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Letters From You

- Letters should be under 200 words and are subject to editing.

While I appreciated the design work that went into the new-and-improved Whitworth Today, I was even more impressed with the rich content. Thank you in particular for the Q&A with theology professor Jim Edwards and for Kyle Orwig's thoughts about stem-cell research. It's gratifying to know that Whitworth continues to wrestle with the big questions people of faith face in the
world every day.

Christianne Sharman, '86stripe

I was interested in the "AfterWord" by Kyle Orwig in the Fall 2005 issue.
In the second-to-last paragraph he says, "Alternative sources of stem cells include adult tissue or genetically engineered non-viable embryos, but these approaches present their own scientific and ethical challenges."

Why no mention of umbilical-cord-blood stem cells? Is Dr. Orwig saying that cord-blood stem cells cannot differentiate into non-specific tissue? From my reading (as a layman), cord-blood stem cells are now being used for treating more than 50 known diseases. Why not then throw time and money into this less controversial stem-cell research and treatment? Researchers pursuing use of embryonic stem cells for research seem to be dragging a heavy weight with them when they could be running free in their research by putting the emphasis on the use of cord-blood stem cells.

Bill Grant, '57

Editor's note: See Kyle Orwig's response to this letter.

The Whitworth Fund solicitation on the back cover, citing the changing costs between the 1955 and 2005 productions of Our Town, caught my attention. Problem: 1955 was NOT Whitworth's first presentation of this play.

Loyd Waltz staged Thornton Wilder's play for Homecoming Weekend in 1946. Betty Lange Stratton, '49, starred. After two weeks at the college, I was asked by Betty, one of the most talented and beautiful girls in the school, to accompany her to the cast tryouts. Fresh from the country, I got the part (typecasting) as her boyfriend and [eventual] husband. I would appreciate Whitworth Today giving Professor Waltz, Betty Lange Stratton, and the other outstanding 1946 cast and production-staff members credit for the FIRST of Whitworth's three presentations of Our Town.

Gordon Schweitzer, '50

Editor's note: Whitworth Today acknowledges and salutes Professor Waltz and the 1946 cast and crew of Our Town – and thanks Mr. Schweitzer for his entertaining and informative letter.

In the midst of straggling Christmas cards and post-holiday bills, it was quite a treat to find the latest edition of Whitworth Today in my mailbox. Whenever I sit down to read it, it's like taking a trip back to the "Pinecone Curtain." I can almost smell the dirty laundry in Mac Hall. Anyway, I digress. I love W.T.'s new look and provocative articles. Kyle Orwig's article on stem-cell research was of particular interest. He did a great job of simplifying the science so that even those of us who had a difficult time making it through freshman biology could understand it. One of the things I find is that the complexity of religious arguments on this issue and so many others often get lost in the "noise" of our "fast-food-blogosphere-round-the-clock-news" society. Thank you for giving Kyle the opportunity to explain his work and to challenge my own thinking on the issue.

Jen Pifer, '92

I graduated from Whitworth College 40 years ago. David Dilworth, Whitworth chaplain, taught my favorite classes and had an important influence on my career choice. As a result of many interactions with him, I chose to work in public education. That choice was a wonderful one, filled with challenge and reward.

As I look over the past 40 years as an educator and Whitworth alum, I want to share a concern: Is the model upon which we are building the new Whitworth College/University primarily based on exceptional SAT and GPA scores along with rankings in national magazines? I believe that the pride in such an elite student body misses the "salt of the earth" model Christ used to select His disciples. In my opinion, Whitworth College/University needs to make a more energetic effort to attract the "average" student from our public and private school systems.
What if we insisted that 50 percent of all first-year students have a GPA of less than 3.0 and could not have an SAT score over 1,000? We would include more pieces of coal and fewer diamonds. Then our outstanding teaching staff could work to create diamonds rather than simply add more polish.

Bill Hainer, '66

Absolutely fabulous! Great layout and very readable for these old eyes. But more important, the choice of content made it a "must read," especially the Jim Edwards interview and the "AfterWord" column. Dang, keep this up and I may have to donate.

