The Orthodox way of marking ChristmasIn his otherwise...


December 21, 1997

The Orthodox way of marking Christmas

In his otherwise excellent and timely Nov. 10 article on Advent, John Rivera unfortunately erred when he stated that the Orthodox church does not commemorate Advent, but merely observes a fast.

During Advent, the Orthodox church calls upon its faithful to prepare for the glorious celebration of the Feast of the Nativity. It is a period marked by a spirit of anticipation, expectation, penitence and preparation awaiting "an Advent" of the birth of the Messiah.

On Nov. 21, the feast of the Entry of Mary into the Temple was celebrated and the glorious hymn of the Forefeast chanted. The hymn is then chanted at every service before Christmas. As Christmas nears, vespers, matins and liturgies emphasize God's plan for man's redemption, visible in the Old Testament and put into action with the birth of Christ.

On Dec. 20, the Forefeast of Christmas begins and all of the texts glorify the miracle of Christ's birth. Christmas Eve has especially majestic services.

Evan Alevizatos Chriss


Column explained improvement efforts

Bravo to Sara Engram for superbly describing in her Dec. 7 column why the Maryland Economic Development Commission and its partners are strongly in favor of implementing the High School Improvement Program.

The commission included the recommendation of setting tough accountability standards and tying achievement of these standards to graduation in its statewide strategic plan for economic development. Holding students accountable for grasping core learning areas and skills for success will assure employers that the state is responding to work-force-related concerns.

A well-prepared student, ready to enter either the work force or pursue postsecondary studies, is vital to Maryland's economic competitiveness. Increasingly, the availability of qualified employees is a significant determinant for executives considering creating, expanding or locating jobs in a community.

Support of Superintendent Nancy Grasmick's recommendations will send a strong message to students, educators, parents and employers about what is expected from graduates in order to succeed in the 21st-century global marketplace.

Joseph Haskins Jr.


The writer chairs the Maryland Economic Development Commission.

Jay views needed on state election

Isn't the Opinion Commentary page a place where we readers can expect unadulterated opinion, even if it goes against the position of The Sun?

If Peter Jay, a free-lance writer who is not an employee of The Sun, cannot express his opinion freely, where is the free expression of ideas in The Sun?

How can we be sure the other Opinion Commentary writers are not likewise constrained?

I, for one, want to hear his views about the 1998 gubernatorial election. Free Peter Jay!

Will Fastie


Hopkins publication and Auschwitz ad

Regarding Gregory Kane's Dec. 7 column: Printing an ad questioning the facts of Auschwitz is not a matter of free speech. The sponsors are free to spout that garbage on their own; there is no obligation of a newspaper to publish it.

On the contrary, a reputable newspaper's obligation is to accuracy, fidelity to fact. Douglas Steinke's and Andrew Pergam's decision to run the ad in the Johns Hopkins News-Letter, to give it the imprimatur of a prestigious university, is absolutely unconscionable.

Mr. Pergam says it was not "explicitly offensive . . . It didn't have any language about hating Jews or say the Holocaust didn't happen."

How explicit can you get? The ad was from "those of us who do not believe the 'gas chamber' stories . . ."

Hate speech and Holocaust denial is exactly what the ad was about. There's nothing subtle about its meaning; any 12-year-old could grasp it. If Mr. Steinke and Mr. Pergam are so mentally impoverished as to have difficulty discerning this, they certainly have no business being editors of the News-Letter.

Mr. Pergam says he was "brought up to do what's fair." Unbelievable! "Fair" to mass murderers and their apologists!

Rea Knisbacher


It helps to know what numbers mean

I had a hearty laugh over the headline, Dec. 11, "Drink a day cuts risk of death by 20%, study finds."

Whee -- a 20 percent chance of living forever if I continue to have a glass of wine with dinner!

On a more serious note, though, I noted that the article had exactly the same twisted statistics, with no explanation of what the study really showed.

Every reporter should be required to take a basic statistics course so as prevent gaffes like this.

Linda Sweeting


Roller coaster may be fast, but not that fast

A Nov. 24 article by Samantha Kappalman, "A new loop in roller coasters," described a phenomenon that violates the laws of physics.

It said, "Within the blink of an eye you go from sitting still to 65 mph without any acceleration." This is physically impossible. Acceleration is defined as the change in velocity divided by time interval during which it occurred.

Americans have a difficult time understanding science without reading inaccurate information in The Sun. In the future, please verify that your statements are accurate. I would like to know how you plan to prevent these errors from occurring in the future.

Kristin M. Amrein

Bel Air

Pub Date: 12/21/97

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