Be careful what gods we serve

As a religious leader, I would like to affirm Lynn Hoffman’s recent commentary about the dangers of what he called “religious thinking.” [“Joe Pa and the dangers of religious thinking,” July19]

Mr. Hoffman surmised that whenever an idea gets so big that it allows people to hurt others, then it has become a kind of harmful god or religion. He is right on.

The reformer Martin Luther (1483-1546) wrote that “to have a god is nothing else than to trust and believe in that one with your whole heart.” Success can be a god. Money can be a god. Institutions (whether football programs, financial systems, nations or churches) can become gods.

The point is not to avoid having ultimate concerns. The question is rather which gods will we serve? As the Bob Dylan song says, “You gotta serve somebody.” Who or what is that ultimate concern going to be?

At our best, Christians follow the way of the loving God we meet in Jesus Christ. People of other faiths (including Islam) also dedicate themselves to love, mercy and truth in the name of God. In any of these religious traditions, hurting others is a clear sign that a false god has appeared.

Because questions of ultimate concern are so powerful and potentially dangerous, we need to be aware of their role in our lives. While we value freedom in this country, we also expect personal and group responsibility for what we believe and how we act. In light of child abuse scandals, financial scandals, and the social problems we face everyday, I thank Mr. Hoffman for reminding us that we are indeed accountable for what we believe and do.

Rev. Dr. Martin Lohrmann
Christ Ascension Lutheran Church
Chestnut Hill

SCHA: We will plant trees

On behalf of the Springside Chestnut Hill Academy community, I would like to thank all who have taken the time to inquire about the work we are undertaking throughout our campus during Phase I of our Campus Master Plan. The interest from those outside our school community has shown what an important place our campus green space is to our neighborhood.

The intent of this work is to enhance the school’s green spaces and outdoor athletic facilities, to connect our 62-acre campus with walkways and paths that make moving between buildings and athletic fields easy and safe, and to install a water-management system that benefits the entire neighborhood and the Wissahickon Watershed. We are working closely with the Friends of the Wissahickon, Philadelphia Water Department, Horticultural Society, Chestnut Hill Historical Society, and Chestnut Hill Community Association on many aspects of our plans.

I would like to take this opportunity to address questions we have received regarding the trees removed as part of this green space renovation. This fall we will be planting more than 100 16- to 20-foot trees, all indigenous species, throughout the campus to replace the 24 mature trees that had to be removed along Willow Grove Avenue and Cherokee Street during construction. We have raised more than $250,000 for this purpose alone.

We hope you will join us this fall in enjoying the new plantings, trees, walkways, and fields that will enhance not only our school but, we hope, the community as well. We have every interest and intention in making this refurbished green space a lovely, natural environment that complements our community and educational endeavors.

Dr. Priscilla G. Sands
President, Springside Chestnut Hill Academy

Thanks for Lovett coverage

Thank you for Sue Ann Rybak’s article about the ongoing planning process for the grounds at Lovett Memorial Library. I have three comments.

As the neighbor who researched/wrote Lovett’s history for its centennial in 1985, updated for a presentation in 2010, I would like to add the historical note that the grounds were provided by Charlotte Lovett Bostwick, who erected and endowed the library, to be held in trust for library expansion as long as the library is maintained on that property. That trust is currently held by the City of Philadelphia, which already once expanded the library in 1959.

As a past president of the Friends of Lovett Memorial Library, the Mt. Airy Business Association and the West Mt. Airy Neighbors, I have listened attentively to public discussions about these plans, and the main discordant note I have heard is the concern on the part of long-time volunteers that years of their work to maintain and improve the library’s grounds may be ignored in the planning process.

Finally, as a neighborhood historian, what I would most like to see first would be an archaeological dig in this piece of apparently never-built-upon ground. It has been the site of militia drilling in the early 1800s, of a victory garden during WWI, of Arbor Day tree planting in the 1920s when there was a kindergarten at Lovett, of much ball playing before the creation of the Mt. Airy Playground and who knows what else. I have often wondered just what objects that could add to our appreciation for Mt.Airy life in earlier times might have been dropped and become buried there.

David T. Moore
Mt. Airy

Fed up with hypocrisy

Are there any other citizens of this country who are fed up with the hypocrisy that has grown and expanded over the last several years? It’s everywhere and no one seems to care about getting back to basic principles of justice and fairness.

Our Supreme Court has allowed the rich and corporate elite to smother the opinions and the rights of free speech of our citizens, allowing that very right to be monopolized by the few.

The same court disallows the regulation of guns by communities, while citizens are wounded and killed at a rate similar to military war zones, on the basis of individual self-protection.

We have candidates for office who can afford or are provided with extensive health insurance, yet any effective approach to supply similar care for fellow citizens is thought to be something we can’t afford.

Salaried persons in this country can’t hide their earnings for tax purposes, yet the rich few (often vocally patriotic) hide their earnings in accounts in the Cayman Islands and in other foreign banks and investment institutions to avoid taxation.

States that provided quality education and incentives to expand the world of technology, find that the wealth that individuals gained from this opportunity is being hidden in out-of-state headquarters to avoid home state taxation.

The very government founded by the likes of Washington, Hamilton and Madison, who sought to strengthen the central control of the economy that was chaotic when states previously had that power, now is being attacked by the very organizations that caused these economic problems in order to avoid a fair amount of regulation.

Why is President Reagan such a political hero, while President Lyndon Johnson, who did the most for the middle class and the poor by creating Medicare, Medicaid, Head Start, National Foundations of the Arts and Science, and Public Broadcasting, is forgotten?

It causes one to lose faith in organized religion when we see religious leaders using issues which have little effect on war, violence, poverty, justice, health care, issues which have a greater foundation in the scriptures than on the issues they devise. Are you tired of the phony patriotism by some in our country when it’s not their children who fight the wars but the children of those whose income is not as secure. They are the young adults who seek to expand their economic security by serving in the military, either full or part-time.

I could go on, the hypocrisy in this country is much greater than just the issues raised in this letter.

Philip E. McGovern

A different view of Nuns on the Bus

After reading Maryanne Kane’s article about her experience of attending the “Nuns on the Bus” presentation held on June 29 at Chestnut Hill College [“Nuns on the Bus,” July 12], I felt the need to respond by sharing another perspective. I was deeply moved by the tremendous energy of the 600 or so in attendance and by the dedication of the Sisters who shared their experiences.

Two of the presenters shared their concerns about the Ryan budget based on their current work with those on the margins of our society. Sister Judy Oliver, SSJ who is the manager of a Senior Housing HUD project was especially passionate in her plea not to have HUD funds cut but rather increased so more Seniors could be helped.

Hearing from the Sisters traveling throughout the country rallied the spirit of the audience to become involved. The Sister who has served as a lobbyist in Washington for many years begged us to take the time to communicate with our Congressional representatives on behalf of social justice issues. Even though Paul Ralph has indicaated the Churches and Outreach Groups can take up the slack if the funds for the poor are cut, we were assured this is not possible. These groups can only work in partnership with the Government.

To learn about the group responsible for this project and for more information about the Ryan Budget and other soical justice issues, I suggest anyone interested should visit Network’s web site at

Vera Green, SSJ