Losing to old age
I've just read Bob Jones's excellent article, "Homebodies." We've been caring for our four parents for the last 20 years and only one is left now, my 93-year-old mother. Don't I wish her nursing home costs were as cheap as the $37,000 per year cited as the cost in Florida nursing homes. Ours is $60,000 and rising. We are currently moving my mom out of institutional care into a residential facility where the care will be better, we hope, and the cost is "only" $42,000 a year. My husband and I are 67 and 70 years old, no spring chickens. With arthritic shoulders and osteoporosis ourselves, we can no longer lift my mom or transfer her from bed to wheelchair or toilet, or change her diapers. She is awake all night unless drugged. Old age is winning the battle, but the Lord isn't ready to take her to her heavenly home yet, I guess, so she lives on. Meanwhile, we've tried every option there is. Our church is not the answer, because so many of us are all in the same boat, caring for parents, with no left-over hours to help somebody else. Sometimes my husband and I laughingly tell each other that we hope to go down in a plane crash together someday-not living into old age and becoming this same burden to our four children. - Patricia Wilburn, Richland, Wash.
Hall of Famer
I remember the character "rage" in Major League Baseball in the early 1990s, and I worked alongside Dave Swanson in the Baseball Chapel ministry for 16 years ("True character," March 31). For 12 of those years he was my boss, as I toiled to establish chapels in the minor league system. Dave had integrity, honor, and honesty. He was in my Hall of Fame for character, and I am a better person for having served the Lord under his guidance and influence. - Rip Kirby, Knoxville, Tenn.
Sadly, I do not recognize the mean-spirited, cynical, and flippant tone in your reporting as the voice of the Good Shepherd. Please cancel my subscription. - Lee Hayden, Nutley, N.J.
I believe that vouchers for faith-based initiatives would have the same outcome as food stamps ("Fund individuals," March 24). Recipients would still look to the federal government for their "salvation." President Bush should try to reduce government involvement, and keep more money closer to the people who need it. This would be more in line with his tax-cut proposals. - Don Curtice, Bloomfield, N.Y.
I wondered why Gerald Bradley did not go further and point out that there is enough historical evidence for the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, both biblical and extrabiblical, to warrant teaching it as historical fact ("Teaching tool," March 24). The Bible has shown itself to be historically reliable, and we Christians need to stop soft-pedaling our talk about it. - Duane Peters, Lafayette, Ind.
appy Anniversary ("Publishing ... by design," March 24). We have so much enjoyed WORLD. The articles are insightful and extremely well written. You cover not only issues we are interested in, but also some we would never know of but for your investigative journalism. - Raun Lohry, Merrill, Iowa
While sitting at Hardee's drinking my 69¢ coffee (free refills) and waiting on an $11.99 oil change special, I was catching up on my reading with a recent issue of WORLD. The coffee was tasting pretty good until I got to the item about the megachurch in Indiana with the Starbuck's franchise selling coffee for $3.35 a cup (Quotables, March 17). And here I'd always thought there was some virtue in moderation (with an occasional Starbuck's-type night out) and using the savings for things like feeding the poor and spreading the gospel. Apparently the successful American church is able to get beyond such quaint ideas. - Gary Roseboom, East Peoria, Ill.
John DiIulio, head of the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, spoke to the National Association of Evangelicals convention in Dallas on March 7. - The Editors
I read your cover story on aging with great interest ("Aging in place," March 31). I would like to add that when we segregate large numbers of seniors in "retirement" communities and inappropriately institutionalize others, a precious resource is lost to our society, contributing to its breakdown. When we move seniors out of the community into one "ghetto" or another, no matter how nice they may be, we lose a piece of the continuum of life, a part of God's plan for us. We can no longer enjoy the life experiences that may be shared, or see what aging may be all about. This also contributes to our obsession with youth that is so prevalent in our society today. Swept away from everyday sight, aging has become something to fear, not just for those in your article who are directly affected, but for all of society. - William David, Glenside, Pa.
Some are wonderful
I was disappointed by "Aging in place." While it pointed out the need to develop good alternatives to traditional nursing home care, it left the impression that nursing homes are all bad, describing bedsores, soiled sheets, forgotten meals, lawsuits, huge profits, devastating losses, guilt, etc. While some homes deserve these descriptions, many do not. I am an administrator at the Dassel Lakeside Community Home, and here in Minnesota many nursing homes are operated by faith-based nonprofit organizations employing Christian leadership. They are wonderful places where people with very significant disabilities thrive in spite of great health challenges. - William Ward, Dassel, Minn.
Faith, hope, and baseball?
I appreciated your recent references to baseball ("True character," "Back to basics?" March 31), but I have not seen a sports page in WORLD recently. I hope that no one convinced you that sports are too trivial. Baseball may not rank up there with "faith, hope, and love" on the list of things that last, but it is one wholesome area of personal growth and competition. I coached my neighborhood kids for several years and connected with many families outside the church, opening easy doors for the gospel. I still go to watch some of those kids play, and baseball is made for talking about life while you watch a kids' game. - John Haak, Santa Cruz County, Calif.
Making the cut
Your 15th Anniversary coupon with the March 24 issue enticed me to renew for three more years. When I read "A schoolhouse divided," that clinched it. This newsworthy material didn't make the cut in my local newspaper. There is much I would never know without WORLD. - Robert W. Ausband, Gainesville, Fla.
If public schools get into the business of grading parents based on public-school standards, then truly Christian parents will fail ("Parenting 101," March 24). After all, we teach our children that God exists, that right and wrong do not change, that sex is reserved for marriage between one man and one woman, that abortion is wrong, and that violence and pornography are not art forms. Before public-school officials start grading parents, they should get the logs out of their own eyes. - Michael Drane, Havana, Fla.
South Lebanon was home to our family for many years ("Casualty of 'peace,'" March 24). On March 30 I returned from there with a deep sadness. Muslims and Christians were characterized by despair. One Shiite man told me in Arabic that he hated the current situation so much that he wanted to bring his entire family into their home, douse them with gas, and light a match. But I'm convinced that God works in the midst of crises to bring new life. A highlight of my journey was visiting prisoners (former soldiers) in Beirut with Pastor Najib, from a local Baptist church. We are planning another mission trip to take church teams to South Lebanon in conjunction with the churches there. Our focus will be on Jesus, the giver of new life, the One who never will abandon us. - D. Quale Williams, Gig Harbor, Wash.
As a small-town veterinarian, I was dismayed that you considered veterinary services for pets a wasteful and unwise use of resources, in the same category as cable TV and eating out ("The come-on," March 17). Human life is sacred, but God also cares about animals, and the tears that flow from the grieving heart of a child over a dying puppy are felt by God. - Donny Horton, Ripley, Miss.
I very much fear that the news that parents are collaborating in dumbing down their kids by sending them to worse, rather than better, schools may lead bureaucrats to take back the freedoms they have granted ("Mom and dad's job," March 17). The fact that people make bad choices does not mean those choices should ever be taken away. - Kerry Dougan, Jarabacoa, Dominican Republic