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.
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
Your June 29 cover story, "In loco parentis," is a striking example of how we have changed the way we govern in this country. Though it was founded on the belief that it should be by the consent of the people, it is no longer about an individual's freedom of choice but about what is "in his best interest." - Wil Fisher, 14, Kathleen, Ga.
Your recent coverage of the Presbyterian Church in America reported the efforts of the "pastors and other leaders of larger PCA churches" to "prevent a small minority" from exercising "inordinate influence" ("Growing pains in the PCA," July 7/13). This called to mind your June 22 story "Checkmating charters," about the NEA's work to "smash" the "inordinate influence" of the charter-school movement. The parallels are striking and grievous. According to your article, charter schools feature "personalized education" and cost-efficient and "innovative operational and academic plans" to motivate improvements in traditional public schools. Meanwhile, teachers unions intend to organize, regulate, and steer charters into "watered-down irrelevancy." Like Mr. Riley and Ms. Chan in your article, my objection to the efforts of the big-church pastors isn't "political." I simply believe that their recent efforts are "at loggerheads with attempts at real reform" toward the potent relevancy of biblical Christianity. As the pastor of one of the Presbyterian Church in America's "larger churches," I and my fellow pastors need to repent and correct our worldly tendency to act as "school bullies" toward our fellow pastors and elders. - Jeffrey D. Hutchinson, Asheville, N.C.
TNIV and Z
Our decision to allow the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood to run an ad in Charisma and Christian Retailing opposing the TNIV was neither meant to hurt Zondervan nor to help the opponents of the TNIV ("'We could not be intimidated,'" July 27). I consider Zondervan President Bruce Ryskamp a friend, so I left him a voicemail to give him a "heads up" before we ran the ad. He called me back a few hours later. He did not initiate the call as a reader might have assumed from reading your article. He told me that both Christianity Today and CBA Marketplace refused to run the CBMW ad. I also want to make clear that we offered to publish a "point/counterpoint" in Christian Retailing allowing both Zondervan and TNIV opponents to state their positions. I encouraged Zondervan to run an ad for the TNIV to let our readers decide for themselves, but the offer to run his side editorially was not tied to whether Zondervan decided to run an ad. When I asked to speak privately with Mr. Ryskamp at the CBA convention in Anaheim, I did not realize that it would be the lead for your story. Out of respect for Mr. Ryskamp, I wanted to discuss the issue face-to-face. I felt that he handled a very difficult situation in a very professional way. I was glad to learn that he had backed off from his position of refusing to place Zondervan ads in our six magazines. - Stephen Strang, president Strang Communications, Lake Mary, Fla.
Note: Charisma and Christian Retailing are the two Strang publications that were drawn into the TNIV fray.
WORLD mistakenly pictured the website of the Indianapolis-based Board of Church Extension of Disciples of Christ Inc., to illustrate the Aug. 3 story about an unrelated entity, Church Extension of the Church of God, Inc., based in Anderson, Ind. The Church of God-affiliated organization in Anderson is seeking a court-approved settlement with the Securities Exchange Commission. The Indianapolis organization, a general unit of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), is in no way related to the the case, nor has it experienced any similar financial crisis. WORLD regrets the error in using the image.