemnation. One of the reasons that the Bible is so integral to our
culture is that it really identifies a point of moral commonality between
a large number of belief systems. As he points out, these writings ring
true to most people. The Judeo-Christian belief maintains that this is
due to the fact that all morality comes from the same source.

-- James F. George

Keats' silly railery against fundamentalists and his talk of "rescuing the
Bible" from them, makes him sound far more like a nutcase zealot than any
of the fundies I know. Apart from everything else, his article left me
puzzling over his arrogant assumption of personal superiority over those
vulgar people who actually read their Gideons and try to live by the words
contained therein. Keats is patting himself on the back for
having rediscovered the wonder of the Bible, while mocking those who
figured out the same thing long ago, and didn't need an intro written by
Bono to enlighten them.

-- Hiawatha Bray

Jonathon Keats reveals a lot about the dynamics of modern Christianity and
secular culture in this piece. The utter contempt he displays for
"fundamentalists" totally betrays the
"liberalism" of modern thought. I wonder at those who consider the belief
that God knows more than man to be a manifestation of lamentable
ignorance. The skepticism expressed by Keats is something with which
evangelical Christians do struggle. But our faith in the wisdom of God
leads us to painstakingly reconcile what we observe in the world with the
eternal, though at times elusive, truths we believe have been given to us
in the Bible. I rejoice that more of the
unchurched are reading the Bible. A context of honest inquiry is never
threatening to the truth.

-- Lenise Baxter

Cyberslacking epidemic


Cyberslacking has become the latest bogeyman of corporate Internet anxiety. We expect people to juggle all their responsibilities and multitask their way through the workda.y Why should
that not include a little online personal business as well? We are
rapidly moving toward a work force that will meld business and personal
life into one. The workday will be all day and personal time will be
where we can make it. Management needs to throw out the book on keeping
employees under the corporate thumb, and find some common ground in defining individual
and company goals. Successful businesses are, and will continue to be, those that give their
employees a reason to succeed.

-- S. Sloan

If management doesn't trust employees to act responsibly on the job, then
why did they hire those employees? I submit that any manager who keeps an
employee that can't be trusted is an idiot and deserves whatever she
gets. As for Internet use for personal reasons while at work, I plead
guilty. Last year, rather than take two hours off work to go to the
secretary of state's office, I renewed my drivers license in about 10
minutes via the Internet. Was I wrong to use the Internet at work to save
taking two hours off? I don't think so. Clear communication and trust
from managers has a far greater effect on productivity than Internet use
for personal reasons.

-- Jack Farrow

The persistant annoyance of recurrent hangnails -- cured!



While I can appreciate the underlying humor in this cartoon, I find
the resulting "punch line" appalling and offensive. First, it promotes
the idea that Tourette Syndrome is nothing more than "potty mouth" -- when
in fact only a small percentage of people with TS actually have
coprolalia. Second, it promotes the idea that coprolalia itself is
nothing more than "potty mouth" when nothing could be further from the

Cartoonists purporting to be social commentators should perhaps do some
research, and use some intelligent thought before succumbing to the idiocy
of the masses.

-- Barb Mientus


This cartoon was meant to satirize the pharamaceutical industry
advertisements promoting medications with potential side effects worse
than the affliction they remedy. In my list of satirically intended
side effects for the cartoon's fictional hangnail medication, I included
Tourette's Syndrome, which has led a few TS sufferers to take me to task.
No disparagement was intended toward TS victims. The
disease was chosen at random because it is, with all due respect, a
condition most people would find undesirable.

The vice president's stiff comedy


Daniel Kurtzman pondered why America hasn't been alerted
to the fact that Al Gore has a sense of humor.
My theory: The Gore campaign must have hired the same consultant who told
Bob Dole he should stifle his sense of humor. And we all know how things
turned out for Bob. I hate to say it, but our nation's capitol is pretty much devoid of any
sense of humor or personality.

-- Jayme Deerwester

Silver Spring, Md.

If the intention of the writer was to show a
man with a sense of humor, all I could see was man making
a jerk of himself, and doing it at the expense of others.
I think the American people need a man of honor, who should be willing to tell the
president what he really thinks, instead of making fun of him behind his back.
Somehow I am not laughing.

-- Patricia Ancona

If you can't beat 'em ...


The activists in Seattle are not the ones to lecture on what "fair
trade" should mean in this world. What they are protesting is an
unaccountable organization that further shifts the balance of global power
into the hands of multinational corporations. Sure, an enlightened WTO is
a dream worth striving for, but its present incarnation is unacceptable.
Until the public understands this there is no hope for true "fair trade," and without the activists, there would be little hope for public understanding of the issue. That is why we must stand with the protesters in solidarity -- an uncommon occurance in today's leftist circles.

-- Michael Lambert

Joe Conason's commentary on the WTO smacked of usual anti-U.S., anti-business
rhetoric. He doesn't appear to take into
account that we, in the United States, have a higher standard of living then anywhere
else, or that workers in this country are the
safest anywhere. Though he probably thinks it was luck that put us
here, it was in fact a free market with less government intervention
than anywhere else in the world.

Conason asks, "How can market forces and technological progress
be directed to serve humanity, instead of enslaving humanity to markets and
technologies?" The fact is that progress has always served humanity. Conditions have never
taken a step back because of new technologies or market forces. The
standard of living has only improved in free markets.

-- Shane Hanson

Everything you need to know about the WTO


Reporting on world trade talks discusses everything, it seems, except
world trade. If it were so obviously one-sided as so many articles
suggest -- if our national interests were in labor rights and sea turtles --
why do we even participate in the WTO or NAFTA? The fact is
this: Import duties and tariffs create a deadweight loss that can be
measured. If we have to pay a higher price for goods, fewer people will possess
those goods, fewer will be made, fewer persons employed, fewer
paychecks exist to buy other products -- it is a detrimental cycle that
ripples through the entire economy.

-- Michael Gordon

The WTO turns the entire concept
of representative government on its head. Any system that places such
enormous power in the hands of a few non-elected arbitrators is ripe for
abuse. Recent hisory should provide a sobering reminder of what happens
when a judiciary is exempted from political oversight.

-- Paul Goodman

The whole world is watching

L.A. Kauffman gets it wrong by
stating that nonviolent protests in Seattle are rooted in the anti-nuclear
protests of the 1970s. The roots of nonviolent protest began much
earlier: In the United States, the civil rights protests of the 1950s
and 1960s featured nonviolence, for instance; and the organizers of those protests used
Gandhi's nonviolent methods as a model.

-- Michael Lieber

A tale of two marathons


Steven Shaw throws out broad statements like "Many obsessive runners are victims
of either exercise addiction or fitness (aka
non-purging) bulimia" with no research to back it up.
To say that "most" of the women running were "anorexic and
unappealing" is irresponsible and mean-spirited.

Anorexia is a serious disease. It is not a word that should be thrown at women who
happen to be thinner than society's "norm," which is overweight. And to
call these women "unappealing" is just uncalled for. As a group, female
runners are strong, focused and determined people who ought to be lauded
for their accomplishments -- raising children, working, going to school,
maintaining a household and still finding the time to train for a marathon
-- and not belittled by someone standing on the sidelines.

-- Rosemary Brewer

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