I read your cover story with mixed emotions. Several weeks ago, while attending to the needs of my 82-year-old father who had suffered a stroke and could not swallow, we honored his living will and made the difficult decision to "bring him home" on hospice care rather than placing a feeding tube and having him spend his last days in a nursing home. He was alert enough that I was able to make sure he agreed with the decisions that would result in his death. This was the most difficult, gut-wrenching discussion I have ever had. As a pro-life RN who also deals with end-of-life issues, I strongly advise people to have frank discussions with their families about issues such as hydration, nutrition, ventilator support, organ donation, and even funeral plans. Legal advance directives are available at most hospitals and doctors' offices. - Gail Tait, Tigard, Ore.
Michael Schiavo may be a "show me the money" type of guy, but the ruling to reinsert Terri's feeding tube was more than the government and courts deciding to keep one brain-damaged woman alive. The ruling was a case of the three branches of government stepping into the marital relationship and overriding a husband's desires. "Right-to-lifers" may cheer this so-called victory today but live to regret the precedent established. - Kim Karpeles, Riverwoods, Ill.
After reading "Knick-knack of civil religion" (Nov. 1), I decided to ask my kids what they were thinking as they recited the Pledge of Allegiance. My fourth-grader said, "I think about how God helped us in the Revolutionary War." Isn't that reason enough to save the Pledge of Allegiance in its current form? If my child is able to give the God of the Bible credit for her freedom, I think much has been accomplished. - Susan Peisker, Cedar Park, Texas
Despite Joel Belz's assertion that since this country's earliest days the "God of the Bible has been kept on the sidelines," a large percentage of the Founders were active Christians, served on the boards of Bible and tract societies, and made public statements acknowledging the need for Jesus Christ and Christianity. While living in a "Christian" climate bears the danger that people will settle for vague expressions of civil religion, the good things that came from that climate include America's building itself through the Protestant work ethic to become the most productive nation and becoming a bastion for missions throughout the world. - Gregory Poulos, Inglis, Fla.
This one essay encapsulates the hundreds of lectures I've given to my own children, and others I've taught, about the duty to approach, understand, and interpret what is read from a biblical perspective-to be "people of the Book." Mr. Veith's essay inspires and encourages me anew to learn and teach as much as I can from the tremendous written treasury that is available to me, all through the lenses of Scripture. - Andrea Schwartz, San Jose, Calif.
Gene Edward Veith's discussion of the artificial womb is, as usual, quite insightful ("In loco parentis," Nov. 1). What effect would the artificial womb have on the children? They would not develop in an environment that includes the constant beating of the mother's heart, movement, voice, and body rhythms. We should not assume those are unimportant. It makes sense that the brain's early development is possibly influenced by these factors, and children's "hard-wiring" may be fundamentally altered by removing these constant human connections. What manner of humans would we produce who are created without them? - Mark Odell, Las Vegas, Nev.
As hybrid "Presbipalians" (we now worship at a Reformed Episcopal Church and formerly attended a PCA church), we have greatly appreciated your coverage of the Anglican problems ("Just talk? Or is it time to walk?" Nov. 1). Our church has had many calls from people interested in leaving the Episcopal Church USA. We find that we have discouraged as many from joining our parish as we have encouraged. While they abhor ECUSA's acceptance of a homosexual bishop, they still accept female priests and reject the inerrancy of Scripture and six-day creation. Many of these people are bringing with them theology that will be contradicted in the teaching of most conservative, orthodox congregations. It will be difficult to find a conservative Anglican church that is still liberal enough for these walkers. - Dwayne Selby, Haskell, Okla.
Not man enough
Terri Schiavo's nominal husband must not be allowed to make a life-and-death decision for her ("Terri Schiavo, alive," Nov. 1). He shows by his adulterous lifestyle that he is no longer her devoted husband. If Michael is not man enough to honor the marriage commitment "in sickness and in health," he should relinquish his guardianship to Terri's family. It is chilling that the judicial system and the popular media have aligned themselves with the fallacious argument that this is about Terri's "right to die." Thank God for an 11th-hour intervention! - Marilyn J. Hamilton, Overland Park, Kan.
Your outstanding coverage of the Terri Schiavo saga was fascinating and encouraging. My local paper's coverage of her life-and-death struggle consists mostly of laments over the loss of her "right to die." - Tina Taylor, Grifton, N.C.
I have always told my husband that if I ever become incapacitated, please don't keep me alive. Thanks to your article, I realize just telling my husband is not enough. I will need it in writing. If my family (not God) kept me alive for so long, in a state such as hers, I would not consider it love on their part. I would consider it selfishness. If Terri could speak today, would she say, "Thank you for letting me live like this," or would she say, "Let me go"? - Leann Weston, Estacada, Ore.
Thanks to Joel Belz for his insight on the Pledge of Allegiance. Simply reciting the phrase "under God" with the Pledge of Allegiance will not win hearts for Christ, nor will its removal impair God's eternal plan of salvation. In addition to being wary about promoting pluralism with this phrase, we, as believers, should be wary about forcing God's name into the public circle without giving it the reverence demanded by Scripture. - Steve Brown, Dallas, Texas
By the Book
Thank you for the insights in Gene Edward Veith's masterfully written article, "Flex the brain" (Nov. 1). This afternoon, my family put aside our homeschool curricula and discussed your article line by magnificent line. - Sandra Crouch, Irvine, Calif.
Our Christian brothers and sisters in India suffer under Hindu persecution. And it is where this is happening (in over 40 countries) that the church is growing the fastest and the joy of the Lord is the greatest. Mrs. Seu is right on to compare what is happening with events described in Acts ("Acts II?" Nov. 1). Persecution is the Lord's method for growth and saving souls. We are called to fellowship with our persecuted family by prayer and assistance. - Bob Ahlers, Fredericksburg, Va.
I served with Phillip Veitch on board the USS America and benefited greatly from his ministry ("Navy blues," Nov. 1). I saw many unknowledgeable Episcopalians turn from a liberal view of Scripture, Jesus, and the foundational doctrines of the faith to a vibrant and true saving knowledge of Jesus Christ under his ministry as a chaplain. The Navy chaplain program is in a deplorable political quagmire and has been so for the 20 years I was in and out of its direct guidance. Fortunately, God has not abandoned this institution and continues to keep a remnant working within its ranks. - Eric N. Dunn, Norfolk, Va.
Ron Prosise is a Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force ("In harm's way," Nov. 15, p. 37).