Hope amid horror
Edward Plowman's article on the struggles of Lt. Col. Brian Birdwell and his wife Mel was one of the most emotionally moving articles I have read to date about the unfolding events and stories of Sept. 11 ("Coming home," Jan. 12). I could not help but feel that I would have liked to have saluted Col. Birdwell along with President Bush. The bin Ladens of this world try to thwart and stifle the American outlook, but there is an outlook on life that is even more optimistic and fulfilling, even under these horrible circumstances. That is the Christian outlook. It supercedes any other because its focal point is Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd of the sheep and the one who sticks closer than a brother. - Matt Austin, Conewango Valley, N.Y.
While I was wondering whether to renew my subscription to WORLD (times are tough and costs must be trimmed), the Jan. 12 issue arrived and in it I found the answer. "Coming home" was a perfect example of what I'm looking for in a weekly periodical: articles about regular folk doing regular things to the glory of God alone. Sign me up for three more years. - Rich Loudon, Issaquah, Wash.
Full name, please
I really enjoyed "Fighting words" in the Jan. 12 issue but was a bit disappointed to note that you referred to the school Mike Gerson attended as "Westminster Academy" instead of "Westminster Christian Academy." - Jeff Johnson
Director of Development
Westminster Christian Academy, St. Louis, Mo.
I'm so glad I saw A Beautiful Mind before I read your review in "Morally ugly minds" (Jan. 12). I loved the movie. - Gail Kooi, Annapolis, Md.
Longing for reality
While in college I read The Lord of the Rings every Christmas break as a present to myself and have reread it occasionally since. When I finish the trilogy, I find I cannot read another work of fiction for a while, as nothing else is ever quite as satisfying. Its power is in stirring an exquisite longing for that which is real: real justice, real victory, and the return of the real King. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. - June Ellis, Erie, Ill.
Evil, not good, well-portrayed
I enjoyed The Fellowship of the Ring and I agree with Gene Edward Veith that the film is well made ("Powerful Rings," Jan. 12). I also agree that recognizing the difference between darkness and light is what our culture needs, but I think the film falls short on this count. The books work because Tolkien knew how to portray both good and evil in stark contrast. Mr. Jackson demonstrated that he can depict evil in spades, but he often stumbles in attempting to portray good. - Mark Pelham, Buffalo, Minn.
I recently took a friend to see The Fellowship of the Ring. We were horrified and appalled at the content of the movie. - Beverly Kitchen, Slater, Mo.
Nailed it ...
As a homeschooler and one who has read and seen The Lord of the Rings, I greatly appreciated "Powerful Rings." In a world where the line between good and evil is hardly existent, many miss the point about The Lord of the Rings, seeing it as just another fantasy like Harry Potter. Your review nailed the truth. - Taylor Barnette, 13, Veguita, N.M.
... dead center
I thoroughly enjoyed "Powerful Rings." Mr. Veith's comparison between genetic engineering and the ring was intensely interesting and hit the target dead center. - Tamra Krohe, 14, Hunt Valley, Md.
I am appalled that the American people are being burglarized by congressional sleight-of-hand, with pork being added to innocent bills ("Capitol Hill cynics," Jan. 12). Also, I cannot understand how any decent American congressman could divert scarce resources to vote themselves pay raises while our military personnel are putting their lives and limbs on the line overseas for our safety and so many millions are out of work. - Mildred C. Plumley, Denton, Md.
As a USAF Gulf War veteran, I can't believe you would publish that item about research questioning whether Gulf vets became sick because of the war (QuickTakes, Jan. 12). Try having diarrhea after every meal for 11 years. Try being totally healthy then going to Saudi Arabia and getting sick with several chronic illnesses. Explain that. Please cancel my subscription. - Mary Parker, Orlando, Fla.
The QuickTakes item reporting on an article by Michael Fumento in Reason magazine implies that there is no credible scientific evidence behind the claim that Gulf War syndrome exists. As a medical doctor specializing in environmental medicine, I would contend that there is much reliable information about this condition. But Gulf War syndrome is a complex process that may involve many environmental and genetic factors, and our medical scientific community primarily uses methods designed to test single variables. Hence, many experts who claim that the syndrome does not exist have selected the wrong tests for analysis; if we ask the wrong questions we will not get the correct answers. Since modern military tactics may now include a combination of potent infectious agents, radiation, and chemicals, as we evaluate debility after battlefield exposure we must take into account interwoven concepts of toxicity, sensitization, infectious processes, and variations in individual susceptibility. - Philip Ranheim, Everett, Wash.
An eternal book
Mr. Olasky's admonition in "Romantic realism" in the Jan. 12 issue, that we must take our cues for how to live as children of God from the whole Bible, was timely and insightful. Too often our apologetic efforts are threatened when someone tells us that Jesus said nothing about some issue. But only a small portion of His words was recorded in the Gospels, and God gave us the rest of His Word for instruction as well. The fact that the Bible can be and has been applied to every issue through the ages shows why it is an eternal book, and not some cookbook with specific recipes. - Zanese B. Duncan, Atlanta, Ga.
Mr. Olasky observed that Jesus does not speak out against using military force "to keep murderers from murdering again." My family just recently discussed the topic of pacifism in the church, and my dad thought it was probably related to the Sermon on the Mount. But when Jesus said, "Resist not him who is evil," He applied that by giving examples of personal offenses, not countries using military force. - Ruth Ann Romansky, Pennsville, N.J.
By all means
In the 2001 Year in Review special issue, you mention the kidnap and murder of American Atheists founder Madalyn Murray O'Hair, her son, and granddaughter, whose remains were found on a Texas ranch last year (Religion, Dec. 29/Jan. 5). Such a tragic life. Such a tragic death. And, no matter who she was, her murderer or murderers should by all means be brought to justice. - Larry Lyman, Mitla, Mexico
We were pleased to see John Ashcroft as your selection for "Daniel of the Year." We have been longtime admirers of him as we followed his political career in Missouri. He is truly a man of integrity and Christian values who deserves our respect and recognition. - David & Rhonda Hensarling, Olathe, Kan.
I marveled at a letter in your Dec. 15 Mailbag. The writer said your magazine "while biblical it is too preachy" and requested his subscription canceled. You may want to hire that individual as a copywriter for your marketing department. The fact that you published the letter, plus the individual's endorsement, led me to whip out my credit card and sign up for a three-year subscription. - Steven P. Shiflett, Sunnyvale, Calif.