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Charitable Giving: Churches Can't Do It All

Kudos to the people of First Christian Church, San Jose, Calif., for a creative response to their neighborhood's dramatic cultural change ("Church Purpose: Social Service or 'Saving Souls'?," Jan. 2).

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The article points to the critical issue of politicians and others wanting to project responsibility for meeting human needs onto churches, while the churches are already carrying the bulk of charitable responsibility.

A recent Gallup study of charitable giving is reporting that more than any other item, faith predicts giving and volunteering. Those attending religious services weekly - a minority of 38 percent - give two-thirds of all charitable contributions in the entire nation. However, a public accountant retiring from over 40 years of practice told me unequivocally that if there were no significant giving to a church on his tax return, there would be no significant giving at all.

One of the gifts of religious institutions is generosity. However, projecting onto the churches the burden of the nation's social service responsibilities is a way, also, of leaving more than 60 percent of the population without responsibility. As the old saying goes, "That ain't cricket."

Gerald M. Ford

Spokane, Wash.

Former pastor,

San Jose First Christian Church

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Beyond boom-box blasts

As I look about my untidy apartment, I feel compelled to take exception to the opinion article "For 90s Kids, the Boom Box's Blast Has Drowned Out the Written Word" (Dec. 24). My current state of disarray is the result of the cluttering effects of voluminous reading material. A 22-year-old college senior working my way through school, I'm pretty typical.

Although Prof. Chet Raymo admits his generalization about people my age, I feel compelled to attest to the quality of my generation. Contrary to what he writes, our ideals are founded in meaning.

My own library - which far outnumbers my CD collection - includes the likes of Kurt Vonnegut (I've been an avid fan since an outstanding eighth-grade English teacher introduced me to "Slaughterhouse-Five"), Joseph Conrad, Charles Dickens, Theodore Roosevelt, Arthur Miller, Suetonius, and Arthur Schlesinger Jr. These are only a smattering of history, philosophy, and politics, which provide "meaningful content" to my everyday existence. And if this collection ever provides insufficient "meaningful content," I have my daily subscription to the Monitor. For the last two years, this paper has been a complement to my studies.

Like Raymo, I have been dismayed at some of the material produced during the last decade calling itself music. But as another teacher - this time a college professor - taught me, all music shares roots with that which came before.

So as the Wu-Tang Clan rambles on, or bulldozes forward, have faith that there is a tie that binds. Although I don't appreciate the message the Wu-Tang conveys, this is my loss and not their lacking.

Until such awareness is mine, I'll be content with some of the more congenially contemporary works of Carrie Newcomer, Natalie Merchant, Sonia Dada; complemented of course by blues masters, jazz greats, and archetypal composers of old.

Andy Fraizer

Greencastle, Ind.

Enjoying the Everglades journey

The Everglades Journal series of articles by Warren Richey, accompanied by Robert Harbison's photographs, (Dec. 5, 9, 11, 16, and 22) were some of the most descriptive, informative, and adventuresome writing I've ever read. I eagerly awaited each installment of the saga and felt like I was right alongside them in their canoe.

Jean Hawkins

Grosse Pointe, Mich.

Your letters are welcome. Letters for publication must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Only a selection can be published and none acknowledged. All letters are subject to editing. Letters should be mailed to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, faxed to 617-450-2317, or e-mailed to

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