Just because concerts in 2006 "only" contain "Every Grain of Sand" doesn't mean Dylan has departed the ranks of the brethren, and to imply these songs don't reflect his beliefs is preposterous ("Living a legend," Aug. 19). In 2002, Dylan unabashedly confessed Jesus again on the Grammy-nominated 2003 CD, Gotta Serve Somebody: The Gospel Songs of Bob Dylan. What does he have to do? Publicly confess on a daily basis?
-Scott M. Marshall; Toccoa, Ga.
Arsenio Orteza states that Rolling Thunder and the Gospel Years is the only project to explore the years when Dylan was "scandalizing the pop-culture world with recordings and performances that proclaimed Jesus Christ as the only way to salvation." However, Gotta Serve Somebody: The Gospel Songs of Bob Dylan, released this year, premieres footage of Bob Dylan performing from a 1980 all-gospel concert and explores Dylan's Christian body of work. Our documentary (I am executive producer) won Gold Medal for Excellence, Audience Choice for Best Music Documentary at the 2006 Park City Film Music Festival.
-Jeffrey Gaskill; Brooklyn, N.Y.
If and when Bob Dylan decides to speak for himself, we'll know if he's a Christian or not. Until then, let's stop trying to persuade ourselves that he's still on our side. "Slow Train" and "Saved" speak for themselves, whether or not the prophet still believes what he once preached.
-Jim Crain; Orangevale, Calif.
Good job on the Dylan discography, especially regarding Blood on the Tracks ("A Dylan anthology," Aug. 19). I often thank the Lord for letting me live in a world where I could read books by C.S. Lewis, watch Michael Jordan play basketball, and listen to "Tangled Up in Blue" and "Simple Twist of Fate" consecutively on one album.
-Paul Trey; Gallatin Gateway, Mont.
The only similarity between "Killer" Kane's non-fatal leap from the second-story window and his leap into Mormonism is the fact that, as long as he is alive, there is still hope for his soul ("Rock 'n' roll religion," Aug. 19).
-Robert E. McCoy; Alpharetta, Ga.
Having it all
The Aug. 19 issue had it all: the Dylan article for my musician friend, good news in Iraq for my friend who always sees the glass half empty ("Killing terrorists & dialing 911," Aug. 19), and snakes for the single mom whose child just got a tattoo (a serpent, of course) ("Snakes on the brain," Aug. 19). And there was Andrée Seu, my perennial favorite for so eloquently revealing the human condition ("When random sparks fly," Aug. 19).
-John K. Fraser; Burlington, N.C.
"Killing terrorists & dialing 911" was excellent. It is incredible to think of all the renovations that have been done in Iraq.
-Deborah Hallgren; Lynchburg, Va.
As the spouse of a servicemember currently deployed to Iraq, it was refreshing to read an article focused on our military's accomplishments. Thanks for not denying the frustrating side of this conflict, but allowing others to see the good things that servicemembers accomplish with dedication and selflessness.
-Charlotte Semple; Havelock, N.C.
Revered or hated
The Parthenon Code, mentioned in "Snakes on the brain," is an excellent book of Greek mythology that is really about how man rejected God as soon as he was able. Snakes are now either revered or hated around the world, depending on a society's understanding of God.
-Catherine Haenze; San Antonio, Texas
Life and liberty
We definitely have a flaw in the education system when there is a prejudice against teaching with a Christian viewpoint ("Systemic flaw," Aug. 19). Not only does it violate the First Amendment, it undermines education itself. One signer of the Declaration of Independence, Benjamin Rush, said, "The only foundation for a useful education in a republic is to be laid in religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments."
-Garrett Boon; Carrollton, Ga.
Thank you for Marvin Olasky's timely reminder that for at least 72 hours after a hurricane we, as individuals, are our own first responders. As a native Floridian, I'd like to contribute to his fine list for storm preparedness: Buy a gas grill; save milk jugs for storing water; reduce the volume of food in your freezer; don't panic in front of the kids; and really think through the "what ifs," such as what to do with your pet.
-Ed Wilson; Osprey, Fla.
Olasky is right about personal responsibility in the face of disasters, such as Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Early warnings and widespread materialism meant that many households crammed every car they owned with "things" during the evacuation for Hurricane Rita. People must let go of selfish desires (and material goods) and do what is right for the greater good during an emergency: Evacuate with fewer things and more people.
-Leah Del Signore; Houston, Texas
I read Andrée Seu's charming, wistful, brutally honest works with delight. I am so very grateful that God loves sinners, stumblers, and mumblers ("When random sparks fly," Aug. 19).
-Hal Boone; Friendswood, Texas
In "Recipe for decline," (Aug. 19), Gene Edward Veith states that some in conservative churches want to change "our teachings and practices to conform to contemporary culture." I don't know of anyone in such churches who wants to conform to contemporary culture; I do know people who so strongly desire to infiltrate our culture, while keeping their bearings in Christ, that they draw their friends into Christ.
-Jim Keefer; Loveland, Colo.
Obviously liberal theologians do not take the Bible seriously when they want to change basic doctrines that have stood since the Holy Spirit inspired the Word of God.
-Dale DeBuhr; Rochelle, Va.
There is no better illustration of the long socialist tentacles of humanist thinking that pervades our government and our society than the insurance program described in Marvin Olasky's "Temptations of the rich" (Aug. 12). Before it was the government dime it was partially my dime, and I would not "invest" it in properties for which the question is not if they will be destroyed, but when. Sadly, the concept of stewardship disappeared long ago in our government.
-Joe Parker Tait; Jefferson, Texas
Thank you for "Help on the inside" (Aug. 12). It is profoundly disturbing that Americans United for the Separation of Church and State should sue a program like InnerChange Freedom Initiative, and that a federal judge would rule in favor of Americans United. We hope and pray the ruling will be overturned on appeal.
-James A. Thompson; Stockton, Calif.
If Muslims or New Agers want to launch a program like IFI, no problem. If they can do it as well, which of course they cannot, let them at it.
-Orneal Kooyers; Grass Valley, Calif.
As a former employee of SAT-7's North American office, I was pleased to see a sidebar ("Satellite station standout," Aug. 12) highlighting the ability of Christian programming to enter homes in the Middle East by use of satellite dishes. It's good when the Word of God is desired and available in the privacy of your own home without fear of retribution from family or government.
-Janice Erickson Smith; Aldan, Pa.