Dropping death toll
I thought your cover story ("Blood hunters," Oct. 29) was right on. I would add that, according to a BBC article, while South Africa was using DDT, the number of malaria cases stayed below 10,000 and the yearly death toll was around 30. In 2000, four years after that country stopped using DDT in 1996, there were 65,000 malaria cases and 458 people died of the disease. Then South Africa resumed its use of DDT and only 89 deaths were recorded last year and malaria rates fell by 80 percent in an 18-month period.
-Katie Roberts, 15; Walnut Shade, Mo.
If it saves 1 million lives per year, so what if DDT has a limited impact on the environment? I don't think we should ever recklessly trash our world, but I think the trade of a million humans living versus the "threat" of some animals dying is worth it.
-Jonathan Magee; Forth Worth, Texas
There is an important difference between the deadly 1918 pandemic and any pandemic likely to happen today: the existence of powerful antibiotics ("Bird-flu watching," Oct. 29). In 1918, though some young and healthy people died horribly within 36 hours of exhibiting symptoms of the virus, many more died days later from the pneumonia that often followed the severe viral infection. This is something that modern medicine combats quite readily.
-John Crosmun; Columbia, S.C.
Bravo for your story on the state of hundreds of thousands of frozen embryos ("Frozen generation," Oct. 29). Your article brought attention to human lives that too few people know about, and even fewer think or care about. One organization you might have mentioned to help families considering embryo adoption is Nightlight Christian Adoptions in Fullerton, Calif., and the "Snowflakes" program.
-William (Bill) Wilson; Germantown, Md.
That'll be the day
Here's the reason I've always respected Billy Graham as a public representative of Christianity and gritted my teeth about the likes of Pat Robertson, whose call for the assassination of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez led to the ouster of New Tribes Mission ("Mission impossible," Oct. 29): Mr. Graham has always kept the gospel at the forefront, keeping his political opinions private so as not to detract from his witness. The day my pastor starts preaching politics rather than Christ crucified and glorified is the day I find another church.
-Liesl Schneider; Kohler, Wis.
Andree Seu's encouraging statement that she was "hitching her wagon to the radical practitioners of now" brought to mind a favorite chapter in Oswald Chambers' Not Knowing Whither, which points out that "our little human wagons are hitched to the star of God's sacramental purpose by the words of Jesus and in no other way."
-Esther Suganuma; Tokyo, Japan
Use your rights
Regarding "Heartland justice" (Oct. 29), about a Missouri Christian school's court victory: It's refreshing to see people follow in Paul's footsteps and successfully make use of their rights as citizens.
-Gene Yow; Wenatchee, Wash.
Grief and wonder
Thank you to Joel Belz for the column on the coming shutdown of churches in America ("Locked from the inside," Oct. 29). I have been to several churches like the one you spoke of. I grieve at the loss of neighborhood churches and wonder at the rise of mega-churches. Big is not always better, and small may be in danger of becoming obsolete. I am very glad to be attending a small yet vibrant, growing church, and I see no dangers of this church being locked from the inside.
-Joe Gates; Mt. Prospect, Ill.
While many churches are dying, many (including the one I serve) are growing because leaders care more about the Great Commission than traditions, personal preferences, and controlling the agenda on secondary issues.
-Leland Stauff; Orwigsburg, Pa.
The photo of the United Methodist Church in Kansas says it all. It's not just that there are only seven people in the building; it's that they are using a form designed for large groups. When people expect, even demand, a particular form and refuse to change even when it must appear to be madness to any objective onlookers, it's no wonder people looking for any sign of life and relevance can't leave fast enough.
-Bob Ewell; Montgomery, Ala.
As editor of the Boston Church Directory, I'd point out that many of the closed Catholic churches here still had several hundred active parishioners and would never have closed if they were self-governed or Protestant churches of the same size. Also, at least in this city, the number of churches closing is much smaller than the number of new churches-75 to 100 in Boston and Cambridge in the last five years.
-Rudy Mitchell; Boston, Mass.
I appreciated Gene Edward Veith's "Who gives two cents for missions?" (Oct. 22). I have always been bothered by the fact that most of the money I give to the local church stays in the local church and, in effect, just benefits others in the local church and me. That wouldn't be so troublesome if the local church were bringing in large numbers of converts, but that is not the case.
-David B. Paul; Sugar Land, Texas
I am a medical doctor and spend my vacations working in Sudan. I have been quite discouraged by church support for efforts such as those where I work. Mr. Veith pointed out that if American Christians tithed, churches would reap an additional $156 billion, more than enough to feed, medicate, and evangelize the underdeveloped world. Unfortunately, churches would find ways of spending it on themselves. I suspect the underdeveloped and underfed world would stay that way.
-Jeff Deal; Charleston, S.C.
We do not find the latest fads in music edifying ("Strike up the lyre," Oct. 22). Most older hymns were written by theologians, not "performers," are doctrinally correct, beautiful musically, uplifting, and teach deep truths found in Scripture. But, because we have so often neglected to teach these truths to our young people from the Word of God or the hymns of the faith, most of them cannot understand, appreciate, or learn from them
-Grayce A. Abel; Winfield, Kan.
When I was a teenager, wet behind the ears, it had to be wordy and intellectual or I wasn't going to sing it. These days my family attends a church that uses modern instruments and overhead projectors, and I play bass in a worship band. Some of the music is quite challenging and none of it strikes me as anti-intellectual. In its way, all of it seeks to know and to make Christ known to the willing participant.
-Jonathan Kratz; Horsham, Pa.
The story "Methodist bailout" (Nov. 12) should refer to the National Council of Churches' efforts to avoid bankruptcy.