As an alumnus I can't say I'm surprised. I wish I was. During my time at Calvin, I had a number of professors who upheld the Bible and were very orthodox. There were notable exceptions: a political science professor whose main effort was to brainwash students into becoming guilt-ridden liberals; a science professor who turned an ecology class into an in-depth study of evolutionary theory; another political science professor who often showed films that were either pro-homosexual or anti-Christian under the guise of challenging students to examine what they believe. Then they were rare, but it appears their viewpoint has become the rule, and I am deeply saddened. If they continue down this path, they will face a great deal of travail as they lose the support of alumni, like me, who desire to see God glorified and the truth of the Bible upheld. - M.C. Clark, Port Angeles, Wash.
Thank you for highlighting Alaska in your "Cool hot spots" 2003 summer travel guide. Alaska depends heavily on tourism, an industry crippled by the consequences of 9/11. Our family particularly enjoyed Marvin Olasky's observations of Alaskan residents. As stunningly rugged and varied as is Alaska's natural beauty, her people are a complementary match. To Mr. Olasky's adjectives, we'd like to add hardy, independent, unpretentious, generally friendly, fiercely loyal, and proud of it. These qualities tend to be more pronounced the farther you travel from metropolitan areas. - Charles & Ruth Abbott, Delta Junction, Alaska
Mr. Belz stated that "the truth a man proclaims is not really validated nor invalidated by the details of his life." This reminds me of an Indian student's attempts to lead his Hindu professor to Christ. When the professor asked him about certain moral shortcomings in the student's life, he replied, "Oh, don't look at me-look at Jesus!" To which the professor wisely responded, "If your Jesus can't change you, why do you expect He could change me?" - Bob Rutz, Kingston, Ark.
I felt an emotional connection with Mr. Belz's comment, "In an era when everybody gets to say just about anything, why should there be a special muzzle for Christians?" ("Free speech, for some," May 17). The liberal media's desire to "muzzle" Christian viewpoints is not based on reason and logic but emotion. God's word convicts and then condemns the nonbeliever. Should we then be surprised that they would so vehemently hate us, the messengers? - Adrienne McLaughlin, Sarasota, Fla.
I've been a professor at Calvin College since 1982. The Calvin you portrayed is not the college I have known for the past two decades ("Shifting sand?" May 10). Are we academically excellent? Yes-thanks for getting that correct. Are we slipping our biblical moorings? Not a chance. Our students come to Calvin from a wide variety of church backgrounds, and not surprisingly they do not always agree about how to live faithfully. Instead of forcing students into a narrow-minded "Christian political correctness," we encourage them to dig deeply into the Scriptures, the history of the church, and the Reformed tradition so that they might come to a wise and discerning faith. - Quentin J. Schultze, Grand Rapids, Mich.
I graduated from Calvin in 2000 and would like to affirm your findings about Calvin College. I believe Calvin is precariously close to becoming an institution dedicated to the glorification of its own view of the philosophy of Abraham Kuyper rather than anything directly related to Jesus Christ. Calvin's strident attempts to identify and focus on any faint glimmer of good in today's fallen yet seductive and nuanced world, all couched in its own history of Dutch community-at-all-costs ideology, is a dangerous mix. - Alan Waddilove, East Lansing, Mich.
As a student who has spent four years immersed in both the strengths and weaknesses of Calvin, I strongly disagree with the wild accusations presented in your article. We are encouraged and guided in our examinations of the Scriptures in all areas of our education, from discussions in the biology laboratory to lectures in the religion classroom to the extracurricular opportunities we pursue. This has at times forced me to question areas of my faith, but I am so grateful I had the opportunity to wrestle with many issues. My faith is stronger now than it was when I came to Calvin. - Jill S. Friesema, Grand Rapids, Mich.
As a student in the 1950s, a member of the science faculty in the 1960s and '70s, and as someone who lives with the campus literally on the other side of my backyard fence, there is no doubt in my mind that the administration, faculty, and student body of Calvin College are committed to maintaining the school as "the flagship of Christian liberal arts education." As in any academic institution, one can find views and opinions that may not fit the mold. People and practices, rules and norms change over time, which seemed to be your writer's focus. But the heart of Calvin College remains deeply committed to a Christian way of life and to preparing Christians to live in this world. - Vernon J. Ehlers, Member of Congress (R-Mich.) Grand Rapids, Mich.
