Veterans of church music battles need desperately to heed the message of "Strike up the lyre" (Oct. 22). It is a loss to lose touch with the old hymns, and equally appalling to see traditional Christians dismissing well-crafted, God-centered biblical praise music as "7-11 music" (seven words repeated 11 times). We old-timers might find ourselves enjoying "I Love You, Lord" and younger ones might appreciate "Immortal, Invisible" (all the stanzas). Try it both ways, but remember the qualifiers: biblical, God-centered, and well-crafted.
-W.E. Michael; Holdrege, Neb.
It would be wonderful if we could build the cultural kingdom of God without being syncretistic and using contemporary styles that reflect a godless secular culture. Perhaps, in a couple hundred years, we might be able to use more freely the music of today-if it has survived.
-Brooke Hopkins; Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Mrs. Seu's thoughts on church worship music were encouragement to my tired soul. I pick the music for our church, and as I was wishing that we could all determine to look for what honors God in the different songs we sing, WORLD arrived. I felt like crying when I read, "we compromise in deference to one another," and "why not embrace all kinds of reverent and God-honoring song as a way of loving the brethren?" Then I did cry at the final image of David dancing before the Lord-maybe in my church, someday.
-Lindele Elliot; Alexandria, Va.
I was saddened to read Mrs. Seu's column that made music a simple question of taste. She ignores the issues of music's intrinsic quality and meaning, its roots and background, its cultural associations, and the like. Indeed, modernity and reverence do not have to contradict, but one ventures onto shaky ground when advocating the music of a modern world that is set against God.
-Katalin Korossy; Kensington, Md.
Mrs. Seu's column seems to say that, when it comes to the sincere worship of God, one type of music is as good as another. In terms of God's acceptance of an honest musical offering, that's undoubtedly true; but in terms of quality or level of composition, it's false. Often we are so worried about being labeled snobs that we approve of the merely adequate and familiar, forgetting that a part of Christian life involves giving God our best, including our worship.
-George D. Krem; Estes Park, Colo.
I, a classically trained musician, am also a recovering music snob. I thought that surely none of this modern, percussion-driven, lyrically simplistic drivel could attain to the throne of God. I even wrote articles about it that I too hope have been incinerated. Well, I was delivered from my legalism, and I can now appreciate the vast myriad of beautiful music written for the glory of God.
-Meghan Prescott; Guelph, Ontario
Wasn't Joel Belz a bit too negative ("Uphill all the way," Oct. 22)? Psalm 19:5 mentions rejoicing as a strong man to run a race. The runner's effort couldn't be more strenuous but his thoughts are on the prize. The way God designed us, our joy makes us strong, whether to run the race or to climb the hill.
-Alden P. Lewis; Carlisle, Pa.
Thanks to Mr. Belz for his encouraging column. Sometimes we just put one foot in front of the other. But every once in a while, the clouds clear from the peaks, fog melts in the valley, and the sunlight reveals an amazing view as we gain "altitude."
-Nancy Hendrickson; Houston, Texas
Everyone says they want "qualified" teachers. But approaches to accreditation like "dispositions theory" ("Demerit system," Oct. 22) control the gates that allow "qualification." This guarantees that the graduates of the teacher training academies, the educrats of the future, will be those certified as politically reliable by the same people who created many of the problems in the first place. We need to get rid of the schools of education, the federal education department, and most of the state ones, for first steps.
-Roger Martin; Clinton, Tenn.
Two cents' worth
Regarding churches' lack of giving to missions and Christians' lack of tithing ("Who gives two cents for missions?" Oct. 22), a large percentage of dollars given may go to infrastructure in the local church, but perhaps the statistics don't account for direct giving to, as Bob Lupton's book ("Christmas stores and tithing," Oct. 22) puts it, "frontline troops who are engaged in kingdom work." We have divided our tithe this way for years among former local church members who have gone to the front, as well as our local crisis pregnancy center and Young Life outreach.
-Laurel McCall; Mesa, Wash.
We appreciate Bob Lupton's insight: that help for the poor must not kill their dignity by robbing them of responsibility. On the other hand, Mr. Lupton's desire to decide apart from church elders what to do with his tithe is chaotic and his example, pitting paying the preacher over against helping the poor, is just flat wrong. It is one more part of the independent spirit that has plagued American Christianity the past 100 years.
-Robert Grossmann; Vermillion, S.D.
The pastor of our church met his wife via ChristianCafe.com and wed this past July. Too bad you included eHarmony in this article instead ("Love at first byte," Oct. 22).
-Chuck Hankinson; Eure, N.C.
Thank you for informing us about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and the benefits of pacifiers (The Buzz, Oct. 22). Point of clarification: SIDS may be the leading cause of death among infants ages 1 month through 1 year but, according to the Centers for Disease Control, in the first year of life in 2002 more than 5,623 children died from congenital anomalies and 4,637 died from complications of premature birth, compared to 2,295 deaths from SIDS. In that same year, 1.29 million abortions took place.
-Tom Benton; Gainesville, Fla.
Regarding "Igniting intolerance" (Oct. 22) about ultra-Orthodox Jews harassing Messianic Jews: Do these people have amnesia? Have they forgotten Hitler and Stalin? Have they forgotten that their ancestors have suffered intolerance in its worst forms for thousands of years? How hypocritical can people be?
-Lloyd R. Ezzell; Zephyrhills, Fla.
More to life
I often find myself wishing for vacation policies more like those in Europe ("Roman holiday," Oct. 22). In this country, where workaholism is seen as a badge of honor, it's hard to find time for a relaxing multi-week family road trip. Perhaps we could learn a thing or two from our European friends. There is, after all, much more to life than the economy.
-Josh Horstman; Indianapolis, Ind.
I enjoyed your column about town names ("Name games," Oct. 15) but kept hoping to see a comment about the announcement of an Illinois marriage that didn't seem to fit: "Normal Boy Marries Oblong Girl."
-Donald E. Reed; Joplin, Mo.