I have watched Princeton philosopher Peter Singer debate ("Blue-State philosopher," Nov. 27). The depth to which the human mind and soul can sink when one's intellect and logic are devoid of spiritual moorings is astonishing. I empathize with him and can even understand his anger toward God over the devastation wrought upon his family during the reign of Hitler, but he is guilty of the same faulty reasoning used by many such despots: that certain subgroups of humans are less "human" than others. This clears the way for the justification and ultimately the implementation of all kinds of atrocities.
-Stephen A. Renae; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Prof. Singer makes a very persuasive argument that one cannot make a logical distinction between abortion and infanticide; it's perhaps the best reductio ad absurdum available against abortion.
-George Firebrand; St. Paul, Minn.
As an American teaching philosophy at Prof. Singer's former university, I think you should report the reasons for Prof. Singer's conclusions, not just the conclusions themselves. As a preference utilitarian, he thinks that moral decisions should be based on considerations about harm and benefit to creatures capable of suffering or joy. Regarding infanticide, there are some babies born whose lives are constituted by so much more pain than joy that it is a mercy to give them an overdose of morphine. You would do the same for your dog if he were so badly injured. The infant has no concept of himself as a continuing subject; as such, he can have no desire to continue to exist.
-Dirk Baltzly; Melbourne, Australia
The Nuremberg trials happened because the world believed that there was an objective moral standard to which the Nazis could be held accountable. Apart from that standard we all just become a law unto ourselves. Mr. Singer's ideas affirm Dostoyevsky's insight that without God everything is permissible.
-Lawrence Kenney; Pottstown, Pa.
Means a lot
As state chaplain for the Virginia National Guard, let me say thank you for the tribute to our military in "Fallujah's fallen" (Nov. 27). It means a lot to those of us, and our families, who are involved with the War on Terror.
-Col. R.T. Leever; Goldsboro, N.C.
In asserting that "some 'moral values' deserve a good bit of discussion. Some need none at all" ("Moral values 101," Nov. 27), Joel Belz nails the fundamental nature of the religious war on good moral values. God's Word is given for and needs to be heard by all people, not just Christians. We dare not remain silent about what God considers so important.
-Ken Howard; Eagle Creek, Ore.
The issues of abortion, homosexuality, and marriage require more discussion because civil discourse with the backing of sound doctrine has not happened between the church and the world. You have to engage culture; it doesn't come prancing up and ask for salvation. We need further discussion because "they" don't know the truth.
-Jonathan Scott; Muncie, Ind.
Thank you for writing what too many Christians either fail to discern or lack the courage to say aloud. For precisely the reasons you cited, Christians should have greater vigor in opposing the rush to normalize perversity. As Isaiah wrote, "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil."
-Mark Landsbaum; Diamond Bar, Calif.
Thank you for the article on Carla Barnhill and her book The Myth of the Perfect Mother ("Multifaceted moms," Nov. 27). Mrs. Barnhill suggests that churches create opportunities for women at all stages of life to interact, and I fully agree. Many "women's" events at church are really mothers' events. I would like to see the invisible curtain at church events come down so that women can display that they still have the talents and interests that they possessed before they were moms. This would facilitate developing real relationships at church with my sisters in Christ.
-Heather Peters; Stafford, Va.
"Multifaceted moms" subdues the feminist leanings of Carla Barnhill. In her book, Mrs. Barnhill offers "a new theology of motherhood," speaks of "the cult of the family," and challenges evangelical church teaching on motherhood. Yes, child rearing is hard at times, but I do not believe Mrs. Barnhill's whiney diatribe is justified.
-Char Pulliam; Stevensville, Mont.
Let us hope churches do not label Carla Barnhill a feminist and thus refuse to listen. The problem is worse than the failure to "support mothers" and to help them gain "deep relationships." Women are viewed as victims of bad husbands and bad parents rather than as sinners in need of redemption.
-Carol Tharp; Winnetka, Ill.
"Post-election selection trauma" ("Trauma queens," Nov. 27), the American Health Association's term for depressed Kerry supporters, has already been diagnosed in another large group of people. It has the same symptoms: anger, depression, emotional paralysis, shock, and desire to flee. The group is 2-year-old children who did not instantly get their way and the name of the disorder is "temper tantrum."
-Allen Brooks; Sheridan, Wyo.
A lost opportunity
Your article challenges the activities of Population Services International (PSI), which receives funds from President Bush's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief in Uganda, and other organizations engaged in social marketing of condom use ("Hooked on failure," Nov. 6). In the process it imagines that PSI received $12 million for abstinence programs in Uganda (the correct figure is $330,000). Your article made no effort, however, to include the views of the government of Uganda or health officials responsible for guiding Uganda's ABC policy. While condoms alone are not the answer to stemming the spread of HIV/AIDS in Uganda, they have an important role, for example, among high-risk groups and within HIV discordant couples (when one partner has HIV and the other does not). Your narrow focus on condom programs (3 percent of Emergency Plan funding in Uganda) at the expense of all the other things America is supporting here is a lost opportunity to show how the President's Emergency Plan is saving thousands of lives, restoring families, reviving entire communities, and preventing countless new infections in Uganda.
-Jimmy Kolker, U.S. Ambassador to Uganda; Kampala, Uganda
Biased like Fox
As a Christian and a Democrat, I find your magazine as biased as Fox News. I'm disappointed. -Poul Kristian Toftemark; Rosburg, Wash. Thank you for a wonderful magazine. It is refreshing to read a magazine that is Christ-oriented and clearly pointed toward the truth.
-J. Heintzman; Columbus, Ohio
Gertrude Himmelfarb's recent book has a plural in the title: The Roads to Modernity: The British, French and American Enlightenments ("Horn o'plenty," Nov. 27, p. 56).