Thanks for the great write-up on conversations with student "peaceniks." I used this article as a great dinner-time discussion tool with my family to better understand the meaning of "just-war theory." - Bill Wilson, Ridgeland, Miss.
Surely the many Americans, most Brits, and the leadership of the Germans, the French, the Russians, and the Chinese who oppose war with Iraq are not all woven with "frayed intellectual yarn." Before Mr. Belz mocks the proponents of further diplomacy and a peaceful resolution in Iraq, he should ask himself whether the war might actually cause the release of biological and chemical weapons instead of preventing such a release. Another question: How many innocent Christians will die in other countries with a large Muslim population as a result of our first major preemptive war? - Glenn P. Verbrugge, Cadillac, Mich.
A few minutes after I read "Just misunderstanding justice" I turned on the evening news. Just like the anti-war protesters Mr. Belz met in Seattle, the talking heads weren't sure what they were talking about, but they still went on at great length about it. - Harry Yost, Palmer, Ark.
Check the math
Your article on the sentencing of al-Qaeda accessory Mounir el Motassadeq states that he received 12 days of punishment for each of his 3,000 murders, but that would be far more than 15 years in prison. Allowing for leap years, his 15-year sentence equals 5,478 days, which equals 43 hours and 50 minutes per victim. This is what an American life is worth in the German justice system-and they think we're uncivilized. - Bob Larson, Austin, Texas
"God's in charge" was a fantastic and moving open letter to our president. I have seen this great man close up and believe he really is God's man for this time. I do not see him as perfect or imagine that he does not make mistakes. That is all the more reason to pray for him and support him. - David H. Pope, Austin, Texas
I must strongly disagree with Andrew Coffin's review of The Hours ("It's all about me," March 1). One of the film's goals was to illuminate the tortured existence of the artist who is able to observe and describe life so intensely but cannot seem to live it. The characters of Virginia Woolf, Laura, and Richard Brown were all pathetic people, trapped in their selfish, nihilistic worlds. The true heroic characters were the caregivers-the two husbands and Clarissa-who chose love, life, and service above all else, even at great sacrifice. - Lorelei Schofield, Independence, Mo.
As a librarian in a public library, here are a few suggestions to help WORLD readers get the magazine into their public libraries ("Getting shelved," Feb. 28): Readers should suggest in writing that the library purchase the magazine; gift subscriptions should be for several years, as the labor involved in adding a publication is expensive for a short-term subscription; readers should point out that the magazine will serve what is a large group in many communities: pro-family Christians who are hungry for this news perspective. The Library Bill of Rights says that all patrons should be served, and that various opinions should be represented, so readers can use this to their advantage. - Paulette Rook, Fort Worth, Texas
Our kind of town?
Andree Seu's column, "The only Christian way?" (Feb. 28), raised questions and issues our family often struggles with. Some Christians take the teetotaler approach to the culture (touch nothing) while others take in everything without discretion and become polluted by the world. While I respect the teetotalers' desire for holiness, it tends to lead to cultural isolation and legalism. Far better to embrace and be thankful for the time and place God appointed us to live for His glory. - George Berntsen, Shelton, Conn.
I think Mrs. Seu's movie critique was way off. I don't buy that argument about having a finger on the culture-I can read the movie review in the local paper (from our decidedly non-Christian critic) and learn enough salient (and salacious) points to serve. And I do know that my money should not be poured into the coffers of corruption that are Hollywood. - Laura Hill, Roseville, Minn.
I thought Chicago was an entertaining story, worth seeing, sadly surrounded by an excess of violent and sexual themes. Many of the songs were catchy, some were so true. When death-row lawyer Billy Flynn compares the jury to a circus audience in the song "Razzle Dazzle," he sings, "With all the sequins in their eyes, how can they possibly see?" As Andree Seu pointed out, there are good Christian films, but most of the time they're too schmaltzy to do any good. Sometimes we just need to see the dark emptiness of sinful lives without the smokescreen of schmaltziness. Sometimes we need to see how easily humans can be tricked into believing everything, how quickly we fall prey to all the razzle dazzle of sin. - Teal Medrano, 15, Georgetown, Texas
On Turner's tab
The sense of Christian realism in Gods and Generals is very strong ("Onward, Christian soldiers," Feb. 28). And Ted Turner paid for it. Add in an original song by Bob Dylan over the closing credits and you have a movie masterpiece. Regarding the critics' sour reviews, most of them, with some wonderful exceptions, don't know how to handle a story that isn't ironic. This film will be talked about and viewed long after their reviews are moth-balled somewhere in cyberspace. - Paul Sailhamer, Fullerton, Calif.
Hollywood and Ted Turner have shrewdly illustrated the hypocrisy that has existed (unfortunately) in the Christian community. Slavery may not have been an issue in this movie, but it certainly was in the war. I thank God more for Generals Grant and Sherman than I do for Lee and Jackson. - Terrance Mason, Fayetteville, Ga.
I enjoyed the music, dance, and photography of Chicago. It was all artistic, but I also found it in-your-face vulgar. It does not set up the good news by first giving the bad news, as other WORLD columnists have put it. The film is popular because audiences are numb to the bad news and overwhelmed by the artistry. Are we Christians also so numb to sin that we overlook this? - Ruth Hartig, Dubuque, Iowa
When war is the answer
Joel Belz's sorry experience with "anti-war" students is to be expected ("Just misunderstanding justice," March 1). I am a retired professor in the University of Georgia system and formerly shared a common lounge with the history and political-science indoctrinators. Judging from this small, but I think adequate, sample, I'm sure that even the truth about WWII is lost on many students, to say nothing about profiting from centuries of "just war" debate. The choice was clear: War, or "peace" with these Saddams of yesteryear. Sadly, war sometimes is the only answer. Like now. - Robert K. Morris, Atlanta, Ga.
Thanks for being such a blisteringly bright light in such a darkened media world. "God's in charge" (March 1) by Janie B. Cheaney was genius. The best part is thinking that our beloved president might read it and realize that thousands if not millions of grateful Americans echo Mrs. Cheaney's words. - Michael S. Anderson, Ogden, Utah
Anita Drobny is wasting her money ("Talk isn't cheap," March 1). Liberals already have their radio means of swaying America, and it is funded by all Americans-whether we like it or not. It is called National Public Radio. They call their news program All Things Considered. I call it Conservative Things Rejected. - Jamie Inman, Tishomingo, Okla.
Venerable Christian journalist Edward Plowman makes a rare miscue by advising Canadian preachers to "consult their lawyers" before preaching that homosexuality is sin ("Silenced in Saskatchewan," March 1). That's like telling Rosa Parks to go to the back of the bus. Preachers should not consult their lawyers, they should boldly deliver the Word of God in all its power and authority. Fear the Lord only, not perverted rights codes. - Gary Hardaway, Lynden, Wash.