"Hearts of stone" (Aug. 7) exposes the current state of the church very clearly. Some Christians believe that life begins at conception, but they don't have the guts to stand up for it. The church today is too worried about reshaping Jesus so that the culture can "learn more about Christianity in a modern way without having to feel threatened or pressured" ("Virtual smite," Aug. 7). I'm sick of "nonthreatening" Christianity. The message of the cross is threatening because it tells us that we are lost sinners who are hopeless without Jesus Christ.
-Frank Nolton; Ortonville, Mich.
Those who support abortion while acknowledging life begins at conception have not rationalized their sin; they have embraced it.
-Scott Appelbaum; Baltimore, Md.
I was moved to tears by the cavalier attitude of Ms. Richards in choosing to kill two of her three triplets because it would be inconvenient. My disgust eventually gave way to pity and then compassion. I pray that her cloudy mind clears and that someday she will understand her decision and with a repentant heart accept God's grace.
-Woody Roller; Waxhaw, N.C.
Thanks to Joel Belz for "Required reading" (Aug. 7). I am often amazed at how many voters do not understand the issues surrounding an election. I recently had a conversation with a woman who stated she was a Republican, but she would vote for Hillary Clinton if she ran because she was a woman and she felt sorry for her. I couldn't believe it.
-Desiree Bontrager; Indianapolis, Ind.
After reading "Required reading," I went directly to the U.S. government website for the report and began to study the 35-page summary. I hope to read more later. The Buzz (Aug. 7) also reminded me that we need accurate updates of casualties in our continued War on Terror. We need to reflect on the importance of these costs, not just the dollars spent. This may help some of those undecided voters lean toward a president with a proven record against these evil factions.
-Charles R. Zentz; Westminster, Md.
Smite the smiters
So now I can buy, along with other "edgy" Christian video games, Eternal War and hurl "Trinity blasts" at demons. God is not a super-sized can of spiritual mace. God is someone who wields us, not vice versa.
-Katharine Birkett; Montville, N.J.
As a Christian formerly addicted to computer games, I am disgusted by the games described in "Virtual smite." Trying to evangelize our lost culture by catering to worldly pleasures is shallow, confusing, unbiblical, and weakens the gospel message. I encourage other teenage Christians to quit slaying enemies on a computer monitor and focus on something of eternal value.
-Keith Rice; Wellsboro, Pa.
"Science's fairy tales"(Aug. 7) didn't mention the failure and shortcomings of embryonic stem-cell experiments. The very malleability that makes embryonic stem cells such a tempting field of study also makes them difficult to properly control, making them prone to becoming cancerous or leading to bizarre results. There is value in focusing on ethical questions of embryonic stem-cell research but, in this case, there are practical reasons as well for spending our research dollars elsewhere.
-Bob Gutjahr; Raleigh, N.C.
As a missionary in Senegal, I read your article on Sengalese Islam with interest ("Marabout face," Aug. 7). However, one source stated that even pastors and bishops practice voodoo. Although some Catholic clergy engage in various sorts of witchcraft, that's not true of the vast majority of evangelical pastors. Let's not hinder the work of these humble servants of God struggling to evangelize this very difficult nation.
-Aaron D. Taylor; Dakar, Senegal
I agree with Andree Seu's assessment of funerals in "House of mourning" (Aug. 7), especially that funerals bring nonbelievers close to the truth. I have observed recently that increasing numbers of non-Christians, in an effort to avoid the idea of a God of judgment, are having a memorial "party" instead of the traditional funeral service. In their grief and loss, those remaining draw together in yet another escape to avoid thinking about whether there is a God who holds them accountable.
-Lisa Meek; Bothell, Wash.
I'm so tired of radio and television ministries blaming the government for restricting their freedom of speech in political matters ("Status symbols," Aug. 7). What restricts them is their fear of losing their tax-exempt status. John the Baptist wasn't afraid to call Herod out. Pay the taxes, and what God whispers in our ears may we shout from every housetop.
-David H. Eichen; Alton, Ill.
As a member of the arts audience, I appreciated your article about the Christian Performing Arts Fellowship ("'God is interested in excellence,'" July 31). It is particularly noteworthy that CPAF requires high standards and teaches young musicians to equate their work with God's calling and with worship of Him. There is no difference between what we offer to God through the church-so-called "ministry"-and what we offer to Him through our vocation. Classical music, played well by Christian musicians for the glory of God, is worship music.
-Yvonne Smith; La Mirada, Calif.
I was excited to see your feature on the MasterWorks festival. I participated in the first two festivals, in '97 and '98, and this event changed my life. More Christian artists need to be bold about their faith and salt in the arts world. All our artistic endeavors are a gift from the great Creator and Artist.
-Kris Becker; Altamont, Ill.
WORLD's pot shots at "rock music" in church are wearing thin. Do you want me, as a worship musician, to engage the congregation with 200-year-old classical music? Wasn't classical music once the "popular" music of the culture?
-Randy Rodgers; Shenandoah, Iowa
Sad and sadder
It is sad that the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod will have trouble raising $100 million for missions over the next six years ("Missouri motioning," July 31). That is just over six dollars per member per year. It is even sadder that such miserly giving is typical in American churches. We, this writer included, are fat, happy, and oblivious to the world around us. Our house is not in order and resembles instead a "whitewashed sepulcher, filled with dead men's bones."
-S.A. Morris; Saginaw, Mich.
-Over the past year, Americans United for Separation of Church and State has voiced complaints to the IRS over five churches endorsing President Bush and one endorsing John Kerry "Status symbols, (Aug. 7)"
-Ken Lenz is from Pleasant Garden, N.C. (Mailbag, Aug. 28).