W. Gary Hague, '77

Dr. Orwig's goal of providing a "factual foundation of what is at stake in stem-cell research" is both ambitious and necessary. How disappointing that he failed to meet this goal.

A factual presentation would mention scientists who think that adult stem cells hold promise for pleuripotency and cord blood as an alternative source for stem cells and present the viewpoints of Reformed or Orthodox Presbyterians or Presbyterians Pro-Life in addition to the PCUSA.

A consideration of what is at stake must address both the ethical considerations and the potential human costs of adopting such a man-centered solution for the problem of pain, and the potential fallout of creating a class of human life solely for the utility it provides.

The critical question to address is "When does human life begin?" An informative presentation would reveal how an advocate for embryonic stem-cell research answers this question. What assumptions does Dr. Orwig make in his support for embryonic-stem-cell research and federal funding of his research?

Viewpoints differing from Dr. Orwig's deserve equally broad exposure. Failure in this effort betrays Whitworth's commitment to present issues from various worldviews while thoroughly exploring the ramifications of being created in God's image.

Mary Carlson (parent of a current Whitworth student)

Editor's note: The Fall 2005 issue of Whitworth Today included a link to an online article challenging stem-cell research. This piece was written by two Whitworth faculty members and can be found at www.whitworth.edu/stemcellresponse.

I do have some questions about the interview with Whitworth theology professor James Edwards. Edwards says, "I wrote the book to recall that Jesus Christ is the center and substance of the Christian faith." It seems to me that the country is getting more conservative, not less, and I have not noticed any indication that Jesus has to share the head office. Edwards indicates that "this de-emphasis has also infiltrated the liturgy and language of the church." What? What church has made that change? Sorry, James, I want to find that church. Personally, I believe in Jesus, but I cannot envision a God who does not hold out his palm to people of the Jewish faith (His chosen) or any other faith. God created ALL the people and now is going to dump a batch since they were not born in the right place, were not exposed to Christ or did not accept Him?

Connie Lynn Winegarden Walters, '73

I went to Whitworth the hard way, nine different colleges and universities, and finally Whitworth in my last year. I am a retired member of the U.S. Air Force, and I'd like to tell you about a young man I know: His name is Calvin. He's a good Christian, a member of the U.S. Army serving in Iraq, where he really feels he is making a difference – and with his presence, hopefully there will be peace and reconciliation for that war-torn country. I read and reread all of Mind & Heart and Whitworth Today, but do you ever think of the young people who are serving so that you can write your articles and provide education for your wonderful college students? My challenge to you is this: How about the student body of Whitworth writing this young man? Calvin may never go to college, but I do know that he is there for you and me. His address is PFC Calvin Anderson, B-Co 2-327th Bn., 1st BCT, FOB Warrior, APO AE 09335, or e-mail him at ceander_el@hotmail.com. Please keep politics out of it; just send love and support. I used to write to a young Army sergeant during the first Gulf War, and I sent him a gift package at Christmastime. He wrote me back: "Jon, you know I am in charge of a Bradley fighting vehicle . . . with four men under my command. On Christmas Eve, I shared your gift of goodies with my buddies, and looked into the clear Kuwait sky and thought that nearby, so many years ago, Our Lord and Savior was born. Peace on earth, good will to men. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year."

Jonathan Randolph, '66

Kyle Orwig wants the government to "fund and regulate responsible [embryonic stem-cell] research." But there simply is no "responsible" way to promote the intentional destruction of innocent human lives. He says the research should proceed because "moral perceptions are sharpened by experience and knowledge. And at this point, we don't know what we don't know." If we think about it, we do know that these embryos are actually none other than our tiniest brothers and sisters. After all, as soon as the fertilization process concludes, a new organism with its own distinct DNA comes into existence. That's how every person now reading this sentence came to be, and that's how every one of us looked about nine months before we were born. But even if one agrees with Orwig that "we don't know," then what could be more morally reckless than destroying embryos we merely hope aren't human? We must never treat human beings as mere means to an end, but must always see them as ends in themselves, consistent with their dignity as image-bearers of God. No end, however compelling, can alter this principle because no end can alter the God-given dignity inherent in human nature.

Kyle Forsyth, '99

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