PCUSA: Still just a suggestion
In the Dec. 28, 1996/Jan. 4, 1997, issue you report erroneous information regarding an action of the Presbyterian Church (USA) in your Year in Review article, "The World of Religion." The General Assembly approved a suggested change to the Book of Order, which is then sent to the 172 presbyteries for their action. It takes a majority approval of the presbyteries to change the Book of Order. The presbyteries will be voting on that change this year. To date, the suggested changes are only suggested changes. - Vic Urban, Sequim, Wash.
Even the observer of politics should notice the different standard of ethical scrutiny applied to Newt Gingrich as compared to some of his Washingtonian colleagues. Reminds me of the Scripture that goes something like "straining out Newts while swallowing camels." - Bob Conner, Macon, Ga.
I am a Catholic who initially subscribed to WORLD mostly out of curiosity. Despite the occasional theological potshot your publication takes at Rome, I could not resist the urge to renew my subscription when that time recently came. Your timely reporting on the moral and cultural problems of our society--abortion first and foremost--is invaluable, and your capsule book and movie reviews are thoughtful and interesting as well. Keep up the good work in our common cause. - Greg Lensing, Dallas, Texas
Justice Scalia infers that the martyrdom of the early saints is compelling evidence of the resurrection ("Best quotables of 1996," Dec. 28, 1996/Jan. 4, 1997). Well, maybe. But then again, maybe not. Their martyrdom certainly proves their sincerity. But does it prove that they were right? Granted, a rational person does not give his life for what he knows to be a hoax. But if he is deceived he might. Witness the Kamikazes in the Far East, the Muslim Fundamentalist suicide bombers in the Middle East, and, closer to home, the suicides at Jonestown. All of these were martyrs. And all died, according to Christianity, for a false premise. - Mark S. Hardcastle, Littleton, Colo.
Mind your own business
The article on the battle between the church in Boerne, Texas, and the Boerne city government ("The battle of Boerne," Jan. 11) shows what happens when the church forgets that God created separate spheres of authority and influence for church and for state. The Boerne church should not have sought approval from the city for its building plans. Had church authorities proceeded to build without such approval, the city would have tried to interfere, at which point they could have politely told the city to mind its own business. - J. Michael Brown, Tulsa, Okla.
I read Cal Thomas's article on Tony Blair ("Britain's Clinton," Jan. 18) with great interest. Compared with most of his predecessors in the Labor Party leadership, Mr. Blair is by far the most moderate and right-leaning. Herein, however, lies a deadly hidden danger. It is possible that the British electorate somewhat weary of the present Conservative government and seeing a young, handsome, articulate "moderate" Labor alternative to John Major may just decide to give Mr. Blair and the Labor Party a chance. Under the surface, things are different. The grass-roots membership of the Labor Party is far to the left of its leader. Indeed, the vast majority of Labor members of Parliament also stand to the left of Mr. Blair. Should Mr. Blair and Labor win, it is possible he could be toppled by his MPs in an internal coup, resulting in a left wing Labor administration running Britain for the next five years. In the 1980s the Labor Party officials in Liverpool and London fought and won city council elections under moderate leaders only to topple them at their first group meetings and install militant leaders in their places. Must history repeat itself? - Charlie Webster, Dundee, Scotland