Columnists > Mailbag


Issue: "Tools of a tyrant," Aug. 10, 2002

On the books issue

It was a great encouragement to pore through your books special issue (July 7/13). Special thanks for Gene Edward Veith's analysis of the CBA bestseller list. I was also glad to see John Piper and David Wells included in "Authors by the dozen." How can we get believers out of Left Behind and into the soul-stirring, mind-hammering material of Messrs. Piper and Wells? I'm afraid most professing believers are too intellectually lazy and spiritually apathetic to try this solid food. I suppose the process is similar to that of getting a baby (like my 4-month-old son, Stephen) off milk and onto table food-one little bite at a time. - Brian G. Hedges, Coleman, Texas

Mr. Veith's article on top-selling Christian books reveals a disturbing trend. We are deceiving ourselves into thinking we are wonderful in God's eyes by our works. The prevalence of Christian how-to books contributes to this problem. We like the how-to type of Christianity because it keeps us in control. To acknowledge the greatness of God, His awesome works, and the fact that He is absolutely worthy of worship is to acknowledge that we are not in control, nor should we be. He is. And we don't like that. - Laura J. Dahl, Concord, Calif.

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Mr. Veith's charge that Rick Warren's The Purpose-Driven Church belongs in the "Appeaser Books" class is hollow. The point of that book is that if we are to transform our culture, we must first understand that all we do should follow the purposes God has designed for us. Mr. Veith correctly asserts that the main weapon of the transformer is the gospel, and he makes many good points. But to insist that all but one book in the top 100 have forsaken the way of cultural transformation is to sound a bit like a certain prophet under a broom tree. - Tim McDaniel, North Fort Myers, Fla.

"The abolition of man," describing the enforced use of gender-neutral terminology, really hit home. I am co-author of an upcoming book by a well-known Christian publisher, and in spite of my request to retain words such as mankind and the generic he, the editors substituted the new gender-inclusive terminology. Our readers will think that we, the authors, speak and write with this terminology when we do not. The language is awkward and esthetically unpleasing, and it makes a concession to a silly demand. As long as the gatekeepers of publishing insist on putting this terminology in their author's mouths, how can we stand against the tide of this "gender-inclusive" silliness? - Linda Ames Nicolosi, Encino, Calif.

Thanks for observing that colonial newsmen would have seen "a world of potential stories" in the CDC's mortality statistics ("I'm a hearse watcher"). Too bad many daily newspapers look to obituaries primarily for profit, publishing only the most cursory death notices, and those paid for by the families. Unlike the 1732 South Carolina Gazette, today's Charlotte Observer does not list the cause of death because this is an "invasion of privacy." One suspects that the real reason is political correctness and moral relativism. For a secularist committed to erasing moral distinctions, what does it matter whether the young man died of a brain tumor, of AIDS, or on a highway after a night of drinking? - Warren Smith, Charlotte, N.C.

Usually I have found WORLD to be a decent alternative to the pablum that's out there in mainstream evangelicalism, but "Authors by the dozen" made me wonder. Of the 12 contemporary authors you interviewed, are you saying you could not find one deep thinker who is female? Did anyone even think to look? It's one thing to bow to the dictates of PC that says we must have one representative each of this group or that. It's another to leave out half of the human race, implying that, in terms of our culture, women have nothing to say worth mentioning. - Julia Duin, Washington, D.C.

Eight years ago, my wife and I sat reading in our his-and-hers recliners. She had What to Expect When You're Expecting, and I had Dr. Nuland's How We Die. "How can you read a book about death when we have this new life coming?" she demanded. My response was simple: "They go together." For the Christian, that is doubly true. Marvin Olasky's "Whistling past the graveyard" was very insightful, and How We Die helped to prepare me for my own temporal demise. Surprisingly, I found that discussing Dr. Nuland's book with my non-Christian friends created openings for more eternal dialog. Everyone is interested in death and we should embrace the dialog, not run from it. - Greg Ramsey, Boerne, Texas


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