Columnists > Mailbag


Issue: "Daniel of the Year 2002," Dec. 7, 2002

God or gold?

Thank you for your article on Chile and the timeline of South American government and religion since Columbus ("A warmer Chile," Nov. 9). One has to wonder about South America, which seems so far behind North America in spite of the fact that it was settled even earlier. Could it be that the instability is because those navigators and conquistadors who settled South America went mainly in search of gold, while many of those who settled the North American British colonies went in search of God? - Winfried Schroeder, Roscoe, S.D.

Thank you for your recent special issue on Chile. We in the United States can be ignorant enough about our own history, let alone the history of our neighbors. I always appreciate your timelines. We have used them often in supplementing our daughter's homeschooling. - Michael Christian, Carmel, Ind.

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Your timeline on South America contained an error. The five missionaries killed along the Curraray River in Ecuador were not with the Summer Institute of Linguistics. Nate Saint, the pilot, was with Mission Aviation Fellowship, Roger Youderian with Gospel Missionary Union, and Pete Fleming, Jim Elliot, and Ed McCully were with the Plymouth Brethren. Nate's over-flights of the area led him to gather the others in an attempt to make a peaceful contact. In 1994 MAF pilot Bill Clapp and Nate's son Steve found Nate's MAF plane buried several feet under the sand. It now sits in our MAF lobby in Redlands, Calif. - Gene Jordan, Redlands, Calif.

Simplify to clarify

I enjoyed Joel Belz's column, "Just keep it simple" (Nov. 9). The reason liberals love to complicate things is that it makes them feel very intellectual. They see themselves as brilliant enough to take every factor into consideration, something we simplistic conservatives aren't smart enough to do. Liberals do not stop to consider that perhaps other people have already considered the issues and made a logical decision, and sometimes the only workable one, based on the facts. - Allen Brooks, Sheridan, Wyo.

We have come to expect this kind of insight and clarity from Joel Belz. I teach my students that "liberals complicate to confuse and conservatives simplify to clarify." This is true of all disciplines in our culture. - Clay L. Nuttall, Winston-Salem, N.C.

Poetry matters?

I appreciate Mr. Veith's article about Dana Gioia, a poet and President Bush's nominee to head the National Endowment for the Arts ("A poet who rhymes," Nov. 9). Rather than settling into the institutionalized and largely unread modern poetry subculture, Mr. Gioia is making efforts, artistically and with intelligent criticism, to establish poetry as a cultural force in America. Mr. Gioia's article, "Can Poetry Matter?" is a scathing commentary on the effects of institutional subsidization of the arts complete with several modest proposals for improvement. It will be interesting to see what happens. We could use more individuals in important positions who will encourage us to turn back toward being a people of the well-reasoned written and spoken word, away from being mainly a people of the emotional image. - Tim Hall, Chattanooga, Tenn.

It is encouraging to see someone with common sense rising to head the National Endowment for the Arts. The appointment will not effect lasting change, however, if we insist that an academic elitism has kept good poetry from the "living mainstream of American culture." Poetry is not a snapshot of a happening but a portrait of a heart, and the problem is that our news-driven, dollar-based culture has no time or space for such trifles, even in otherwise balanced periodicals such as WORLD. As one poet put it: "A thousand poets wait offstage, / To speak their lines on cue; / But who will bid them enter? / Who will listen if they do?" - David J. Weaver, Dagupan City, Philippines

Whose job?

In your article on foreign policy, you said that ending some sanctions would have "handcuffed the United States when it comes to penalizing rogue states" ("Foreign fallout," Nov. 2). Is it really the job of the United States to be the "big daddy" of the world? It doesn't surprise me that the rest of the world considers the United States an arrogant country. While sanctions can be a valuable foreign-policy tool, they hurt the innocent populations of the targeted countries and end any benefits from free trade. - Abby Johnson, 16, Powhatan, Va.

Alphabet bias

Regarding anti-Christian bias at CBS ("Lights, camera, exploitation," Oct. 19), ABC News is using the same tactics. On Nov. 18, the network aired a report called "A New Crusade? Evangelical Christians Rally Against Islam, Despite Bush Disavowal," in which they discussed how Christians are attacking Islam. They included the Falwell quote. - Rob Arentsen, Lee's Summit, Mo.


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