I read with interest and horror the articles on human cloning. I'm appalled that such things are being pursued and that the average citizen seems to have been lulled into a state of inactivity instead of fiery protest. - Bonita Katz, Powell, Wyo.
History lists scores of frightened religious zealots and political charlatans who objected to social acceptance of scientific reality. All WORLD needs to be included on that list is to label cloning as "blasphemy" or the "work of Satan." - Joe Rogerson, Pinehurst, Texas
In my 60s, I decided that my literary education was incomplete without reading Tolkien, and I tried. Perhaps I should have read it in my teens. I became hopelessly bored with endless physical challenges that I deemed suitable for adolescent boys, and terribly disappointed with the few-and-far-between, shallow, and idealized female characters. I quit without finishing. - J. Martha Compleman-Blair, Prescott, Ariz.
I agree with Mr. Veith that the self-sacrificing hobbits and the power-seeking Harry Potter represent two opposite strategies for fighting evil. At a recent conference on The Lord of the Rings at Seattle Pacific University, I heard author Peter Kreeft suggest that, in light of Sept. 11, the timing of the release of the Rings movie is providential and the film may become one of the most influential of all time. Later, I saw a magazine cover promoting the new Harry Potter film as the greatest ever. If The Fellowship of the Ring is Providence's film for such a time as this, could Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone be the dark lord's slick counterfeit? - Shirley M. Rowe, Renton, Wash.
Just a vehicle
Your description of the annual Mary Kay convention as a place where she used to "pontificate on the virtues of her business" falls short of the reality. I have attended two of these gatherings. It was inspiring beyond words to see hundreds of women of all shapes, sizes, and colors cross the huge stage in beautiful evening gowns to receive keys to their own pink Cadillacs and elegant diamond jewelry. What color Cadillac does your company give away to its top achievers? At Mary Kay, we are taught that the cosmetics we sell are merely the vehicle through which we have the opportunity to help other women achieve the full potential God intended for them, while at the same time enriching our own lives. - Anne-Lise Stein, Hutto, Texas
It was like a breath of fresh air to read "Hurrah for Franklin Graham" (Dec. 1). I agree wholeheartedly with the comments praising a Christian leader who was not ashamed to tell the truth. I had wondered where all the truth-tellers had gone. - Judy Cook, Dayton, Minn.
While I agree that inter-city bus travel has a clear advantage over Amtrak, I disagree that Greyhound's management has been asleep at the wheel ("Planes, trains, automobiles," Dec. 1). Greyhound has already introduced a new bus that brings long-distance bus rides to new levels of comfort, and new-era Greyhound depots bring trains and busses into one spiffed-up, conveniently located intermodal transportation center. More importantly, while state and local governments are willing to subsidize the construction of Amtrak stations to serve middle- and high-income passengers, some won't even permit Greyhound to build depots in areas where such people congregate. The major hindrance to improving Greyhound service is getting middle-income patrons to see inter-city bus service as an asset, not a liability. - Dan Arthur, San Francisco, Calif.
The author of Harry Potter and the Bible is Richard Abanes (Dec. 8, p. 27). - The Editors
Born in the USA
Regarding the cover story on human cloning, "Humanity under the microscope" (Dec. 8): The practice of having humans exist for the benefit of other humans used to be called slavery. At the most profound level, even though these cloned embryos can never become conscious of their condition, that is what this amounts to. If this is allowed to go unchecked, it may not be too long before someone finds there is also a profit to be made by allowing the clones to be born as company property-and to be sold so that they become someone else's property. - Bill Gorman, Dayton, Ohio
Earlier this month National Public Radio had a report on Michael West, president and CEO of Advanced Cell Technologies, the company that announced it had created a human clone. According to NPR, Mr. West grew up with a religious background and once aspired to show that biblical creationism has scientific merit. As a young adult, he "realized" that evolution was "true." Because of that change in his worldview, he set out on a path in the field of cell research that led to his recent claim of human cloning. Evolutionists can easily believe that human cloning, stem-cell research, or any other "therapeutic" biotech experimentation is all right since they're only helping "nature" speed up desirable changes. Why should evolutionists and others with a humanist worldview see their work as wrong if they've set aside God? Whose ethics, if any, will they pick to restrain medical "treatment" or biotech research and experimentation? - Michael Cook, Shellsburg, Iowa
Reading Gene Edward Veith's Dec. 8 story, "Still ringing true," brought a big smile to my face as I fondly remembered reading Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings series almost 20 years ago as a non-Christian. It opened my imagination to consider things that were beyond my conception. It really was an "evangelism of my imagination," as Mr. Veith so accurately put it. I believe the Lord used those books to prepare my heart to receive the Lord Jesus. I plan to re-read the trilogy. - Tracy Knox, Springfield, Ill.
I normally appreciate Mr. Veith's insightful reporting, but I was appalled by the swipe he took at the Harry Potter series in "Still ringing true." Excusing Gandalf's wizardry as "natural" while decrying Potter's as "occult" displays a double standard: How is waving a wand, muttering Latin phrases, and studying in Potions class any more occult than Tolkien's mystical Middle Earth? - Loren Eaton, Colorado Springs, Colo.
Your article on the passing of Mary Kay Ash was inadequate ("Pink lady," Dec. 8). Whatever one may think of the pink Cadillacs and the like, you should have mentioned that she was a Christian lady who emphasized to her followers that they should put God first in their lives, their family next, and their Mary Kay sales business last. My wife was a Mary Kay consultant for 10 years, attended the annual conventions, and found her experience in the organization a spiritual blessing. - Bob Taylor, Las Cruces, N.M.
In the Oct. 20 issue, Gene Edward Veith told us, "An excess of freedom, warned Plato, is often followed by an excess of tyranny" ("Syncretism and secularism"). While reading the Dec. 8 issue I was startled to see in article after article individual Americans losing their voice or the U.S. government growing in power: President Bush plans to use military tribunals to try terrorists, amid concerns about "secret arrests, secret charges using secret evidence" ("Least-kept secret"); a bill in Maryland could cause people to be fined for smoking in their own homes (QuickTakes); the FBI has developed a virus to eavesdrop on suspects' keystrokes ("Crime-fighting virus"); new U.S. laws allow prosecutors to pursue suspects without cooperation from foreign governments if related Internet traffic goes through the United States, a "massive expansion of U.S. sovereignty," says one critic ("Internet dragnet"). Are all these bad? Not necessarily. But they are cause for alertness and prayer. - Brian Schwartz, Nashville, Tenn.
Blunt and accurate
I am 14 years old and enjoy your magazine. I was especially pleased with your article on Harry Potter and his new movie ("Wild about Harry," Dec. 1). I have read several articles on the movie, but none was as blunt and as accurate as yours. - Kristina Pontier, Hillsboro, Ore.
What if ...
Regarding "The inside track" (Nov. 10): Joel Belz's question, "Have you considered the risks involved in supposing God has not spoken when He really has?" reminded me of the not-so-gentle nudge God gave me when I overheard (actually, I was eavesdropping) my dad and uncle discussing Revelation 9:6, which says, "In those days men will seek death and will not find it ... death will flee from them." I said to myself, "What if that is really true?" Thus began my teenage search to know God which ended when I believed Jesus' words, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but by Me," spoken over the podium at the 1957 NYC Billy Graham crusade. - Nancy Bowman, New Canaan, Conn.