Not just a gig
I appreciated Janie B. Cheaney's essay on Handel bringing eternity into time with his glorious celebration of the gospel ("Gospel in surround-sound," Dec. 14). As a public-school orchestra teacher, it was my privilege to play double bass for many years in an annual community performance of Messiah. It was a thrill to match "licks" with professional musicians from a nearby city. Unfortunately, the glory in the music is only for those with "ears [read: 'heart'] to hear." For me, the performance was worship. For most of the other string players it was just another gig. - Eric W. Jarboe, North Vernon, Ind.
Thanks for Cal Thomas's column, "Peaceful? Prove it" (Dec. 14). Muslims really need to clean up their act. And to Mr. Weyrich's remarks? Amen. Islam is extremely tolerant of violence. Those Muslims who want peace really should urge the leaders of their faith to do likewise. But even better would be if the Muslims would see the real reason for all the violence: a lack of faith in Jesus Christ. - Emily Brown, 14, Wills Point, Texas
Regarding "The God of gifts" (Dec. 14): The analogy between the gift God gave us at Christmas and the consumer-driven, materialistic, gift-giving celebration Christmas has become falls flat. The birth of Christ was a gift to desperate, helpless sinners doomed for everlasting destruction. Christ was the only thing we truly needed, given when we had no hope to provide it for ourselves and no way to repay Him for such a priceless gift. In America, most Christmas gift-givers use their finite resources to give what the receiver does not need but could afford, with the realistic expectation of some form of reciprocation. I suggest that we give the money we might have spent on gifts to charities serving the millions of destitute, persecuted Christians throughout the world. That would emulate the Gift-giver of that first Christmas morning. - Rebekah De Nooy, Grand Rapids, Mich.
The fine print
Your Nov. 30 cover story, "Look (out) for the union label," did an excellent job revealing how union officials harass and stonewall employees of faith when they object to union affiliation. However, I would like to clarify that neither of the two landmark Supreme Court cases you cite, Chicago Teachers Union vs. Hudson and Communications Workers of America vs. Beck, dealt specifically with the rights of religious objectors. In Hudson the court stated, among other things, that unions must provide objecting public employees an advance reduction of forced union dues used for politics and other nonbargaining activities. Beck established similar rights for workers in the private sector who labor under the National Labor Relations Act but are not protected by a Right to Work law. Workers who claim their Beck rights (but do not assert religious objections) may still be required to pay certain union fees. But Title VII allows employees who assert a religious objection to being forced to join or support a union to divert their entire union fee to a mutually-agreed-upon charity. - Stefan Gleason Vice President, National Right to Work Foundation, Springfield, Va.
I have worked in the Middle East since 1995 and wish to note that Israeli school children are indoctrinated with anti-Arab sentiments. In the Old Cities of Jerusalem and Hebron, the words "Kill all Arabs" are scrawled in English, Hebrew, and Arabic over hundreds of Palestinian shops and homes. It is no accident that many evangelical Christians who work with both Palestinians and Israelis speak out against the pro-Israel propaganda in our nation and our churches. American Christians need to look beyond this propaganda and assert that God loves Palestinians and Israelis equally and that both should have their human rights respected. - Kathleen Kern, Webster, N.Y.
Joel Belz, in his Dec. 7 column "Why pro-Israel?" misquoted World Vision's Serge Duss as asking, at a Washington discussion, "What are you going to do about the Palestinians?" Mr. Duss actually asked, "What are you going to do about the Palestinian Christians?" Ravi Zacharias International Ministries and WORLD magazine regret any confusion caused by the erroneous phone number listed in the RZIM ad of Nov. 23 (p. 27). RZIM can be reached at www.rzim.org.
Thanks for the visit
Thank you to Dick Armey for his service to our country ("The House is not his home," Dec. 14). I appreciated his unwavering commitment to excellence, integrity, and godly principles as he lived out his life in the public square during his years of service. I'm encouraged to have "visited" with him through WORLD's cover story, glad to share a moment with a kindred spirit, and pleased that he may be freed up to spread salt in the arena of public discourse. However, there is a twinge of nostalgic sadness, as he won't be there for us anymore. - J.P. Fuhr, Newark, Del.
When you mentioned that Mr. Armey plans to remain active in public policy advocacy, did you realize he has suggested he might work with the ACLU? What's up with that? I regarded him as one of the "good guys" on Capitol Hill. He should not now start working for the "enemy." - Mike Southerland, Nashville, Tenn.
I appreciated Joel Belz's comments in "Battle fatigue" (Dec. 14). We Christians need to realize that the Republican Party is not our "God-sent." Through deception and flattery the Republican Party continually seduces the Christian right. Once they have the election, they put us in the closet until needed again. Mr. Belz excuses our politicians in that they have a tough job in trying to please all the advocacy groups. I have to ask why Christians are voting for candidates who are trying to please men over God. - Ross McElvain, Ava, Mo.
Thank you for consistently "telling it like it is" rather than what is politically correct. I thought Cal Thomas's column on Islam proposed the most sensible solution I have seen on how to deal with the conflict between Christianity and Islam in our culture. - Larry Harkins, Penfield, N.Y.
While I appreciate WORLD's ability to review a Pearl Jam album without the mandatory respectfulness that the secular world seems to require, as a Pearl Jam fan I still disagree with the sweepingly negative tone of the review of Riot Act (Bestsellers, Dec. 14). Pearl Jam's fault lies not with its accurate depiction of human frailty but with its inability to insert Christianity as the answer. I think Riot Act is less the droning sale of depression than an honest assessment of their own beliefs set to excellent arena rock. - Justin Reese, Canton, Texas
As one of the participants at the "Evangelicals and Israel" meeting who were "not cautious in expressing their loyalty to Israel," I would like to offer an additional perspective ("Why pro-Israel?" Dec. 7). As president of Christians for Israel, I believe in the continuing validity of God's covenants to Israel and the Jewish people. As I recall, Serge Duss did not ask what to do about Palestinians generally but specifically, "What are you going to do about the Palestinian Christians?" My "limp" reply was, "That's a very legitimate question." We of Christians for Israel have supported, financially and otherwise, Arab pastors throughout Israel, including some of the most besieged (by the Palestinian Authority) residents of Beit Jella. - James M. Hutchens, Great Falls, Va.
Could part of the reason we Americans have been so blessed perhaps be that God chose to raise up a friend, an ally of great influence and clout for Israel? Could our continued grace be the outflowing of God's ancient promise to bless those who bless His people? Just a thought. - Joanne Couture, Lombard, Ill.