THANKS ARE DUE BENJAMIN FORGEY for his article on April 15 on Washington National Cathedral. Aside from church-sponsored promotional pieces, his effort is one of the most comprehensive and balanced compositions on the subject I know.

It was refreshing to note that he did not fault the expenditure of such large sums on a structure that contributes little to the general economy. In the view of some, the diversion of those funds from direct assistance to the poor is an improper use of resources by a religious organization.

My father worked as a stonecutter on the cathedral in the 1920s and 1930s and was able to raise and educate five children because of his employment there. Monies spent on construction of any kind do not somehow become immured in the fabric of the building; rather, they emerge in the form of wages paid to the workmen.

One can recognize the need for help to the less fortunate, but isn't it equally valid to make use of donated monies to compensate workers for toil performed honorably and well? THE REV. ROBERT A. GOURLAY Chester, Md.


AS A MEMBER OF A GENERATION MANY people view as apathetic, I feel that I must take umbrage at Richard Cohen's remarks in "Is That All There Is?" {April 8}.

Cohen speaks of the loss of "a sense of purpose," and of the false fulfillment of cash register consumerism. He is appalled that Americans did not react so emotionally to the destruction of the Berlin Wall, the symbolic end to the Cold War.

How can I? How is this story different from all the rest? The destruction of the Wall was another story picked up by the press, turned over, analyzed, beaten to death and then left by the side of the road. More important, most of this reporting happened after the fact. Is it possible that a whole region of people rose up to unshackle themselves from the yoke of communism in one spontaneous motion?

It seems to me that the media is afraid to step into the chilly, fast-moving stream of "issue journalism" and chooses instead to focus its remarkable talents on the president's dislike of broccoli or the current woman in Donald Trump's life.

News journalism is supposed to provide the focus in the midst of chaos. It has the resources and talent to step back from the eddying waters of world events and piece together a coherent map. I believe that my generation is quite capable of picking its passion, and acting on it. But as long as we are subjected to the 30-second sound bite, I am afraid that it is my generation that will remain shackled to "jack-in-the-box" responses to world conundrums -- a quick response, triggered by pressure, with no staying power. LEE T. AREVIAN Washington


AS A CUSTOMER OF THE FRANCIS SCOTT Key Book Shop, I found Walter Nicholls's article informative yet disturbing in its focus {"Key Exchange," April 8}. Any new owner of this landmark would be circled suspiciously by Georgetown's cave dwellers. This reaction is not remarkable. What is: Vivian Brown and Jennifer Herman's professionalism under such scrutiny.

When I call, they know who I am and they are almost always familiar with the books or authors I'm inquiring about. In the Francis Scott Key tradition, service to customers and knowledge of books are this establishment's true value to the Washington community. CATHERINE L. SMALL Arlington


DAVE BARRY'S "CONFESSIONS OF A TOOL Fool" in the April 15 Magazine could have been stated in a few words. That is, the creed of a "certified mechanic": "I don't know what I am doing but I sure as hell am an expert at it." ELMER L. FELDMAYER Alexandria

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