I usually agree with your magazine, but I heartily disagree with your review of The Prayer of Jabez (Bestsellers, May 19). As I read the book I was at first, like you, very critical because it seemed that Bruce Wilkinson was giving the secret of how to manipulate God. But when I read further, I saw that his main point was really that God wants us to live an abundant life, and we can trust Him to supply the power-we just have to ask. - Megan Linsley, Mason, Mich.
Just a closer walk
You stated that the worldview behind The Prayer of Jabez is "God as cosmic bellhop." I read the book, and I believe that instead it encourages believers to a closer, more fruitful walk with the Lord as they seek to align their lives with His perfect will. Mr. Wilkinson does not encourage the reader to pursue worldly success. - Steve Mitchell, Pendleton, S.C.
I am sorry that some evangelicals have taken to criticizing The Prayer of Jabez. I was challenged and encouraged to see how God will increase my sphere of influence for His glory. My "territory" has been enlarged to the point that I am leaving the suburbs and moving into an urban neighborhood and into an urban church. - Mike Campbell, Mobile, Ala.
Propelled by conviction
In "Changed by choice?" in the May 19 issue, you reported that psychiatrist Dr. Robert Spitzer found 200 men and women who report varying degrees of change in sexual orientation. As president of the National Association of Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, I suggest that the idea of "choice" as you present it needs some clarification. Through therapy and religious counseling, many clients, with time and maturity, develop heterosexual feelings and stop their homosexual behavior. But it is unusual even for a committed Christian to be completely freed of all of the unwanted attractions that contribute to sexual orientation. Still, the religious client is propelled forward by the conviction that he is moving in the right direction, with the intuitive knowledge that normality is that which functions in accordance with its design. So, a choice to work toward change does exist. But in all fairness to the people who struggle, it cannot be said that a change of feelings can simply be chosen. - Joseph Nicolosi, Encino, Calif.
The un-PC alternative
As someone who works daily in the realm of public policy and culture, WORLD has been essential reading for me for several years now. However, my appreciation for your magazine was recently renewed after I happened to read one of the other weekly newsmagazines and was struck between the eyes by just how different-how "politically correct"-their tone and treatment of the same issues was from WORLD's excellent coverage. It was a good, and needed, reminder of what a blessing WORLD is. - David C. Dunn, Oklahoma City, Okla.
Fundie conspiracist propaganda
WORLD is just another fundamentalist propaganda outlet (part of the aptly named Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy) that probably believes its own hogwash on the usual litany of right-wing boilerplate topics. It is people like you who are responsible for most of what is wrong about "Middle America"-its crude conservative bent, its nativist know-nothingism, its nasty prejudices, and its fundamentalist intolerance. You won't be happy until you've destroyed the country. - Richard M. Todaro, Washington, D.C.
Regarding the column that mentioned apotemnophilia, a desire to have one's own limbs amputated, is it possible that this is a judgment of God ("The real me," May 19)? If a person rejects God long enough, may He not, as it says in Romans, "give them over" to the consequences of a wicked life-a debased mind? - Bill Holschen, St. Louis, Mo.
Hooray for Janie B. Cheaney's essay on self-obsession, but it raises a thorny question or two. Why is it self-mutilation to cut off an arm unnecessarily, and business as usual among Christians to chemically or surgically neuter a man or woman made procreative in the image of God? Why are we distressed by the disorder driving the transgender fad but do not see the same disconnectedness with gender reality among our Christian friends who reject fertility? - Charlotte Ostermann, Lawrence, Kan.
Bush country vacation
Thanks to Bob Jones and Gene Edward Veith for their excellent travel advice for families on their summer vacations ("Sleeping in Seattle," "Vacation as vocation," May 12). I noticed that many of the potential vacation destinations mentioned in their columns-Seattle, Chicago, Beverly Hills-are squarely in "enemy territory," politically liberal counties that voted for Al Gore in the last presidential election. As for me and my house, we're planning a "Bush country" vacation this year. Sorry, but Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Seattle, and those infamous southern Florida counties aren't getting one cent of my vacation dollar. - Steven A. Costello, Lake Jackson, Texas
I just had to write to agree with Mr. Olasky regarding "Simple pleasures" (May 12). We have wonderful memories of traveling with our children on trips. We read many Newbery medal books and had wonderful book discussions. We listened to countless Adventures in Odyssey tapes from Focus on the Family, and my husband would make up wonderful, mysterious adventure stories, without violence or gore, that would bring us all to the edges of our seats. From the Statue of Liberty to the Grand Tetons to the Grand Canyon, we have seen so much. Now our children are teens and we read books about dating and listen to music they like, but I wouldn't trade our vacation memories for anything. - A. Macklin, Yorktown, Va.
