In all the discussion of the sins of President Clinton, there is sadly one missing element that even Christian journalists and American pop preachers have failed to grasp ("Clinton scandal," Aug. 29).
It is true that Bill Clinton must answer to God and to those against whom he has sinned, but not primarily in private confession, or by a personal choice to face a television audience. It is the church to whom God has given the responsibility of judging the sincerity of repentance, even in public servants. It is the church that God has ordained to deal with matters requiring public confession of sin. It is the church to whom God has given the right to proclaim forgiveness of sins. Where is President Clinton's church in all this? No wonder the church is considered irrelevant in America! - Larry E. Ball, Kingsport, Tenn.
A god of his own imagining
One troubling comment from Bill Clinton's confession was that it was between himself, his family, and their God. Their God? How many Gods are there? Bill has his god, you have your god, here a god, there a god, everywhere a god god. If, instead of the almighty holy God described in the Bible, Bill is answering to a god of his own imagination, no wonder we can't relate to this man's ethics. - Chuck Siebsen, Minneapolis, Minn.
Although I'm sure the pose of President Clinton sitting in the map room prior to his televised statement (cover of WORLD, Aug. 29) was intended to portray a thoughtful, presidential, repentant president, his spin doctors will be sorry to hear it did not have that effect on me. In fact I had to take a second, closer look, because at first glance I thought he was in handcuffs! (Is that my wishful thinking or foreshadowing of justice?) - Barbara Geatches, Alexandria, Va.
Clinton a King Saul?
I found your article "Poetry of anguish" (Aug. 29) perplexing. Rather than compare President Clinton to King David, I think the comparison should rest with King Saul. In 1 Samuel 15:14-21 the verses reveal a tragic character weakness in Saul. Here in 1 Samuel 15, Samuel confronts Saul with his sin. Saul first claims to have obeyed (v. 13), then blames the people (v. 15), and again seeks to justify himself and blame the people, the true mark of a worthless and hopeless leader (vv. 20-21). The similar responses of President Clinton and King Saul to sin is uncanny. Through confession and a contrite heart, David dealt with his sin. Saul chose to be led by it. To compare David with Clinton is to compare apples with oranges, or better yet, ripe fruit with rotten fruit. - Evangeline Dillon, Mt. Vernon, Wash.
Thank you very much for your magazine. I really enjoy it. I've been reading all the articles about the scandal, and I think the most disturbing thing is not President Clinton's relationship, but the way America has shrugged. Alexandar Pope wrote in "An Essay on Man":
Sin is a monster of awful mien,
That to be hated needs but to be seen
But seen too oft, familiar with face,
First we endure,
Then embrace. - David Clayton, via Internet
Pleasing the sinful nature
Joel Belz's Aug. 29 editorial (and accompanying photo) reminded me of something. I distinctly remember that in January 1993 CBS Radio News reporters commented that the president had his mother's Bible open to one of his favorite passages: Galatians 6:8 ("The one who sows to please his sinful nature from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life"). I was astounded at that time, and now as I consider again the context of the surrounded verses, it is indeed chilling that a man could be so brazen. Indeed, let us pray for mercy for our nation! - Ben Robeson, Augusta, Ga.
A "skilled" politician
As "Newer Democrat" (Aug. 29) points out, Geoffrey Fieger has an array of dramatic skills in his repertoire. These "skills"-proficiency in shouting, ridiculing, insulting, and cursing-are unfortunately what enabled him to win the Democratic nomination for governor in Michigan. Without his ability to seem passionate by being provocative and profane, Fieger would be forced to rely on his weak grasp of state government issues and a nonexistent plan for Michigan's future in order to define himself. Since that approach wouldn't earn him the media's interest, let alone votes in an election, he has instead decided to rest his political fortunes on tactics of bombast and beratement. Fieger's "say one thing, do another" pattern of behavior was perhaps never clearer than when he announced that he would sign a "clean campaign pledge" in the race. It was a classic, contradictory, and shameless utterance from the man who has written the book on personal and vulgar attacks, religious insults, and crude discourse. - John Truscott
aide to Governor John Engler,
Not pretty, but real
With all due respect to Mr. Bob Brown of Louisville, Ky., he must be dreaming if he thinks that the language used in Saving Private Ryan is less than realistic. To the contrary, it correctly reflects the rather salty language prevailing in the armed forces during WW II. The "F" word was a freely and frequently used adjective in most conversations between those engaged in that struggle. Omission of the common language of the military then would have caused many a snicker among those who have served in the military during war or under combat conditions, even "police actions." - Jim Littman, Hillsborough, N.C.
