Lure the Boss south

It's great that Long Island native Billy Joel, an artist traditionally in high demand in the New York area, has signed a Las Vegas-style agreement with the 18,000-seat Madison Square Garden to play monthly concerts as he sails into the twilight of a brilliant career. With Atlantic City in dire straits due to burgeoning gaming competition, I've often wondered why a casino couldn't sign Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band to a similar long-term contract for the 14,000-seat Boardwalk Hall. If instead of touring, the Boss could anchor himself in the East Coast gaming capital and attract his worldwide following to the Jersey Shore, that certainly would revive Atlantic City and its image.

Eugene R. Dunn, Medford, erdunn@optonline.net

Temple's bad call

Saving $3 million is not going to be enough to balance the costs of Temple's bloated athletic ambitions ("Benched: Temple cancels seven varsity sports, effective next year," Dec. 7). The university's glut of sports advertising is an absolute waste of funds. Seeking to boost attendance is a tacit admission that even Temple students do not support the athletic programs. At the Linc, attendance rarely exceeds 20,000. A minimal revival of local interest in Temple football might be accomplished through a resumption of the rivalry with Villanova, and also by occasionally scheduling Penn. As reported recently, Temple has considered using Franklin Field. At least such a move might save on rental costs.

Robert Devoe, Philadelphia

Matchmaker

My husband, Martin Meyerson, past president of the University of Pennsylvania, and volunteer head of the Liberty Medal selection committee, spent more than a year arranging the 1993 visit by Nelson Mandela and F.W. de Klerk ("In Phila. region, recalling his inspiring example," Dec. 6). The two men were not friendly, and we had to arrange separate accommodations, sightseeing, and meetings. Federal officials were so concerned about safety that they had security not only on the ground, but on the rooftops around Independence Hall. So the handshake of the two men at the ceremony was a victory for reconciliation. I am very proud of my husband's worldly knowledge, forethought, and persuasive talent in helping to make this historic occasion possible.

Margy Ellin Meyerson, Philadelphia

He's no Niebuhr

How ironic that Robert Patterson should cite Reinhold Niebuhr in his commentary ("A call to transform individuals, not society," Dec. 1). As a former class assistant to Niebuhr while finishing doctoral work at Union Theological Seminary in New York, I know that Patterson is dead wrong. In the 1960s, when the mighty civil rights movement was transforming the segregated South, and conservative preachers were urging congregants to avoid social causes and concentrate instead on individual souls, Niebuhr praised the activists. He knew that transformed social practices can (and did) change the habits of hearts and minds. Patterson would have done better to quote the Birmingham, Ala. clergymen who in 1963 told the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to leave town because he was making their own work of transforming individuals more difficult. As Niebuhr once wrote, "The powerful will never give up their power without a fight."

John Raines, professor-emeritus, Temple University, Philadelphia

Next level too far

Although Holy Ghost Preparatory School teacher Michael Griffin - who taught my son six years ago - brought his partner to school functions, that did not allow us to presume what their relationship entailed. Now that Griffin has decided to marry, he has told us what his relationship is, and it is one that is contrary to the Catholic faith. He can live as he sees fit, but it will have to be at a school where he can agree to his contract in good faith.

Mary Cole, Huntingdon Valley