"Watch me" trips
I required a moment to shake a sense of inadequacy after reading "Simple pleasures." With my two weeks of vacation a year, I chaperone my children's school trips, attend their school plays, their spelling bees, their chapel recitals, and any of their "watch me, daddy" events. We take no long vacation across America to build character. - Nick Patapoff, La Habra, Calif.
Nothing of wisdom
I would like to commend Mr. Veith for "Smarter but dumber" in the May 19 issue, exploring the recent trend of rising IQ scores coupled with low academic performance. I have had the opportunity, as a public high-school junior this past year, to experience the dumbed-down curriculum first-hand. Reading over English papers written by my peers made me stop and think how my high-school curriculum is geared toward cultural diversity, feminism, and liberal ideals. We are given to read books such as Bless Me, Ultima, and Flowers for Algernon that are presented as decent literature but teach us nothing about wisdom, meaning, or truth. This is indeed the reason that so many of our students fall asleep in class (I admit to it). We are rarely taught grammar and writing proficiency, focusing instead on books, projects, and content-graded essays that no more interest inquiring minds than the meaning of life interests my dog. - Jonathan Ludwig, Austin, Texas
I agree so wholeheartedly with "A happy freeloader" in the May 5 issue, about not supporting NPR radio stations, that I wish I could have written it. I did contribute for a little while to our local NPR station but I quit about 15 years ago. I do not feel that I am at all behind by skipping news on both NPR and TV, and am adequately informed by printed sources. - H.H. Stubblefield, Birmingham, Ala.
Some friends introduced us to WORLD by passing on their copies, and we will subscribe when they stop giving theirs to us. That puts us in a position similar to Mr. Belz's regarding public radio. I feel a little guilty reading your work for free, but, on the other hand, we pass on Christian books, tapes, etc. which we think will benefit others. That sort of eases my mind. - Roy Butler, Hobbs, N.M.
The radio programs This American Life, The Savvy Traveler, and A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor are distributed by Public Radio International (May 5, p. 5).
Elliot Shull, a child with Down syndrome, was born in 1993 (May 26, p. 12).
Sen. Patrick Leahy represents the state of Vermont (May 26, p. 13). - The Editors
That was a great article by Mr. Veith ("Smarter but dumber," May 19). I agree that there are many intelligent kids who are not meeting their full potential. Many of them are constantly being amused by mindless television and unedifying music rather than enjoying a good book or writing a creative story. God has given all of us the gift of intelligence, but he wants us to use our brain matter, not sit on it. If we don't challenge our minds, striving to do our best for God's glory, an IQ score will be meaningless. - Kasey Cerasale, Key West, Fla.
No danger of mantras
Mr. Wilkinson writes that he hopes the reader shares his "desire to reach for a life that will be more honorable for God." As for the prayer of Jabez becoming a mantra, I suspect that he is well aware of the vain repetition of the heathen in their praying. Besides, no Christian I know prays enough to be guilty of using a mantra. Perhaps we should be grateful that people would pray using the language of Scripture. - Joe Davis, Covington, Ind.
I am glad that you printed a critique of The Prayer of Jabez. I hope you'll do more to expose the inanity of the book. - Ken McMullen, Charlotte, N.C.
I am deeply disappointed at how you panned The Prayer of Jabez. Mr. Wilkinson correctly points out that it is God's nature to bless His children, and that Jabez left it up to God as to how to bless him. - Royce C. Smith, San Antonio, Texas
A sin problem
I was disheartened by "A matter of choice." I think it is ridiculous for gays to say that they were born the way they are. Homosexual people have a sin problem, not an inherited one. - Josh Teekell, Houston, Texas