The Nov. 10 cover story, "Enemy within," by Lynn Vincent, was right on target. While traveling recently through Wisconsin, we stopped at a truck stop near Green Bay. The men's room was freshly painted, covering the ordinary graffiti in such places, with one post-paint-job exception. Scrawled in large, bold, black letters were the words, "Death to America! You greedy, filthy, wicked Americans will never be able to defeat the glorious Osama bin Laden and Islam!" Are there terrorists and their sympathizers among us? We'd better believe it. - Larrie Bunyan, Heart Butte, Mont.
As I read the Nov. 10th issue from cover to cover this morning, a feeling of unbelievable heaviness came over my spirit. Heightened persecution of believers in Pakistan and rampant fear in our homeland seemed to portray a world spinning completely out of control ("Sunday-morning jihad"). I found myself praying, "Jesus, what is going on here? How do we handle it all?" The words of the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Philippians came to mind: "Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel." Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, and the larger story of the "progress of the gospel." - Sarah Selee, Anderson, Ind.
Since Sept. 11, our family has not had much desire to shop or otherwise spend money. But we resent the suggestion that some "bunker mentality" is making us prefer to cower in our homes rather than get out to the mall ("Hunkered in the bunker," Nov. 10). In the wake of what's happened, our family has reflected on the things that matter, and the shallow vanities of consumerism haven't seemed as important. - Jay & Debbie Ryan, Cleveland, Ohio
"When nice is a vice" hit the nail on the head (Nov. 10). As a peer-counselor for a local Christian crisis pregnancy center, I am sometimes tempted to be "nonjudgmental" and "accepting" as I sit listening to the person across from me relate her troubles. After reading this article, I will forever remember the words, "Love is never content simply to leave the other person alone." I sat at my kitchen counter and cried after reading that. I am here today because God surely was not content to leave me alone. That is what gives me the desire to be at the crisis pregnancy center in the first place. I see more clearly now that I have a duty to love in truth, not just continue believing it is my "Christian" duty to be sweetly "nice." - Robin Wahl, Mackinaw, Ill.
Thanks to Gene Edward Veith for "When nice is a vice." Sometimes we have to confront our culture and take the risk of being labeled as closed-minded or opinionated, even when what is said is stated in nice terms with a gentle spirit. We should not be intimidated to tell the truth in love. Joel Belz also deserves a special thanks for "The inside track." Daring to speak for God has an illustrious history. Prophetic utterance is absolutely necessary in a culture that has wandered so far from God. When God speaks we should be undaunted in proclaiming what He is saying. Let's just make sure we are speaking God's words. - J.L. Rivera, Orland Hills, Ill.
"Yankee Doodle gagged" in the Nov. 10 issue was a fitting headline. What kind of sick person would make students take down American flags and ribbons, but allow students to burn them publicly in such times as these? If I went to one of those colleges I would probably get myself kicked out by posting up American patriotic things all over, even if I was ordered to take them down. - Crystal Adams, 12, Grand Haven, Mich.
As I was reading through your classified ads recently, I said to myself, "Isn't that heading supposed to say, 'The World Trade Center'?" That is when I realized that you changed the heading to "The WORLD Market" because of its obvious relation to the Sept. 11 attacks. I applaud your magazine for making this change to honor the victims of 9/11. - Daniel Peeler, 14, Florence, S.C.
Frustrated like us
I was disheartened to read "Enemy within." Some are suggesting that we single out suspects by ethnicity and violate their privacy in the hunt for any remaining terrorists within this country's borders. While thousands of Arabs live in the United States today, it is unfair for us to isolate these people as potential terrorists. A majority of the Arabs in this country do not have ties to terrorism nor did they on Sept. 11. Most likely, they are just as frustrated with these radicals as the rest of us. - Stacy Kardell, St. Paul, Minn.
I commend Marvin Olasky for his thoughtful discussion of the current smallpox threat ("Bottling up evil," Nov. 10). I agree that we should pray daily for God's mercy in preventing the release of this disease or any contagious pathogen; however, I believe America is more vulnerable than his editorial suggests. Even with the most optimistic estimates, terrorists have a year before a smallpox vaccine will be ready for distribution. And many experts believe that terrorist nations such as Iraq and North Korea already possess such weapons. I believe that the time of our greatest vulnerability is between Thanksgiving and New Year, when many Americans will crowd into malls, airports, and various sporting and social events, oblivious to the fact that these annual gatherings and subsequent dispersals throughout the country serve as a strategic mechanism by which terrorists can unleash contagion. Experts participating in last summer's Dark Winter scenario found out just how difficult it would be to contain a simultaneous, multi-focal outbreak of smallpox during this time of the year. And let's not pretend that killing innocents within their own country would deter the likes of Saddam Hussein, especially when they have murdered their own people in the past and when they themselves would be isolated from danger. - Robert S. Berry, Greeneville, Tenn.
Regarding the photo accompanying "Hunkered in the bunker," is that an American flag being used as a tablecloth and with for sale items stacked on top of it? Since 9/11 I've seen flags put up so that they drag on the ground when the wind isn't blowing, flags that have blown off of car antennas lying in the dirt along the highway, flags left at half-mast two months after 9/11. Too many people are displaying the flag, not out of respect for our country, its men and women in uniform, or for those who died on 9/11, but because it will increase their sales or will cause people to say, "What good Americans they must be." Personally, I'd rather the flag was not displayed at all by people who don't know how to or don't care to show respect for it. - Allen Round, Rock Springs, Wyo.
"When nice is a vice" was excellent. This is a perfect article for me to use to confront my own family concerning another family member. Jesus didn't walk the earth to be nice to people, but to deliver, redeem, and set free. That meant speaking the truth, even if it didn't seem nice. - Jason King, Santa Clarita, Calif.
A young financial executive from the New England area, whose company occupied the top 10 stories in one of the World Trade Center towers, spoke in our church recently of putting off his normal Tuesday meeting at the WTC to the next day-Wednesday, Sept. 12. That meeting never took place. It puts a slightly different spin on Andree Seu's encouragements about just "showing up" ("Perseverance pays," Nov. 10). As similar stories of Sept. 11 come to light, we'll learn of many who will be forever grateful for not showing up on that fateful morning. - Peter Kushkowski, Haddam, Conn.
A shifty proposal
People need to be aware that some of these "4-1-9" scams are directed to individuals, not just organizations, and not all of them purport to originate in Nigeria ("Too good to be true? Then it probably isn't," Nov. 10). The e-mail I received last month claimed to be from Mali. The writer claimed that his father, after dying in prison in Zimbabwe, had left him $18.5 million in cash and he needed someone to help him "shift and invest this fund outside Africa." He promised a 20 percent commission and ended, "Our destiny is in your hands, do not abandon us. Please assist us to escape these specters of political persecution going on in Africa. More also treat this mail with utmost confidentiality because of my safety and the money." Checking some of the hoax-buster websites confirmed my suspicions, and I saved the original, thinking I might have an opportunity to supply it as evidence. I hope your title alone will alert potential victims before they become actual victims. - Lyn Mellone, Salinas, Calif.
"Trading places" in the Nov. 3 issue was insightful and timely. I have not flown in many months but have absolutely no desire to fly now, and your analogy to what would happen to our highways if the Feds reacted in the same manner to traffic fatalities as they have to the terrorist threat was both funny and sad (although I wish more attention was paid to speeders and lunatic drivers). - Jeff Bartholomew, Raleigh, N.C.