Thank you for the cover story featuring the photographs from the embedded journalist in Iraq ("Image war," May 22). As a busy mom with five small children, WORLD is my main (and favorite) source on current events. My heart was gripped by the moving photos and by the honest descriptions that accompanied them. Although I've prayed half-heartedly for the troops in Iraq, my heart is much more burdened, and my prayers more frequent, as a result of that issue.
-Marchauna Rodgers, Orlando, Fla.
Regarding the Vietnamization of the war in Iraq, the only resemblance is how it has been politicized. We are probably the only nation in history that wins the wars and loses the peace. It is a curious form of self-destruction. If we do not win the War on Terror, what will be the results? Better start learning to speak Arabic.
-Jeff Richards, San Diego, Calif.
Thanks for the photo essay. It made the issues personal by giving them a name and a face.
-Sara Shaffer, Union, Ore.
I am saddened and disappointed by your cover story. The photographs were only of things that were bloody and sensational. You could easily have chosen photos that demonstrate the many good deeds and massive progress by Americans working diligently to restore Iraq's infrastructure.
Richard Bindewald, Burlington, N.C.
Gene Edward Veith criticizes the military for allowing women in combat but has only praise for journalist Sherrlyn Borkgren, embedded with the 91st Engineers outside Baghdad. I'm sure there are plenty of excuses for why the female journalist is different from the female soldier, but in an earlier time in America, neither women combatants nor embedded female journalists would have been permitted. A nation (or publisher) that has its daughters in combat for any reason has lost its way.
-Larry King, Jacksonville, Fla.
Mr. Veith makes several references to female soldiers. I am the proud mother of a United States Army female officer. Also, my hat is off to the women-mothers and wives-who are supporting all our troops.
-Tina Thompson, Sugar Land, Texas
Thank you, thank you, thank you, Joel Belz, for your insightful editorial on the cultural decay at the root of the Abu Ghraib atrocities ("No preservatives," May 22). May our country hear this long-needed rebuke and come to its senses.
-Susan Beisner, Pembroke Pines, Fla.
I love your magazine, but on the issue of the abuse of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib facilities, I believe you dropped the ball. It was not torture, and those who think it was haven't seen many photos or read stories of real torture, such as occurred under the regime of Saddam Hussein. This is not to excuse what the MPs at Abu Ghraib did. However, moral outrage should be saved for the barbarians who beheaded Nick Berg.
-Clark Peters, North East, Pa.
Mr. Belz seems to blame the Abu Ghraib calamity on cultural considerations while ignoring the lack of needed intelligence and our inability or unwillingness to obtain it in ways that do not bring discredit to us.
-Gustavo N. Espino, Bradenton, Fla.
Like many Americans, I was appalled at the pictures of the Iraqi prisoners and their brutal treatment at the hands of U.S. soldiers. The United States must act decisively in punishing these crimes. We must not allow this sort of behavior to dishonor the uniform of our nation's warriors.
-Matthew Freed, Palmdale, Calif.
Edward E. Plowman's article ("Four more years," May 22) miscasts what occurred in Pittsburgh at the United Methodists' General Conference. He states that conservatives have been winning by decreasing margins, but the vote to retain the ban on the ordination of practicing homosexuals was 640 to 317 in 2000 and 674 to 262 in 2004. Clever attempts to water down the conservative position that might have passed at the Cleveland General Conference in 2000 failed decisively at Pittsburgh in 2004. This isn't surprising, given that there has been a shift of power to the Southeast and Southwestern conferences, which are far more conservative and evangelical. However, evangelicals have a knack for throwing in the towel just when they have their adversary on the ropes, while there is no quit in the liberal progressives. This is no time for Methodist evangelicals to turn inward and rend their garments, but to move steadily forward on to the next General Conference.
-Thomas Alan Harvey, Singapore
I'm not surprised that the United Methodist Church is debating Scripture's stance on homosexuality. The UMC long ago chose to ignore God's commands on other issues; when a church chucks one "cultural faux pas" from the Bible, what is to stop the elimination of every other command that does not jive with the world and its culture?
-Cherry Blattert, Bloomington, Ind.
I disagree with your review of Van Helsing ("Commercial success," May 22). While deserving a PG-13 rating, it certainly did not push the limits of that rating. You also said the script had major problems. Some movies are meant only as mindless fun, and on that level I'd say Van Helsing succeeded.
Ben Passmore, 16, Marion, N.Y.
"Plan B for 'Plan B'" (May 22) frightens and saddens me deeply. Teenagers are bombarded by images of sex, drugs, and beauty, making it difficult to make decisions that should be simple. The drug "Plan B" will only add to the already difficult struggle that teenagers face. Pregnancy and STDs are not the only consequences of sex. When will they come up with a pill for the devastating emotional consequences that premarital sex can have, like heartbreak, distrust, or guilt? The media take the gift of sex and hold it above our teenage heads, taunting us to open it the day before Christmas, stealing some of the joy and mystery that it was meant to have.
-Claire Carlton, 17, Clinton, S.C.
Bravo to Mike Farris for his powerful, persuasive argument for not accepting the "civil union" compromise on the Federal Marriage Amendment ("Point, counterpoint,"?May 22). Don Wildmon's pragmatic compromise would be a Pyhrric victory at best. If the only difference between marriage and civil unions is the name itself, we've already lost the fight.
-Matt Suess, Monterey, Calif.
Doom and gloom are predicted for our nation if we do not prevent the legalization of gay marriage, and perhaps rightly so. What do Christians do if the tide cannot be turned? Continue to bear witness to the truth. Some will heed the truth and some will take offense, but Christians must come to grips with the (long-standing) reality that we are not living in a Christian nation. Most of us have been pursuing the American dream side by side with our Christian walk. We should have realized years ago that these are divergent paths.
-Eric M. Toft, Pittsburgh, Pa.
-Dover Air Force Base is in Delaware ("No greater love," May 29, p. 35).