Regarding the Sept. 20 article, "Government failure, private success": The needs of the people affected by hurricanes Katrina and Rita are enormous and cannot be served by voluntary, or private, help alone - regardless of how efficient that help has been thus far. Government help is vital.
The reason why the spectacle of government's ineptitude was so disturbing was because there is no private system that will automatically respond if the key first responder system breaks down. It is fantasy to think that voluntary or private organizations will be able to meet all needs; the charities themselves will tell you the necessity of government involvement.
Even now, there is no system set up for large-scale delivery of healthcare services. Are we to expect Wal-Mart, as laudable as its actions have been, to provide this service to all the victims of Katrina? Government is a necessity and insinuating otherwise is simplistic. The issue is making sure that professionals are appointed to key positions in agencies like FEMA and that sufficient funding and attention is devoted to helping make government work properly.
Former program officer, September 11th Fund
Regarding Mark Rice-Oxley's Sept. 27 article "Christianity in a nutshell: Britain's '100-Minute Bible'": I've done a sermon titled "The Whole Bible in 10 Minutes" for years. The audiences that most appreciate it are those in their 80s and 90s who have been exposed to the Bible in detail. I suspect that the "verse-by-verse" people miss the point. There is danger in someone mistaking the reading of a 100-minute Bible for complete knowledge. There is also great danger in someone being exposed to isolated verses woven by a preacher or devotional writer and thinking that, too, is the same as reading the Bible. At least the short version lets you know there is a whole story of salvation beyond the condensed text, and those who published it don't call their work "the same as the Bible."