RARE BOOK BLUES
AS A UNITED Methodist, I was chagrined and embarrassed to learn that SMU’s Perkins School of Theology has a collection of religious and art books that are worth more than $30 million [“Chapters & Verse,” April].
Many of them are kept under lock and key. A state-of-the-art security system has been installed. Students don’t have access to many of them. That’s too bad-every serious theological student needs an opportunity to study the best in medieval typography.
I have a suggestion: Sell the damned books and give the money to the poor-or to hospitals or to missions or to the hungry. I use the word “damned” deliberately. The books are a curse. Every single dollar-even every single donated dollar-that the church uses for acquisitive dilettantism is that much less than can be used to alleviate suffering throughout the world.
I’m not against libraries, particularly seminary libraries. Our seminary graduates ought to be the best-educated in the world. Fill their libraries with biblical commentaries, Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic; fill them with the works of Bultmann, Barth, Bon-hoeffer, Reuther, Tillich; fill them with pastoral counseling aids. And require seminarians to read them. But millions of seminary dollars for rare books kept under lock and key with additional monies for a security system?
Christ told his followers to be lights to the world: “Let your light so shine.” In a world that faces possible nuclear disaster and is fraught with suffering, war, disease, hunger, poverty, exploitation and inequalities, United Methodist’s Perkins School of Theology is spending millions on rare books. They are damned, damnable books, and Jesus must be weeping.
L. David Harris
Washburn University of Topeka
MARK DONALD’S article on the sexual offender [“The Unspeakable Sin,” April] couldn’t have been better. He wrote with compassion and understanding about a sensitive and complex situation. Maybe more of us will now have a different understanding of the other side.
Mary C. Hayes
Child Protective Services Specialist
THANK YOU FOR your courage in printing the recent article about incest. As a recovering victim of incest, it is encouraging to see our society breaking the secrets that have kept so many of us in our own private hell. I applaud your efforts and encourage all interested parties seeking a way out to read Sexual Addiction by Phillip Carne, which deals with recovery based on the same 12 steps that have saved so many lives in Alcoholics Anonymous.
Victoria Sue Hodge
I WANT TO THANK you for the enlightening article about pesticides [“Danger!”] in the April issue. The apartments in Oak Lawn where we lived until my fourth month of pregnancy were sprayed every month with pesticides. We followed the exterminator’s directions and left the windows open and stayed away all day.
Our son was born five months later with a terminal congenital liver defect called biliary atresia. He only weighed 12 pounds when he died March 12 from liver failure at the age of 9 1/2 months. It very easily could have been caused by the pesticides that were used. I hope everyone who reads the article will take the warnings seriously. It might save someone the hell we’ve been through.
Sioux City, Iowa
CONCERNING YOUR article “Danger!,” I would appreciate the opportunity to make a few comments. Pesticides are poisons; if they weren’t, they wouldn’t be pesticides.
All compounds can be toxic if taken in large quantities. Sodium chloride is an extremely good example. Excessive levels of sodium chloride can cause stomach cramps, heart dysfunction, headaches, etc. But everybody puts sodium chloride (table salt) on their french fries.
While your article was correct in stating that many pesticides have not had sufficient testing, it failed to address the corollary question: Who pays for the testing? Long-term chronic toxicology and other testing may cost as much as $2 million to $3 million dollars per product! Who foots the bill? Ultimately, you and your readers. Perhaps you should ask them before you order for them.
In your common pesticides section, it is quite clear that while you might have consulted a pest-control professional, you didn’t pay much attention to him. For instance, Knox-Out is a specific formulation of diaz-inon marketed by one company. While Knox-Out is an effective material, it constitutes a rather low percentage of the market. In fact, with the majority of pesticides you mentioned (you excluded several major materials), the overwhelming percentage of material goes to the consumer market-i.e., your readers. Perhaps you should do an article about consumer misuse of pesticides.
A large part of the reason for inadequate training of some applicators lies in the public’s perception of the pest-control industry. Of course, a company could spend thousands of hours training each technician; do individual testing; have each person certified; use high-tech, low-toxicity materials and issue the most up-to-date equipment available. The question is, will you-or anybody else-be willing to pay $125 every two months to rid your house of pests? Will you be willing to pay $3,000 to have your house treated for termites? Probably not. So our hypothetical high-tech pest control company will quickly go broke, and you will be back to square one.
In conclusion, almost any one in the pest-control industry will admit that there are problems that need solving. There are problems in any industry. It is interesting to note some of your figures. According to your article, there were eight to 10 million pest control jobs performed last year in Texas and 400 complaints to the Structural Pest Control Board. That is a complaint rate of .005 percent or less! Every industry should have such a good record. While improvements are needed, they will be brought about by reasoned discussion, not biased, slanted, one-sided journalism.
Richard B. Boyd Jr.
Ford’s Chemical & Service Inc.