Regarding the Jan. 21 article "When ministers tell prospective couples 'I won't'": I am surprised that the article on the increasing tendency of some clergy to give themselves the right to pass judgment on a couple's decision to wed was so uncritical.
Given the recent Catholic clergy pedophilia scandal and the history of various Protestant evangelists confessing to everything from alcoholism to adultery, it might have been reasonable to consider whether a clergy person's judgment should be accepted uncritically and without question.
Most people expect clergy to be morally sound, and that is probably frequently the case. It's clearly not, however, a uniform condition. Further, the tacit assumption of the article is that if a clergy member questions the marriage, they are on to something. Clergymen and women, however, have their own biases and prejudices, and time and the public do not always uphold those biases. Some such opinions even become viewed not as moral strength but as bigotry.
Although my wife and I did not take a premarital compatibility test, I suspect I would have failed. I was a different person then. But thankfully, my wife was patient and ultimately I changed. Therefore, I am not certain anyone should stand in the way of two people willing to commit to each other in marriage. The outcome of some marriages deemed incompatible in the beginning might just end up helping one of the partners.
Regarding Allen Fromherz's Jan. 13 essay "The Muslim world I found in Morocco: not what I expected": On my first trip to Algeria, I arrived just three weeks before the Iraq war started - a very intense time to be traveling alone to a Muslim land. Naturally I was asked quite often about my opinion of President Bush, Osama bin Laden, and the pending war, but I was also treated with respect after I responded and voiced my opinions. I wish more Americans could get a more realistic view of the Muslim world.
In her Jan. 21 Opinion piece, "Childhood: the abridged version," Susan DeMersseman precisely addresses the real issue of childhood mental health. I would add: Get rid of your TV and limit after-school activities. When your children complain that they are bored, invite them to use their imagination. Only through creative action does the mind develop and the heart mature.
Regarding the Jan. 16 article "A Circus Without Tigers and Lions ... Oh My!": Good for Heather Herman for her efforts to banish animal-act circuses from Denver. If we think about it, we all know that animals shouldn't be entertainment acts. Elephants, tigers, bears, and the rest are threatened and punished when they do not perform as their trainer's desire. These animals, which range huge distances in their wild lives, should not be kept in tiny cages and crates.
I commend the Monitor for featuring the Jan. 15 interview with Edith Grossman, "Translating one of the great works of literature, 'Don Quixote.'" Too little attention seems to be devoted in mass media to the art and craft of translation. The Monitor's probing questions have alerted me to the possibility that my bookshelf may need to make room for this classic.
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