True love votes
Bob Jones reports yet again that evangelicals and social conservatives may sit out the election because in their minds no one is paying attention to their concerns ("GOP's encore," Aug. 28). To be piously disengaged is to forfeit any right to complain. Christian values have shaped the culture of America from the beginning, but if evangelicals are not willing to do the minimum-that is, to vote-to fight for the culture they say they love, why do they deserve it at all?
-Bill Sappington; Homosassa, Fla.
The GOP did not keep social issues completely in the shadows at their convention, thanks to speakers such as Michael Reagan, Gov. Romney, and President Bush himself. Now the battle is intensified for evangelicals in the next two months; what percentage of professing evangelicals will vote, and vote their profession?
-Stephen W. Leonard; Vidalia, Ga.
The Aug. 28 issue was right-on in describing a number of stumbling blocks to good governance. Many political partisans may intend to provide good government but that is not the nature of political parties, whose fundamental nature is to gain and wield power. The American party system seemed successful when it was policed by a broad base of citizens committed to the Judeo-Christian ethic, but as that consensus fragments so our nation becomes less and less governable.
-Gary L. Thurman; Midland, Texas
I read Joel Belz's "Missing the point" (Aug. 28) after listening to NPR's coverage of the Republican National Convention and hearing an uncharacteristic parade of conservative guests on its shows. I was surprised at how many thoughtless questions the hosts threw out and pleased at how many thoughtful, logical, and articulate answers the conservative guests returned. Most of the hosts and commentators spoke like anthropologists describing the habits of an unfamiliar tribe. NPR has a long way to go before it is truly radio that represents the national public.
-Julie Dawson; Gardnerville, Nev.
Mr. Belz suggested that the liberal/conservative debate "is really over the nature of truth." I once saw a call-in show during which an NEA spokesman stated she did not believe in objective truth, only "politically useful positions." Today, liberals see John Kerry's testimony as a representative of Vietnam Veterans Against the War as a shining example of a "greater truth" because what he said was politically useful, while it infuriates conservatives because his "facts" were wrong.
-J.F. Feitshans; Houston, Texas
Gene Edward Veith suggests that churches might be more effective if both pastors and lay people focused on things consistent with their callings. CEOs, for example, should help administer the church, freeing up pastors for prayer and other ministry ("Called out," Aug. 28). Many believers, both pastors and people, misunderstand their role, calling, and season of life, so it is good to encourage us all to know who we are and what we are called to do. However, in many churches the pastor is the only minister and the people are the "administers." As a pastor, I believe I should be an administrator/minister-a player/coach, if you will-and the people should be the ministers, reaching more people than the pastor, by himself, ever could.
-Rick Biesiadecki; Covington, Ga.
Thanks to Andree Seu for "Nothing more than feelings?" (Aug. 28). Just as God's relationship to His children is based on His commitment to the New Testament covenant He made for us at the cross, so our relationship with our spouses must be based on our commitment to the covenant we make at the marriage altar. In my premarital counseling as a pastor, I always stressed this commitment to the vows as the key to keeping the marriage intact. It will trump feelings and the temptations to infidelity.
-David R. Christenson; Lynnwood, Wash.
The subject of Mrs. Seu's beautifully written column is vital in a society where the concept of covenant is foreign to many and feelings reign supreme. In 42 years of marriage, we have found God faithful to provide the wisdom, forgiveness, and power we need to "do it" His way when living and relating according to our feelings would have meant shipwreck for us and our family.
-Kathleen Schalla; Blaine, Minn.
I commend Mrs. Seu for addressing a problem among both men and women, including Christians. As a marriage and family therapist, however, I take issue with her suggestion to pray for the object of one's affections because doing so can keep him or her in the mind's eye. To break any budding emotional tie, commit that person to the Lord once in prayer, and then when unwanted thoughts reoccur, say, "No!"
-George H. Harvey; Norfolk, Va.
In his review of Garden State ("Fruitless garden," Aug. 28), Mr. Coffin says that the theme and the strong language make "this intriguing and inventive film hard to recommend." It seems to me that, given his comments, it should be impossible to recommend.
-Ken Claar; Nampa, Idaho
Schmaltzy but good
Doc is one of my favorite shows ("What the doctor orders," Aug. 21). While it can be a little schmaltzy, it always has a good message and usually mentions God. Billy Ray Cyrus admits that there is evil in the world, but there is also good, even when we don't see it. Thank you for finally giving this show the credit it deserves.
-Christina Flowers; Bluefield, Va.
Thank you for the column revealing the sinful thinking of those who have forgotten how to blush ("Hearts of stone," Aug. 7). It shows the poor state of theological understanding in our country that so many agree life begins at conception but still support abortion. But what about those who condemn abortion in general but make an exception for babies conceived by rape or incest? How can believers support a president who holds this position?
-Matthew Deamer; Lynchburg, Va.
How could Kerry spokesman Phil Singer say that Mr. Kerry is a candidate we can trust ("Berger's secret," July 31)? Given the reports of his service in Vietnam and what he did after, I don't think that sounds like someone I would want for president. -Katie Goers; Palmyra, N.Y.
Answer your calling
Although the article "'God is interested in excellence'" (July 31) is dealing with musicians and artists, the principle is not limited to them. Some churches have an atmosphere that suggests that if you are not a pastor, evangelist, or missionary, you are not being obedient to God. This denigrates those God has prepared for some other ministry or vocation, and many good people become discouraged as they try to fill places God never intended them to fill.
-Allen Brooks; Sheridan, Wyo.
A suspect in the Beslan massacre is Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev ("A time for anger," Sept. 18, p. 20).