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Mailbag

Issue: "Cuban conundrum," Feb. 5, 2000

Number our days

While home from teaching school because of illness and contemplating my own "numbering of days," I wondered about the average number of years lived by the 115 famous people featured in your article "Deaths: Man knows not his time" in the 1999 Year in Review (Jan. 8). Even though most of these famous people lived long and productive lives, the average life span was 72.2 years. Sounds like a Scripture verse to me. Moses writes in Psalm 90 that "the length of our days is seventy years-or eighty" and later he cautions, "Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." - Nancy Broberg, Storrs, Conn.

Up late

I normally hate "year-in-review" issues, but yours was outstanding. I started it as I was going to bed, figuring it would be a quick read, and was still up at 2:00 a.m. It was well-written, sensitive, and informative. - Kathy Ritenour, Clearwater, Fla.

The greater sin?

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Your normally well-balanced journalism was tarnished somewhat by your biased review of the Kosovo bombing campaign, which you called "pretty useless" (Why do the nations rage?" Jan. 8). Granted, decisive force was used late and only marginal success was achieved. Nevertheless, an evil regional hegemony was severely weakened; the genocide has halted; and a tenuous peace is in place. What alternatives did we have? Would it not have been a greater sin to stand by and do nothing? - Mike Ruff, Burke, Va.

No case for it

The president never made a convincing case for risking American lives in a civil war in which we have no vital national interest. I fear he has entangled us in another never-ending police action, where troops trained to fight will act as social workers attempting to sort out 500-year-old ethnic rivalries. - Gerard Kern, Austin, Texas

Understanding freedom

You quote the website message of Fort Worth's Wedgwood Baptist Church, where a deranged loner killed seven people at a youth rally, "God, we don't understand. But you don't call us to understand" ("In tragedy: hope and witness," Jan. 8). Why don't we understand? God has given good people-and bad people-freedom of choice and sometimes those choices result in horrible tragedies. - Dan Jensen, Claremore, Okla.

What it was

Marvin Olasky's article "1899 vs. 1999" (Jan. 8) is an excellent description of the modernism that was mushrooming at the turn of the 19th century. The modernists were more interested in religious feeling than a relationship with God through the atoning blood of Christ and believed that Christians would evolve into spiritual supermen. While there are many examples of godly men and women all around us, as there must have been 100 years ago, the modernists failed to recognize this fallen world for what it was, and that Jesus Christ alone was perfect. - Anthony L. Chapman, Louisville, Ken.

Morticians in office

You can't begin to imagine my disgust and disappointment with the ruling by the Vermont Supreme Court forcing the legalization of homosexual partnerships ("A cultural time bomb," Jan. 8). The damage done here will surely spill over into other states. The voice of the people is gone, and we now have politicians, rightfully called morticians, presiding over a dead government. - Alan Lane, Randolph, Vt.

A privilege

The Vermont Supreme Court command to treat homosexual partnerships the same as heterosexual marriages was a terrible decision. Spousal benefits are not a right but a privilege by which an employer, institution, or legislature chooses to encourage and subsidize the traditional family. Society is not discriminating against individuals but against certain voluntary lifestyles. - Frank Vosler, New Albany, Ohio

Where's the beef?

I find your magazine very interesting and timely, but I note your fairly negative comment regarding "private-practice ambulance chasers" ("Politics: Ups and downs of 1999," Jan. 8). As a trial lawyer, I have often wondered why conservative Christians take such a negative attitude toward my profession. Personal injury and plaintiffs' trial practice is just a process by which wrongdoers are compelled to take responsibility for their actions. What is the theological beef with the Plaintiff's Bar? Cannot representing the injured, the bereaved, and the sick be as much of a ministry as yours? - Richard B. Davis Jr., Gainesville, Fla.

Great Schisms

In "Religion: Millennium in review" (Jan. 8), you said the No. 4 event was the Great Schism and described it as the split between the Eastern and Western churches. That split did, indeed, conclude in 1054, but that was the Greek or Eastern Schism. The Great Schism occurred in 1378. The cardinals elected Urban VI, but decided they didn't like him, so they elected Clement VII. Each pope ruled a certain territory. Clement had France, Spain, and southern Italy; Urban got northern Italy, Germany, England, and Scandinavia. To clear up the mess, Alexander V was elected, but then there were three popes. Martin V came out of the Council of Constance (1414-1418) as the sole pope. The Greek Schism was based on major doctrinal issues; the Great Schism was a period of confusion in the church. - Laura Weise, 15, Union, Ill.

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