Letters to the Editor: Devotional guide prompts trip down memory lane



I want to thank the Mississippi Conference for producing the devotional guide Between the Ashes and the Alleluias in celebration of Lent. What struck me most vividly was the spirit of great sadness and deep regrets on the part of some that “failed in the first prophetic challenge.” They are mourning the realization that their silence and inaction at the time helped to fuel the evil of racism and its consequences. 

I have a deep inkling that future generations of Christians will be celebrating Lent in far greater sadness and mourning because of their silence and inaction now in face of an even greater evil than racism: Militarism and war. In fact, a very similar spirit that fuels racism propels militarism. 

It is a distinct possibility that there may not be any future generations to celebrate Lent. Because of the lack of “courage, perseverance, opportunity and knowledge,” the twin spirits of racism and militarism that dominates so much of what Americans think and do could very well send humanity soaring to heaven in a mushroom cloud of hate and violence. All because we, in our fear and/or unconcern, or perhaps because of the “bottom line,” choose to remain silent and look the other way. Such a fate “could be stopped by us — church people.” Will future generations (if any) be crying out from the ashes of the world that was, “church people did not speak up or out. Church people remained silent and stood by, allowing this grave injustice to take place,” to quote the guide. 

Thanks a big heap to the Mississippi Conference for this challenging journey down memory lane.

C. E. Swain


I want to congratulate and praise several writers whose letters to the Mississippi United Methodist Advocate accord well with my views. First, Bishop (Hope Morgan) Ward did right in writing against housing the papers of the incumbent (president) at SMU. Several who wrote their views on Muslims and the present war in Iraq —  Rev. (Ron) Barham, Mark McLain of Madison, and two by C. E. Swain of Carthage, (especially) one wherein he responds to one by Dr. Wallace Cason. I shall attempt to “blanket” respond to all. 

The reason Muhammad spread so rapidly his faith in the seven hundreds was his espousal of the brotherhood of all men. When one chooses from our Bible reports of killings in the name of God, I think perhaps a Jewish writer might have written them. Nonetheless, I concentrate on the love proclaimed by Jesus and other parts of the Bible that do not exemplify love I read with a grain of salt.  

Barham is so right in stating we need to understand all faiths. It is true that that the Muslim faith proclaims “There is but one God Allah and Mohammad is His prophet.” Our Jewish and Christian heritage also proclaims the sovereignty of our one God Jehovah and Jesus as his son. The Koran proclaims the brotherhood of all men and even has 28 prophets from our Bible, a large number from the Old Testament and a few from the New Testament. 

As Abraham Lincoln stated when contemplating issuing the Emancipation Proclamation, he said he wished he knew the will of providence, but, unable to know, he had to talk with men to conclude a position. Unlike him, the present incumbent (president) says he goes directly to Jesus for answers. I like especially the words of McLain:  “I believe the judgment of history will be the ceaseless illumination of of  Bush’s arrogance, ignorance and moral and intellectual sloth, which have recklessly and needlessly cost hundreds of thousands of God’s children and lives while accelerating the spinning of our world in a disastrous direction.”  

I might end by saying the reason why a number of our athletes have embraced the Muslim faith is its emphasis on brotherhood of all men.

John E. Wallace


I favor the George Bush Library at Southern Methodist University, Millsaps, Rust or any other Methodist college that he would choose. 

The Methodist church should not be in politics. Our bishop should not sign a petition, as our bishop, unless the majority of our Methodists asked her to do so. It is not “inspiring the flock” by showing her personal conviction. This is my conviction. I support the president, and I am not denouncing Jesus by doing so, and I resent (Mark) McLain suggesting this. 

Every president does some good things and some not so good. He is still president. Is the Duke University that refused the Nixon library the same Duke University that threw the lacrosse coach and players to the wolves? How proud you must be of Duke!

President Carter is a good Christian man and I’m proud of Emory for having his library, but I’m not proud of the 20 percent interest rate of our economy or the botched rescue of our citizens held prisoners by Iran while he was president. 

This is one 75-year-old, fifth-generation (or more) Methodist who is a proud Republican supporter of President Bush, but I will keep it out of my church or it will no longer be “my church.”

Carol Dupuy


Being a very active 83-year-old, lifetime member of Indianola First United Methodist Church, I feel compelled by duty and responsibility to comment on the letter to the editor of March 7 concerning the possibility of the Bush library at SMU. I am deeply saddened again about actions taken or not taken by some of our church leadership.

I was first saddened several months ago when there was no opposition to (retired Episcopal) Bishop (John) Spong being given a platform to speak at Millsaps College even when he is an avowed non-believer of the lordship of Christ. I was ashamed by this. Now comes the opposition to the possible placement of the President George W. Bush Library at the SMU campus, and I am ashamed again. 

