I was saddened by the latest wave of school shootings and have an unsettling feeling that there are many more to come ("A sad reality," March 17). Not long ago we decided as a nation that the classroom was not big enough for both God and State. Curiously, God had to leave, not the State. So after decades of teaching our children that we are all just a cosmic accident and that there is no right and wrong, only shades of gray, why are we so surprised that some are unable to value life and have no moral compass? Why are we surprised that some, faced with teasing or rejection, think that the only viable solution is to kill all those who have upset them? Perhaps we should back up a few decades to reassess who should leave the classroom and let parents, not the State, decide how their children should be educated. - Chuck Siebsen, Falcon Heights, Minn.
The cover photo and headline of the March 17 issue said it all. Despair, shock, grief, and disbelief were written on the faces of those in the photo, and the words, "A sad reality," ring in our hearts. Where will it end? And the question that burns in my heart is: Where is the church? The church of Jesus Christ is seemingly powerless in a society that slides further and further into the darkness of sin and hopelessness. Nothing short of an authentic move of the Holy Spirit in a true revival will save our country. - Frank Nolton, Goodrich, Mich.
An American problem
The shooting was very sad, and very wrong, but is it merely because God is not taught in school? If we look at other, godless school systems, then murder in school should be a worldwide problem. Instead, it is an American problem. Maybe taking away the means, addressing the motives, and denying the opportunity would be an approach to stopping the murder by American teenagers. - Heidi Buiskool, Ferndale, Wash.
Special thanks to Joel Belz for his hard-hitting and on-target comments on the predatory lending practices of the credit card companies ("The come-on," March 17). I spent 10 years in the lending business and I saw many people get in over their heads after receiving numerous credit cards. While it is the individual's fault for running up the debt, the credit card companies do very little to verify that the consumer can actually pay back the debt. The president of my former employer used to say (to paraphrase) "that the lender is responsible for keeping the borrower from taking out a bad loan by verifying that they can pay it back." - Travis Grubbs, Statesboro, Ga.
Free moral agents
I was somewhat surprised by "The come-on," which seemed to portray deeply in debt credit card holders as victims of the big banks and credit card companies. I always thought that conservatives did not see people as victims of big business or tobacco companies, but rather free moral agents who have made unwise and sinful choices. While the tactics of the credit card companies cannot be denied, the individual can still say no. Easy bankruptcy seeks to remove the consequences of practicing unbiblical behavior. - Lee Stauff, Quakertown, Pa.
Joel Belz expresses fairly his concerns about legislation designed to protect the "evil ways" of consumer credit lenders. But the most significant problem is not the lender, but the lack of obligation felt by the borrower. All our relationships-financial, marital, and vocational-suffer great damage at the hand of broken vows, excused by our postmodern value system. - Greg Phillips, Taylors, S.C.
I cannot fully agree with Mr. Belz's stance regarding the new bankruptcy laws. Yes, the banks encourage reckless spending and certainly are much to blame for the tremendous debt incurred by ordinary citizens. But as a small business owner, I feel victimized by my customers who so easily have reneged on their debts by filing for bankruptcy. I welcome the tightened rules on filings, and I cannot condone easily excusing those who are trapped in high debt loads, be it from credit cards, sloppy spending, or outright fraud. It rankles seeing many of them enjoy the niceties of life after legally avoiding payment to me. - Bill Mitchell, Fort Payne, Ala.
Better than all right
Andree Seu has allowed her readers a glimpse into the struggles of her heart during the illness and death of her husband, and now as a single parent. I finally had to write in after "How are you?" (March 17). Six weeks ago our third child, Caleb Andrew, was stillborn. "How are you?" is the common greeting from friends and family. I stifle the tears and heartache always just beneath the surface and usually answer, "All right." But she showed me that, in reality, I am doing better than "all right." God continues to provide comfort through His Spirit and His Word, and even in the midst of intense sorrow and confusion I have much for which to be thankful. - Stephanie Lindvall, Indianapolis, Ind.
Joyful and true
"How are you?" really touched my heart. I would say my greatest vice and the source of so much trouble for me flows out of bad conversation. I use a lot of words, and yet I could probably count on my hand how many are in praise to God. I hope that tomorrow the first person to ask me how I am will hear something joyful and true in response. - Jamieson Taylor, Austin, Texas
Hooked on Starbuck's
Your quote from the church official in Indiana that has a Starbuck's coffee franchise in the building was priceless (Quotables, March 17). Can't you just see Jesus turning over the coffee shop counter along with all the other moneychangers' tables? Do the people in this church sing "He's All I Need" while holding a cup full of coffee in the air? What would happen if they were as hooked on Jesus as they are on coffee? - Wendy Cummings, Pepperell, Mass.
Gene Edward Veith notes that four of 10 parents in Wisconsin's open enrollment program transferred their kids to schools with poorer academic performance ("Mom and dad's job," March 17). As the husband of a 24-year middle-school teacher, I've heard many stories of parents who do not want their children subjected to difficult assignments or challenged in any way. But in Wisconsin there may be more to the story. Here in Texas, some administrators require their teachers to spend inordinate amounts of time preparing for the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills tests, to the detriment of other parts of the curriculum. At other schools, standardized test scores may be lower but parent satisfaction and student achievement are higher. The parents who are transferring their children to schools with "poorer" academic performance may actually be improving their children's education. - Dan Gill, Fort Worth, Texas
I just thought I'd let you know how much we appreciate WORLD. My spouse and I are very interested in what and who is shaping our government so I'm especially thankful that you've added the new section, Flash Traffic, as we don't read the newspapers or watch TV. - Mary Feldhahn, Lake Elmo, Minn.
When I came to City of Refuge maternity home in June of 1997, I was five months pregnant. I gave up my baby for adoption that September and have lived and worked here ever since. The Lord has done incredible things for me these past years, and I look forward to seeing what the Lord will do in the lives of these girls and those who have been here in the past. I would like to encourage everyone involved at the Mercy House and the Gladney Center for Adoption and everyone who is helping to house and witness to these girls who have weak hands and feeble knees ("Home for life," March 10). These girls have chosen life for their children and are to be commended. - Rebekah Moran, Gardnerville, Nev.
Mr. Veith describes Britney Spears's confession of faith as "commendable" ("Out of the dungeon," March 10). We believe that her profession causes more confusion than benefit. Her young fans have as a model of Christian devotion someone who says one thing with her lips and something totally different with her body. It leads a generation to believe that they can love the ways of the world and be devoted to God at the same time. - Richard & Marty Elwell, San Bernardino, Calif.
Taxpayers can deposit $2,000 annually in their IRAs until they turn 70H (March 24, p. 15). NBC recently signed a three-year, $5 million per episode deal to keep Frasier (March 24, p. 15). - The Editors
Joel Belz should be ashamed of himself for his March 17 column. There is no excuse for excessive consumer debt; anyone who agrees to terms must understand them and abide by them. - Charles Phillip Van Someren, 16, Baldwin, Wis.