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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I am a Hindu woman living in the Bible Belt. Many of my friends and acquaintances are Christian, and they are all wonderful -- except for one thing. Some try in small, subtle ways to convert me to their faith.

With Christmas approaching, I know what's coming -- boxes of baked goodies with little brochures and pamphlets tucked inside all about Jesus and the Christian faith. I wish you would remind people that all of us in this diverse nation should respect the faiths of others. To try to convert someone to your faith implies that you consider your religious beliefs superior, and that is just plain wrong.

I know these gestures are well meant, but I wouldn't dream of sending Hindu brochures with my holiday goodies. Abby, what is a tactful, but firm, way of dealing with this? -- HAPPY HINDU IN THE BIBLE BELT

DEAR HAPPY HINDU: Much as you would like, you are not going to change people who feel it's part of their religious commitment to "save" you. Ignore the brochures and enjoy the goodies -- unless you have lost your appetite. If that's the case, donate the treats to a homeless shelter or take them to the office.

DEAR ABBY: I am a 16-year-old boy facing a heap of problems this year. I'm taking some very difficult college-level classes. I don't have a great grade point average, but I manage to stay around 3.3.

I don't plan on applying to an Ivy League school, but Mom thinks I won't get accepted anywhere without at least a 3.5 GPA. She won't let me get a part-time job until I raise my GPA to 3.5 -- which means I am totally dependent on her for spending money.

Mom complains that I'm not putting in enough time on my schoolwork and that she spends too much money on me. I'd be glad to cover my expenses if she'd let me get a part-time job.

It may sound like it would be too hard to improve my GPA, but I'm working at it and I'm proud of my grades. I just don't know what to do about my mom. -- TROUBLED IN MISSOURI

DEAR TROUBLED: If there is a counselor at your school, ask him or her to speak to your mother about your grades as well as your prospects. Your mother is trying to be a conscientious parent and to see to it that you have a successful future. However, if you are working at your capacity, a compromise is in order.

DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend, "Ken," and I have been together four years. We plan to become engaged during the holidays. Kenny is my heart and soul, and he feels the same about me.

I have one small problem. There is a guy at work I find very attractive. There's something about him that makes my mind wander "off-track." Is it only lust? I cannot imagine cheating on Kenny -- and I never would.

Is this attraction normal? Or does it mean I'm doubting my love for Kenny? -- NEEDS TO KNOW ASAP IN NEW JERSEY

DEAR NEEDS TO KNOW: It's normal. That's why the wedding vows read "forsaking all others." There is nothing wrong with being attracted to more than one person as long as you don't act on it. If this continues to trouble you, a couple of sessions with a counselor will help you to put things in perspective.

CONFIDENTIAL TO DONE WRONG IN WICHITA: Take the high road. Do nothing impulsive. Remember the words of Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626): "By taking revenge, a man is but even with his enemy; but in passing over it, he is superior."

Abby shares more than 100 of her favorite recipes in two booklets: "Abby's Favorite Recipes" and "More Favorite Recipes by Dear Abby." Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $10 (U.S. funds)

to: Dear Abby -- Cookbooklet Set, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in price.)

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