I attend a small church that seats, at most, about 100 people. There is an older gentleman who shows up every Sunday, and punctuates every phrase with "Hallelujah!" or "Amen!" or "That's right!" This irritates me to no end.
I know in some churches emotional comments such as these are welcome, but it is not the custom in my church, and I find it extremely disruptive. I cannot focus on the prayers or the readings when that man is constantly shouting and startling me. The pastor has had to pause several times during his sermons because of these interruptions, but he has never said anything directly to that overly zealous person.
This man is otherwise pleasant and unquestionably devout. Several weeks ago, I asked him if he could please keep it down because his shouting interferes with the service, but it has made no difference. Frankly, I'm not sure he can help himself. I don't want to change churches, but it is important to me that I hear what is going on. Is there any way to handle this distraction without making a huge issue of it?
-- Niagara Falls, N.Y.
The elderly parishioner who is praising the Lord is "expressing himself." If the pastor does not object to his emotional outbursts, and no one else in the congregation complains, there is little you can do about it. Since you have asked him to keep it down, and he continues with the hallelujahs, I suggest you pray for tolerance, or look for another church.
I know you closed the subject on the 55-year-old man from Cleveland who can barely walk a block but is determined to keep smoking because he "enjoys it." However, I hope you will print one more, because my letter might change his mind.
I had to move out of my wonderful home because I could no longer walk up the stairs to my bedroom on the second floor. I have severe lung disease, and must use inhalers to get through the day. There are times when I cannot get a full sentence out because I am short of breath.
If you are thinking I am one of those smokers who is paying the price for my foolishness, please think again. I never smoked. However, I grew up in a home where my mother smoked a lot, and my father was never without a cigar in his mouth or in his hand.
I married a man who smoked three packs a day. After 11 years, we were divorced, and I married another heavy smoker. Please tell your readers (again) that secondhand smoke can be extremely hard on the lungs. I am living proof. I pose this question to "Disgusted in Cleveland" and anyone else who is hooked on tobacco: If you don't care about yourself, what about your family? One of them could end up like me.
-- Martha in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
Talk about the sins of the father (and mother) being visited upon the children. You are a prime example.
I read that the tobacco companies may have to pay billions of dollars to their victims, but what good will it do, now that their health is shot? Better the tobacco companies put that money into developing something that takes the carcinogenic substances out of cigars and cigarettes--especially since, for too many smokers, quitting does not appear to be an option. They are hopelessly hooked.
Gem of the Day (Credit Chicago columnist Zay N. Smith):
A bumper sticker sighted in Los Angeles: If you lived in your car, you'd be home now.
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