Had the name of the college and names of interviewees not been mentioned, I would not have recognized the school that has been my home for the last four years. The insinuation that Calvin College takes a nonbiblical stance on issues of theology, origins, and homosexuality simply does not reflect my experience. It is true that I have learned about evolution and about feminist theology. But this learning has had no ill effect on my faith; it has strengthened my convictions and my commitment to the Bible. - Jake VanderPlas, Grand Rapids, Mich.
Why the gratuitous swipe at Harry Potter ("Are you tempted to write a series that makes vermin the good guys?") at the end of your interview with Brian Jacques? ("Mighty mice," May 10). WORLD displays a peculiar prejudice against Harry Potter, considering that we live in a world where evil men hide their true intentions (terrorists take flying lessons), and good men (like Franklin Graham) are called evil. We don't always know who is good or bad around us. Mr. Jacques takes the omniscient author approach, and lets the reader in on who's who, while Ms. Rowlings wrote her books more as we experience life and each other: with a limited, gradually unfolding perspective. - Betsy Perkins, Wyncote, Pa.
A man's life
I appreciate Joel Belz's article concerning the revelation of Bill Bennett's gambling ("The hypocrites," May 17). The last paragraph says it all. How can we trivialize Jesus' death on the cross by giving a rating system to our sins and the sins of others? How can we as Christians throw the first stone without taking a good look within ourselves? - Cathy Locklin, Dothan, Ala.
I realize the summer travel article was probably written before America was hit by over 400 tornadoes in one week, and before al-Qaeda attacked us again in Saudi Arabia, but "Thank God for a slow news week" was a risky lead no matter when it was written ("Cool hot spots," May 17). Perhaps we should just thank God for peaceful, beautiful places to visit even in this chaotic world. John Greenleaf Whittier wrote: "Yet, in the maddening maze of things, / And tossed by storm and flood, / To one fixed trust my spirit clings; / I know that God is good!" - Laura Gehrke, Carson City, Mich.
The May 17 issue was especially interesting to us because we drove to Alaska a few years back and plan another trip in 2004. Mr. Olasky answered a question that had puzzled me (why glaciers look blue) and told of places we didn't see. We are saving his article for our next trip. - Don Emery, Bemidji, Minn.
Silent and muzzled
Your report of the Washington meeting of evangelicals who gave a "public rebuke of evangelical leaders" such as Franklin Graham simply for telling the truth greatly concerns me ("Wish you were here," May 17). Those leaders who choose to be silent in their knowledge of the evils of Islam should compare their silence with that of CNN, which knew of the Iraqi regime's evils and chose to hide this information from the public. - Patricia Shicks, Sioux Center, Iowa
As a film industry professional and a comic-book fan (in my youth), I confess I enjoyed the action and special effects of X2: X-men United, bringing some of my boyhood heroes to life on the big screen ("X2 marks the spot," May 17). As a Christian, however, my enjoyment was tempered by the strong and insidious reinforcement that evolution is an unquestioned "fact" that provides the basis for the film's fantasy premise. It's precisely because the film is well-crafted and entertaining that I find this inserted message so depressing. - Ken Ziegler, Clermont, Fla.
After reading "Invoking surprise" (May 17) about the first openly homosexual chaplain giving the House's invocation, we're really not surprised. It seems that our House of Representatives has gone the way of Sodom and Gomorrah. - John Lukens, Forest Grove, Ore.
Mrs. Seu could have been a ballerina, at least in the society of Kurt Vonnegut Jr.'s 1961 short story, "Harrison Bergeron" ("EgalitŽ, fraternitŽ, diversitŽ," May 10). In it, the struggle for equality has run amuck and those with talent are handicapped, through Constitutional amendments and the "unceasing vigilance of the United States Handicapper General," to bring them in line with everybody else: "The year was 2081, and everybody was finally equal.... Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else." The ballerinas "weren't really very good-no better than anybody else would have been, anyway. They were burdened with sashweights and bags of birdshot, and their faces were masked, so that no one, seeing a free and graceful gesture or a pretty face, would feel like something the cat drug in." - Michael Cook, Shellsburg, Iowa
I was distressed but certainly not surprised when I read "Shifting sand?" We are seeing the same things happening all over the country in our churches and Christian schools and colleges, all in the name of "engaging the culture," or being "relevant to today's problems." Afraid to stand firm on God's Word, we are standing on the wisdom of the world and are giving in to every wind of doctrine. - Beverly Saffron, Rochester, Minn.