"Hail, Mary" was a splendid analysis of a development in spirituality that goes profoundly beyond the goddess fad that has captured our imaginations for years [March 21]. The piety and deepest consciousness of a human being seek a feminine face, especially in a world whose cultures are saturated with patriarchy. Thank you for helping rescue Mary, a kind of biblical goddess, from passive neglect. Many of us appreciate your generous examples of Protestants, including Methodists like me, who keep opening doors of faiths that are traditional but are willing to take risks.
(The Rev.) Marvin E. Repinski
Austin, Minnesota, U.S.
It was a pleasure to learn that Protestant faiths are changing their mind about the Virgin Mary. She is, indeed, the Mother of God. Though Mary is honored by God, she is not a goddess, and Roman Catholicism, to which I belong, does not worship Mary as a divine person. Catholics revere Mary the same as they love an elder, affectionate and powerful sister, and that is enough to give them happiness.
Marcy l'Etoile, France
It was wonderful to see Mary on TIME's cover. She is humanity's greatest friend and intercessor but never takes or shares the place of Jesus. Discussing her role as intercessor, however, without mentioning her apparitions and the miracles associated with her at Fatima, Lourdes, Guadalupe, etc., is akin to discussing Christ without mentioning his Passion.
New York City
Yet another issue of time that made me wonder whether I have subscribed to a newsmagazine or a religious tract. It seems that far too often you feature major stories about religious practices, religious politicians and religious businesses. Please, stick to real news reporting and leave the proselytizing to faith-based publications.
Although I am Jewish, I have statues of Mary around my home and don't in the least feel any conflict with religious doctrine. I regard Mary as a symbol not of religion but of ideal motherhood. Mary provides solace, unconditional acceptance and love, and a spiritual, nondenominational sanctuary from life's madness.
The protestant acceptance of Mary reflects a long-held Roman Catholic feeling that God the Father also has a feminine side. It is humanity's longing for a parent God who is not only a father but also a mother. The Marian movement among Protestants is very welcome. It represents an openness. Perhaps it will not be very long before all of humanity, including fundamentalists who terrorize in the name of religion, realize that religious faiths may have different names, but they all contain essentially the same truths.
Samuel J. Yap
Batangas, the Philippines
Read other stories about the Virgin Mary in TIME's archives at timearchive.com
Tough Guy for a Tough Job
President Bush's choice of John Bolton, who has been openly hostile to the U.N., to be U.S. ambassador to the organization was a gutsy move [March 21]. In my dozen or so years in the Washington foreign assistance field, as a political appointee and a career diplomat, I found no individual more honest and straightforward than Bolton. The man is brilliant, an off-putting quality to many in the State Department and foreign policy arena who adopt the maneuvering and cloying approaches traditionally viewed as "diplomatic." Bolton was a tough boss and a straight-shooting friend and colleague who always let you know where you stood. He's an inspired and excellent choice.
Mary Beth Allen Yarbrough
Sugar Land, Texas, U.S.
Bolton's criticism of the U.N. is well-founded. Its rules allow for lengthy debates that rarely arrive at solutions to the world's problems. The U.N. is simply too bureaucratic. Previous U.S. ambassadors have been too kind to the institution. Bolton will be able to bring about change.
San Marino, California, U.S.
No Peace, No Prize
Joe Klein suggested that if the bush Administration's long shot of pinning its hopes for Middle East peace on the "statesmanship of Hizballah and Hamas" turns out to be right, then President Bush would deserve the Nobel Peace Prize [March 21]. That contention would be laughable if it were not so sad. Bush used lies and distortions to make a case for the invasion of Iraq. After 9/11, Bush had a golden opportunity to strengthen global alliances. He could have rallied the world around the use of multilateral military and intelligence resources to address terrorism. For that, he would have deservedly stood as a Peace Prize candidate. Instead, Bush has made the world a more dangerous place, and terrorism continues to grow.
Albany, New York, U.S.
TIME reported that star wars: episode III Revenge of the Sith will have a PG-13 rating in the U.S., so parents will need to decide whether a child 13 or younger should see the movie [March 21]. Once again director George Lucas has made good parents into bad guys to our kids if we won't let them see a PG-13 film. Of his new movie, Lucas said, "I don't think I would take a 5- or a 6-year-old to this." Terrific. He has merchandised the Star Wars saga to entice kids to see the movies for years on end. We've bought the light sabers, action figures, bedding, T shirts, you name it, and embraced the characters as family. But now my nearly 6-year-old son, who is obsessed with the series, is going to be devastated when I tell him that the new film is too violent for him. Apparently Lucas wants 5- and 6-year-olds to buy Star Wars merchandise, just not to see the film. How come after all these years of loyalty to a franchise, young kids are being cast aside for the more desirable audience of 13-to-25-year-olds?
Woodland Hills, California, U.S.
Czechs Like the E.U.
Re "10 questions for Vaclav Klaus" [March 21]: I would like to express my deep disagreement with the way Klaus, the President of the Czech Republic, expresses his skepticism about a "stronger" European Union. Klaus uses the pronouns we and us, so it might seem like he is speaking on behalf of the whole Czech nation and expressing the opinion of all Czechs. That is definitely not the case. He doesn't speak for me, and opinion polls show a lot of support for the new E.U. constitution. So Klaus and the Czech Communist Party represent only the skeptical and closed-minded part of our nation. Is Klaus anxious because he may lose some of his power?
Hope for the Poor
The excerpt from Jeffrey D. Sachs' new book, The End of Poverty, and awareness of the need to help Africa [March 14] caused a mix of several emotions in my mind, chief of which I identified as hope. I am encouraged that enlightened and progressive leaders in the developed world agree that the main obstacles to Africa's development are not solely or even fundamentally corruption and misrule. With a lot of commitment and doggedness, Africa will stand on its own feet, and posterity will have this generation to thank for it.
Olumuyiwa E. Adepitan
Can poverty in Africa be ended? Of course it can. But first Africa has to be freed from the heavy burden of the past and allowed the liberty and unconditional means to set its own course for the future. Then it can preserve some of its spiritual strength and cultural beauty, much of which has already been lost. Africa's resources have contributed immeasurably to Western wealth, and the continent has been exploited, often brutally, for decades. The attitude of European and American politicians toward Africa continues to be one of incomprehension and ignorance.
René van Slooten
Maarssen, the Netherlands
Sachs presented a course of action that social-development workers like me have been waiting for. On the global scale, his recommendations deserve swift implementation. But on the micro or country-by-country level, I would strongly recommend the inclusion of what I would term cultural economics: values education that would make adults discard the beliefs, customs and lifestyles that obstruct human development. Medicine to treat aids cannot keep pouring in from rich nations. Poor societies at some point must decide for themselves to foster and support responsible sexual behavior that leads to an aids-free lifestyle. Donors may build irrigation facilities, but beneficiaries must ensure their continuing operation. Schools may be established, but farmers must first appreciate the value of formal education for their children. In many impoverished villages, parents still bear dozens of children to be unpaid farmhands. Responsible parenting is urgently needed.
Paranaque City, the Philippines
"How To End Poverty" was a good example of the kind of media effort needed to meet the challenges of economic development for the world. There is ample experience to show that the public is ready to support the necessary commitments to end world poverty. If we want the U.N.'s Millennium Development Goals for aid to the poor to succeed, the goals will need greater visibility.