Respectfully, I think you have missed a very important point with your Y2K scare-nario (Aug. 22). I think everyone would agree that if society collapses as a result of a computer bug or for some other reason, Christians ought to feed hungry people rather than shoot them. A few years ago I spent some time in South Florida helping distribute food and relief supplies in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew. As I saw there, when folks are hungry and they learn that you have food to give away, they do not line up peacefully, ranked in order of their need to wait their turn for a handout. We had elements of the Tenth Mountain Division guarding our facility, but even in the face of that serious armed force, people got into fights over the scarce commodities and they even argued over who got the Charmin versus the generic brand toilet paper. If your neighbors are hungry and they find out you have food, you won't have the army to keep order. Your good intentions will draw a hungry crowd, but if you cannot feed all of them, will the disappointed ones just leave peacefully? Much worse, news of your charity will attract not only the needy, but also hordes of predators like those who loot and pillage anytime there is a breakdown of law and order. If we had not had the army in Florida, thugs literally would have driven their trucks over the bodies of the weak and helpless to get at our relief supplies. It is only in a society in which the rule of law prevails that you have the luxury of amassing worldly goods and then dispensing them according to principles of Christian charity. You have assumed essential elements of social order in an essay addressing their absence. This is the fallacy. Christians are going to face the terribly weighty question of whether they will use force to impose some degree of order around them, or live at the mercy of those who have no scruples about using force to impose their will. Which is the more charitable? Cromwell's Roundheads would survive to feed the hungry after the collapse of society, but Quakers and Mennonites won't last a season without Roundheads to protect them. - Steven Kropelnicki Jr., Asheville, N.C.
William H. Smith's article "Which worship" was right on target. My husband and I are co-pastors, and we are feeling great pressure to do more "entertainment" in our worship, as if this will automatically increase our attendances. I feel that we should have lively services, yet I feel that the focus is being taken off God and put on self. While no one will admit this is so, the focus is on what "I" get out of worship, not what I give to God in worship. I think we do a great disservice to our flock when we lower our expectations in worship by focusing on ourselves. The explanation of how the historical service is evangelical as well as educational was exceptional. "What glorifies God is also best for us." I wholeheartedly agree. - Kathy Muir, Findlay, Ohio
Holy, holy, holy
"Which worship" was a wonderful article. Enter into some churches and they are no more than glorified living rooms complete with all the comforts of home. This doesn't produce a setting for worship, it produces comfort. But enter into the throne room of God in either Isaiah 6 or Revelation 4 or 5, and you will find the Lord is lifted up. His train fills the room. Beasts and elders fall at his feet, crying, "Holy, holy, holy." - Mark Smith, Westville, Ind.
As a student at a major university in Los Angeles, I am thankful for WORLD. It helps keep me afloat intellectually and prevents me from drowning in the sea of pluralism and hypocrisy. - Jonathan Lee, Palos Verdes Estates, Calif.
I was amused by the recent Mailbag letter that read, "I thought your magazine would be more like Time or Newsweek. Please cancel." As a subscriber to both WORLD and Newsweek, I confess that these readers are correct; you are not like Time or Newsweek, which is why I always read your magazine first. - Reese Ferguison, Boise, Idaho