Editor: The litter in the Federal Hill-Cross Street area is a neighborhood disgrace.
While so many have moved back to the city, taking pride along with longtime residents, trying to make this neighborhood as it once was long ago or even better, some care not, along with visitors to the area.
A street cleaner has not been seen since last fall. Street cleaners should not be necessary, however, if the human element were responsible for individual litter. Trash receptacles are on practically every corner of these streets. If not, the mayor would be delighted to supply one where requested. One was supplied at my corner on request, with a follow-up letter to thank me for caring and taking responsibility.
R. S. Baldwin.
Editor: Richard Fogg (letter, July 15) accuses the Enoch Pratt Free Library system of "snitching pennies unjustly" for raising 00 the price of photocopying to 20 cents.
At our local post office the price is 25 cents. At some commercial photocopiers, the price is 15 cents.
The Pratt is not a photocopy service, but it does have a machine for the convenience of patrons. Naturally, if you are going to do a lot of copying, it will pay to go to a business that, because of volume, can give you a better price.
As far as preventing someone from ripping out pages, if a person is actually so immoral as to ruin a book to avoid the cost of photocopying, I doubt a nickel is going to change his or her mind.
Maybe the Pratt should post a sign, "Don't tear out pages; be a real jerk and just take the whole book."
Mr. Fogg also takes issue with the library charging the late fine on Sundays, when the library isn't open.
But books are never due on Sundays, they're only overdue. And if this gives someone the incentive to return that overdue book on Saturday, as opposed to waiting until Monday, I say go for it.
And, of course, no hypocritical argument would be complete without bringing in the proverbial lachrymose child, in this instance being unduly charged by the cruel librarians. Sorry, the Pratt doesn't charge overdue fines for children's books.
The Baltimore Declaration
Editor: Theological issues often translate poorly when reported by the secular media. I fear such is the case with the article in The Sun July 11 about "The Baltimore Declaration" authored by six Episcopal priests, myself included.
I cannot too strongly reject the suggestion by the article that our declaration claims for Christianity "supremacy" over Judaism or any other religious tradition. Such would be an unconscionable claim. In our declaration we explicitly condemn "all anti-Semitism in thought, word, or deed (as) vicious and to be decried."
Likewise, we condemn the notion that men are superior to women or that God as God is male. We affirm emphatically the equal dignity of women with men, both created in the image of God, and in particular we affirm the ministry of women in our church. One of our number has a woman priest as a full-time associate.
The essential point of our declaration is that the Christian faith, in itself or in dialogue with other faiths, cannot be honestly represented apart from the conviction that God acted in the person of Jesus, himself a Jew, to offer reconciliation and redemption of all humanity -- male and female, Jew and Gentile, black and white, one and all.
The very mission of Christianity is to transcend the divisions and ideologies of race, religion, gender and policies.
I am charged to speak for all the authors of "The Baltimore Declaration" in saying that our primary aim has been to call upon the Episcopal Church itself to do a better job of evangelizing its own members. The very heart of the Christian faith as such is belief in Jesus --"of the house and lineage of David" -- as universal savior. This faith is dependent on affirmation by Christians of the claims of the New Testament.
While upholding absolute freedom for all religious beliefs and nonbelief, Christianity cannot be true to itself without living by the Biblical commission to proclaim to the world the messiahship of Jesus for the well-being of all people.
Rev. William N. McKeachie.
Editor: Patricia Meisol's July 15 article entitled "Museums begin to cast a wider net for guides" was shallow, both in spirit and in research.
The Walters Art Gallery and many of its colleague museums have, for years, worked to diversify the docent corps. To suggest that our extraordinary team of 90 devoted individuals is composed of "ladies of leisure . . . of a certain social class" is not to relate to reality. The turn of phrase is extraordinarily prejudiced and anachronistic.
Our docents -- rich and not-so-rich, black and white, young and less young, Jewish and gentile, tall and short -- fit no stereotype except one: that of devoted volunteers who annually contribute thousands of hours of education and delight to museum visitors ranging from school children to senior citizens.
I'm sure the 11 men among our volunteers, especially the full-time Baltimore City police officer, had a good laugh at the article. Perhaps Ms. Meisol should refine her research methods.
Robert P. Bergman.
Editor: The column by Garland L. Thompson proclaims retired Justice Thurgood Marshall as "The Most Important Lawyer of the 20th Century." Mr. Thompson's sentiments are explicit and most agreeable.
It is imperative that the American people do not forget or take for granted the many obstacles Justice Marshall had to overcome. Also it is necessary not to overlook the many achievements that he has made for the civil rights of all people. The most astonishing achievement is the dedication of his life to justice.
Even though Justice Marshall retires, his vision of equality for all remains.
His successor may not come in the form of a Supreme Court justice who has encountered obstacles such as Jim Crow and segregation, but maybe through another medium such as a president of the United States who has experienced comparable barriers in another century.
Expensive Emergency Rooms
Editor: While Kevin Holland may be correct when he writes that his father received a more expensive emergency room visit and unnecessary laboratory testing because his father carried health insurance, I'd like to suggest another possibility.
As a brand new college graduate, Mr. Holland is most likely in his early 20s. His father probably is no younger than 45 years old and possibly older. My guess is the emergency room physician remembered that middle-aged men often cope less well with fever and flu-like illnesses, and these symptoms may herald the beginning of a very serious, even life-threatening illness.
Although Mr. Holland described their symptoms only cursorily, a short list of possible diagnoses for fever includes certain cancers, sepsis (blood poisoning) and other serious infections like pneumonia and meningitis, heart attack, heat stroke, gout and other types of arthritis, as well as drug reactions. Virtually all of these diseases are much less common (and less severe) for people in their 20s than they are in middle-aged men.
The doctor may have felt a few simple tests could narrow the possibilities and help ensure the elder Mr. Holland withstood his illness.
Speaking of "financial inefficiency," why did the Hollands visit an emergency room on a Monday morning, when almost all doctors' offices are open? The American consumer's demand for immediate state-of-the-art care in every neighborhood -- barely mentioned in the accompanying article by Jonathan Bor -- is another factor driving the health care cost crisis.
James P. Richardson, M.D.
* * * Editor: I am writing in response to Kevin Holland's Perspective article of July 14 in which he contrasted his own no-frills examination with his father's multiple tests for the same problem, attributing the difference to the author's lack of medical insurance (and implying a desire by the doctor to gouge the father's insurance company).
I am willing to concede Mr. Holland his point because he may well be correct, although it is also possible that his father had additional tests because of his age, pre-existing medical problems or sicker appearance.
However, I find it ironic that he apparently had no qualms about going to a hospital emergency room on a Monday morning for evaluation of a fever and sore throat, when the same care could have been rendered in any general practitioner's office for considerably less expense.
Patients, doctors, hospitals and insurance companies all can (and do) abuse the system as it currently exists. We should all examine our behavior a little more closely while we await the coming of a new system.
Edward Fancovic, M.D.