What to buy
I appreciated Gene Edward Veith's "Can't buy me love" (Dec. 16), a timely reminder of how overmaterialized we are in America, yet how unsatisfied and covetous we remain. I hung the article up with our Christmas cards. Providentially, in the same issue I read about your "Daniel of the year" Michael Yerko, a persecuted Christian leader in Sudan. The plight of our brothers and sisters could be an answer to the problem of buying for "the one who has everything" on our Christmas list. Next year, why not share with our brothers who have next to nothing? Through your reporting and Voice of the Martyrs ministry, our family has been convicted to pray and give to our suffering fellow believers. May we not only thank our gracious and heavenly Father for the blessings of abundance, but be openhanded to the faithful in need, for the sake of Christ and the gospel. - Heidi Goerner, New Hartford, N.Y.
Gene Edward Veith's column was very good as far as it went. We prosperous American Christians should enjoy God's unmerited generosity with a thankful heart, and not scorn the abundance with which God has blessed us. For a long time I struggled with feeling guilty for prosperity, which also leads to a lack of gratitude. Now I know that the way truly to enjoy our prosperity and have a thankful heart is to use what God has given us to advance His kingdom and comfort His people. It's OK to have a nice house if you practice hospitality, and it's OK to have more money than you truly need if you are charitable. After all, that is why God has so generously blessed us-for His name's sake. - Marliss Bombardier, Winslow, Ariz.
I thought your article on Michael Yerko was great ("Daniel of the year," Dec. 16). I knew that there was political unrest in Africa but I didn't know that there have been such severe problems in Sudan. Thank you for keeping me informed. - Jamie Gallagher, 16, Warren, Maine
A face of persecution
Thank you for putting a "face" on Sudan: Michael Yerko. I have been praying for Sudan in generalities. Now I can pray for a fellow believer who has both a name and a face. I appreciate how you enumerated many of the needs of Sudanese Christians and tried to explain the intricacies of a Memorandum of Understanding. - Joan Burgett, Ithaca, N.Y.
The cost of getting it right
Joel Belz made good points in his proposals to clean up the election process, but I am afraid the horse is out of the barn ("Higher hurdles," Dec. 16). In making registration and voting virtually effortless, the potential for fraud has skyrocketed. There is a way, however, to make "Motor Voter" work and clean up the registration rolls, from which it is now almost impossible to remove a name: Require voters to re-register whenever they renew their driver's licenses. In South Carolina, where I was chairman of the State Election Commission from 1990 to 1997, that is every four years. This way you could keep track of a moving population. California officials estimate that 14-24 percent of the names on their state voting lists are bogus; that's between 2 million and 3.5 million, more than the entire voter file for South Carolina. Also, it seems logical to begin to use thumbprint technology for elections. Electronic voting with a paper trail is essential if we want to have accurate elections. Punch cards are fine for small jurisdictions, but Chicago and South Florida counties are fooling themselves if they think they can adequately handle hundreds of thousands of punch cards. Honesty and accuracy cost money. Remember, too, that any system man can devise, man can frustrate. As James Madison said, "If men were angels, there would be no need for government." And then there would be no need for elections. - William B. DePass Jr., Columbia, S.C.
Football it's not
Joel Belz calls for much-needed projects to clean up registration rolls, modernize the mechanics of voting, let all voting deadlines coincide, and enhance the privilege of voting. I would add that the news media must be prohibited, under penalty of law, from making reports of any voting results or exit poll data until the last poll, at least in the continental United States, has closed. We will never know how many voters turned around and went home without voting on Nov. 7 after they heard the premature announcement that candidate Al Gore had won Florida. Elections are not like the Super Bowl. If fans see a lopsided score and leave early, they do not directly influence the outcome of the contest. - Don Crawford, Kirksville, Mo.
Thank you for the first-person account of waiting overnight in line to get into the Supreme Court proceedings ("Witness to history," Dec. 16). We are so grateful for your variety of coverage. I started to read the article not intending to read the whole thing, but it caught my attention. - Sue Collie, Long Barn, Calif.
Now that we are free from a Gore Presidency, I pray we will resist the temptation to settle back into our comfortable routines, neglecting to pray for George Bush, his administration's leaders, and all their families. - Janice K. Powell, Owasso, Okla.
God has provided
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court was correct in convicting the parents who refused to take their diabetic daughter to doctors, causing her 1997 death (No Comment Zone, Dec. 9). It is one thing when the parents of a child diagnosed with a terminal disease choose faith healing when their child has only six months to live, but diabetes is far too treatable to be handled in this manner. How many will have to die before the faith-healing people open their eyes? Why should we ask for a miracle cure when God has already provided a treatment through current medicine? - Hugh Henry, Dahlonega, Ga.
There are some
Thank you for your article on Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris ("Trash and carry," Dec. 2). We shouldn't be voting for the Democrats or Republicans, but for the person who is honest, just, and a true leader. Our youth should understand that there are people, such as Ms. Harris, who can make a difference and who will not be destroyed by the hatred, lies, and prejudice of others. - Jill Bauermeister, Herndon, Va.
By denying absolutes, postmodernism allows truth to be whatever is in your best interest and also disallows any definite virtue ("Out-Clintoning Clinton," Dec. 2). Montesquieu observed: "When virtue is banished, ambition invades the minds of those who are disposed to receive it, and avarice possesses the whole community." When our nation has lost its virtue, our form of government cannot exist. We seem to be nearing this point. - Wilson Hunter, Montgomery, Ala.
The Dec. 16 No Comment Zone item, about El Salvador joining Panama in adopting the U.S. dollar as currency, didn't mention that Ecuador has also been using the dollar since September. - Steve Neumann, Philadelphia, Pa.
Grace and courage
Christians in the Middle Ages called Muslims "the unconvertibles," and for years all I saw when I regarded Muslims was the "high wall of unbelief." How mightily encouraged I was by "Islam: the intersection of religion and politics" (Dec. 2). I saw how "the kindness of the Lord leads us to repentance" and that the million-dollar relief checks are having a real impact. May this encourage all of us to reach out to all people with the courage of knowing that no one is beyond the grace of God. - Ron Deere, Brooklyn, N.Y.
In a story concerning religious exemptions from a New York state law requiring student vaccinations for Hepatitis B ("A shot wide of the mark," Dec. 2), World incorrectly reported that a school superintendent threatened a mother with possible seizure of her child by Child Protective Services. The superintendent did not. The mother sought a medical exemption, submitting a statement from a qualified medical practitioner. The statement from the family doctor did not specify that the daughter had a history of bad reactions to vaccines but merely said, "It is my medical opinion ... that proceeding at this time with the Hepatitis B vaccine series would be detrimental to her well-being." Such a statement did not meet the requirements of New York law for an exemption from immunization. - The Editors