Sadly, we, the American church, have encouraged this erosion of the general awareness of God, to which Joel Belz refers, by our silence, our abdication of the responsibility we have to be the light to our neighbors, communities, and the world. Now that the darkness looms all around us and the paucity of belief throughout the nation appalls us, it is too easy to retreat further into our own little enclaves and become critics rather than heralds of the Good News. May God forgive us for our failures and stir us to action. - Sunnie Waggoner, Salida, Colo.
Perhaps Joel Belz and I have been watching different channels. I have been deeply encouraged by the numerous people who have testified to a providential God who is sovereign. A local pastor here in New Mexico had the opportunity to answer spiritual questions and pray on nightly news. One CNN reporter attributed a survivor's fate to "luck," and the survivor quickly replied that it was the "hand of God" on her life, and how she felt "blessed." Larry King interviewed Lisa Beamer, whose husband David Beamer was on United Airlines Flight 93; she testified that her courage came from her faith, and that she knew where her husband was, and that she would see him again. - Lisa Shin, Los Alamos, N.M.
Weeping for us all
Your Sept. 29 cover photo of Mary Ortele is framed in our hearts. Her individual grief poignantly expresses our national sorrow. - Marvin & Nancy Richter, Kingsdown, Kan.
Just one more
J. Budziszewski's column was excellent, but there is one extra criterion for a "just war" that is found in the Bible and could be added to his list: to seek the Lord's counsel before carrying out military action. - Daniel Devine, Crown Point, Ind.
You shouldn't be allowed to break a person's heart as surely as mine was broken on reading the story of these four brave, young men who fought back against the hijackers of United Airlines Flight 93 ("'Jesus, help me,'" Sept. 29). - Larry Bailey, Redding, Calif.
I hope that the government can find a way to tighten up security at home without taking away the very freedoms on which our country was founded. Changing our country into Fortress America might improve security some, but at the cost of many of the personal freedoms we hold so dear and which are responsible for the success of our country. May God grant our leaders wisdom in charting the course for the future. - Dennis Scott, Anchorage, Alaska
Thank you for "Loving our enemies" and "9/11." I have spent the days since the tragedy asking God to forgive me, because I couldn't forgive "them." I also believe that we need to bring them to justice, but I had a hard time understanding how that fit with Christian ideals to forgive and to love. Both Mr. Piper and Mr. Olasky gave me what I needed to make everything line up. Let's hope that our world's leaders can follow along. - Karla Hamrick, Wapakoneta, Ohio
Ever since the tragedy of Sept. 11, I have felt oppressive sadness, not only for the victims and families, but for those who continue to turn away from God and continue to search for other explanations. Billy Graham called for a revival in his sermon at the National Cathedral memorial service and some have responded, but now that the shock is wearing off, now that the country is getting back to "normal," I ask, how much more is it going to take? - Candy Mosley, El Paso, Texas
The photos in your "9/11" Special Report brought to life the terrible tragedy wreaked upon our nation, and your editorials were first rate in explaining sin in our nation and the responsibility our government has in making sure these evildoers are stopped. - Craig Holderman, Somerset, Calif.
Bethlehem Bible College is located on Hebron Road in Bethlehem (Sept. 15, p. 26).
The song "Fanfare for the Common Man" was composed by Aaron Copland (Sept. 29, p. 16). - The Editors
See clearly now
Joel Belz cut to the heart of the matter in "Feel lucky?" (Sept. 29). The strong theme from the highest levels of our country is that our hope is in the all-powerful American spirit. In reality, this tragedy is an "act of God" against a society that has had much opportunity to hear and see His hand of mercy but spurned it. It is not a wake-up call for the great American spirit but a call to repentance for a people who have excluded the Creator and Ruler of the universe from their daily lives; this messages is as much for the tepid religionist as the vilest sinner. The judgment of God is an opportunity for us all to see the mercy of God more clearly, to understand that He promises final deliverance to all those who turn in faith to Him through Jesus Christ. - John M. Custis, Gresham, Ore.
In response to "Feel lucky?": Christian broadcasters had no shortage of survivors to interview who knew who to thank. Let me add, happily, that my church was full again last Sunday. There were no folding chairs in the aisles, as there had been the Sunday after the attack, but I saw a gain, and people were using the "religious vocabulary" which is so studiously avoided in the mainstream media. This just shows how we need publications like WORLD to address what other media won't. - Eleanor & George Estes, Morristown, N.J.
As my wife and I took out the Sept. 29 issue from the mailbox, the cover photo of Mary Ortele holding a wedding picture of herself and her missing husband as she is hugged by her mother brought tears to our eyes. It moved us from "sorrow to resolve." - J.D. Moyers, Littleton, Colo.
J. Budziszewski's article on the criteria for a just war is summed up nicely by two lines from the fourth verse of our national anthem: "Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just; And this be our motto, 'In God is our trust'" ("New war, old principles," Sept. 29). - Carol Blair, Big Sandy, Texas
Now it's open
My father, who is in the Air Force, was once stationed for a year in Egypt, where some of the 9/11 terrorists came from, while we family members remained in the States. While he was there terrorism was a very real threat for us. Every time my father went for a drive in a supposedly "bullet-proof" van, he was in danger of being blown up, shot, or stabbed to death. So you can understand why I'm appalled at certain American groups' reaction to the attacks ("Will unity last?" Sept. 29). They say that we shouldn't let our vengeance cause us to do something terrible like start a war. That is true, but this is not vengeance, it's self-protection. That's different. Those who oppose military action need to get it through their heads that the war on terrorism has been raging for years, but it's been capped and hidden from the American public. - Nicole Naddy, 18, Ocean Springs, Miss.
I am deeply disturbed by recent reports that many Americans would be willing to sacrifice our dearest rights in the fight against terrorism ("Mourning has broken," Sept. 29). In these difficult times, it would be wise to remember the admonishment of Benjamin Franklin, who presciently observed that "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Steven A. Costello, Lake Jackson, Texas
I thought that the Sept. 22 column by John Piper, "Loving our enemies," was right on target. Certainly America's 9/11 event is a wake-up call, not just for Christians, but for others as well, that all might be "alarmed," and listen to the words of Jesus the Christ. Our government leaders and officials will not be able to focus on equity and justice without the guiding principles of God's Word. - Greg Barger, Columbia, Md.
God forgive America
Bravo for Mr. Olasky's column on repentance ("9/11," Sept. 22). May it echo across this country and reach the hearts of all. Our only hope to overcome the terrorism is "not by might, not by power, but by Thy Spirit, O Lord." Along with our choruses of "God bless America," I pray we will also be praying, "God, have mercy on us and forgive our sins." - Margaret McConnell, Covington, La.
Tell us again, Dad
Some secular news media chose not to display scenes of the folks falling from the World Trade Center towers, and I wish you had also ("America attacked," Sept. 22). Nonetheless, this will be a fine issue for my library as my children age and wonder about the world their daddy so fondly remembers. - Wes Pinkley, Mt. Vernon, Ill.
Tony Gwynn has been named head baseball coach at San Diego State, but he will not assume that position until after the 2002 season (Oct. 13, p. 11). - The Editors