I regret that I cannot share the optimism in Bob Jones's June 9 cover story, "The check is in the mail." While tax refunds of $300 for singles and $600 for married couples are not to be spurned, they're laughable tokens considering the total confiscated from our paychecks by government at all levels. The reduction in marginal rates is truly marginal, while the full repeal of the marriage penalty and other provisions are set far in the future, by which time the administration of the day may well have very different ideas about taxation. As for the idea that the Democrats, with a slim Senate majority, may not want to risk angering voters by repealing the cuts, Democrats have shown little fear about taxing and spending, and for good reason. Recent history suggests that Americans seem to favor a predominately liberal national government. I find little to applaud in the Bush administration's tax-cut victory, but I am grateful for the gesture. - Ken Williamson, Harrisonburg, Va.
I will be glad to accept a $300 check in the mail, but this handing out of money smacks of buying admiration. Cutting government spending is the best way to fuel our economy. - Marvin L. Doudra, W. Palm Beach, Fla.
Promise made ...
Throughout the campaign, George Bush promised taxpayers they would get some of their money back. Last month he kept his word, signing into law a $1.35 trillion tax cut. We need more people like him in Washington. - Scott Layden, Brandon, Fla.
Kudos for Andree Seu's article about the boundary of the realm of science in relation to matters of faith ("Don't get uppity," June 9). It is the ultimate irony that men reject Christianity as utterly explainable, but in reality they cannot explain anything until they know God themselves. A skeptical effort to explain a creature's desire to know his Creator is what the Apostle Paul would call "the futility of a darkened mind." - Evan Collier, Concord, N.H.
Marvin Olasky's "crackpot idea" for a punitive divorce ceremony is genius ("Religious cellophane," June 9). He raises a compelling issue: What does the still-confessing church do to discourage divorce among its own ranks? Perhaps a little public tomato-throwing might be a useful feature of the "covenant marriage" arrangements. At least, why not give divorce the same public exposure as marriage-in church bulletins, from the pulpit, and on bulletin boards? If we aspire to hate the sin as much as our Lord does, a little old-fashioned shame, threatened or real, may go a long way to motivate those who are struggling with their marriages to seek Him and struggle on. - Thadd Buzan, Alexandria, Va.
"Religious cellophane" hit home for our society and, unfortunately, the church. But, as Christians we do have an appropriate ritual for an individual who institutes a divorce. First Corinthians 5 advises us to put out an unrepentant sinner. Anyone who would seek to dissolve a marriage should expect to be put out of fellowship. This is so that they will see the error of their ways, repent, and return to both their spouses and our fellowship. All too often they can simply go down the street to another church and not be disciplined. - Charles Hollensed, Glen Ellyn, Ill.
It takes two
Nowhere in "Religious cellophane" does Mr. Olasky state that it takes two people to make a good marriage work, but only one to blow it or walk away. Churches need to stop allowing abusive spouses to continue their destructive patterns. There is such a thing as an innocent spouse in divorce. - Terri Von Ehrenkrook, Phoenix, Ariz.
Liturgy for sin
Kudos to Mr. Olasky for his fine analysis of the scandal of divorce. The Episcopal liturgical officer is typical of the many in our denomination who are busy watering down scriptural authority, bowing instead to the Baals of secular pressures, and advocating sub-Christian practices. God will not honor those who ritualize sin or devise a liturgy for it. - Donald Seeks, Fresno, Calif.
I was disappointed that Mr. Olasky criticized post-abortion rituals with divorce rituals. I agree that substituting rituals for true repentance is wrong, but I believe that these services, when used in the process of godly healing, can be meaningful and powerful. By giving their children a name and a memorial service, these women are acknowledging that they did not abort bits of tissue but their sons and daughters. It takes tremendous courage and a repentant spirit to admit to this intensely painful, private sin before friends, family, and church. - Leslie Devine, South Barrington, Ill.
A Knight's Tale wasn't a "Gladiator for dummies" (In the Spotlight, May 26). There was no sex-related dialogue, barely any violence, and the brief nudity in it was when Geoffrey Chaucer was robbed of his clothes. Also, who cares if they had no characters without diseases? Maybe they didn't have time to put that in the movie. It was a wonderful movie for the whole family. It was very clean. So, if you would be so kind as to rewrite this review to say positive things about this movie, that would make me happy. - Kristen Keenum, Kennesaw, Ga.
