Your story on contemporary Christian music was great ("Salt or sugar?" May 13). I am not concerned about whether CCM artists should sing for Christians or try to bring the Christian message to the world. But I am deeply troubled by two trends: the desire of companies to shape musicians and their message into a mold that will make them the most money, and the increasing tendency to accept the less-than-biblical lifestyle of some CCM "stars." For Christians, the desire for money must not shape the message, and CCM artists are role models, whether they want to be or not. - Larry Lobdell Jr., Coopersville, Mich.
The world is winning us
Finally someone has exposed the corruption in the so-called Christian music business. Thanks for the gutsy article which is really about a distorted view of who God is and the need to get back to a biblical theology. Our music reflects our belief system and the present dilemma only verifies that we are not winning the world, but the world is winning us. - William J. Finnigan, Warren, Ohio
CCM songs have shown me areas of my life that need work, taught me about God, given me hope in hard times, and reminded me to praise the Lord in good times. I also believe that CCM has a tremendous opportunity to be a witness. In this dark world, people will be drawn to lyrics that offer hope, love songs that don't end in heartbreak, and musicians that don't appear to be depressed and angry. - Sharon Pelletier, Troy, Mich.
When we as a radio station put forth a positive message, folks look forward to turning on the radio. We are all called to use our gifts and abilities in the way that God calls us, and God will lead us to do differently. Let's stop questioning the call and ministry practices of our brothers and sisters and spend our energy in ways that edify the local church body. - Mark T. Giles, WPSM Radio, Fort Walton Beach, Fla.
As commercial as McDonald's ...
The CCM industry calling itself a ministry is like McDonald's calling itself a hunger-relief organization. CCM was "legal" entertainment for me as a teenager, but its rhetoric of reaching the world through sanctified rock 'n' roll only united religion with rebellion. - Brenda Huber, Conestoga, Pa.
...and about as healthy
While I have long enjoyed contemporary Christian music, I am troubled by the lack of depth and the cryptic lyrics that proliferate in recent offerings. I am more troubled that some Christian radio stations broadcast spots touting their programming as a reasonable substitute for personal Bible study and validate tithing to their ministry. Would they also recommend a diet based on Snickers bars and Cocoa Krispies? Maybe we in the church should think this over-or just turn off our radios for a while. - Mike Anderson, Woodburn, Ore.
I believe there is an important place in music ministries for both those who evangelize the lost and those who feed the saved. If Christian artists want to truly have an impact in the secular world, though, they must be set apart and hold strong to biblical beliefs. Revealing clothes and divorce, among other things, do not show the lost that these Christian artists are any different. - JulieBeth Lamb, Knight's Ferry, Calif.
God or mammon?
Word president Roland Lundy's statement that "if we don't make money, we don't make a profit, and then we have no ministry," should make us shudder. The CCM industry has made it very clear that when a choice has to be made between the true gospel of Christ or profits, then the gospel will have to go. - Ronald Healy, Big Timber, Mont.
Would Jesus water down the wine?
I have often become acquainted with Christian artists with a wonderful message, only to be disappointed by their entrance into mainstream music. Michael W. Smith was right that Jesus wouldn't just "feed ... our own little club," but Jesus wouldn't water down His message to increase sales, either. - Michelle Johnson, Cottage Grove, Wis.
Your article broke my heart. I always suspected that when the secular companies bought out Word, Sparrow, and the rest that compromise would invariably follow. How painful to see it played out in the lives of Christian artists. - Janice Scott, Tucker, Ga.
Sinking of Amy's Titanic
The divorce of Amy Grant and Gary Chapman struck an emotional chord with me ("Contemporary lifestyles," May 13). I have followed her career since she was a high-school student releasing her first album. Her songs have often revealed personal milestones and family relationships, notably a line, "It takes a little time to turn the Titanic around." Alas, her marital Titanic struck an iceberg and sank. Regardless of the circumstances of the divorce, we who have followed her life are saddened. - Ron Brown, Crystal River, Fla.
Thanks for an interesting, although negative, article about CCM. As a 45-year-old who buys 25 or 30 CCM CDs a year, I thank God for wholesome music that is edifying, entertaining, and a great witnessing tool. But, given where Amy Grant is today, I don't intend to purchase any of the new Mrs. Gill's recordings. - Chet Jelinski, Bloomfield, N.J.
