Can you help the church?

Our beautiful Thorndike Congregational Church has been destroyed by fire. We plan to rebuild as soon as we can, but we are asking for your help.

We will need to replenish all of the needed items to bring it back so that our family and friends can again worship together. If there is a church that has extra hymnals and/or Bibles that you would like to donate, we would appreciate having them.

We are also setting up a rebuilding fund if you wish to make monetary contributions. They can be sent to the Bangor Savings Bank, 2 Clifford Commons, Unity, ME 04988. Please note that it is for the Thorndike Congregational Church Rebuilding Fund.

Hazel Rumney, clerk

Patricia Banker, deaconess

Ralph Hammond, deacon

Nancy Kragh, deaconess

and members of the church

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Assumptions are worth examining

[Editor’s note: This letter is in response to a letter from Brooks resident Donald Violette titled, “One man’s view,” which appeared in the Dec. 22 edition of the Journal.]

When Mr. Violette shares his views in the pages of this newspaper, I’m not sure whether I feel saddened and dismayed that his perspectives are so narrow and close-minded, or thankful that he apparently doesn’t have time to be a more frequent contributor.

It’s worth remembering that the views Mr. Violette presents as the word of God are, at best, his interpretation of what someone else wrote down as the received word. With the possible exception of the Ten Commandments (allegedly received by Moses inscribed on stone tablets), nothing in Mr. Violette’s Holy Book is actually written by God.

The men or women who received and wrote down the prophesies, stories, proverbs, letters, and Gospels that make up the Old and New Testaments were likely writing in Hebrew or Aramaic, and those words were probably translated into Greek and Latin before being rendered in English.

Though the ‘thee’ and ‘thou’ of the King James lend the translation an authoritative tone to our modern ears, the KJV is as much a product of its time as the dozens of more modern translations. The biases may be different, but they are unquestionably present. Unless Mr. Violette is a scholar of ancient biblical languages, he is relying on a Bible translation far removed from the events and time it describes.

I’m no Biblical scholar, but it didn’t take me long to find competing translations with meanings very different from those Mr. Violette asserts. For example, Genesis 2:18 does not necessarily call for woman to be a “helper suitable to him;” the relevant Hebrew word neged may also be translated as “counterpart,” or “completing part” — a translation that leaves much more room for equality in a relationship.

We are all entitled to our private views, and are even entitled (though to a lesser extent) to administering our homes as we chose. But when someone claims an authority as lofty and inviolate as God as the source of their power, and that power is used in the way Mr. Violette recommends, it is worth examining those assumptions.

Sadly, it is all too common for dubious religious interpretations to be used to support questionable views in the world today. Mr. Violette’s periodic letters remind us that not all extremists are in the Middle East, and that the Koran is not the only Holy Book vulnerable to exploitation.

Hans O. Albee

Brooks

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New town hall not necessary

I was a selectman for the town of Thorndike from 1958 to 1990, with a few years off. I have lived within one mile of the George Washington School all my life. It pains me to know that we will lose the little school house I attended — the last two-room school house in town — because of grudges, personal agendas and misuse of town funds.

There was money set aside in the budget every year to maintain the town hall, which was the old school house. When the current regime took over repairs ceased, as the money was put somewhere else or set aside to build a new town hall.

If the repairs had been made, the town of Thorndike would have saved a lot of money. A reputable local builder estimated that the old town hall could have been repaired and brought up to code for $110,000, in spite of the past decade of neglect.

During my life, I have held many responsible positions where I handled money and budgets. While I was selectman in Thorndike, we balanced down to the penny and the citizens knew that the numbers they saw were accurate and truthful.

I took a few hours to review the budget offered at the town meeting in March 2011. What I saw raised the hair left on my head. First off, the auditors report was not included in the town report. Second, there was no listing for undesignated funds or surplus. Third, if you go by the numbers given to the town in the town report at town meeting — a legal requirement — you will find that our little town had a minus $43,179.51 balance.

How did this happen? Why are we building a new town hall for at the very least $250,000, when we could have brought the historic building up to code for $110,000? Then we could have kept our bit of town history, and had an improved facility.

I read in the paper that the town of Unity has found grants to rehabilitate their old school in to a new town hall/community center. Why wasn’t the town of Thorndike asking for the same grants?

The selectmen have refused to help save the old school house, when I know that to dispose of it will cost as much as it will to move it. It seems to me the citizens of Thorndike have allowed our hard-earned tax dollars to be wasted on actions that do not benefit the town.

Laurel Drew

Thorndike

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Praise for new pollution standards

The American Lung Association applauds the Obama Administration for adopting public health safeguards to reduce mercury and toxic air pollution from power plants. The new Mercury and Air Toxics Standards for Power Plants are long overdue and will reduce the harm from air pollution like mercury, lead, arsenic and a host of other pollutants.

Air pollution emitted by coal-fired power plants contains 84 of the 187 hazardous pollutants identified for control by the Environmental Protection Agency. Many of these pollutants, such as dioxins, arsenic and lead, can cause cancer and cardiovascular disease; harm the kidneys, lungs and nervous system; and even kill. The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards will reduce these pollutants and prevent 130,000 asthma attacks and 11,000 premature deaths each year.

These new proposed standards are especially critical to those of us in New England since we are at the tailpipe of the nation’s air pollution exhaust system. We need a strong Clean Air Act to protect us from secondhand smog. According to our 2011 State of the Air report, thousands of Maine people and visitors are put at risk from the health effects from air pollution each year. To view the full report, visit: stateoftheair.org.

Lee Gilman

Director, Health Promotion and Public Policy

American Lung Association in Maine