Letters to the Editor 12/24

December 21, 2000

Letters to the Editor 12/24

More on St. Mark's Christmas Eve program

To the editor:

As pastor of St. Mark's Lutheran Church, I'm deeply appreciative of the Dec. 14 column of Bob Maginnis, in which he discussed our Sunday School Christmas Eve program "And There Was Light."

Maginnis accurately captured the spirit of the program, the background of the Hanukkah celebration and our rationale for inviting on that holy day the presenter Rabbi Rachmiel Tobesman.

Two minor corrections are called for. Maginnis gave me entirely too much credit for securing the Rabbi's presence with us. In fact that was a group process.


John Gundling, a friend of Rabbi Tobesman and co-worker with him on some children's services and also a Sunday School teacher at St. Mark's, approached me a few month's ago about the possibility.

I heartily endorsed the idea, but the Christian Education Commitee with the full awareness of our church council made the decision (without dissent).

The other correction is my own. Maginnis quoted me as saying , "Hanukkah is a political celebration..."

In reflection, I believe that in light of the ambiguous and often pejorative implications of the term "political," my comment was a poor choice of words. It would be more accurate to describe Hannukah as a celebration of national liberation.

We hope the program will enrich those who attend with a deeper understanding of Jewish and Christian faith traditions both in points of convergence and divergence.

David B. Kaplan


(Editor's note: The program the Rev. Kaplan writes about is open to the public and will be held this morning at 10:15 a.m. at St. Mark's, which is located at 601 Washington Ave., in the West End of Hagerstown.)

Video poker: The 'gift' that keeps on taking

To the editor:

Playing video poker machines for entertainment is legal. Payoffs from the gray machines are illegal.

A darkside of playing the machines may be a lifetime of being a compulsive pathological gambler. For many, it's a silent disease.

If you can identify with the following people's stories who have become addicted to the gray machines, there could be hope for you:

Diane (not her real name) told about all of her money going into the machines. She spent very little on groceries and nothing on clothes. She spent every cent she had in savings and cashed many bad checks. She has nothing left. She is a full-fledged addict. She sits on a stool for10 hours at a time. She is oblivious to anything or anyone around her. All she sees is the video screen. At 51 she has lost everything. She feels there is no future for her.

Laurie, a 30-year-old wife and mother of four daughters confesses she is a compulsive gambler. She played the machines for fun. She described the excitement, exhilaration - much like being at a carnival. The music of the machines, the quickness. Once she sits in front of the machines, nothing else mattered. She couldn't believe it could happen to her, but she lost all ability to reason and make choices. She craved playing the machines. She lost her money. She lost her friends. She lost respect of her family. Hours on end she played -leaving her daughters. The shame she felt was excruciating. Thoughts of suicide really plagued her. What seemed to be harmless activity nearly destroyed her life.

Many mothers and fathers have cashed in food stamps to play the machines. Imagine their feelings of shame and hopelessness.

The stories of the above people may be read - along with others on

Many have been forsaken. The gambling addiction has destroyed their dignity, caused them to risk everything. Mothers, fathers, sons and daughters have gone to jail because of their crimes of embezzlement, stealing, burglaries. But there are no treatment programs in jail. And once the person is out of jail - every time the word "felon" is added to a job application, it brings up red lights. The pain is immense and the hurt runs deep.

Gambling affects more than just those who are addicted. Perhaps the unseen victims may have some recourse. Perhaps pursuing legal counsel to represent the family in a class action lawsuit could recover some of the funds lost by the owners of the machines.

The attorney general of West Virginia has filed lawsuits for consumers who have been hurt by products - such as tobacco. It wouldn't be any different for him to file a class action suit for those who have suffered from addiction to gray machines.

Those who have suffered from devastation from compulsive gambling may be able to persuade their family members and friends to come forth. People who have already had their lives completely destroyed have trouble speaking out. There are at least 10 other people in their lives suffering with them.

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