I was particularly interested in your sidebar about how the CCM industry treats musicians whose lives contradict their theology. When I listen to their soaring, beautiful voices sing about the glory of the Lord, I feel sick inside; it's their hypocrisy I think about, not the Lord. I will not buy one of their CDs again. It's time to retire when a singing "ministry" begins to hurt the relationships in a singer's life. Another wonderful voice will come along to entertain us, and we'll survive just fine. - Michelle Ule, Ukiah, Calif.
Kudos for your article on how CCM is "torn between sprinkling salt and dishing out sugar." Because we often attempt to be a positive influence in an increasingly negative culture, we produce a saccharin form of Christianity that cannot confront real issues. When we "market" our faith we sanitize it, focusing on happiness rather than the joy of serving God. - Jennifer Gibson, Rochester, N.H.
As a pastor, I have noticed that worldliness is entering our homes through television and our church houses through the music industry. The last two issues of WORLD have shown how the CCM industry has brought us a long way from Fanny Crosby, and The Simpsons and Roseanne have brought us a long way from the biblical model of family life ("Salt or sugar?" May 13; May 20). Thank you for admonishing us to keep our antennae up. - Jeff Amsbaugh, Columbus, Ga.
In the past when I heard a sugary pop "Christian" song on secular radio, I assumed the artist had sold out to the mainstream, looking for bigger bucks. After reading "Salt or sugar?" I'm wondering if the record companies aren't "selling out." I am thankful for artists like Michael Card and Steven Curtis Chapman who consistently record scriptural, soul-stirring music that challenges my faith. - Sandra Garman, Paso Robles, Calif.
The other half
It's disappointing to see WORLD perpetuate the common notion that the principal obstacle to the biblical doctrine of authority and submission in marriage is that Christians have not condemned sufficiently what Mr. Chapell refers to as the "me dictator, you doormat' view of marriage" ("Alpha male meets Alpha and Omega," May 20). Mr. Chapell is sensitive to the suffering of wives led by harsh husbands, but is he as sensitive to the suffering of husbands (and their children) living in a home with a rebellious wife? Piling up illustrations of unloving husbands does little to address the spirit of rebellion so pervasive in our culture. Elton Trueblood wrote that the mark of wisdom is fighting the battles of today rather than those of yesterday. Mr. Chapell seems unaware that the more significant threat to the family is not husbands who are mean but wives who have never been taught to submit or simply refuse to do so. - Timothy B. Bayly, Bloomington, Ind.
Your treatment of "Marriage & the family" (May 20) was thorough and captivating. I came away confident that God will continue to preserve His institution and use it for His glory. - Gretchen McPherson, Rohnert Park, Calif.
We are quite impressed with the latest issue on the family and are thankful for your willingness to wade into the cultural abyss that much of American culture (is that an oxymoron yet?) is today. - Bret Lott, Mt. Pleasant, S.C.
In "Fatherhood canceled in primetime TV" (May 20), Roy Maynard points to Archie Bunker of All in the Family as the turning point in the decline of the strong, confident TV dads of the 1950s and '60s. However, Fred Flintstone was a cantankerous bumbler nearly a decade before we met Archie. Dick van Dyke's Rob Petrie was a goof-ball dad in a show of the same period, and the comics of the 1910s, '20s, and '30s were replete with ineffective, bumbling dads. If anything, the era of the 1950s TV dad was a brief respite in the midst of a century of negative media father figures. - Jay Ryan, Cleveland, Ohio
What about Bill?
How could you write about TV families and leave out the Cosby family, where father, indeed, was frequently the one who knew best and who told his kids about right and wrong. They even admitted to going to church. - Jan Tompkins, Columbia, Mo.
Going with family
I appreciate the comparison between the historical realities of marriage and family and today's definition of the family unit ("Domestic partners," May 20). The family is the foundation upon which every society is built. As the family goes, so goes the culture and society. - Paul Kleindl, Arlington, Va.