My mom has a subscription to your magazine, and I usually enjoy reading your Christian perspective on books and movies. However, I was extremely offended by your comment that A Knight's Tale was "dumbed down for public-school teenagers" (The Movies, June 9). I am a sophomore at a public high school. - Amy Wingfield, Prospect, Ky.
I enjoyed A Knight's Tale, and I have friends who did as well. It wasn't particularly heavy on intellectual material and some of the humor was certainly aimed at an immature audience, but I thought Heath Ledger did an good job and I found the movie to be both humorous and entertaining. But what do I know-I'm just a dumb public-school teenager. - Elspeth Bennighof, 16, Woodway, Texas
It is nice to know that someone cares enough to tell us or warn us about today's movies. Every time a new movie comes out, I can turn to WORLD to find out about the language, content, and plot. Because of your reviews, I have seen some movies and avoided others. - Amy Crapson, 15, Mountain Lake, Minn.
Ogre of the hour
I was disappointed by your review of Shrek ("DreamWorks' nightmare," June 2). Your criticism of the movie's potty humor was justified. However, you assumed that when the heroine became ugly it was a triumph for the marginalized; to the contrary, it showed that true beauty is internal and that true love doesn't look at the outside. - Joy Hendricks, 17, New Prague, Minn.
Recently I went to the theater with friends to see Shrek. We all wanted to see this box-office hit but our moms were cautious because of your negative review. Instead of walking into a "stale," "inappropriate," and "clunky" film we all thoroughly enjoyed it (including the moms). We were not offended but amused when the movie poked fun at fairy tales in general. - Kiersten Timpe, 12, Blandon, Pa.
Your comics speak volumes and are more real than many people would want to admit. One such comic is the June 9 one captioned, "A Day of Infamy ... ," depicting movie goers who knew nothing about history. The Tuesday after Memorial Day, a person asked my 14-year-old son what he had done that weekend. He told the inquirer that he had watched a documentary on Pearl Harbor. The person's next question was, "Who's Pearl Harbor?" - Lauri Rogers, LeRoy, Ohio
Ms. Appenheimer suing to stop student-led prayer is not the problem but the symptom of it ("Neutral or hostile?" June 2). The problem is the recklessly progressive educational system she graduated from. - Adam Dinsmore, Schweinfurt, Germany
A WORLD of help
I've been a loyal reader since my father-in-law introduced me to WORLD six years ago. Thanks for the excellent website. It recently helped me locate an article called "Choosing the right college" from 1999 (even though I couldn't remember when it appeared) in a matter of moments. I also appreciate the links to other excellent features from your printed materials. - Thomas Sawyer, Rota, Spain
Kudos to Tim Graham for his good reporting on education ("Neutral or hostile?" June 2). I just received my first subscription issue and am well-pleased. I'm annoyed with federal judges who uphold any federal law regarding education or religion, as there are no provisions in the Constitution that empower the federal government to regulate those areas. - Richard Summers, El Reno, Okla.
Joel Belz was right on target when he questioned Vermont Senator Jim Jeffords's "middleman" position in his June 9 column ("Middleman?"). In my opinion, if this supposedly ethical hero had admirable principles when he announced his abandonment of the Republican Party, he would have presented to the Vermont Republican Party his personal check for every cent he took from the Republicans of Vermont and from the Republican national war chest for his election and reelections. - John E. Cormack, Mesa, Ariz.
The photo illustrating "Antiques roadshill" (March 31, p. 14) depicts neither Russell Pritchard III nor George Juno, two antiques dealers who allegedly staged phony appraisals on PBS's Antiques Roadshow.
Gary Bauer came under criticism from fellow evangelicals not while he was president of the Family Research Council but during his presidential campaign (June 2, p. 9). - THe Editors
I am a missionary working in the jungles of southern Venezuela and we just started receiving your magazine about a year ago. To my surprise, I really enjoy it. I normally do not like Christian news publications because their articles leave you feeling discouraged and hopeless. Your publication seems to be well balanced and your articles usually leave me with the sense that we are gaining ground on some of the fronts. Being an expatriate and living in a very remote location, we do not receive much news out here. We do have supply flights at least once a month and I look forward to WORLD to find out what is happening in the outside world. - Walter Mutti, somewhere in southern Venezuela