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Mailbag

Issue: "Daniel of the year 2001," Dec. 22, 2001

The third option

I was profoundly moved by Mr. Chiarot's journey and saw how his was like mine and my wife's in 1989. We lost our son, Benjamin, two days after he was born. I felt God had abandoned me then and often called it my long dark night of my soul. I did not fully appreciate then the third option Mr. Chiarot noted. The Incarnation was truly helpful to me even after 12 years. As David said about his son with Bathsheba, "He can't come to me but I will go to him." Now I am truly blessed with two daughters, Bethany Anne and Hannah Joy, and another son, Stephen Joseph. - Joe Gates, Mt. Prospect, Ill.

Vindicated again

I loved Marvin Olasky's treadmill recommendations, and can't wait to get a copy of Finding God in the Lord of the Rings ("Books-a-mile," Nov. 24). I thought that "the road goes ever ever on" not "ever on and on," as Mr. Olasky quoted, so I had my resident Tolkien expert (my sister) look it up and found WORLD vindicated again. In The Hobbit, Bilbo's road goes "ever ever on," but in the trilogy both Bilbo and Frodo speak of the road going "ever on and on." - C.J. Bowen, Chapel Hill, N.C.

Our enemies

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Mr. Belz's column about the symposium on the meaning of Sept. 11 reminds me of the words of the great Southern Presbyterian theologian, Robert L. Dabney, following the War Between the States: "A righteous God, for our sins toward Him, has permitted us to be overthrown by our enemies and His" ("The national debt," Nov. 24). - Bill Marsh, Charlotte, N.C.

Level the tracks

Why do Americans pour billions of dollars into the support of trucks, buses, and airplanes but expect railroads ("A hobo of a railway," Nov. 24) to be the only form of transportation to pay its own way and also pay taxes to help pay for the infrastructure their competitors use? WORLD asks, "Will Amtrak ever stop railroading customers?" A better question would be, Why don't we level the playing field for all segments of our national transportation network? I can't ever recall a demand that a multimillion-dollar interchange on the Interstate highway system show a profit. I haven't heard any calls for the air-traffic control system to be liquidated because "profitability is nowhere in sight." The United States should join other major countries in the world in recognizing that railways, highways, and airways are an integrated transportation system and should be supported accordingly. - Ben Cruickshanks, Cleburne, Texas

More, now

Regarding "Smallpox bark worse than its bite?" in the Nov. 24 edition, a thorough review of smallpox in the June 9, 1999, edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association states that the risk of devastation by smallpox is ominous. The 12 million doses of vaccine in the National Pharmaceutical Stockpile might seem like a lot, but most Americans are either unvaccinated or have only residual immunity. In addition to the possibility of an intentional terrorist attack with smallpox, there is the possibility of its accidental release from a laboratory having the virus. Unlike anthrax, smallpox is extremely contagious and there is no specific treatment for the disease. It is urgent that additional vaccine be manufactured immediately. - Allan M. Steigerwald, Port Angeles, Wash.

False rumors?

As expatriates who served Afghans in Kabul, we deny that Dr. Wilson "built a sizable underground Christian church in Afghanistan" where "Afghan converts together with American and other diplomats assembled for worship" ("Still paying the price," Nov. 10). Here are the facts. We (Drs. Rex and Jeanne Blumhagen, Bruce and Marilyn Clark, Jack and Beverly Irvine, Ralph and Dinora Goodell, Ray and Evelyn Tomlin) were among the voting members of our international Christian church who invited Dr. Wilson to lead our congregation on his own time. There were no Afghans (and few diplomats) who worshipped with us nor were there any "drawn curtains," either in Dr. Wilson's home in the mid-'50s or in the church building that Afghans demolished in 1973. False rumors fueled the destruction of the church building. The Russian Embassy and the Afghan secret police respectively believed that the church hid secret listening devices "underground" and held "underground" church services. "Underground?" Give us a break. Please check your sources before keeping false rumors alive. - Evelyn Tomlin, Geneva, Ill.

Just one

According to Christy Wilson's book, More to Be Desired than Gold (1992), the only inaccuracy in "Still paying the price" is perhaps saying that Afghans worshipped with the Christians in the house church. However, the Afghans did come to Christmas pageants at the Wilsons' home where the Christmas story was narrated in Dari by an Afghan Christian. I assisted Mr. Wilson in the preparation of this book. In Chapter 6 he writes: "When we arrived in Kabul [in 1951], we felt the power of evil very strongly. We sensed oppressive forces surrounding us on all sides. We started a house church in our home and, since I had been ordained during World War II to become a chaplain in the U.S. Navy and had worked in churches, I was asked to serve as the pastor. We would draw the curtains so no one would know that we were worshipping the Lord, the situation was so oppressive. "At first, our church was made up of the Christian teachers who had come to Afghanistan as tentmakers. There were also Christians from the various embassies and from the United Nations. Finally, so many came that we didn't have enough room to pack everyone in our home, which was small. I would stand in the doorway and preach to people in four rooms!" - Helen Mooradkanian, North Andover, Mass.

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