My mind was changed about women in the military when I ended up in a maternity uniform while on active duty and expecting our first child. All I could think about was what an oxymoron I had become-a pregnant warrior. But, not wanting to give up all that I had achieved, I remained in the active reserves. When my husband was deployed during the Gulf War, and I was likely to have to fill a stateside position, I realized my mistake in sacrificing my children's welfare on the altar of self-centeredness. I resigned my commission at the first opportunity. "GI Janes" (May 20) presents a truthful account of this growing problem-sacrificing our military readiness for the bankrupt agenda of militant feminists. - Margaret Hudson, Winchester, Va.
As a military wife, I am grateful to see a significant article on feminism and the military. The voices of those opposing the feminization of our military are not often heard. Many soldiers and their families are concerned with this issue as well as with the low morale surrounding the lowered standards and time spent in "sensitivity training." Our nation travels down a dangerous road when feminists cannot see clearly enough to sacrifice their ambition for the greater cause of national security. - Megan Arnold, Watertown, N.Y.
I loved your special issue, and particularly the review of Bringing Up Baby ("In the spotlight," May 20). I see paleontologist Cary Grant as living a diminished life encapsulated in the past, while Katharine Hepburn and Baby, the leopard, represent life in the present. When his dinosaur skeleton comes crashing down, Grant is thrust into the real world, showing that life can be funny, serious, unpredictable, and should be lived in the flash point of the now. - Phil Holabach, Broken Arrow, Okla.
God on death
Thank you, Mr. Olasky, for bringing God into the debate on capital punishment ("Serious questions," May 13). I am amazed that so many Christians, including pastors, are silent on what God has to say on the subject. - Garnett Slone, Henderson, Ky.
The Old Testament does indeed uphold the principle of capital punishment, but Mr. Olasky is the one using an "a la carte" approach. If we are going to follow the law, why not be consistent and invoke the death penalty for sexual sins, consulting spirits, or cursing your parents? The death penalty is thinly veiled vengeance, and as sinners saved by grace I believe we should leave that vengeance to the Lord. - Matt Tripoli, Tempe, Ariz.
The death penalty is absolutely righteous, but we need a government fit to administer it before we give it approval to do so. - Shelley Shannon, Topeka, Kan.
I disagree with Gene Edward Veith that "Christians have to consider his [Elián's] spiritual well-being to be a major priority, even over parental rights" ("Lessons from Elián," May 13). God will hold Juan Gonzalez responsible for how he raises his son, whether in the Lord or in Marxism and atheism. - Susan Ray, Allen, Texas
In your article on the gay rights "Millennium March" you said that "law enforcement reported no sign of counterdemonstrators" ("Power play," May 13). I happened to be at the Mall in Washington on a family vacation that Saturday and there were counterdemonstrators. They had to be moved across the walkway from the "AIDS Quilt" to keep demonstrators from mobbing, and some shouted vulgar things at the counterdemonstrators. Police also taped off the area where the counterdemonstrators were standing. I wonder how the media would have reacted if the behavior had been reversed. - Paul Mack, 16, Brighton, Mich.
In The Abolition of Man, C.S. Lewis anticipates one possible result of the Human Genome Project: that a small group of men would have the tools to shape and "fix" the nature of all men. This is a far more fearful prospect than the short-term pragmatic evils suggested by Mr. Sillars ("Cracking the code," April 29). Thankfully the human genome rests securely in the Creator's hands, not those of scientists or (God forbid) politicians. - James E. Morton, Queensbury, N.Y.
All or none
A letter-writer argues that the Vatican merits Permanent Observer status at the United Nations General Assembly because it is a sovereign state (Mailbag, May 6). The Holy See, not Vatican City, enjoys that status. Either all religious bodies should enjoy that status or none. - Edd Doerr, Americans for Religious Liberty, Silver Spring, Md.
After reading "Baby pictures" (Jan. 22), we thought, "We wish we could give an ultrasound machine to our local crisis pregnancy center." An hour later we got a phone call and realized that we would have the money to do it. Workers at our local crisis pregnancy center told us that their old one had just become unusable, so they found one and God used us to provide the money to buy it. The first day they used it an abortion-minded woman, after seeing the ultrasound, decided to keep her baby. - Anonymity granted to protect the confidentiality of a gift,