My wife and I realized the last time we watched the Miss America pageant that it was still colorful and engaging, but the pageant officials' new standards of modesty have slipped below acceptable limits for Christians. We know that this is a forum for some Christian women to publicly stand for their Lord Jesus and promote godly causes-such as sexual abstinence until marriage-but it seems the world is walling us out of this contest, unless we compromise ("The narrow runway," Oct. 14). - Donald McKay, St. Francis, Minn.
Christian "beauty queens?" How can they speak with a straight face about purity and chastity while marketing their flesh in evening gowns and bikinis? And why do Christians watch and defend this trash? - Paul & Brenda Schmick, Horseheads, N.Y.
Regarding "Ugly-car chic" (Oct. 14): Unlike the tiny Mini, a Chrysler PT Cruiser offers good storage and ample power. Yes, the Mini is ugly. But the PT Cruiser? I don't think so. - Tom Dewey, Bloomington, Minn.
I, too, received an e-mail describing the alleged Satanic quotes from Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling ("Peeling The Onion," Oct. 14). Something was obviously fishy. I did my homework and found the satirical article on The Onion's website. I think Christians want to believe these kinds of stories because they fuel existing concerns, but Christians need to apply the same discernment to these stories as they do to determining whether or not to allow their children to read Harry Potter books. Christians are already mocked for believing the truth of the gospel; let's not give the unbelieving world reason to mock us for being gullible too. - David Olson, Waxhaw, N.C.
I find myself in the quandary of praising Joel Belz for his characteristically astute description of the biblical order of land ownership and stewardship of God's creation but disappointed with his conclusion ("Neighborhood burglars," Oct.14). If we're to clear environmental confusion and ethical bewilderment, Christians must speak out not only against the excesses of environmental regulation but also against the greed, selfishness, materialism, and consumption that has made environmental regulations necessary. - Preston Bristow, Woodstock, Vt.
The article on Scotchgard notes that perfluoro-octanyl accumulates in human tissues, and this should cause concern ("Risky business," Oct. 14). The fact that no danger has yet been shown from Scotchgard does not mean that the product is safe. As a conservative Christian, I am concerned that the dangers of environmental contamination are often downplayed by other conservatives. We should be the most interested in preserving God's creation and protecting our fellow human beings from the danger of chemical toxins. - John R. Whiffen, Malibu, Calif.
A glorious finish
This is as fine an article on sports as I have ever read in WORLD ("Silver in Sydney," Oct. 7). In an age of self-esteem, self-worth, self-everything, what a joy to hear Josh Davis's account of his biblically based, Christ-centered approach to high-pressure athletics. After 30,000 miles and 14 years of hard training, when Josh missed an individual medal in the men's 200m freestyle by one-tenth of a second and then broke out in tears in his father's arms, he glorified God. What a witness, particularly in the United States, where being No. 1 still reigns supreme. - Pete Andreas, Pella, Iowa
A humble champion
Thank you for printing the excerpts from Josh Davis's journal of the Sydney Olympics. I am a swimmer and his writing provided great inspiration for me, and really captured what being a Christian and an athlete is all about-bringing glory to our Creator in everything that we do. I met Josh at a swim clinic he held in Grand Forks, N.D. He is a humble and genuine champion. - Anneliesse Nelson, 15, Roseau, Minn.
Broken Boston hearts
It warms my rusted Boston heart to know that Marvin Olasky suffers from the same disease I've had all 38 years of my life-unconditional love for our Red Sox ("Sermon on the mound," Oct. 14). It's a sad state we can't shake, no matter how far we live from New England. The green pastures of Fenway Park give us hope every spring, but every fall reminds us of the promise of Psalm 23-that the Lord is our shepherd. - Bruce Brodeen, Ft. Collins, Colo.
In my opinion, Mr. Plowman described the growing separation between the Southern Baptist Convention and the Baptist General Convention of Texas from the SBC perspective only ("Texas chain saw," Oct. 14). There are many Baptists in Texas who would be labeled "conservative" but hold firmly to the historical position that Baptists have no creed other than the Bible. To require a seminary professor or denominational employee to sign a man-made document (even if you agree with it) is to make that document a "creed." What else can you call it when those who abstain from signing are labeled in the denomination as "liberal" and are removed from their position of leadership? - Raymond Higgins, Pasadena, Md.
Mr. Skillen argues that we should make room for all faiths, both religious and secular, in the public square without giving a privileged position to any ("Genuine pluralism," Oct. 7). I think Mr. Skillen has confused egalitarianism with justice. Our very form of government is based on the Christian belief that man is sinful by nature. Hence the separation of powers set up by the founders who knew full well the nature of man. As for justice, although we are drawing on the last reserves of our Christian heritage, it is only a predominately Christian society that allows its citizens to worship who they please and how they please. - Gary Abercrombie, Ft. Mill, S.C.
Showing respect for the beliefs of another person does not constitute "bowing down to Baal" ("Spiritual adultery," Oct. 7). The idea that any religion except Christianity has no value and shouldn't even be shown respect is un-Christian to the core. Unfortunately, that opinion is shared by many. It scares liberals and makes people like myself, who agree with James Skillen's alternate viewpoint, very uncomfortable. - Anthony Faber, Longview, Wash.
The election is almost here, and thankfully the third-party candidates are waning in the polls ("The spoilers," Oct. 7). But the race is close, and the margin of victory could be the votes cast for this year's Don Quixotes. I wish those wanting to "send a message" to the Republican Party would not do so at the risk of electing Al Gore. Can't we learn to send messages by writing letters, making phone calls, and working hard in primaries? - Karen O. LaBarr, Dunwoody, Ga.
Not from here
My congressman, George Nethercutt, has done a pretty good job. I never thought much of term limits and I'm glad the congressman's mind has cleared on the issue ("Testing the limits," Sept. 16). Now, some term-limits ideologues on the East coast are pouring millions of dollars into my district, saying I should flush a good congressman, and possibly get Dick Gephardt as Speaker of the House, for the sake of their point. The ideologues aren't from here, their cash isn't from here, and the Democrat running against Mr. Nethercutt isn't from here, either. The term-limits folks can go take a flying leap. - Warren Lewis, Veradale, Wash.
I subscribed to your publication on the recommendation of an acquaintance who described it as having a "balanced approach" to national and world issues. But after reading three issues, I have concluded that it is just another right-wing rag. - Eugene D. Mossner, Saginaw, Mich.
I do not agree with anything the Republicans stand for. I do not care for Ronald Reagan and his politics. All he did was transfer all the wealth to the filthy rich. - Arnita Williams, Raleigh, N.C.
Oh, be careful little hands ...
The letter in the Sept. 30 Mailbag about witnessing to telemarketers has me thinking. God providentially made our business phone number only one digit away from that of a sexually oriented business. When I get a phone call from a man wanting to hire a stripper or a woman wanting to work as an exotic dancer, I rattle on about our Christian children's music and how it teaches Bible verses, about the Christian faith, and so on, until I hear the "Oops" and they hang up. Now I am wondering if I should be more direct in sharing the gospel. But what should a woman selling Christian songs say to someone who calls up wanting to hire a "date for the evening?" - Mary Jensen, Missouri City, Texas