As the wife of a sailor on the USS Enterprise, I wanted to thank you for your informative article, "A patient nation" (Oct. 13). The story was what I needed it to be-educational without being sensational. Some of our local media, who I believe are just trying to do their job, have sometimes slipped over the line. It was comforting to read facts, that in themselves can be alarming, presented in a straightforward manner that allowed me to respond how I wanted. - Kathy Thompson, Virginia Beach, Va.
When I originally read Mr. Belz's column in the Sept. 22 issue titled "Sinflation," I said, "Right on." When I read the responses he quoted in his Oct. 13 column, "Preaching can wait?" I re-read the original column to see how I had missed that which was "chilling," "callous," "offensive," or "profoundly troubling." I found none of that. We needed (and still need) to hear a prophetic word in the midst of our grief. Others are salving the wounds; we needed someone to remind us that, nationally as well as personally, there are consequences to actions. God has been gracious to us as a nation, and we have repaid Him by sinking deeper into our national slimepit. Unless we hear the call to repent when we're forced to be listening, we will never hear it. Thank you for telling the truth in love. - Jon R. Harris, Pagosa Springs, Colo.
Surprised by criticism
I was so surprised to read about the criticism Joel Belz received regarding "Sinflation." I am sorry that I did not immediately write and commend him for it. I felt it was one of the best things I'd read addressing the terrorism attack from a biblical perspective. - Lea Ann Brookens, Colorado Springs, Colo.
Comfort in repentance
"Sinflation" was right on. There is comfort for those who repent, accept their responsibility before God, and pursue righteousness. - William LaBarre, Selinsgrove, Pa.
Because it offends
I was dispirited to see Mr. Belz apologize to those who were troubled by his strong call for self and national examination. In Scripture, the prophets who brought messages of judgment were rarely liked. They intended to profoundly trouble the minds of those to whom they spoke. Our deceitful and desperately wicked hearts need such harsh medicine, and the message that God sovereignly judges nations and individuals needs to be forcefully proclaimed again-especially because it offends and troubles us. - Steve Walker, Dallas, Ore.
Taken to heart
Thank you to Mr. Belz for the correctable spirit he displayed in "Preaching can wait?" As Proverbs says, "A rebuke goes deeper into one who has understanding than a hundred blows into a fool." This example of humility may go a lot further in promoting a Christian worldview than even the various points you were making. - Chris Hutchinson, Statesboro, Ga.
Cowards in the end
Andree Seu suggests that hurling oneself and an airplane filled with innocent, unarmed civilians into a densely occupied building may be hateful and evil, but surely not cowardly ("True patriotism," Oct. 13). Is it the outrageous recklessness of the terrorists with regard to their own survival that deflects the label of coward? But for what? An eternity of sensual pleasures promised to them by still greater cowards, the false prophets who are still skulking in caves hiding behind innocent Muslim women and children. The hijackers were fatalistic, murderous maniacs, devoid of conscience, cowards in the end. - Jeryl Bier, Salisbury, Md.
Like Andree Seu, I am reluctant to brand the hijackers as cowards. I am, in fact, cut to the heart by their desperate but deluded devotion. They gave up more than television sets or beachfront condos. I, on the other hand, think it heroic to have a dilapidated sofa for the cause of missions. The hijackers went to eternal death for a lie, we go to eternal life for the truth, and yet I fuss over giving up a week's vacation. As for me and my family, we're praying for an army of missionaries to march to Muslim lands, armed with tough plows for planting and tender hands for the harvest. Perhaps we'll have to tighten our belts to send those soldiers. Perhaps we'll have to tighten our hearts if the commander-in-chief commissions one of our sons for this battle. - Nancy Snyder, York, Pa.
I am disturbed that Mrs. Seu is not "able to call this conflict classic Good vs. Evil." What else could she call it? No one has said America is without sin, but there is no U.S. foreign policy that would justify the heinous crimes perpetrated by these evil men. - Steve Blakemore, Casper, Wyo.
We don't recognize terrorist regimes for what they are ("Friends in need, friends in deed?" Oct. 13). This is a deadly fault. If we don't change this, there can never be enough security measures, never enough military spending, nothing that will prevent a recurrence of 9/11. - Regina M. Billotti, Midland, Mich.
There are few more perceptive cultural analysts than Gene Edward Veith, but his assessment of the impact of 9/11 on the future of postmodernism strikes me as naive ("Reality in the rubble," Oct. 13). The collapse of the World Trade Center will become a historical marker, but the overthrow of our present cultural ethos will demand far more than our new war on terrorism. The shallowness of our present flag waving and our latent self-centered nihilism will be revealed when the body bags of our soldiers start returning from Afghanistan. The test of our national character still lies ahead, and I am far less sanguine about its substance and sustainability than Mr. Veith. - John Seel, Dallas, Texas
I appreciate the point Marlon Mohammed made about discrimination and racial profiling (QuickTakes, Oct. 13). People of Middle Eastern descent in the United States have become collateral victims in this ongoing tragedy. - Pat Bowser, Due West, S.C.
A thousand words
The Oct. 6 cover is an impressive "picture that says a thousand words." In the darkness of our time, the illustration shows President Bush intently focused on the light. The subtle image of bin Laden in the shadows is easily overlooked, just as our enemies have been. From the caption to the shiny flag on the president's lapel, your cover wonderfully summarizes the situation at hand. - Paula Garcia, Lincoln, Neb.
"A faith of peace" in the Oct. 6 edition was right on the money. As a missionary of over 30 years' experience among Muslims, I can testify that among Islamic leaders those who interpret Islam as a restrictive religion far outweigh the others. Where Islam has been influenced most by Christianity or other religions, it seems to be more oriented to accepting human and civil rights. Christianity has not been free of terrible actions, but Christianity's moral leaders have always called us back to what Jesus says about love and peace. Islam has rarely had that sobering influence; that is why people flood the "Christian" countries. - Roger Dixon, Bedford, Va.
Prepare to pray
Following Sept. 11 there have been many prayer meetings and calls for days of prayer. Perhaps it would be appropriate to call for days of repentance in order to be able to honestly pray, "God bless America." Thanks, Marvin Olasky, for suggesting that our slogan should be "Repent and reload" (Oct. 13). - D. Neil Neuenschwander, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.
Trust the Governor
Of all I have read in the past month by people trying to make sense of the World Trade Center tragedy, none comes close to the clarity, truth, and hope in John Piper's excellent commentary, "Governor of all" (Oct. 6). In holding up to us a sovereign God who ordains tragedy as well as joy to fulfill His perfect will, Mr. Piper shows us a vision of a truly transcendent God in whom we can trust. - Dennis Ricupero, Jackson Heights, N.Y.
Even if we did know for sure these attacks were God's punishment, as "Sinflation" suggests, to make a point of it so soon after the fact is not "tough love" but misguided zeal at best and poor taste in any case. If a teen gets mixed up with the wrong crowd, involved in alcohol, and killed in a car crash it may be true that his parents' overindulgence was largely to blame. But days after the accident is no time to press that home to their consciences. - David Sutton, Helsinki, Finland