'Twas the season
Well before Thanksgiving I was dismayed at the thought of the approaching Christmas season. It is hard to boil down all the customs and end up with any essence of Christ. I just wanted to quietly contemplate that manger scene and know that it was given for me. "Slappy holiday" (Dec. 24) has restored my vigor to gently slap my way through all the sugarplums and anticipate all future celebrations of my Savior's birth with sheer delight.
-Laura L. Lynn, Palm Coast, Fla.
My heartfelt thanks to Gene Edward Veith for bringing to light the whole other dimension to St. Nicholas, and that "Santa Claus" can actually stand up for Jesus.
-Robert Taylor; Boston, Mass.
I was just licking my fresh wounds when I read "Slappy holiday." I had wished a friend a "Happy Holiday" in a Christmas card and was soundly rebuked. I felt quite hurt and surprised that a friendly greeting was so rudely received. Where is the love in all the hoopla over how the world expresses itself during Christmas?
-Amanda McCaleb; Healy, Alaska
If evangelical Christians "slap" the culture for taking Christ out of Christmas, maybe we should follow St. Nicholas' example and apologize. Where is all the evangelical angst over the materialism the holiday engenders in our own lives? Where's the shame for teaching the Santa myth to our children? How about filling the Christmas stockings of the poor with some of our material blessings? Now that would be living out the St. Nicholas story for real.
-Ron Schooler; Los Angeles, Calif.
I want to be encouraged by "Christmas comeback" (Dec. 17), but I think 2005 saw a major Christmas setback. What message does it send when large evangelical churches celebrate Christ's birth by closing their doors, or when there is more of an uproar over the use of the word holiday than the preaching of the Word of God? We can't blame this one on the ACLU, the NEA, the liberal media, or the Democrats. This past year those who profess faith took Christ out of Christmas.
-Lisa Young; Essex Junction, Vt.
I'm sick of all the critiques aimed at churches canceling services Christmas Day. I really don't think God has a problem with families staying home and spending a day together to celebrate the birth of Christ.
-Nolan Rossi; Sterling Heights, Mich.
Both the United States and European nations subsidize farmers, but Europe is much worse ("Welfare queen," Dec. 24). This hurts Africa a lot. Subsidies allow Western farmers to sell for a loss and still make money, so that Africans lose in the world agricultural market. This drastically increases starvation and extreme poverty in Africa and the whole Third World.
-Angela Poupart; Crystal River, Fla.
For several generations my family has farmed about 3,000 acres of corn and soybeans. My grandpa still says that, as painful as it would be, he would rather see farmers fail than have the government give them handouts. It would create openings for other farmers with better ideas and would stop huge, corporate farms from receiving government money.
-Kara R. Hanks; Taylor Mill, Ky.
In Marvin Olasky's excellent column on "the tale of two evangelism explosions" ("Katrina and Christmas," Dec. 24), he commented that some Christians worry that the church response to the Katrina disaster "is the 'social gospel' revisited, at the expense of evangelism." The Bible suggests otherwise. As James wrote, if you know of a brother or sister without clothes and food but do nothing about it, "what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead."
-Joe Maples; Wilkesboro, N.C.
The photo of an Iraqi man and his child at a voting booth demonstrates the real meaning of a patriot's dream ("Unfinished work," Dec. 24). How wonderful that we can offer God's gift of personal liberty to this dark part of the world. In our country it is easy to take our freedoms for granted, forgetting that someone else paid for them.
-Richard Jenkins; Cross Lanes, W.Va.
Less talk . . .
Why does the world dither on the tragedy that brought Luom and Gor, the reunited "Lost Boy" and "Lost Girl" from Sudan to North America ("Worth the wait," Dec. 24). "War is not the answer" is such an easy sentiment. Is "Peace at all costs" the answer? We are at peace with Sudan and yet tens of thousands have died and millions are homeless. We keep saying, "Never again" and yet it happens again and again.
-Wendy Hinman; Carlsbad, Calif.
I appreciated "Fade to gray" (Dec. 24). I was a U.S. Army Chaplain (active six years and 31 years active Reserve). As I served in my Reserve capacity at the Army Chaplain School, I detected a subtle shift from professionalism to a form of religious "activism," with the resultant issues at the Air Force Academy and other places. While well-intentioned, this only helps the anti-religious forces that have worked several decades to totally dismantle the military chaplaincy. Major denominations and religious endorsing agencies should take a stand to maintain a professional and effective chaplaincy.
-Col. Clare Ledum (ret.); Cypress, Calif.
Christian yoga ("Mission creep," Dec. 17) is an oxymoron. As one expert said, "Yoga is Hinduism." The fact that Christians are lured into yoga is more evidence that far too many believers lack spiritual discernment and a biblical worldview.
-Frank Nolton; Lodi, Calif.
I agree with Joel Belz that Christians can better change the news media by shaping them from the inside out ("Two options," Dec. 17). It is very challenging being a Christian in the newsroom, but I love my job as an editor at a small daily. One could argue that Christians make better journalists than those who aren't because they truly do see the big picture (perhaps preventing a coverage "disaster" that Mr. Olasky discusses in "Fatal flaws," Dec. 17).
-Joy Juedes; Highland, Calif.
The message at the Air Force Academy that urged cadets to evangelize and warned of the "fires of hell" occurred at a voluntary Protestant service ("Fade to gray," Dec. 24, p. 25).