Expiration Dates

Social (ab)norms: I enjoyed your article on courtship ["The Canons of Courting," by Michael Serazio, January 27]. Although my children are grown and gone, my sister and brother-in-law have four daughters. They decided, even though it is "abnormal" to most, that courtship is in their daughters' best interest.

Admittedly, it is not the social norm, but I believe it's a more correct path than to allow children to mature by themselves in the backseats of automobiles or at unchaperoned beach parties as I did. The mantra of my boomer generation -- "If it feels good, do it" -- created a social tsunami over the last 40 years, leaving in its wake broken relationships, the definitions of family, right and wrong, Roe vs. Wade and new definition of the word is.

Courtship is probably outdated and Victorian in an urban setting like Houston. You failed to mention how many cultures have relied on this system for thousands of years and how prevalent it was during the formative years of our country. I think disposable income, drive-in movies and moms and dads preferring friendship instead of wise counsel contributed to the scene we now behold. Your article occupied several pages of your newspaper -- fewer by far than the information relating to 24-hour video stores, personal dating services, massage parlors and strip clubs.

From that perspective, the average reader could decide for himself which is the better alternative. But let's assume you have a young daughter looking to you for instruction and protection; which would you prefer she choose?

Thanks for allowing others to at least consider the possibility that there is something different.

Steve Will

Extreme prejudice: It's good to see that the Taliban is alive and well in Texas. If God does exist, I pray that he'll save us from religious extremists of all stripes, including the McMinns.

Jason Ginsburg

Lord have mercy: "The Canons of Courting" and your review of Beyond the Gates of Splendor ["No More Spears," by Luke Y. Thompson, January 27] both exhibit a troubling level of vitriol toward Christians.

I am a lifelong Christian, and I am in an interracial marriage with interracial children. So I agree on some issues with the people portrayed in "Canons," but I disagree on many more.

However, I don't allow that disagreement to lead to ridicule or outright contempt. Michael Serazio takes cheap potshots whenever he can in the article. While he may feign some level of evenhandedness toward more mainstream churchgoers, his unmistakable message is "these people are wrong because they're Christians."

And your film review makes a point of complimenting the film because "Christ never even gets name-checked." Is the name of Jesus Christ really so odious to you that a film about missionaries who died because of and in the name of Christ should never mention Christ himself?

If you allowed this sort of attitude to be directed toward Muslims, Jews or Buddhists, could you call yourself tolerant and pluralistic? Aren't those core values of liberalism? Does the fact that a majority of Americans are Christian make them unworthy of basic respect?

I live my faith largely in private. I don't require others to share it before I can love or respect them. By I don't think it's asking too much of supposedly open-minded liberals that they have some simple respect for the fact that what I believe is dear to me, if not to them.

Wayne Jones

Girls are the victims: I felt sickened and disgusted by the families featured in your story. While I applaud the parents' efforts to infuse their children with Christian values, these people are narrow-minded extremists who tout themselves as cultural pioneers. These parents have taken away freedom from their children and disguised their actions as a means of protection.

There were so many things I found appalling, I couldn't possibly address each of them in this letter. Among them, chauvinism and prejudice. Sadly, the biggest victims in this story are the daughters. I couldn't help feeling angered at one of the fathers' comments about marriage. His reference to a "transfer of power" and the husband being his daughter's leader left me feeling completely incredulous. I didn't think people like that actually existed anymore.

After all the trials women have gone through in history to establish some level of equality, I am saddened that there are families today that teach their daughters nothing but a world of submission.

Michelle Lowrey
Sugar Land

Ditching the Birds

Destroyed wetlands: Thank you for your excellent article "Draining the Swamp" [by Josh Harkinson, January 13]. I live in the Clear Lake area, and it is sad to see our area's great herons, night herons and roseate spoonbills living in the drainage ditches because their home has disappeared. Your article helped educate me about how the developers in our subdivision could so easily destroy the ecosystem of the wetlands in our area under the "watchful eye" of the corps of engineers. It was a place where many birds stopped on their southward migration.

What I love most about living in Houston is seeing the nonhuman life in the Seabrook, League City and Galveston Bay areas. It seems that "humanizing" the environment means wiping out the ability of all other nonhuman species of plants and animals to survive. Maintaining the biodiversity of this ecosystem is critical for human survival as well, as we need these valuable "water filters" and flood-control systems.

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