It was love at first sight that day many years ago when I purchased a print of Albert Bierstadt's "Looking up the Yosemite Valley." Bierstadt paints himself and his horse into the foreground as insignificantly small compared to the sweep of grandeur outspread before him. Not an art connoisseur, I know what I like: realism that portrays God's magnificent creation. Thank you, Gene Edward Veith, for validating fine Christian brush art ("The American sublime," Oct 26). - Nancy Richter, Kingsdown, Kan.
My wife and I were in the mall a couple of days ago and wandered into Christian America's equivalent of the modern sublime, namely, a poster shop. After looking through a plethora of second-line knockoffs of 19th-century sentimentality, there, as if by subterfuge, was (a poster, admittedly) Bierstadt's "Twilight in the Wilderness." I had just read Mr. Veith's article on the "American sublime" and I must say, the difference between this Hudson River artist's work and everything else in the store was startling. Frankly, I was embarrassed for the shop's featured "artists." Mr. Veith and your entire staff are to be commended for your efforts to realize a truly Christian aesthetic. - Dick Davison, Bryan, Texas
"Bad choices" (Oct. 26) by Marvin Olasky is outstanding, the clearest and most concise analysis of the situation I have seen anywhere. It is unfortunate but true that there are innocent victims in any war. However, there are times when a stand must be taken even at the sacrifice of human life to stop evil forces. Our president has an awful choice to have to make. I support him fully and support him in prayer. - Howard Peek, Lake Zurich, Ill.
Regarding Russ Pulliam's column, "President's precedent" (Oct. 26): It's encouraging to see our president and other high-ranking officials openly demonstrate their faith, as others have done in our history. Maybe if the 42nd president had studied history and sought God, he would not have sunk into a moral abyss. - Timothy M. Jeffers, Odessa, Fla.
I enjoy much of the music by the Dixie Chicks and I agree with the majority of your reviewer's comments about their album, Home (Top Albums, Oct. 19). But I believe you need to be more careful when you report that an album has no objectionable content. Although Home is a great improvement over the content of their second album, the song "White Trash Wedding" has to go in the "fast forward" category when my kids are in the car. - Joseph Melchers, Lexington, S.C.
"Big problem" (Oct. 26) was a great article. I worked at a Big Brothers/Big Sisters agency for a few years in the 1980s. We took seriously the mandate to protect our little brothers/sisters. Our interview process was the critical factor in determining the acceptance or rejection of a potential "big." Once, based on my interview with him, we rejected a man and discovered later that he was molesting boys on camping trips. We would be wise to heed Matthew 18:6 and hold accountable those who molest kids. - Bill Adams, Savannah, Ga.
How did those guys sell their paintings before there were Christian bookstores? (I'm joking.) I was inspired and enthused by Mr. Veith's article. Those landscapes proclaim the glory of our Creator, even without a Scripture caption. And see how the world responds. - Dorsey Marshall, Mullica Hills, N.J.
In the past centuries, Christian artists, writers, and musicians such as Dante, John Milton, the Bach family, and so on led and guided contemporary culture. Now Christian artists imitate it. What is popular in the secular world will within three or four years be "baptized" into a Christian form. I wish Christian artists would have the courage to blaze new trails, to start new trends. Maybe the reason that the world looks elsewhere for its ultimate answers is that they see nothing in modern Christianity but the pale reflection of itself. - Dan LaRue, Lebanon, Pa.
Surely Mr. Olasky does not see the decision whether to go to war as a calculation of saved lives to find the lesser of two evils. The primary principles in this case are justice, the punishment of evil-doers (that others may fear), and the obligation of government to protect and defend its citizens. A long series of episodes against Americans has for a number of years gone without justice. - Douglas J. Culver, Greenwood, S.C.
Our culture seems to dictate that in the "real" world, contraception is the popular choice and sexual abstinence is a myth. Then, lo and behold, we learn that our new Miss America, Erika Harold, is a spokeswoman for Project Reality, a group that develops abstinence education materials used in hundreds of Illinois schools ("The bully pulpit," Oct. 19). It seems pretty clear that Erika and many other young Americans have made their own choice-the right one. - Edwin F. Durivage, Toledo, Ohio
Under the bubbles
I am a long-time, satisfied WORLD subscriber, but your occasional forays into Christian music issues seem often to throw the baby out with the bath water ("Musical diagnosis," Oct. 19). I, too, am drawn to artists that creatively and honestly articulate our homesickness and confusion. Unfortunately, many music-loving Christians dismiss the Christian music industry because some of the most popular artists sing "bubbly," prescription-only songs. But, in fairness, the cream doesn't always rise to the top when most consumers prefer the homogenized product. Some artists and labels maintain honesty and creativity despite the pressures of the marketplace. May I suggest a deeper reach beneath the bubbles? - Christine Dente, Nashville, Tenn.
"Musical diagnosis" helped me understand why Christian music station music is so limp and unreal. It reminded me of how C.S. Lewis observed that the human mind is generally far more eager to praise and criticize than to describe and define. - Bob Ostrich, Ames, Iowa
I was very excited to read Mr. Olasky's account of the Austin City Music Festival. My husband and I have long enjoyed the music of these artists, and I was encouraged to read the commentary on Patty Griffin's music. We have often noted that her raw, emotive lyrics are surely the heart's cry of a life devoid of God's hope. The description of the disease is hard for many (especially Christians) to hear but does indeed help us to understand why one needs the redemption of Jesus. I am so grateful to the few who combine both the "sickness" and the "cure" in a real way. No one does this as well as Julie Miller ("Musical cities of God," Oct. 19). In her songwriting one feels the emptiness of a soul without Jesus but one also sees the fullness of life with Him. Thank you for spotlighting her. - April Jacobson, Lexington, Ky.
Regarding announcements of homosexual commitment ceremonies ("News they can use," Oct. 12): It's convenient to paint homosexuals as promiscuous, happy to live "without the demands of marital property provisions and divorce laws if they split up." But you also say they vigorously lobby for equal legal recognition of their unions, and use newspaper announcements as "a giant step toward the acceptance of homosexual marriage." Funny that these free-love types who want it their own indulgent way would try so hard to encumber themselves with legal handcuffs. If you've got a Christian argument to make about societal acceptance of homosexuals, please do so free from non sequiturs and stereotypes of homosexual couples in "white and ... leather." - Rick Robinson, Philadelphia, Pa.
Benjamin Harrison graduated from Miami University, located in Oxford, Ohio (Oct. 26, p. 11).