As I read the letter from March 7,  I see vilifying words such as “arrogant,” “ignorant”  and “moral and intellectual sloth” describing President Bush. I realize the writer must dislike and disagree with our president quite a lot to say the least. But where does James 3:8-10 fit in with the writer’s mindset? Does prayer for our national leaders have a place in this mindset? I wonder. 

The writer feels shame for SMU to even consider the placement of a Bush library there. Was there shame for Emory University with the Jimmy Carter library? Was there shame for Little Rock with the Clinton library? 

Speaking of shame, where is the shame when some of our church leaders ignore the (Book of Discipline) of The United Methodist Church concerning the incompatibility of homosexuality with the scriptures? Two thousand years of biblical teachings are being ignored each day by some of our church leaders. Where is the hue and cry and shame from the rest of our church leadership? 

Though I live in this part of the country, and I do respect President Bush, I would never denounce Jesus for any human being, not even the president of the United States. It is discouraging to feel the need to write this letter. Just know I am a sinner saved by his grace and continue to pray for our church and its leaders, our president and national leaders.

W.B. Fletcher Jr.


We strongly disagree with Bishop Hope Morgan Ward’s position opposing the placement of the Bush library at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.  

Presidential libraries are treasure troves of historical information on a wide variety of very important issues and topics. By accepting it, SMU is not stating that it endorses Bush’s administration and political views, but it is revealing itself to be open minded in its quest for historical truth. Although most of us would probably abhor the life and career of Adolf Hitler, I don’t think we would reject the chance to acquire many of his letters from which we might learn more about him. 

A presidential library at SMU would help transform that fine university into a great one. We have two SMU degrees (including one from Perkins School of Theology) and three Duke degrees in our family, and we consider ourselves to be open minded and fairly liberal on most social and theological issues. Nevertheless, we recognize that a conservative think tank could serve as a useful catalyst to stir debate and to keep those with differing viewpoints on their toes.

Jeannie and Stanly Godbold


In January 2003, prior to the American invasion of Iraq, 50 prominent American religious leaders, including 20 United Methodist bishops one of whom was Bishop Kenneth Carder of Mississippi, requested a meeting with President Bush regarding his plan to invade Iraq.  

Their letter to the president stated, in part: “As leaders of tens of millions of Protestant and Orthodox Christians across the United States, we are in touch with our clergy, with lay leaders and with church members everywhere on this issue. We are also in communication with our counterparts in Europe and elsewhere around the globe.

"Several of us have traveled to Iraq in recent years, and even in recent days, to speak with Iraqi people of faith. We draw on the tenets of our Christian faith in all these encounters, seeking a way toward peace that is both prophetic and practical. 

"It is with the utmost urgency that we seek a meeting with you to convey face-to-face the message of the religious community that we represent on the moral choices that confront this nation and your Administration. You are no doubt well aware of our activities to slow the rush to war and our continuing uneasiness about the moral justification for war on Iraq. What we ask now, as fellow believers and as the spiritual leaders of Americans in congregations in every community of our great nation, is a pastoral opportunity to bring this message to you in person.”   

In response to this request, Dr. Bob Edgar, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches, received a letter from President Bush’s director of appointments and scheduling stating that the schedule was full and that he did “not foresee an opportunity to add this event to the calendar.”  

Prior to this, on Oct. 11, 2002, a delegation of United Methodist bishops traveled to the White House and requested a meeting with President Bush, a member of The United Methodist Church, for the purpose of discussing the church’s position on war, expressing concerns and to pray for the president. President Bush refused to meet with the bishops. 

And now, after refusing to meet with or even talk to the leaders of the church of which he is a member, Bush may put his presidential library on the campus of Southern Methodist University which is affiliated with The United Methodist Church. And somebody wants to criticize Bishop Hope Morgan Ward for having the integrity and courage to stand up and say that this man who denied and repudiated the leaders of the church to which he belongs … (should be) repudiated and denied. 

Bishop Ward has inspired this member of her flock by being a leader of integrity and courage, not fearful of the truth but committed to it; not comfortable and satisfied with position and faith, but concerned with the uprightness and righteousness of our Methodist institutions and the message to people of faith being sent out by our church.

That is, a bishop not just of faith and philosophy, but of works and action as well. A lot of good Methodists are uncomfortable with a bishop who takes a stand for truth and justice just as 2,000 years ago a lot of his fellow Jews were uncomfortable with the teaching and example of Jesus. On this issue, all Mississippi Methodists should stand solidly with Bishop Ward.

Henry Goodman