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Issue: "Iraq and terrorism," Nov. 11, 2006

Faith, not fatalism

As the Amish school shooting drama ("Can't run or hide," Oct. 14) was still unfolding, I visited one of my Amish friends, a woodworker and a preacher here. He said, "We know God could have prevented this, but He allowed it, and we can go on." This is faith, not fatalism. After this dastardly deed, the united response of these grieving people has been, "We forgive him." Our witness shines brightest in times of tragedy.
-W. Lee Troup; Strasburg, Pa.

Thank you for your excellent coverage of the Amish school shootings. I have talked with folks who knew both the Roberts family and the Amish families. Charlie was not a monster. He was a quiet, restrained, and polite young man who gave every evidence of being genuinely saved. When I knew him he was respectful and clean-minded. Those closer to him concur; none of the classic warning signs were there. The only difference between him and anyone who does not murder schoolchildren is the grace of God.
-Michael Owens; Denver, Pa.

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I was disappointed to see the picture of the Amish children on the cover. Most Amish are against having their faces shown in a picture.
-Jolette Boyer; Chillicothe, Mo.

The real story that week was a 13-year-old Amish girl who demonstrated her faith. "Shoot me first," said Marian Fisher. I used to think that the flaw in Amish Christianity is that they are not evangelical, but Marian preached a message that I will not soon forget.
-Bill Pennock; Lakewood, N.J.

Your comment regarding the Amish, "Ignoring evil won't keep it at bay," is totally off-base. The Amish raise funds for disaster relief, participate in blood drives and community charity drives, and are the epitome of "thy brothers' keeper" with the way they come together to build barns, celebrate marriage, and bury the dead. Choosing not to conform to the world does not make one ignorant of it.
-Amy Brookover; Mantua, Ohio

Lancaster is my home county. When I read your article, it was too much for me. It is one thing to hear about a school shooting halfway across the country, but when I read the names of familiar schools and churches, it's impossible to ignore the presence of evil in this world. I hadn't realized how "safe" I thought Lancaster was. Nowhere is safe, but the other side also came through your reporting-there is nowhere safe from Christ's war on evil. Job's statement, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him," continues to be the testimony of God's children.
-Matt Brown; Quarryville, Pa.

Simply ridiculous

The idea of providing free room and board to Seattle's worst drunks is simply ridiculous ("Bunks for drunks," Oct. 14). Surely the $11.2 million spent to create this program would have been much better spent elsewhere, such as on food and shelter for the truly needy and assistance for battered women.
-Bob Michael; Spring, Texas

Many in our society will try even the most stupid ideas rather than to submit to Christ. As with AIDS, everything possible is being done to cure the consequence of sinful behavior, rather than addressing the basic sin problem. For many, the solution is to remove the consequence so that the sinful behavior can continue without penalty.
-Mike Martin; Montrose, Colo.

Nasty things

While I appreciate Joel Belz's attempt to discuss both sides of the torture debate ("Torturous question," Oct. 14), I was disappointed by his reluctance to state as a Christian a clear anti-torture position. I cannot see any reason for Christians to be ambivalent on this issue, and our willingness to even entertain the idea that "rough" treatment of prisoners is acceptable has deeply hurt our witness to an unbelieving world. In our treatment of disarmed prisoners, we should lead the world in our self-control and adherence to international codes of decency. If we do not, we have lost any moral high ground we once possessed.
-Deborah Galyen; Falls Church, Va.

Belz's column on the torture issue is excellent. Even if we find good grounds to justify some of the nasty things we sometimes have to do, it is far better to confess our failings and seek forgiveness. We never know what God's judgment will be in these situations.
-Bill Yoder; Fort Wayne, Ind.

We should remember that enemy combatants can go down with guns blazing if they want to. In laying down their arms and waving a white flag, they throw themselves on our mercy. The military code of honor ought to prevent us sinking to our enemies' level.
-David Covington; Quincy, Calif.

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