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Letters to the Editor

Misrepresenting Catholicism

In a letter ("Obama's Lessons not Appropriate", Sun Tribune, Sept. 19), Mr. Ted Storck suggests that President Obama was trying to play the role of the Pope when he directed the Department of Education to prepare students with classroom activities for the President's speech to American students. As he claims: "From what they [the Obama White House] told the schools to do, you'd think that Pope Benedict XVI was going to address all Catholic students via TV, and that the Vatican had sent out instructions on how the students were to react to the words of the Holy Father." I think Mr. Storck is trying to say that the Vatican, in preparing students for an address from the Pope, would instruct them to respect the Pope's words as infallible and inerrant. Furthermore, he is claiming that what Obama tried to do with American students is what the Vatican would have done with Catholic students, which would be inappropriate, according to Mr. Storck, because President Obama is not infallible.

Unfortunately, Mr. Storck's misrepresentation of Catholicism is precisely what leads so many people to believe that many Catholics are mindless believers. But nothing could be further from the truth. The Catholic Church has profound respect for human reason, so the Church actively encourages the faithful to question the faith. Of course, when the Pope speaks ex cathedra (which is very rare), it is then, and only then, that Catholics are obliged to treat the Pope's words as infallible. For instance, Catholics, to be Catholic, must accept ex cathedra proclamations (that Jesus Christ is God, that Mary was without sin, that Mary was physically taken up into heaven, etc.). But when the Pope speaks to believers in an everyday manner, Catholics are perfectly free to disagree with him, for the Church explicitly and unambiguously acknowledges that the Pope could make errors in such mundane situations.

Just as Mr. Storck has misrepresented the Catholic Church's teachings, so too has he misrepresented President Obama's suggestions for educating America's youth about presidents and the presidency. President Obama wants to inspire students to learn about American presidents, but he also wants them to become politically engaged. In his Menu of Classroom Activities, President Obama was not trying to make dogmatic proclamations to students, as Mr. Storck implies. He was making suggestions that were calculated to educate students about American presidents and the presidency. Of course, there are many people who are hostile towards America and the ideals for which it stands, which is why they would discourage students from learning about our country and its leaders. But hopefully, President Obama will succeed in inspiring people to learn about our government and to respect the Office of the President.

Michael Lackey


If not me, who?

I estimate I've listened to over 3,500 Sunday sermons but still one stands out in my mind.

It was one given by a Lutheran minister when I owned the radio stations in Thief River Falls. I broadcast two Lutheran Church services on the radio and televised them on the cable TV channel each Sunday, and one Sunday morning I heard the minister talking about going into a gas station restroom and finding it in disarray. She said her first inclination was to go to another station, but then, she said, "I thought, if I clean this up, maybe other folks will keep it clean or even clean up after others." So, that's what she did.

I have lived by that creed ever since: I pick up trash, pull weeds, etc. In fact, just recently, I cleaned pigeon droppings off the church steps in advance of a wedding, pulled weeds from around the church, picked up a beer can downtown, disposed of artificial flowers that had been shredded at the cemetery, etc.

I am hoping others will do the same; don't wait for someone else to do it. Say: If not me, who?

Live by the Christopher motto: It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.

Of course, sometimes someone comes behind you and blows out that candle, but we must keep lighting those candles.

T.S. Storck


One fed-up


Has the county been sold a bill of goods? In these hard economic times, you tell me.

Wage freezes (except for commissioners), budget cuts and layoffs. These are the most probable outcomes for some Stevens County workers.

It seems inconceivable that five persons, including three commissioners, are forging ahead with a commitment to spend at least $11.5 million (not all inclusive), including some county reserves, on an ill-conceived, presently questionable project.

In an earlier letter to the editor on Sept. 12, there were supporting figures that reinforce the overbuild nature of this project. What next?

The spending goes on. Everything from hundreds of thousands of dollars on extra architect fees, to renting interior space for county workers, to an electric backup generator, etc. This project looks more and more like a bottomless money pit -- which may soon become a jail (soundly rejected by public opinion). What will it take for these persons to get it?

At this point, a work stoppage is not feasible, so let us watch how our monies are being spent by insisting on a weekly, published (in the local newspaper), clear disbursement. This is the least they can do, as public servants.

I'm one fed-up taxpayer.

John Stephens