Your assertion that we are regarded as "suspects rather than saviors" because our charity hurts Middle Eastern pride is myopic. We need a serious discussion of the Israeli occupation of Palestine, U.S. support of Israel, and human-rights atrocities against Palestinians. There are also the Iraqi civilians killed or seriously wounded in the recent war, the scores of Iraqi soldiers crushed by the United States, plus the years of debilitating sanctions against Iraq. - Randy Yelverton, St. Louis, Mo.
During my husband's 23 years of military service he has seen the horrors of war and the horrors of the liberally biased media ("Aimless reach," "Truth delayed," April 26). Thank you, WORLD, for showing the rest of your readers what we have been painfully aware of for years: that our news industry, generally, is a self-serving, deceitful bunch willing to tell the truth only when it suits their agenda. - Melissa Holman, San Antonio, Texas
Joel Belz's assertion that "an eerie parallel exists between CNN's shameful performance and that of some Christian missionary organizations" is more than unfortunate; it is na•vely self-righteous and grossly overstated. In some such instances the desire to remain an ongoing presence and testimony of the gospel outweighs the indignation and sense of injustice, even feelings of tertiary culpability, that missionaries may feel. But their belief in the righteousness of the ultimate Judge gives them the moral courage to persevere and to continue ministering the gospel. There is no shame in that course of action. - Mark Young, Professor of World Missions and Intercultural Studies, Dallas Theological Seminary Dallas, Texas
Regarding Joel Belz's parallel between missionaries and CNN, keep in mind that CNN's message is to America about what's going on in Iraq, while the message of Christian missionaries is to the people of the country about the good news of Jesus Christ. If your mission is to give a message that "the building is burning down-get out," you don't stop and complain about the wallpaper. - Ken Patterson, Sulphur Springs, Texas
It is more than a bit puzzling that Time magazine (whose parent company also owns CNN) wants to "out" Christian missionaries working incognito in the Muslim world. Is Time on some kind of "anti-evangelical jihad"? - Glen Moody, Kingsport, Tenn.
I was eagerly anticipating the release of Holes but, as a Disney boycotter, I resigned myself to not seeing the movie. "Digging Holes" (April 26) made me think long and hard. Perhaps I need to support quality Disney films. However, I decided to continue my boycott. Disney needs to prove to me that it is dedicated to bringing quality family entertainment and not just to throwing in an occasional bone to those of us who feel that Walt Disney would be outraged at what his company has become. - Valerie Reed, Mason, Ohio
You mention the strange episode of the bronze serpent in Numbers 21 ("Compassionate war?" April 19). Some scholars believe that the fiery serpents were Dracunculus medinensis, a parasitic worm still called a "fiery serpent" in those parts. It deposits its eggs into the bloodstream and the worm develops in the veins of the host's arms or legs. The cure was to make an incision in the superficial vein, tie the worm to a stick, and pull it out over several days, wrapping it up on the stick. This only enhances Jesus' teaching: Following directions (belief on the Son of Man who was lifted up) leads to life, just as looking on the serpent on the stick and following directions led to life in the wilderness. - Milburn Calhoun, New Orleans, La.
Marvin Olasky is right to condemn violence against abortionists ("Golden rule," April 5). I wish he had listed the "many other ways to reduce the number of abortions substantially." We Christians have ignored the plight of the unborn as much as the Germans turned their backs on the Jews during World War II. - Jim Irish, North Augusta, S.C.
Mast vs. staff
Isn't a flag flown on a ship flown at full- or half-mast, and a flag flown on land flown at full- or half-staff (April 5, "Sound of sacrifice")? I appreciate WORLD's coverage of what is going on and quit my newspaper after discovering you. - Cathy Quinn, Westminster, Calif.
Striving for holiness
I am greatly disappointed with your advice about the Christian's relationship to culture as regards movies and music ("Facing the music," April 12). As a 16-year-old striving for holiness, I already find sin-filled movies and music very tempting, but try to resist anything that would lead me into sin. God's Word never encourages indulgence in sin, no matter how culturally enlightening it may be. - Lucy Nevins, Sacramento, Calif.
The primary issue is, what should a Christian's attitude be toward entertainment? There is nothing inherently wrong with "entertainment," and some can be spiritually edifying. Paul learned about the culture of Athens and used his knowledge to introduce the gospel. However, God also warned the Israelites not to find out how the Canaanites worshipped their gods so they would not be tempted. There is no formula to determine which entertainment is good and which is bad, but God will guide us to the right decisions if we truly want to obey Him. - Jared Maness, Knoxville, Tenn.
Jesus warned us to avoid scandal, but you seem to promote it whenever the opportunity appears. We don't think you promote Christianity. Please cancel our subscription. - Tom and Jan Richards, Lakeview, Ore.
Mother's Day brought me grateful thoughts of two hidden mothers who are the reasons I am a mother today. Twelve and eight years ago, Bonnie and Amanda entrusted my husband and me with their precious babies in adoption. Each woman endured the stresses and stretches of pregnancy, the pains of childbirth, and the ache of leaving the hospital with empty arms. With the support of their families who also sorrowed, they made plans for a life they could not then provide. They gave their children a prepared, mature, joyful Christian marriage in which to be raised and cherished. Let us honor Bonnie and Amanda and the other brave women who have made this difficult, loving choice. - Karen O. LaBarr, Atlanta, Ga.
I commend your attempt to understand how the "Arab street" sees things ("After the rout," April 26). It helps us know how to pray and not resent the Iraqis for ingratitude. Your analysis rings very true: Arabs will just have to adjust to reality their worldviews, whether those views arise from their religion or their fantasies as discussed by Janie Cheaney ("Real time," April 19). But we can't properly love them and help them unless we understand them. And as always, understanding them may also adjust our worldview a little. - Victor K. Tripp, Tucker, Ga.
It's sad that the present religious antagonism in Arab nations against anything appearing Western is the norm. The shackles of radical Islam are just as oppressive as the "tyrants" of England in colonial times and the former tyrant of Iraq. - Joseph M. Gates, Mt. Prospect, Ill.
Yes, Arabs may have felt ashamed and humiliated as American troops roared into Baghdad. So what? From Arab nations came such terrorist monsters as Osama bin Laden and Mohammed Atta, who crashed airplanes full of noncombatants into buildings full of noncombatants. Many Arabs cheered as they watched the towers go down. There needs to be a lot more than humiliation in Arab lands; how about repentance and a turning away from the dark aspects of Islam and all the blood, gore, and violence? How about giving Arab citizens the opportunity to hear the gospel? - Hadley Robinson, El Paso, Texas