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Mailbag

Issue: "Pilgrims' progress," Nov. 28, 1998

Disturbed

I usually admire your articles in WORLD. "True colors" (Oct. 31), however, was pathetic. It implies that whites are much more morally conservative than minorities. Unfortunately, this is the opinion shared by most evangelical conservatives, leaving the Republican Party to choose its minority candidates. It then chooses the more moderate minority candidate because these are the only candidates who have enough string in their boots to pull up into a noticeable position. I am disturbed that evangelical whites won't see the common moral beliefs of minority evangelicals as a platform to expand these beliefs into social action and public policy. The Scripture says that God's people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. My heart grieves to see my black brothers and sisters in Christ being destroyed by liberal rhetoric and secular socialism. But it angers me to see my white brothers and sisters in Christ not willing to approach Nineveh because they think they will have to "move leftward" or "water down." - Starr Parker, Los Angeles, Calif.

Don't move left

I am an American of African ancestry, a Christian, and a conservative. On the cover of your Oct. 31 issue is the question: "Can GOP court minorities without moving leftward?" I read the story inside and I would like to make the following points: The GOP is already moving leftward and it has nothing to do with minorities. The number of liberals inside the GOP (they call themselves moderates) is killing the party's effectiveness. As a conservative I do not think we should change our message to appeal to liberal minorities because we would then be Democrats. If the issues that matter get watered down (conservative issues) to try and accommodate those minorities on the left, then the GOP is finished as a party. If the GOP wants to court minorities, then it needs to support conservative minority candidates for city, state, and national offices, not run away from them. - Jimmie L. Hollis, Millville, N.J.

Accounting for depravity

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I appreciated Gene Edward Veith's comments in "Morality, prosperity" (Oct. 31). They renewed my thoughts concerning the libertarians. In many respects, they make excellent points-but they fail to take into account the depravity of man. They rightly deplore the multitude of laws that have been enacted in the attempt to restrain people from evil, but they apparently do not see that if it were not for these laws and the enforcement of them, our society would be even more dangerous for everybody than it is now. They propose eliminating the many laws, but they have no proposal to eliminate the need for the laws. - John B. Degges, West Valley City, Utah

What's phonics got to do with it?

What in the world does phonics have to do with the cause of Christ ("Sound out ar-ro-gant," Oct. 31)? And why are so many conservative Christian groups wasting their time leading the charge? There are still a billion people worldwide who haven't heard the gospel for the first time and several billion more who haven't responded. Do you want to see real change? Use your gifts and talents in things that matter. Paul wrote that God's purpose was "to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ" (Ephesians 1:10). It's about sharing the good news, not dawdling in phonics or other tertiary causes. - Barry Fager, Lynnwood, Wash.

Blame the colleges and the texts

As a 23-year veteran in a first-grade classroom and a firm believer in systematic intensive phonics instruction, I read with real interest Joel Belz's article. He identified most of the problems associated with the current reading instruction in America. Rudolph Flesch identified the problem in the '50s with his book Why Johnny Can't Read. There is no question that future teachers are not being instructed how to teach children to read. Sadly, many Christian colleges are just as guilty. But the problem goes beyond the college and university classrooms and education departments. The major textbook publishers have long ago abandoned publishing textbooks with any kind of phonics as the guiding principle in presenting skills. They will include some "token" phonics instruction, which I call "pseudo-phonics," but not a truly systematic, intensive phonics method of teaching reading. Trying to teach children to read without the phonics is like sending a carpenter out to build a house without his tools. - Ron Luginbill, Peru, Ind.

Partly true

Joel Belz's column concerning the teaching of phonics is partly true. The educrats are arrogant, but not only in teaching reading; their arrogance reaches all subjects. However, in reality you can teach very little phonetically in English. For example, when you see laughter and daughter written you see the sole difference is the initial letter, but they are pronounced quite differently. Where is the w in one? It fell off and landed in two. The point is that phonics will only help in a very general way. Nonetheless, phonics should be taught to those learning to spell and read for use as a basic guide, not as hard and fast rules. - Tom Harden, Muscatine, Iowa

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