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Claim: Police Dispatch Column Should Be More Sensitive to Mental Illness

I was troubled by the Police Dispatch report "There's Always an Irrational Explanation" (Feb. 19). Having lived with a family member suffering from severe mental illness, I recognize all too well the senior citizen's apparently delusional remarks regarding her feeling that she was being stalked, robbed, harassed, etc. While I could not, of course, say for sure that the woman in question is mentally ill, I think there is a fairly good chance that she is, and if so, these delusions are very real and frightening to those who suffer from them.

I am distressed to see the Weekly publishing this account as an oddity or something to be snickered at. Our society's understanding and treatment of mental illness has a long way to go. Reports such as this only perpetuate misunderstanding.

The report preceding this one, regarding a woman apparently on drugs or intoxicated, titled "Semi-Insane," is another example of insensitivity to mental illness. Insanity (or addiction, for that matter) is an illness, not a glib phrase for catchy titles.

Beckie Kravetz


Our World Needs Limits on Population Growth—but They'll Never Happen in the U.S.

Regarding O'Sullivan's views on breeding habits (April 30): It was an interesting coincidence that while I am currently reading the 30-year update to Limits of Growth (I read the original book in the early '80s while in college), Catherine O'Sullivan published her views about limiting population growth.

Her article raises the question: Why in today's society does a family need more than one or two children? If we desire to live longer and healthier (many of us consider this a priority), and we realize that the rate of population growth is a combination of both the birth and death rates, it is all the more necessary that we have fewer children.

I remember when I was much younger, China imposed a law upon its citizens that limited the number of children any couple could have. At the time, it seemed a rather harsh rule, but it makes sense to me today. There are only so many mouths you can feed with the finite amount of food you can grow. Unfortunately, in today's society, insurmountable resistance to a change in breeding habits would be brought on by many of our organized religious affiliations.

My proposal to aid in lowering the birth rate is to dramatically change the existing tax laws: Federal and state tax benefits for couples with children need to change. We should provide a tax credit to a couple with only a single child. Families with multiple children would receive no additional credit, as opposed to the current ever-increasing available deduction. Put the law into place so that no more welfare aid is available to religious zealots, the breeding polygamists and octo-moms!

The government could balance the budget and pay off the deficit within a few years! But since our elected officials will not benefit from this law, nothing will change.

But be forewarned ... "Soylent Green is people!"

Scott Prechtel


Christianity Is Fading Because People Are Acquiring Knowledge

In his Guest Commentary (May 21), Jonathan Hoffman provided anecdotal evidence to counter the "hype" given in the April 13 Newsweek article "The End of Christian America." The message I received was that Jonathan was trying to ameliorate a fear of his, or the concerns of other fearful Christians. His opinion reads as if some members fear that the Christian dogma may not be true, because other Christians are losing their faith. But there is no evidence to suggest that there is any correlation between the number of believers and the truth of a religion. For more rigorous and objective data on the membership dynamics in Christian denominations and the growth of the unaffiliated, read the Pew Research Center report "Faith in Flux" from April 27 (pewforum.org/docs/?DocID=409).

Jonathan's experience leads him to believe that, although there has been a rash of books promoting secularism, Christianity remains unscathed. Christianity and our other religions are in the unenviable position of constant rear-guard struggles against modernity. They have suffered many intrusions through time by all of the other human endeavors (science, technology, philosophy, politics, etc.) whose growth has expanded our naturalistic worldview. This is a major driver in the membership dynamics of Christianity today. Denominations are competing to woo the faithful, and the faithful are choosing the denominations that better fit their modern worldview, or are just jettisoning their faith altogether.

Those tenets of Christianity that defy rationality and are based on time-invariant ancient texts will continue to be subject to scrutiny as long as humankind continues to reason and acquire knowledge. It is in our nature; we evolved with these exquisite abilities above all other creatures.

Mark Egan


Clarification

In "Indigenous Works" (Books, May 14), the headline stated that Ritual Beauty: Art of the Ancient Americas was published by the University of Arizona Press. While the UA Press is helping to market and distribute the book, the actual publisher is the University of Arizona Museum of Art. We apologize for the confusion.

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