Gene Edward Veith calls nature healing, soothing, and reason to praise the Creator, yet states that some of those concerned with protecting God's handiwork are humanists with a guilty conscience. How many of the places Mr. Veith mentions, as well as those pictured throughout your vacation cover story, are protected by law? How many would still be wild and beautiful and awe-inspiring without this protection from mining, damming, development, and other human endeavors? People have selfishly and foolishly done far more than a little littering. - Margaret Niemann, Salida, Colo.
Tears of joy
In this day of parent-bashing, I was refreshed and blessed by reading J. D. Wetterling's column ("Mom's place," May 12). I'm sure that his mother was not perfect, but he had the grace to focus on the good and extend a tribute worthy of a woman who invested so much in his life. This uplifting piece brought tears to my eyes and joy to my heart. - Mary Fawcett, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Thank you to Joel Belz for "A happy freeloader" (May 5). I, too, am a news junkie and an avid National Public Radio Morning Edition and All Things Considered listener, and I have felt a pang of guilt during the twice-annual fundraisers. Thanks for a good apologetic against contributing. - Melanie M. Cogdill, Laguna Niguel, Calif.
In the Cincinnati area we are blessed with a truly local, public radio station, WOBO 88.7. It's not just another propaganda outlet with a worldview beamed in from NPR's national headquarters. It's a commercial-free breath of fresh air (not the Terry Gross kind). Volunteers bring their own music collections and unpolished charm to share over the air waves. The musical genres that I've heard so far include Swing, Classical, Bluegrass, Classic Country, Gospel, and Easy Listening. Finally, I've found a public radio station I can support financially and listen to without fear of being brainwashed. - Mike Johnson, Cincinnati, Ohio
Thank you for a fantastic article on Taiwan and the United States' relationship with that country ("Armed but not dangerous," May 5). I found myself fascinated by the discussion of military technology and strategic international relations. I remember the same interest from the previous Bush presidency, during the Gulf War, but it faded. I knew that the last eight years with a president who sold our secrets and weakened our capabilities had undermined our country's strength, but I'm somewhat amazed to discover it's had a demoralizing effect on me, too. I've lost some patriotic pride in our country. I am thankful that we now have an administration that places importance on advancing military technology, good morale among troops, and strategic international relationships-not just trying to be friends with everybody, which won't work. I will certainly be praying that Mr. Bush and his advisors have wisdom in this area. - Brian Schwartz, Nashville, Tenn.
Thank you for "Faith in dictators" (May 5). Promoting a discerning mind among all Americans is essential to our country's future. Unfortunately, our leftist, politicized educational system prevents our citizens from appreciating our Judeo-Christian foundation or the sacrifice of our founding fathers. - Chris Strayve, Medina, Ohio
I was pleased to see your article on graduated driver's license programs ("Not so fast," May 5). However, I was sadly disappointed by your portrayal of teenagers. You did not include a single supportive perspective from teen drivers. Your one-sided portrayal was that of rude and reckless youth who didn't have enough sense to see what is best for them. While this is true of many teens, it is not the only attitude out there. I live in Pennsylvania, where they have a GDL program. Personally, I'm pleased. True, it has made my senior year a busy one, but I feel much safer now as I prepare to take my driver's test, knowing that I know what I am doing and knowing that my peers on the road do, too. - Kirstin Murray, 16, Lititz, Pa.
A class titled "Truth or Consequences" (May 26, p. 31) was not taught by ex-gays. - The Editors
Down memory lane
Mr. Veith's feature brought back many boyhood memories of long, cross-country treks by automobile before interstates and fast-food restaurants ("Vacation as vocation," May 12). My dad made sure we kids saw a great deal of the country on big summer vacations that we always looked forward to. I was struck by his comment that Christians have often disagreed about how strictly to observe the Sabbath, followed by a list of rhetorical questions pertaining to proper Sabbath observance. I can't help but wonder how many Christians find the very idea of Sabbath observance as archaic as pre-interstate and pre-fast-food restaurant vacation travel. Forget the "legalism" questions-I know of believers who forgo Sunday worship for soccer games and baby showers. - S. Murray, Pittsburgh, Pa.
I read with interest "Sleeping in Seattle" (May 12). I would suggest, however, that you do more research on foot-and-mouth disease and the many ways this deadly disease can be transmitted. Because it has the potential to devastate our own farm families and agriculture-related industries, I believe all tourism to England should be banned until this disease is controlled. - Nathan P. Stoltzfus, Honey Brook, Pa.
Stuff and piffle
Why refer to Jan Karon's new Mitford novel as a "piffle" (In the spotlight, May 12)? The dictionary defines piffle as "silly talk or behavior; nonsense." A Common Life is far from that. Why not say that it was No. 1 on The New York Times bestseller list, or that it is a book you can give to non-Christian friends and know they get the gospel, or a gift from Miss Karon to her faithful readers who wanted to know the details of a wedding between two characters we have come to know and love? - Janice Scott, Tucker, Ga.
Keep the good
Thanks to Joel Belz for aptly expressing a real dilemma. NPR's programming is at once fascinating and troubling. But in defense of NPR, on what other station can you hear the president of Mexico live? And there was a respectful segment on the growing underground church in China aired on a Saturday morning show and a Talk of the Nation show, including a live interview with Jerry Falwell, that seemed to accord him respect and a reasonably fair hearing. I think that a Christian can discerningly derive a wealth of great information from NPR without imbibing its relativistic, dismissive attitude toward biblical orthodoxy. - Jim Woychuk, St. Louis, Mo.
A happy eavesdropper
I, too, am a happy NPR music freeloader who will never voluntarily contribute to public radio due to its overtly pagan perspective. Fortunately, we now have ClassicalMusicDetroit.com, and in addition we can eavesdrop on classical music and news funded by Canadian taxpayers. For metro-Detroit listeners, the Windsor, Ontario, outlet of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation does a credible job of classical music, news, and weather. - Jay R. Hackleman, Grosse Pointe Park, Mich.
If we really are serious about making China sit up and take notice, let's revoke its Most Favored Nation trading status. I don't think that giving them our jobs has improved the lot of the common people in China. - Don Curtice, Bloomfield, N.Y.
I found it very interesting that staffers in the White House and Justice Department are getting on the Prayer of Jabez bandwagon (Flash Traffic, May 5). It seems like everyone in both Christian and secular circles is chanting the prayer found in 1 Chronicles 4:10 for God's blessing, enlarging of influence, presence, and protection. However, most people conveniently forget that verse nine states that Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. God answered Jabez's prayer because he was walking with God and thus in a position to be blessed. It is pretty presumptuous and arrogant for people, Christian or non-Christian, who may not be walking in love and obedience to God to expect Him to bless them just because they ask. Is this another quick-fix fad in Christendom? - Frank Nolton, Goodrich, Mich.
From a first-year homeschooling mother, thank you for your insightful and informative special issue, "Ideal schools" (April 28). I read it from cover to cover and then went to the library and found E. D. Hirsch Jr.'s Core Knowledge books. They are exactly the type of reference I have been searching for to help evaluate where my child is and should be. Latin probably won't be taught at this homeschool anytime soon, but I've been encouraged that I'm on the right track. - Roxanne Evans, Melrose Park, Ill.