Praying is fine, but it takes action to solve problems | May 8, Bill Maxwell column
Prayer can provide instructions for action
Unfortunately Bill Maxwell has presented a distorted image of prayer. There are too many people whose only idea of prayer is to tell God their problems and wait for them to be solved.
Examples in Scripture and hymns show us a different concept of prayer. One instance found in the first book of Kings is when the prophet Elijah prayed. After becoming silent he became aware of God's guidance to go and do something! Waiting to listen for God's guidance is a significant part of prayer. Many Christian hymns are prayers with the theme, "Teach me, Lord, show me thy way."
Maybe, instead of dismissing prayer, we need to increase our understanding of what it is — not our directing God "from the menu of divinity, as if God is some cosmic waiter who serves us at our convenience" but our waiting for God's directions and following them.
Jean Lersch, St. Petersburg
Listening is part of it
I enjoyed reading this article on prayer and agree with Bill Maxwell on several of his comments. I believe that we often approach God with a list of things to pray for with what we think the answers should be before we finish our prayer. We are impatient, and in our high-tech world we sometimes expect immediate answers to our petitions to God.
This leads me to an important part of prayer life that I think Maxwell failed to mention: listening to God. If prayer is truly a one-on-one communication with God, I believe that truly listening with open hearts and minds is more important than our petitions, since God knows our needs (not our wants) before we ask.
I truly believe that God does answer prayer. Be patient and be aware through listening.
Thomas Angel, Clearwater
Believing that prayers are going to accomplish their intended results requires a belief in a supreme being (or God) who will hear those prayers and actually answer them. This is a concept that is extremely illogical and antithetical to everything we know about science and the universe.
That Bill Maxwell has never seen any independent evidence that prayer works is not surprising at all. Several studies have clearly illustrated that intercessory prayer for the "ill" provides no benefit in terms of "healing" that person to whom the prayer (or prayers) are directed.
Bob Lindskog, Palm Harbor
This atheist finds he needs a foxhole | May 4, Robyn Blumner column
is not Christian behavior
The very thought that a brave young man like Army Spc. Jeremy Hall needs a bodyguard to defend him against so-called "Christians" is a sad commentary on the state of our military and our nation. What a disgrace!
If the accusations against Maj. Freddy Welborn and his ilk are true, they are certainly not Christians. There are way too many people like this trying to shove their views down other people's throats. I have news for them: If there is a God and a Heaven, and if Jesus is holy, these people will not be there.
True Christians should rise up and denounce these holier-than-thou fakers. Christians, people of other religions and nonbelievers alike should let their representatives know how despicable such indoctrination attempts are and demand that they be stopped.
Lord, save me from people trying to save me!
Charlotte Schiaffo, Tampa
This atheist finds he needs a foxhole | May 4, Robyn Blumner column
These are private matters
When I read the articles about Jeremy Hall's travails in the New York Times I knew I wouldn't be waiting long for Robyn Blumner to jump right on the story. Good for her.
The Army has apparently changed considerably since I served (1958-61). I didn't make an issue of my atheism, but I made no secret of it either. Nobody ever gave me any static. I don't ever recall being coerced into any religious observance of any kind — no compulsory chapel, prayers at chow, etc.
I was brought up to believe that one's sex life, finances and religious beliefs are private matters and no one else's business. You don't ask others about such things and don't give your opinion unless asked. The military services need to relearn this simple rule of courtesy.
Pete Wilford, Holiday
An effective role model
I am 50 years old, white, married 28 years and the father of two boys. I came from a home with a good mother — and a father we were very cautious around. After 5 p.m., we kids stayed out of his way. I graduated from Dixie Hollins High School, Class of 1976, at a time of race riots. I was married in 1979 and had my first son in 1983. It was a moving experience, a miracle, and I wanted to be a good father.
Some months later, The Cosby Show debuted. I admired Dr. Cliff Huxtable. His wife and kids could talk to him. Most important, the Huxtable household was one of harmony. Goofy as it sounds, I made my mind up to have a home like that. I have not been a perfect father, but I easily kept that promise, with Dr. Huxtable as my guide. His example was "only TV" but I had no other model.
Therefore, I am rooting for Bill Cosby. I have read his book and seen video of his many speeches. If he impacts 20 percent of the young black men in his audiences, it is time well spent. He wasn't even trying and he got me in 1984.
Jim Rudolph, Clearwater
Hypocrisy on trade
Throughout this marathon primary season, both current candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination have been very clear on their opposition to free trade. They have been consistent in their support for tariffs and trade restrictions that Big Labor foolishly believes will bring jobs to their members.
This protectionist stance is annoying and frustrating because it's combined with lofty rhetoric about how this stance will restore our standing in the world. The Democrats rarely miss an opportunity to focus on negative world opinion of current U.S. foreign policy and yet are oblivious to world opinion against a U.S. protectionist stance.
They can't have it every which way. These two positions are diametrically opposed. What do Democrats really want? It's hard to tell unless you look at their special interest supporters.
Mary La Plant, Palm Harbor
Later filing deadline lets judges keep seats
May 3, story by Lucy Morgan
Cronyism at work
In reading this story, I was surprised, but not shocked, to learn that political corruption seems to be alive and well in the state of Florida.
This 2002 amendment to an elections bill, which Lucy Morgan wrote about, allows judges to move their election qualifying time up to May, rather than July like other state candidates. It appears to be just another "good ol' boy" tactic that state politicians quietly sneaked through in order to help their buddies keep their jobs unopposed and, most importantly, to keep their jobs with no accountability.
I have learned firsthand over the past year how the system works — or should I say, how the system does not work — and I can certainly see why some judges would not want to be opposed in an election.
I guess if judges had to run against an opponent to keep their jobs, they might actually be held accountable for their actions. It appears they don't, and again, the people lose.
Mick McKenzie, Seminole
More information needed
Your coverage of the 2008 legislative session was interesting, yet, in my opinion, incomplete.
Nowhere in those articles did I read about legislation introduced by my elected representatives, nor their positions on key bills or their votes. Without this information, how can we be expected to vote for or against them intelligently at the next election?
Nor do we receive comparable information about our county commissioners and school officials on a regular basis, providing us with the same dilemma.
Please expand your coverage so we can be a better informed electorate on all levels.
Larry Silver, Oldsmar
A fuss over book for kids | May 3, story
My Beautiful Mommy, a book for kids about plastic surgery, sounds like another way to lead children toward poor self-image, as if we don't have enough eating disorders and psychological issues.
Is mommy not beautiful without the doctor helping her? Surely the surgery can be explained in another way for young family members.
Robyn Dalton, Largo