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Some major religions are not God-centered

In his Sept. 18 column, "A billboard nonbelievers can believe in," Donn Esmonde quoted Ron Lindsey of the Center for Inquiry, who stated that the idea of that billboard was to "get a conversation started." It took a while to hear about this "conversation," until the Sept. 29 Everybody's Column included a letter describing Esmonde's views as evidence of "disregard for what the faith considers sacred" and a "flip attitude."

As a retired Unitarian Universalist minister, I'd like to add my voice to this conversation. My take on Esmonde's billboard column was that it was both wise and appropriate. Considering the topic, that wasn't easy. If he was in error in any way, I think he underestimated the non-theists in our midst. He implied that because just 10 percent consider themselves atheists, 90 percent are traditional theists, thus "believers." That sets up a dichotomy between the Center for Inquiry and the Catholic Church. But what about the rest of us?

I think the conversation should include acknowledgment that some major world religions are not theistic, not God-centered. Buddhism, Confucianism and Daoism are examples that come to mind. Here in Buffalo, in addition to active Buddhist centers, we have a significant Unitarian Universalist presence that is non-creedal, and we need to mention the large numbers of people who connect with neither churches nor the Center for Inquiry.

The letter refers to "man's innate hunger for God." While I respect the writer's belief, I think the generalization should not be applied to all people. We humans hunger for many things: meaning, acceptance, happiness, security, justice, peace, love The God people choose to acknowledge or reject is understood in many different ways. There is among us great diversity in understanding and believing.

May the conversation continue.

The Rev. John Rex

Buffalo

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Buffalo Public Library provides ebooks, too

The Sept. 26 "Discount Diva" article focused on free ebooks that you can get for your Kindle using the Project Gutenberg websites, and advised that "Luddites" could get a paper copy at the library. But she forgot to mention an important point: The Buffalo & Erie County Library System has ebooks, too.

Its ebook service, Overdrive, announced last month that it is now compatible with Kindles. And it has long been compatible with Nooks, Sony eReaders, iPads and smartphones. There's no need to limit yourself to public domain classics -- the library's ebooks include plenty of current popular books, which you can see at buffalo.lib.overdrive.com.

Jaclyn McKewan

Williamsville

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High school students should be taught CPR

As students settle back into school, something important is missing from the high school curriculum in New York: CPR instruction. There are heartwarming stories of people who are alive because someone knew CPR. You can see some of those stories at www.supportcprinschools.org.

Still, only 8 percent of people who suffer sudden cardiac arrest outside the hospital survive to make it home. We need more heartwarming stories. We know that CPR, if started promptly after a victim collapses, can double if not triple the chances of survival. On the other hand, when bystanders do nothing but wait for the EMTs and paramedics to arrive, the chances of survival drop 10 percent per minute.

Most students age 13 or older have the physical size and strength necessary to deliver effective chest compressions. Hands-only CPR takes only 30 minutes to learn, and the cost is minimal to a school district.

Sag Harbor Pierson High School on Long Island began a CPR program in 1994, which teaches CPR to students in seventh and 10th grades. Sixteen lives have been saved because these students used their CPR skills in the real world. Imagine how many lives we could save if all students learned CPR before graduation.

Therefore, the American Heart Association will continue to advocate for passage of S2491 and A3980 in the New York State Legislature to make sure that everyone graduating from a New York school knows the psychomotor skills of CPR and how to use a defibrillator.

Christian J. Henrich

Orchard Park

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Food pantry clients can't be too choosy

Local food pantries are requesting donations to replenish their stocks of food, clothing, personal care items or monetary aid. Those who run the
pantries cite the economy for increased demands on their dwindling stock.

My solution: Do not accept processed, salt-laden, non-nutritious items that add to the obesity problem our country is facing. Instead, provide bulk foods such as oatmeal, macaroni products, powdered milk and canned vegetables like tomatoes, potatoes or mixed vegetables that can be used to create meals. Provide low-salt or unsalted seasonings for flavor.

The suggestion of bulk products and canned vegetables results in the pat answer, "The clients don't want that, they prefer prepared products." My answer is "tough. What will you do when the cupboard is empty?" One pound of macaroni, canned tomatoes, other vegetables and adding your own seasonings can create a healthy meal to feed four to six people. As for monetary donations, the donor should stipulate they be used for bulk and unprocessed foods, seasonings or personal care items.

I believe in helping those less fortunate than myself. I also believe the Lord helps those who help themselves. It is an insult to the generosity of those who donate to food pantries when clients refuse bulk products and accept only prepared foods. It is a further insult to the volunteers who maintain the facilities to just pick up your items and not offer to at least clean the facilities or the neighborhoods where they are located.

Mary A. Kless

Lancaster

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Bush tax cuts have not helped country

The inaction of the GOP and the tea party while Americans struggle to survive is treason! To fight for the Bush tax cuts instead of rebuilding our nation and doing what's right for the American people could lead to the weakening and destruction of our country.

What have the Bush tax cuts done? They have made the rich richer, the poor poorer and America weaker. It's time the American people take notice. Voice your opinion. Let our government hear your problems. Let's take our country back -- back from the rich and uncaring corporations; back from the politicians who forgot what it means to be American.

Thomas Emerling

Springville