We're living in a day that is increasingly depersonalized. Nothing makes this more clear than the impersonal computer glitches which are becoming more frequent. I read about a letter that went out from the president of the Arizona State University Parents Association to the parent or guardian of Truman Bradley of Boulder, Colorado. The names and numbers were changed to keep the persons anonymous. It starts out:

"Dear Parent or Guardian,
Congratulations on 987-65-4321's admission to Arizona State University! We commend you for the significant role that you have played in helping him to prepare for this exciting and critically important time... We are fully prepared to assist 987-65-4321 in making a successful transition from high school to college."

The letter goes on to elaborate on the acceptance of this young man, in each case referring to him by his social security number.

As you can imagine, his father was quite amused by this. He then chose to write back to the president of the parents association, whose name was Ms. Olson. He opens his letter by saying:

"Dear Ms. Olson,
Thank you for offering our son, 987-65-4321, or as we affectionately refer to him around the house -- 987 -- a position in the A.S.U. class of 2003. His mother, 123-45-6MOM and I are very happy that such a prestigious institution of higher education such as A.S.U. has extended this offer."

Illustration by: John A. Huffman, Jr., St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Newport Beach, CA