A picture's worth
If pictures speak a thousand words, your Oct. 21 cover photos speak volumes ("The last battleground"). The very first things I noticed upon removing it from my mailbox were the faces on the people in the backgrounds. Those in the Gore crowd were looking almost angry and depressed, while those in the Bush crowd were smiling and looking happy. What does this mean? Could there be a correlation between long faces and liberalism? - Lisa Harrison, Fort Worth, Texas
One and one
I was surprised to find my picture in your Oct. 21 No Comment Zone. While it is true that the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals did uphold the Milford school district's policy of not allowing the Good News Club to meet on school property, it is equally true that the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the right of a club very similar to ours to use school property after hours. Which of these courts is upholding the U.S. Constitution? We are looking to the Supreme Court to answer that question. I hope that God's people will be in prayer concerning this case as it will set a national precedent no matter what the Supreme Court decides. - Stephen D. Fournier, Milford, N.Y.
I was disturbed by the tone of your article on the rise in the use of prescription drugs to control depression and other problems linked to mental illness ("Drugs on the brain," Oct. 21). As a person who suffered most of my life with a mood disorder, I say that these drugs are a gift from heaven above. I fight an uphill battle as a mental health professional to help people recognize that many common mental illnesses are biochemical in nature and are readily treated. When I think of the suffering needlessly endured by Christians who wouldn't think twice about using insulin for diabetes but will become completely disabled rather than use a medical treatment for a mental illness, I could cry. - Kathryn Badger, Salisbury, Md.
"Drugs on the brain" illustrates perfectly our society's insistence on quick solutions for every kind of problem. Antidepressants are overused because people want to blame a chemical imbalance rather than a lack of self-control for their shortcomings of character. I was quite alarmed and dismayed, however, to read that children in preschool are receiving the same drugs. Children at that age who misbehave should be dealt with by parental discipline, not by prescription. - Hugh Henry, Dahlonega, Ga.
Bait and switch
Regarding the article on Hell Houses, these efforts are a confused strategy that offers entertainment as the bait before the switch ("Shocked straight," Oct. 21). That's not a good witness. - Eric Blievernicht, Terre Haute, Ind.
I think that Hell Houses are awesome. I know tons of teenagers who would go to one just to get scared and would be "scared straight." I feel for the people who went through the Columbine and Wedgwood tragedies, but portraying a school shooting would wake people up. The important thing is to get people saved, not whose toes we're stepping on. - Jenny Spore, Scottville, Mich.
Debating the debate
I disagree with the conclusion about the worth (or rather, worthlessness) of debating today ("The lost art of the debate," Oct. 21). While many debate leagues are as you described them, not all leagues operate with those objectives. The National Christian Forensics and Communications Association selects debate topics that Christians may argue on both sides, but not topics like euthanasia or abortion. This is my second year of debate participation. I know from experience that it teaches research, team work, logical analysis, speech construction, thinking on your feet, persuasiveness, note taking, and, of course, public speaking. These skills are important no matter what you grow up to be: a missionary, a politician, a journalist, a businessman, a teacher, a pastor, a salesperson, or a mother. Most importantly, it prepares you to defend the faith in an increasingly hostile world. Debate is not yet a lost art. To dismiss it is to dismiss a valuable learning tool. - Rachel Shafer, Longmont, Colo.
The column by U.S. Olympic swimmer Josh Davis was very encouraging ("Silver in Sydney," Oct. 7). To swim your best, set an American record, and come in fourth could be very discouraging unless you realize that Christ's "performance" shows our value. - J.D. Moyer, Littleton, Colo.
New symbol needed
Mr. Lamer is right on target, and I disagree with Mr. Skillen's column that followed ("Spiritual adultery," "Genuine pluralism," Oct. 7). As a former army chaplain, I assure you that in the military chaplaincy symbolic civil religion is alive and well and seriously hinders the proclamation of the gospel. Conservative evangelical chaplains are labeled "Protestant" and must cooperate with feminist chaplains, "psychologized" chaplains, those from mainline liberal denominations, and so on. Some evangelical chaplains have more in common with Jewish chaplains (who believe in God) and Catholic chaplains (who affirm the deity of Christ), yet the military continues to manage the chaplaincy as a Protestant melting pot. Chaplains are often jokingly referred to as "moral officers," and maybe this is closer to reality. When polite universalism becomes the norm, it would serve the truth better to replace the cross of Christian chaplains with a smiley face. - Scott Tomlinson, Fort Calhoun, Neb.
Wept for life
As a father of four, I was especially affected by the story about babies left to die outside the womb after being aborted ("Alive: wanted or not," Oct. 7). I wept for our country that allows children to be destroyed, and for doctors who care more for financial gain than for preserving life. I wept for myself as a Christian and asked for God's forgiveness, because I have not done more to stand up for those who cannot stand on their own. - Sean Eddy, Eaton, Colo.
In sociological terms, "civil religion" often refers to a religious experience associated with national pride. Patriarchs, documents, monuments, somehow become sacred as the mind of the polity becomes aware of its symbols. Civil religion, in this respect, is not necessarily the invocation before Congress. Which religion, denomination, or doctrine holds the podium in the public square will always be a debate in the City of Man. I am glad WORLD is there to report what is said. - Vance Goesling, Bakersfield, Calif.
Slandering a saint
Regarding the article on Gwen Shamblin, "The skinny on Weigh Down" (Oct. 7): You have turned out the most biased, slanted material I have read in years. Give yourselves a pat on the back for slandering a saint. - Matt Furnish, San Antonio, Texas
With increasing sadness I've watched the rise and fall of Gwen Shamblin. Her unbiblical emphasis on pragmatism, experience, and her unashamed disdain for the sufficiency of Scripture was obvious long before her most recent slip into blatant heresy. I'm glad that the church is finally realizing her true leanings, but sad that it's taken so long. - Elyse Fitzpatrick, Escondido, Calif.
In a perfect world, term limits would be a legitimate consideration ("Testing the limits," Sept. 16). In the 1994 elections the Democrats had been in power for years and terms limits sounded like a good idea. But the Republicans who won have discovered that doing what's best for the country is a slow process and, for the most part, have only just begun to put in place conservative ideas on governing. That will take more of them, not fewer. George Nethercutt realized that change takes longer than three terms. His constituents had to decide whether they want him to continue. - Priscilla Haydon, Wichita, Kan.
My compliments to Joel Belz for "Consider the source" (Oct. 7). When liberals repeatedly express any radical viewpoint over a short period of time, the media assumes that the viewpoint has general acceptance. This arrogance is an insult. A solution, as I see it, is to simply change the channel or turn off the power. - John H. Ross, Montrose, Colo.
I was encouraged by "Special interests" (Sept. 30). Sometimes Christians think they're solo in spreading the gospel, but it's good to be reminded that many others are doing the same thing in unique ways. - Heidi Wahl, 16, Cut Bank, Mont.
Members of the Greentree Community Church were handing out doughnuts at a Sept. 9 parade in Kirkwood, Mo., as an evangelism tool (Sept. 30, p. 26). - The Editor